Dustin Rhodes on Cody Rhodes: ‘He’s A Superstar That Has Turned Into A Megastar’

“I love him to death, and I’m incredibly proud of him”

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Dustin Rhodes on chasing the world title: “Time is slipping, but that is still what I’m chasing”

For Dustin Rhodes, there is a world to be won and nothing to lose.

Tonight on Dynamite, Rhodes challenges AEW world champion Samoa Joe in a title eliminator match. The belt is not on the line, but if Rhodes beats the champ, then he will get his title shot.

“I’m going to go out there and earn it,” said Rhodes, who has never wrestled a singles match against Samoa Joe–the closest they came occurred when both wrestled in a TNA gauntlet match in 2007. “Joe’s a big, tough SOB, but I can’t wait to lock horns. I’ve been knocked down too many times to remember, but I’ve gotten back up every single time. I’m one tough SOB, too, and I’m going to fight with every ounce of energy in my body.”

Rhodes issued a challenge to Samoa Joe for this match on Collision. He followed that up with a superb promo–raw, compelling, and honest, the delivery of Rhodes’ words was bone-chilling as he detailed his passion for professional wrestling.

“I was very proud of that promo,” said Rhodes. “The ultimate dream is to become world heavyweight champion. Time is slipping, but that is still what I’m chasing. I’m still dreaming about it, too, still working toward it.

“That’s one thing my father instilled in me–my work ethic. From a young age, stepping in my dad’s footsteps is all I’ve ever wanted. That shaped me into who I am. To me, this industry is all about your work and your work ethic.”

The oldest son of the late, great Dusty Rhodes, Dustin celebrates birthday number- 55 tomorrow. He is entering year 36 in professional wrestling, and it is this very industry that keeps “The Natural” young at heart. A critical secret to his success is what he dismissed from his life.

Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes / Courtesy AEW

After battling the demons of substance abuse and addiction, which nearly cost him his life, Rhodes is embracing all his opportunities, both personally and professionally.

“I’m very blessed to get a second chance,” said Rhodes. “My run-in with drugs and alcohol was tumultuous. I’m grateful to be here to see the other side. I’ve never lost sight of that, and I’ll never lose sight of that.

“There are days my body is hurting. But I won’t stop. I’m still in the gym, I’m still pushing. Keep steppin’, right? And I’m having too much fun to stop.”

Rhodes went back in time this past weekend as he watched younger brother Cody win the WWE championship at WrestleMania. Though Dusty and Dustin both starred at the event, Cody is the first member of the Rhodes family to headline it–which he has done in back-to-back years–and he was in the main event of both Saturday and Sunday night at this year’s show.

Watching Cody overcome Roman Reigns, then celebrate in the ring with an assortment of WWE’s good guys, instantly evoked memories of watching his father win the NWA world heavyweight championship from Harley Race in the summer of 1979.

“That brought me back in time,” said Rhodes. “I remember watching my dad celebrate with all the guys and all the champagne after he won. I remember him bringing home the belt. It was incredible, and it took me right back to that.

“Watching Cody, that was emotional. I enjoyed the ride they all took us on. I watch everything and I study everything, and seeing him perform at such a high level–at the top, two nights in a row–it’s truly amazing. Cody pulled it off, and it was an incredible feeling. I’m very proud of him. He’s a superstar that has turned into a mega star.”

Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes / Courtesy AEW

Dustin and Cody are 16 years apart. At first glance, they are very different, distinct individuals. Yet they also share quite a lot in common, similarities that extend far deeper than in the ring–as well as an unbreakable bond between the two.

“We certainly don’t dress alike,” said Rhodes. “I’m a Texas redneck, and I wear jeans and t-shirts–and Cody wears these beautiful suits. I know he’s the younger brother, but I go to him for advice, too. We also learn a lot from each other. Cody stepping out on his own, starting AEW with the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega and Tony Khan, that changed everything. Our match at Double or Nothing changed the industry, and look at where we are now. Wrestling is booming.

“It was an incredible weekend. But the greatest thing about Cody isn’t that he’s world champion–it’s that he has a genuine soul. He’s a proud family man, he’s in love with his wife and his daughter. Cody is a true gentleman. I love him to death, and I’m incredibly proud of him.”

Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes / Courtesy AEW

Both Rhodes brothers are shaping the future of the business. Dustin Rhodes is laying the foundation at the Rhodes Wrestling Academy in Leander, Texas, as well as working with emerging stars in AEW. And, in the ring, Rhodes is in the midst of his last ride, persevering through the biting knee and aching shoulder pain to step back through the ropes and perform at the highest level possible.

“I worked hard to get here, and I’m still working hard to get better,” said Rhodes. “AEW is a great place. The schedule is better for my body, and I’m still putting in the work. I love this business, it has been great to me. My job is to pass on my knowledge.

“I’m working with the best talent on the planet, and I can hang with anybody. I’m damn proud of that. I’m enjoying every opportunity Tony gives me. If Tony asks me to work a one-hour match on Dynamite, I would. I live for this. I get a chance to entertain people at the wrestling matches. My whole life, that’s what I’ve wanted.”

Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes / Courtesy AEW

Rhodes is a throwback in the truest sense. Raised in an entirely different climate and structure, he has continually found ways to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing environment.

Rhodes looks at professional wrestling through a different lens than many of his peers. For him, it is not about whether the outcome is win, lose, or draw. Instead, his life’s work is all about moving people in a manner that is as real as possible.

“That’s my job, tell a story to make somebody feel something,” said Rhodes. “You can’t teach that. You need to feel it.”

Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes / Courtesy AEW

It is a testament to Rhodes’ skill as a pro that he can draw emotion out of a crowd. That will be on full display later tonight, as Rhodes seeks to fulfill his destiny on Dynamite as he turns skeptics into full-fledged believers.

“I’ve thought about retirement, but I’m just not ready,” said Rhodes. “My mind, my heart, and my soul are too much in love with this. So I’ll go until the wheels fall off.

“My love for wrestling, that drives me. It makes me hungrier. I am putting all of my passion and grit into everything I do.”

The (Online) Week in Wrestling

  • The Rock had an incredible run in the build to WrestleMania. Yes, it was also highly paid, but Rock made every step of the way to WrestleMania so much more compelling.
  • And I think he will beat Cody Rhodes for the title when he comes back.
  • Roman Reigns had a magnificent run as champion, but perhaps no matter was greater than the manner in which he dropped the belt to Rhodes at WrestleMania.
  • As WWE keeps breaking more and more records, who is conducting their internal fact checking?
  • What a match between Mark Brisco and Eddie Kingston, and the aftermath was special, too. Congratulations to both men, and it was spectacular to see Mark win the title 11 years to the day his brother Jay won his first Ring of Honor world title.
  • WWE has a star in Jade Cargill, and I am excited to see her thrive in a singles pay-per-view match. 
  • Yes, it’s tweets like this that Twitter was created for.

A case to be made for Jon Moxley winning the IWGP world heavyweight championship

Jon Moxley wrestles Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP world heavyweight title at the Windy City Riot pay-per-view this Friday in Chicago.

Shota Umino and Jon Moxley
Shota Umino and Jon Moxley / Courtesy NJPW

Naito is the reigning champ, capturing the title this past January at Wrestle Kingdom. But if New Japan Pro-Wrestling is looking to garner some prominent recognition in North America, then it is time to put the belt on Moxley.

Initially, this was a non-title match. But the belt is now on the line, giving credence to the notion that Moxley will walk away as champion. And there is a smart backstory. On Friday, Naito will be less than a week removed from defeating Yota Tsuji in a 34-minute battle at the Sakura Genesis show in Tokyo.

Jon Moxley and Tetsuya Naito
Jon Moxley and Tetsuya Naito / Courtesy NJPW

Moxley as champ would be appointment-viewing. It would mean extra time in Japan, though it would help explain why he and Claudio Castagnoli were left out of the AEW tag team tournament. Mox has a rare pedigree, having starred in WWE, AEW, and NJPW. But winning the top prize in New Japan is a feat that has eluded him.

If Moxley wins the belt on Friday, he can have a short-but-significant reign. That would include defending the belt at the Dominion show in Osaka this June, as well as another title defense later that month at Forbidden Door. Plus, it would allow Moxley the chance to further elevate the stature of Shota Umino, his closest ally in Japan.

Naito is a spectacular talent. Putting him in a feud with Moxley, even if it costs him the title for a few months, is worth the extra exposure.

Tweet of the Week

This heel run for The Rock was as close to flawless as possible.

Justin Barrasso


Justin Barrasso has been writing for Sports Illustrated since 2014. While his primary focus is pro wrestling and MMA, he has also covered MLB, NBA, and the NFL. He can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.