If Cody Rhodes' name sounds familiar to Atlanta wrestling fans, it's probably because he's the son of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, who made his name locally with Jim Crockett Promotions and World Championship Wrestling in the '70s and '80s. Unlike his father, a rotund working-class hero, Cody is a slender, muscular narcissist who calls himself "Dashing" and looks in a mirror every chance he gets. After having his nose broken during a match against Rey Mysterio recently, Cody has vowed revenge on Mysterio, setting up the pair's match at WrestleMania. Before this Marietta resident has one of the biggest matches of his career, he discusses his feud with Mysterio, his facial injury and his plan to unmask his luchador opponent.
This WrestleMania is an odd homecoming for you and Mysterio, considering how much time he spent in Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling before it was acquired by WWE.
I haven't had the opportunity to say this much, but I'm only 25, so at the time that Rey Mysterio was in World Championship Wrestling having these marathon excellent matches with Dean Malenko, I was a kid sitting on the floor watching. There's a time to be a fan and a time to be a professional, and I've tried to remain professional as we move forward. But if I sit back and think about it, regardless of any personal feelings I may have about it, it's a real privilege to be in there with Rey Mysterio. He's one of the staples of the WWE and a staple of WrestleMania.
Being from the Atlanta area and facing off against a fan favorite who also has a good bit of history here, do you expect there to be any divided loyalty among the fans?
I highly doubt it. I've never really been one to tout Georgia or Atlanta as my home. Not that I didn't want to, it's just that some people make it a point to let you know every second of every day where they're from. CM Punk will tell you every 30 seconds he's from Chicago, and it gets a little annoying. Rey Mysterio, in that same vein, will tell you every 30 seconds he's from San Diego. I guess I didn't make the same connection. I hope I've got some people I went to high school with or maybe some people who didn't think I'd get as far as I did enjoying and watching. I've been to every WWE event for the past four or five years, and all it takes is to look out into the crowd once and see this sea of kids wearing Rey Mysterio masks, you know right then and there that you're the minority.
You originally said your injury might keep you out of WrestleMania, and you've been wearing a protective mask since you returned to the ring. Do you think it was wise to challenge Mysterio so soon after he inadvertently caused your injury?
I'll continue to wear the mask I had made for myself only because my nose was legitimately broken and it's a wonderful precaution. It's the best money can buy in terms of the type of mask I got, and it was cast for my face alone. Believe it or not, as uncomfortable as it is going out there with that mask on, when the bell rings, there's an eerie level of comfort that comes over me. So it's been a double-edged sword. It's weird and embarrassing to walk to the ring, especially in front of the throngs of people that will be at WrestleMania, but it also gives me a bit of confidence in the ring.
Your father has aided you in your feud with Mysterio a little. Will he be in your corner at WrestleMania?
I hope that he will mentally be in my corner, but my dad likes the young talent to shine. It was really nice to have him in Sacramento when he came out on "SmackDown," but he's stayed out of things moving forward, and I think that's the way he wants it. He might be in the front row, he might be backstage, but he will probably be there in spirit.
There's sort of an underlying thing at WrestleMania this year that not a lot of people are talking about. You're seeing a lot of veteran superstars, Rey Mysterio included, a lot of WWE greats, most of whom are going to be Hall of Famers themselves, against new talent. It's a younger crop of talent when you look at the Miz vs. John Cena, Alberto Del Rio vs. Edge and myself vs. Rey Mysterio. So, [my dad] is respecting that night as well. It might be a changing of the guard at WrestleMania XXVII and that would be a really special thing.
You unmasked Rey recently on "SmackDown," but didn't expose his face to the audience. Do you plan on trying to do that again at WrestleMania for all to see?
Thank you for asking a question that has not been asked of me as I've done multiple interviews heading toward WrestleMania. I'm going on record and making a Muhammad Ali-style guarantee that, yeah, I am going to take his mask off at WrestleMania. I genuinely am going to remove his mask. I am making that known now. It is an unbreakable vow for me and I will follow through with that.