Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cody Rhodes Unmasked

The last year has been a big one for Cody Rhodes. He had been performing quite well as a singles wrestler and I was quite enjoying his “Dashing” gimmick, although it took a while for it to get over with the fans.

That all changed when Rhodes faced Rey Mysterio on Smackdown at the beginning of the year. Mysterio hit the 619 and broke Rhode’s nose, resulting in Rhodes missing the Royal Rumble and requiring reconstructive surgery. When he returned a few weeks later, Rhodes was a different man, being reluctant to show his face to the crowd and wearing a protective mask. Understandably, Rhodes blamed it on Mysterio and it led to a really good feud between the two, with a brilliant segment on Smackdown with the American Dream Dusty Rhodes acting as peacemaker then turning on Mysterio (one of my favourite moments of the year); then having matches at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules.

I thought it was a big risk for Rhodes to change his gimmick so dramatically when he was just getting over with the “Dashing” persona. However, Rhodes pulled it off brilliantly, making it one of my favourite gimmicks ever. So much was put into it which I loved: the newspaper headlines saying “Grotesque!” and “Disfigured!” as part of his titantron; his coat with the hood, inspired by the computer game Assassin’s Creed; the way he would push away the camera as he made his way to the ring so that they couldn’t show his face; his theme tune being changed slightly to make it more darker; and the paper baggers. It helped that Rhodes had taken acting classes before he became a professional wrestler as he made it seem so real. You knew that there was nothing wrong with him, but he made you see his viewpoint.

Over the year, he had various mini feuds, resulting in Rhodes becoming Intercontinental Champion in August. He had a feud with the “Million Dollar Failure” Ted DiBiase and got into a feud with his former Legacy partner Randy Orton, which resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable street fight on Smackdown two weeks ago, with Orton defeating Rhodes and damaging his face mask. I thought that Rhodes would simply get a new one. However, last night on RAW, Rhodes came out to new music, new titantron, no paper baggers and acting as if his whole masked gimmick had never happened.

It really disappointed me that Rhodes had got rid of his masked gimmick so quickly. I was expecting a transition period between the two with perhaps Rhodes wearing one of his paper bags over his head in order to not show his face; or, like Beauty and the Beast, have a Diva show him that he doesn’t need the mask, as he is fine without it.

This shows to me some of the creative problems that I think is going on with the WWE. Over the last few months, they have made creative decisions but don’t seem to have put much thought into them. It’s like they have decided to go from one city to another, but instead of showing us how they get there, we are instantly teleported there instead. Another example is the anonymous RAW GM, who we had not heard from since July and then suddenly dismissed with John Laurinaitis (did you know that he’s Executive Vice President of Talent Relations?) becoming interim RAW GM.

I don’t know if the creative decisions over the last few months have resulted in TV ratings and PPV buy rates declining, but I wouldn’t be surprised. They need to put more thought with their storylines, especially on RAW, in order for things to improve.

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