Cody Rhodes has the rare opportunity to become the hottest free agent in professional wrestling. NXT always uses that tagline on their debuting superstars, but in Rhodes’ case, the moniker may actually fit.
Rhodes’ set of circumstances is unique, because he is still very young, and has potential that is still untapped. In WWE, Rhodes was toiling in the undercard after peaking in the midcard. It can be argued that Rhodes was not given a real shot to have great success, and that all he needed was an opportunity. But in the upcoming months, Rhodes will be given this opportunity after asking for, and getting, his release from his WWE contract.
The WWE Universe always loves to fantasy-book their favorite underutilized wrestler on the independent circuit, or different wrestling promotions. It’s happened with Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and even Ryback. Rhodes has taken it upon himself to make these type of fantasy booking options come true.
On August 19, Rhodes’ 90-day non-compete clause will be up, and he will be competing against CWC participant, Zack Sabre Jr. This will be the start of his independent career, and he better make the most of it.
When he was released, Rhodes made a point of calling out the WWE writers who he felt did not do enough to help him succeed. He put some of the blame on them for how his career had stalled.
What’s in the past is done, and now Rhodes must put his money where his mouth is and prove his worth. If you look at the list of wrestlers Rhodes has been booked against, it is a who’s who of the independent circuit. Sabre Jr., Chris Hero, Trevor Lee and Tommaso Ciampa, just to name a few. That’s before you even list the big shows he’s scheduled for.
Rhodes is a participant in PWG’s 2016 Battle of Los Angeles, which has the potential to be one of the best wrestling tournaments of all-time. His first-round opponent will be Sami Callihan, who was once in NXT as Solomon Crowe, and is a top independent wrestler. The star power in the BOLA will force Rhodes to bring his A-game. If he wants to be known as the superstar he thinks he is, this will be the place where he has to show it.
He is also scheduled to appear on Ring of Honor’s Final Battle show on Dec. 2.
Nowadays, most of the most popular wrestlers have some sort of credibility outside of WWE. This may be what Rhodes needs to get over that hump and become a star.
He already has a good look, he is a very good athlete, and he obviously has the professional wrestling business in his blood. He’s taking the same route as another blue-chip prospect that was cut from WWE, Drew Galloway.
Galloway honed his craft and become a top draw on the independent circuit, and was TNA’s world champion. With the brand split, if Rhodes can duplicate Galloway’s post-WWE success, then the company would more than likely be begging Rhodes to come back and be in the main event mix.
Like professional athletes in other sports have done, Rhodes is betting on himself. He is betting that he has the talent to go out and make a name for himself, so that the world can see him as world champion material.
There is another main event guy in WWE who did the exact same thing: A.J. Styles. Styles left TNA and went to work in New Japan, and immediately become the top foreign heel in the company. A few years later, he was competing for the WWE title in the main event of a pay-per-view.
Rhodes has an opportunity to prove to everyone that he is more than just an undercard comedy heel, or a midcard babyface. He can prove that he is one of the top guys in the business, and should be respected as such.