WWE star Randy Orton touts Cody Rhodes' rise to top of pro wrestling


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Before Cody Rhodes was on a collision course with Roman Reigns, The Rock and the rest of The Bloodline faction, he was just trying to make a name for himself in WWE like anyone else.

The famous wrestling name of “Rhodes” carried as much weight as it could early in his career. He had a leg up on the competition when he entered Ohio Valley Wrestling because his father, the late great Dusty Rhodes, had trained him since he was 12. He enhanced his skills in the territory before he moved up to the main roster in 2007. Toward the end of 2008, he was in a faction with superstar Randy Orton.

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Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes

Ted DiBiase Jr., Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes appear during the WWE Monday Night Raw show, Aug. 24, 2009, in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Orton, whose career will be profiled in the A&E series “Biography: WWE Legends” on Sunday, led The Legacy with Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. The two-year run in the group included a tag team championship with DiBiase, but the group would split in 2010.

Orton told Fox News Digital in a recent interview he didn’t necessarily see the possibility of Rhodes becoming the transcendent superstar he is today while the two teamed up in the late 2000s.

“I definitely saw potential, but to say I saw the potential of what he [is] now, I don’t know that if in 2007 or whenever he came on the roster, I don’t know if I looked at a young Cody Rhodes and thought he’s going to beat the s— out of Brock Lesnar 15 years from now,” he said. “I don’t think I could call that one. But like last summer, he had a run of three or so matches with Brock where, I mean, he has just come so far.”

Rhodes left WWE in 2016 and hit the independent circuit hard. He appeared in Ring of Honor, TNA Wrestling, New-Japan Pro Wrestling and later helped form All Elite Wrestling.

In 2022, his time with AEW came to an end. He stunned the crowd at WrestleMania 38 when he challenged Seth Rollins and beat him. Aside from a torn pectoral injury, Rhodes was catapulted into superstardom.

Cody Rhodes yells in delight

Cody Rhodes (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

WWE STAR RANDY ORTON SAYS HE WASN’T READY TO BE YOUNGEST CHAMPION AT 24, TALKS DOCUSERIES EPISODE

And what he did for the business when he left and what he did for us talent in offering a competition, and I don’t know if I call it competition now, but for a hot second there, Cody was buzzing because he got these guys together, got a ragtag group of guys together and got a TV deal and was drawing eyes from all over the world with this product,” Orton said. “And the fact that he came back to us, I think, kind of shows you where the obvious No. 1 place to be is if you’re a pro wrestler.”

Rhodes is now due to headline WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia and potentially finish his story and win the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship.

WWE teased for a few weeks that, after winning the Royal Rumble for the second straight time, Rhodes would challenge Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship. The Rock even came back to try to insert himself into the WrestleMania main event against Rhodes. The WWE Universe, instead, clamored for Rhodes to finish the story.

Orton said that support underscored just how popular and important Rhodes is in the company and in the industry.

I love that he’s come back home. I love that he’s a part of the locker room,” he said. “I love when I see him talking to other young talent and the role that he’s in now as, like, a top guy. And if not just a top guy, possibly in a short amount of time, the top guy.”

Cody Rhodes in 2023

Cody Rhodes arrives at the red-carpet premiere of the Peacock original WWE documentary “American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes” on July 18, 2023, in Sandy Springs, Georgia. (WWE via Getty Images)

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“I mean, think about it like this: There’s a lot of fans out there that would rather see Cody finish his story than to see arguably the biggest superstar in the world right now compete at WrestleMania. They prefer seeing Cody, and that is huge. There’s no one else on the roster that could take that position from Cody, not even The Rock.”

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