The Cody Rhodes express continues to steam forward since his release from WWE. After appearing at TNA’s Bound for Glory and Ring of Honor’s Final Battle, Cody will now head to New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest event of the year, Wrestle Kingdom 11.
Rhodes asked for his release after feeling that his career was beginning to stagnate as the Stardust character and since then has made a point of traveling to different wrestling organizations and not signing to anyone in particular.
In October at the TNA Bound for Glory event, Cody showed up to support his wife as they tussled with Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis. Although he did not compete in a matchup, Cody checked off the first event in a list of many which saw the superstar appear at what is undoubtedly TNA’s biggest event period.
Just last weekend at Ring of Honor’s Final Battle event, Rhodes tussled with Jay Lethal, who is for all intents and purposes, the face of Ring of Honor. Rhodes was welcomed warmly by the New York crowd in what was seemingly a clash of two fan favorites. However, when the referee was accidentally knocked into the corner with a stray right hand, Rhodes shocked everybody by hitting Jay Lethal with a dastardly low blow before connecting with the Cross Rhodes, earning him the pinfall victory in his debut for Ring of Honor, at the company’s biggest event of the year.
It seems Rhodes is not content with just appearing some of the biggest events of the year (Wrestlemania, Bound For Glory, Final Battle), as New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that Cody would be appearing at Wrestle Kingdom 11. NJPW tweeted out a promotional package for Rhodes with the added news that he is the new member of the Bullet Club.
Earlier this year, Cody Rhodes also made an appearance for Gabe Sapolsky’s EVOLVE promotion. At EVOLVE 69, he teamed with the departing Johnny Gargano helping the WWN legend add one more victory before departing the company for good, heading off to WWE NXT. At this event and other independent wrestling events since his departure, Rhodes has played the role of a face who is celebrated by the fans. His appearance at Final Battle marked a change in the booking strategy that had been used thus far. Not only did Rhodes take the easy way out to victory, he made a statement by disrespecting one of Ring of Honor’s most beloved stars, even going so far as flipping the double bird before leaving the ring. On his way out of the arena, Rhodes even shoved Ring of Honor stalwart commentator Steve Corino before finally being chased off by Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian.
With New Japan and Ring of Honor is working relationship, it make sense to connect these two appearances by introducing Rhodes as a member of the Bullet Club. Rhodes works much more effectively as a heel and this will give him the opportunity to continue the same character in New Japan, which will also translate to his work in Ring of Honor. Wrestle Kingdom 11 will take place just days before ROH visits Center Stage in Atlanta – Cody’s very own backyard.
He clearly has been enjoying this run of appearances everywhere and anywhere, but his upcoming work in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling might very well be the most interesting that we have seen thus far. One of the names that was on Rhodes’s list that he released over the summer was Katsuyori Shibata. Rhodes’s membership in The Bullet Club will make for an easy explanation as to why he and Shibata would square off against each other Cody can be the invading heel coming to New Japan to take over, disrespecting the company in the same way he disrespected Ring of Honor.
Cody is not just content to sit back and wait for Wrestle Kingdom however, as he is appearing at EVOLVE 74 taking on Ethan Page. In his appearances there so far, Rhodes has come in as a fan favorite, even going so far has to buying 70 pizzas and throwing Gargano a goodbye pizza party in Queens, New York, sharing with the entire crowd. As Page is being built as one of the company’s top heels, one would imagine that he will continue to portray a conquering hero who is standing up to Page’s chaos. It should be interesting to see how he is received by the same New York crowd that soundly booed his actions at Final Battle.
Although it remains to be seen how a continued heel run in Ring of Honor, as well as Bullet Club membership, will pan out in terms of reception, it is clear that Rhodes no longer feels the need to walk and narrow path, but instead has opened up more possibilities than he ever had before by leaving WWE.