It was a little over a year ago that Cody Rhodes aka Stardust (real name Cody Runnels) stunned the wrestling world by announcing that he had requested his released from the WWE, due to constant displeasure over the way writers were using him and his character. Even more shocking, perhaps, was that the WWE simply let him walk away from his contract. Since then, Rhodes has essentially been his own boss, taking bookings all around the world in promotions both big and small.
Along with appearances in the more popular promotions like Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Rhodes has been working a steady schedule of smaller independent shows. Since he’s a former WWE Intercontinental and Tag Team champion, Rhodes is often the focus of any marketing for these smaller shows.
On a recent episode of the Sam Roberts’ Wrestling Podcast, Rhodes told a story about his worst experience in the indies so far, having to deal with a pushy and demanding promoter who had no sympathy that Cody was trying to juggle an appearance on the TV show Arrow at the same time.
“It got to the point where I had to take a flight from Vancouver in the morning to Hartford, and I was going to be there 30 minutes before the show actually started. It wasn’t the end of the world, we were going at the end of the night, so it’s not the end of the world, it was happening later in the night so we could make it happen. Had there been a single travel woe, I wouldn’t have made it. I am still on the set of Arrow at 4 in the morning the night before, laying on the rooftop in a cold pool of rain water with the character Diggle pointing a fake gun at me, doing the same scene over and over again, and I’m not saying anything or really needed, but I’m there. As the time is going by, I’m thinking to myself that it is 4 in the morning, there is just no way I can make it. I should be at the airport already because it takes 2 hours in customs. I’m in Canada, so the Arrow people are super accommodating; they put me in a van, changed my clothes, just brilliant. I mean, I’m a glorified extra on the show, asking for my own ride, but they took care of me great.
“I made my first flight, I missed the first flight after going through customs and barely made the second flight. I’m so nervous because I don’t know when I am on because I had a suit on and my wrestling gear underneath it because I was convinced that this guy is not going to communicate with me; I’m not going to make the show. Long story short, I decided that I made it, I had time to talk with Dijak, and let’s go balls to the wall. I am going to no sleep, but who cares, I can get through this and sleep all night, no big deal.
“We get through the match, we finish, everyone seemed really excited for the match. He told me that it was a record crowd. I felt a super sense of accomplishment, until afterward when he asks me if I am still up for that dinner? I said that I honestly don’t think I will be able to make it because I haven’t slept, and I think I’m just going to hit the hay.
“This is my first bad experience was in this one phrase: ‘Well, do you want to get paid?’ I didn’t know what to do; like, part of me wanted to move my hand, and everyone is looking. I looked at him and walked into the other room and literally just texted my wife asking what I should do. … I came back in and I told him that I didn’t want his money. I am going to sign these 8×10s for the gentlemen in the restaurant and I’m going to go. My driver took me halfway to the hotel, and on the way to the hotel I said, you know what, let’s go to that dinner. We turn around, go to the dinner, nobody has any interest that I am at the dinner. The guy cards me when I come in, marks my hand and everything, okay cool, I start to eat and the guy who threatened to not pay me, and a standing ovation from his minions. At that point I just got up and left; I just didn’t want to be attached to the event any longer.
“Sorry for such a long journey I took you on, but there is a second part when a referee said to me after he heard the initial phrase, ‘Do you want to get paid,’ this random referee seemed really nice up to that point, he said, ;Hey man, you can’t blow him off like that, the last guy that did that was Kevin Nash.’ I’m thinking, I didn’t blow him off; I didn’t know. His whole crew is just staring at me, just a terrible experience. That was the one bad experience I had after the entire year.” (Transcript via WrestleZone.com)
To recap, Rhodes found out he had a scheduling conflict between a wrestling gig and some some Arrow shooting. He gave the promoter months of notice, but the guy said that he had already done a ton of marketing and even rented out a restaurant for an after-parting, advertising Rhodes as the special guest. Rhodes basically had a day from hell just to get to the show, but then the promoter refused to pay him if he didn’t attend this after-party event. Hopefully this kind of incident is a rare one.