Interview: "The American Nightmare" Cody Rhodes
Hot off the trail after a ultra successful Wrestle Kingdom 12 which was recently held at the massive 55,000 capacity Tokyo Dome and has created intense global interest. New Japan Pro Wrestling has officially announced their first ever tour of Australia. Led by the man they call ‘’The Cleaner’’ Kenny Omega the most talked about wrestler on the planet NJPW is bound to thrill Wrestling purists and straight out fans alike!
Joining Omega are the like of IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Cody, The Young Bucks, IWGP Intercontinental Champion Minoru Suzuki, IWGP Tag Team Champions ‘’King Of Darkness’’ Evil and Sanada, IWGP United States Champion Jay White, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay, Lance Archer, Ishii, Juice, Nagata.. and plenty more!
These events will assuredly send shockwaves through the world of professional wrestling. NJPW is coming to Australia because the fans have demanded it! This is the company’s first full international tour! The hottest brand in professional wrestling New Japan Pro Wrestling continues is global branding in 2018 and it kicks off in Australia! It might have just set on their biggest event of the year, but The Rising Sun is now headed Down Under and there is sure to be plenty of FALLOUT! This is one event you will not want to miss. We were lucky enough to speak with "The American Nightmare" Cody before this must see tour.
First of all Cody, how are you and how's life treating you?
Life is very good, it's very busy but I don't think I've ever not been busy, I like it that way, it's very busy but it's for a very good reason. The shows that are coming up in Australia, the ROH television tapings that I have, it's just a really good time man.
Very nice. This of course is a very historic tour for Australian wrestling fans and Aussie wrestling in general, we've waited a long time and now it's finally happening. Are you excited for yourself and the NJPW roster to show us what you've got to offer?
Absolutely! I think it's a really measured choice that New Japan decided it wasn't going to be in the United Kingdom, it wasn't even Europe or South America, they decided that their big second expansion show overseas was going to be Australia. I hope that Australian fans understand that this was measured in terms of an audience that really wants to see New Japan and that New Japan really wants this audience and their support. I know we're all very much looking forward to it.
How long has it been since you've been here in Australia working for other promotions and wrestling live shows?
Man, I honestly think it's since my time with WWE and I think early in my run with WWE, so that's going back a long time. I missed several of the WWE tours due to being on a different brand at the time or not being on the right time when it's the red (Raw) or the blue (Smackdown) team when they come out for a tour. But yeah, it's way too long man.
Is there anything about Australia in general that has your buzzing to return here?
I think the fanbase for sure. I remember a show in Melbourne when I first started with WWE back in 2008 I think it was, I was standing near Dean Malenko at the time about to go out in front of 12,000 people. I remember he told me "Go out there and make sure before you start your match, look out and take it all in, these moments are so special." The fact that wrestling can transcend cultures, languages, and different countries all over the world, it's just something that we can all agree on and understand. I know there's some great fans in Australia that I've missed for a number of years and I can't wait to experience that again.
You're extremely good at working as a heel (bad guy) and getting heat from the crowd at shows. How do you go about it and what's your perspective on how you prepare in terms of your character The American Nightmare?
I think back in the day with wrestling there was always clear cut good guys and bad guys, it was really black and white. Around the time someone like Steve Austin who worked as a heel mostly, but he became so popular it stops being black and white, it starts to become more grey. I remember one of the last things that my Dad told me was "Hey, you can either be a babyface or you can be a star." I think if you go into any outing as a star and you keep your ears open, that's the context, that's what dictates who you're going to be that night. Are you going to be a villain? Are you going to be a sympathetic person? Whatever it is, it's all about what the audience gives you and how they perceive you. Wrestling is unlike anything else, you can go to a play and boo the people on stage and they'll throw you out. You go to a wrestling show and you boo the performers and that changes the course of the show, and that's what I like to do, it's the most challenging thing, and that's why I feel like my game has just gone to a higher and higher level every time. I can be a hero in one city and then I'm the villain and getting booed in the next, it's just how you evolve and how you can adapt to each situation.
There's been some tension between members of the Bullet Club/The Elite lately, especially between yourself and Kenny Omega. Do you think that you guys can work as a cohesive unit while you're here in Australian for the tour?
I think it's less about the Bullet Club and more so about Kenny and myself wanting to know who's the best. You've got Kenny Omega who's got this reputation for being the best wrestler in the world and here I am with an extremely mainstream reputation that's also garnered a lot of new eyes for the Bullet Club. I think we both understand what we like and what we don't like about each other, it's a very real scenario. I don't want to be in a group that I'm not the leader of, you know what I mean? I'm sure Kenny feels the same way. We've got a big match coming up in April for Ring Of Honor and I'm sure there's going to be some speed-bumps along the way, and I just hope that the Bullet Club isn't caught in the crossfire along the way, it's between myself and Kenny. There might be a little interaction between us during the Australian tour, but I guess we'll just wait and see.
With that match you just mentioned at ROH Supercard Of Honor, do you think that this is going to be THE show that's going to take Ring Of Honor to new heights, especially with a match like Cody vs. Omega?
I think so, I think it has the interest of the entire weekend, but if we're being fair that weekend kind of belongs to Wrestlemania which is the day after. But I guess Saturday is not about anything other than Kenny and myself and I hope that this gives Ring Of Honor the confidence that they don't need to do a Wrestlemania weekend show next year. They absolutely don't need to do that and I know for a fact that can stand on their own feet and put on an amazing show and still draw a huge crowd no matter what date it is. New Japan is the same situation, they've been gaining more confidence and every time they put tickets on sale in the United States they sell out just like that. The Australian tour tickets are moving really fast, it just gives the product more confidence know there's more eyes on what we do and it's getting bigger and better every time. I'm glad to be the face of that brand in terms of ROH and I'm more than happy helping that ship sail forward, that's what I want and ROH and NJPW have given me that ability.
What's next for Cody? What do you have your sights set while you're a part of New Japan and for the rest of 2018?
Hmm, well I think the most important thing for me in 2018 is All In, which is a self financed event that The Young Bucks and myself and funding from our own pockets. We're sort of trying to change the whole outline of how wrestling works and it's very ambitious, but I'm very confident in it being able to succeed and for it to be able to draw over 10,000 people. But as far as New Japan is concerned, I feel like my title match against Okada at least garnered a rematch and if not for the IWGP title, it would be for the IWGP United States title, I mean I'm the American Nightmare and it's the United States title so it's kind of a match made in heaven. That's something I also have my sights set on for 2018. This year I've got more dates working with New Japan than ever before so I really want to cross paths with guys like Ishi and Tanahashi, guys that I wasn't able to work with before. I'm very much looking forward to new matches and a big 2018.
I've got to say that the 'American Nightmare' character that you portray so well is working wonders and you're at an all time high career wise. I'd like to know how you go about putting a character like Stardust in WWE, and comparing that to the 'American Nightmare' Cody?
Well I think that Stardust was really layed out for me, they were like this is what the wardrobe is going to be and this is what we'd like the paint to be, a lot of test runs and things of that nature. Whereas with the American Nightmare, it's a lot of expression, a lot of let's try this and see how it goes, see if it sticks. There always seems to be something different with the wardrobe or the hair even, and there are some things that are constants. It's all about finding what the constants should be and what people are liking the most and sticking with that, that's the thing about being an artist or a competitor, playing your music how you want to play it whether it's good or bad, they'll let you know. Lately it's been very good.
For those who haven't seen a live New Japan show yet, they're about to. What can you tell us to expect and how is it different from a typical WWE house show or any other show for that matter?
I think that wrestling has really evolved into sports entertainment, but where WWE sort of leans more toward the entertainment side of things, NJPW definitely leans more towards the sports format of the product. It's more salt and less sugar, more grit. They've coined the phrase 'Strongstyle' and I think that sounds very appealing to an educated and modern audience like the people that come to our shows. I think it will be something familiar but also un-familiar for them and they'll walk away from it feeling really good about the experience.
How's Marty Scurll taking the breakup between yourself and Kenny at the moment? Are you trying to get full custody?
I think Marty is handling the most difficult, the Bucks have been pretty silent about it and keep selling their merchandise. Marty on the other hand, I don't think he's really figured out which side he wants to be on, whether it's with Dad or his other Dad. I think he'll probably play it both ways for as long as possible, Marty is a villain and an opportunistic character and only time will tell, that's a great question actually. I'll see him soon for ROH TV tapings down in North Carolina and we'll see whose shirt he's got on. Probably his own.
I think he need a leader and you're definitely the man for the job. Thanks so much Cody for taking the time to chat today, it's been a pleasure and very much looking forward to seeing you in Australia this month for NJPW Fallout Downunder, do you have any words for your Aussie fans before you say goodbye?
Yeah, don't miss it! You're always going to remember your first and New Japan decided Australia before anywhere, so don't forget that. It's their product, it's strongstyle, and I think that encourages more folks who are unfamiliar with it and more familiar with WWE to come along and they'll love it, I promise.
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