Ever since “The American Nightmare” Cody became the hottest free agent in pro wrestling last year, he has been making an impact in numerous promotions across the globe, including, of course, Ring of Honor.
Not only is Cody one of the biggest stars in the industry, but he also is one of the most controversial. In his first appearance in an ROH ring, at Final Battle 2016 in December, Cody wasted no time in showing that he was not a man of honor, as he used a blatant low blow to score a tainted win over Jay Lethal. Shortly thereafter, Cody shocked the wrestling world by joining Bullet Club.
In the main event of the War of the Worlds pay-per-view in May, Cody was defeated by ROH World Champion Christopher Daniels in a triple threat match for the title that also involved Lethal. However, Cody disputed the result, and thanks to his lawyer, he secured a one-on-one match against Daniels for the championship at the Best in the World pay-per-view on Friday, June 23.
Cody has steadfastly maintained his free-agent status and refused to sign an ROH contract, which means that he could walk out of Best in the World as the new ROH World Champion and take the title wherever he wants, whenever he wants.
Cody recently agreed to an exclusive interview with ROHWrestling.com.
ROH: You’ve said that the ROH brass doesn’t want you to be ROH World Champion because you’re not under contract. If you do win the title at Best in the World, is there a chance you would take the title somewhere else?
C: I think there’s a hundred percent chance that I would win the title and take it somewhere else, but I don’t think I would necessarily take it anywhere that would be harmful to Ring of Honor. Part of me being champion -- if me being champion happens -- and being a free agent is that all these shows -- if you look at my Twitter, there’s a show every five minutes it seems like that I have now -- the title would come with me. Ring of Honor loves the idea of an exclusive champion, exclusive to their brand, but I don’t think they realize the service it does them for the Ring of Honor World Champion to be traveling, not unlike a Jack Brisco, or a “Nature Boy” Ric Flair or a Harley Race did in their day. If I’m Ring of Honor World Champion I’ll defend it when I travel. The title’s not going to belong to Sinclair Broadcasting anymore, it’s going to belong to me.
ROH: I can’t speak for Sinclair or ROH management, but I think your last statement is exactly what would concern them. Isn’t it understandable that they’d be somewhat nervous about a competitor not under contract being in possession of the world title?
C: Sure, I can understand their apprehension, but there’s got to be a maverick of some sort in that office. There’s got to be someone who realizes that right now a bet on me is a really safe bet. I’ve been producing since the moment I said, “Here, take a look at what I’m going to do with this new chapter in my career.”
ROH: Christopher Daniels is on the biggest roll of his storied career. In addition to his incredible wrestling skills, it’s fair to say he has no equal in ROH when it comes to experience and strategy. When he made his pro wrestling debut, you were only 7 years old. So what makes you believe you have what it takes to overcome his vast skills and experience at Best in the World?
C: I don’t ever want to point to somebody and say he’s too old. The term we like to use in wrestling is “experienced” and “a veteran.” But I’m 7 years old when this guy makes his in-ring debut. I think his puncher’s chance, his veteran’s chance, gets smaller and smaller every second, every minute, every hour that goes by. I’ve made it clear I think his title reign is 20 years too late. I wrestled Christopher Daniels in that triple threat and he holds a victory over me, but I don’t know if there’s anything left for him to gain or anything left for him to lose in the industry. He made it to the top of the mountain, and it’s going to be a not-so-glorious way that he’ll fall.
ROH: You mentioned the triple threat match at War of the Worlds. The ending to the match was controversial, so you got your lawyers involved to procure this one-on-one match with Daniels. What do you think your father, the late “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, who always handled his business in the ring, would say about using lawyers to get a title shot.
C: “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and I had very different mindsets. He never really liked to get involved in anything I was doing in wrestling for fear of it looking like nepotism, but to be totally honest, I think also for fear that he would disagree with the way I do things. But, look, I didn’t get a group of lawyers; it just took one single lawyer to point out the elephant in the room -- that I had Jay Lethal pinned, and for whatever reason, the official, Todd Sinclair -- who is riddled with almost a Nick Patrick-like-amount of controversy surrounding him -- decided not to count for whatever reason. Yeah, Christopher Daniels’ hit the Best Moonsault Ever. My shoulders were down, but so were Jay Lethal’s before it even happened. Pro wrestling shouldn’t be unlike Major League Baseball and the NFL. They’re reviewing these types of plays, and here we are just letting this guy walk out with the title. You could absolutely feel the incompleteness, the lack of being whole, and everyone in that arena could feel it in their hearts.
ROH: One of the staples of Ring of Honor is the Code of Honor, and there’s a certain amount of respect between the competitors. But to put it bluntly, you’ve been disrespectful and dishonorable ever since you first stepped inside an ROH ring. With your talent and your pedigree, why conduct yourself in this manner?
C: Maybe I’m rubbed a little bit the wrong way by the concepts of this puro, Code of Honor horse****. The idea that we want respect versus the idea that we want fame, admiration, money and last but not least, titles. I think the most dishonorable are the ones who tell you, “This is about respect. I want to shake your hand before, I want to shake your hand after, and then I want to go on Twitter and tell you about how cool it was to exchange holds.” Get out of here. That is just not me and it never will be.
ROH: You have made some friends, however, as you’re a member of Bullet Club. There’s been some turmoil in Bullet Club as of late, as far as members leaving, new members joining. How would you assess the current state of Bullet Club?
C: I don’t think enough people are paying attention to the addition of Marty [Scurll], because he brings a completely different demographic. I don’t look at Bullet Club as a group of friends or a band of brothers. I look at Bullet Club as a unit of individuals who are acting for the good of the unit. It’s really easy to all get along when you’re basically printing money. The Hot Topic deal that The Young Bucks were able to pioneer -- we’re basically printing money. I think the element between us all of being the best is what binds us. There are casualties sometimes. Adam Cole pushed his luck. He got out of line and he’s no longer in our circle.
ROH: You talked about Adam Cole being a casualty of Bullet Club, but there have been others over the years, such as AJ Styles, who suffered a similar fate. Your father once famously said that there’s no honor among thieves. Are you concerned that one day you’ll be a casualty of Bullet Club?
C: I don’t really consider it a bunch of pirates and thieves. The reason I say that is because substance meets style. Yeah, there’s a whole lot of style and a whole lot of bad attitude that comes with Bullet Club, but we’re also the best matches on the show. Those are just the facts. Maybe everyone does have a life span in Bullet Club; maybe everyone does have a gun to their head and you don’t know when the trigger will be pulled, but I suppose I have more pressing matters to worry about.
ROH: You’ve had a great career up to this point. If you don’t win the ROH World Title, will you feel like your career ultimately was a failure?
C: Absolutely. I might as well be talking to you as a little boy who first decided to get into the industry. I very much agree with the way my dad raised me. Today’s society probably disagrees with how he raised me, but he taught me that third place is nothing to celebrate. Second place just means that you came close, but the only spot on the podium you want is on the top. I believe in that, and the world title represents that. Christopher Daniels did a brilliant job of highlighting the lineage of the ROH World Title and some of the names, his name included, that are in the record books. It’s very important to me to no longer have to say, “Hey, there will be another day.” The day is Friday. And then after that, it’s eight days later for the IWGP Heavyweight Title [against Kazuchika Okada at NJPW’s G1 special in Long Beach, Calif., July 1] . I want everything.
ROH: If Christopher Daniels is reading this, what would your final words be to him before you meet in the ring at Best in the World?
C: If Christopher Daniels has his little readers on and is able to take a look at this, I’d say thank you very much. Because you have proved to be an absolutely admirable challenger for me. I have one loss under my belt that will live forever -- at War of the Worlds to Christopher Daniels, and I think he knows what that means heading into Friday. I think he’s probably spending every precious moment he can holding that title, staring at that title, touching that title, because it’s almost over.
The fourth-annual Best in the World Pay Per View emanates from the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Friday June 23 at 9:00 EST/6:00 PST! It is available on all major providers as well as the Fite.TV app, Playstation Network, and ROHWrestling.com. And remember: you can join us live in Lowell, MA with special ticket packages available for both Best in the World AND our international television taping featuring the fallout the following night! To get the best seats, buy your tickets now!