WWE’s Cody Rhodes Talks Brock Lesnar, A Roman Reigns Rematch, WWE Supercard, And His WWE 2K23 Input


When Cody Rhodes returned to WWE at Wrestlemania 38 in 2022, it was the worst-kept secret in professional wrestling. Since then, though, he’s been positioned as one of WWE’s biggest stars–torn pec notwithstanding–and it’s a remarkable run given that he’s one of the very few wrestlers who left WWE to make a name for themselves, eventually returning.

After returning from injury at the 2023 Royal Rumble, which he won, and fighting Roman Reigns for the WWE Undisputed Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 39, Cody now faces his next major challenge: Brock Lesnar. Rhodes and Lesnar will go toe-to-toe at WWE Backlash on Saturday, May 6, live on Peacock.

Now Playing: WWE 2K23 Gameplay Trailer

Before then, Rhodes, also known as the “American Nightmare,” spoke to GameSpot about preparing for Brock, his story with Roman Reigns not being finished yet, and his return to WWE video games. The “American Nightmare” is not only represented in 2K’s latest title, WWE 2K23, but his character is alive and well in the WWE Supercard mobile game, as well. And if you’re wondering whether or not he had any input on how his character looks in the video games, we’ll let Rhodes explain how “petty” he can be about his own character design.

GameSpot: I wanted to start out by throwing a number at you. I asked 2K and Cat Daddy. And they told me that there are 33 Cody Rhodes cards in WWE Supercard. They cover pretty much every version of Cody Rhodes that you have portrayed on WWE television. Did you realize that you were so well represented in this game?

Cody Rhodes: I don’t think it’s really hit me, in general. I knew the same thing in terms of having 33 different variations. I don’t think it’s really hit me how much I’m represented, or how much of what we would call–as far as being a wrestler or a member of the roster–how much equity I have just within the company. Just because my focus has always been what’s right in front of me, you know? In this case, in beating Brock Lesnar. But it’s very sobering. It’s one of those things that when you commit your whole life to doing this, really, you love hearing that you have 33 variations of your career and yourself and the good times and the bad times that are in this space that’s a very active community for gamers and people to enjoy Supercard. And you look at it and think, “Well, I’d like to make it an even number. Let’s get to 40. How do we get to 40?” And hopefully, we can do that.

It’s very interesting that Supercard is almost a living museum of WWE history. Wrestlemania just happened and we got a brand spanking new “American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes card. However, in talking to my partner, I had to go and explain literally yesterday who the “undashing” version of your character was. And it’s so easy to pull up the app and tap on that card to see what you looked like at that point.

That’s really that’s cool that it’s a visual aid in a sense for something like that, because I can tell you every one of us–different members of the roster–there’s just this selfish nature of, “Oh, of course, everyone knows about that time I did this or that time we did this.” And to be honest, I’ve forgotten a lot of things that I thought I would never forget.

We have the Cody Rhodes Hell in a Cell Defining Moments action figure, complete with torn pec, coming out. I have to believe a Supercard version of that is somewhere around the corner.

I know immediately when I think of Hell in a Cell, and I talked about it last week in my promo on Raw, it’s something that was far beyond–I didn’t know what was happening. I was in so much pain. I wanted to kind of go further into this last week but I didn’t want to just eat up mic time, but I was in so much physical pain and I had to take baby Tylenol because they couldn’t find regular Advil. I had ice on it all day. I was just miserable. And then I wasn’t miserable because it was so exciting and so reckless and not something that I’d ever recommend to any other wrestler or superstar to ever do again. But again, I’ve never watched the match back. And I know one day WWE is going to be like, “Oh, we’re going to do this sit down and you’re going to watch it back with Seth. And we’re going to talk about it.” I’ll watch it back then, I guess. But to see how much it meant to people, that figure coming out, which also comes with the bull rope and the cowbell. That was fun because my brother sent me that overnight. You can’t just find a regular bull rope and the original Dusty cowbell just anywhere. So he overnighted it to me and then it made it and I was able to bring that into that match. Yeah, that’s very special. I’m glad it’s making its way and I’m sure like you said I bet you it makes its way to Supercard as well.

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This year also marks your return to WWE’s mainline video game series. And not only are you back, but as the version of yourself that you created outside of WWE. What was that like for you? And did you have any input in your presentation? Because your character has a lot of pyrotechnics on his way to the ring.

I said this when I first came back. I said I have a very complicated contract. I think a lot of people thought that meant money and no, it didn’t mean money. It meant all kinds of weird little–I’ll just go ahead and say it–petty things. I keep an eye on this brand because we worked so hard. And I mean we, in terms of I developed that brand outside of WWE, but also it’s really fan-created, as well. So many pieces that I borrowed and linked together, and all the different companies I went to, every place, every stop along the road, and every fan I met genuinely had an impression on what the American Nightmare would be. Then showing up at Wrestlemania, it almost hit its final form. Almost. I can tell you when it comes to that, they were very active, the 2K people are really great. If I get a sense people are going to treat me like they used to when I was Stardust, I’m already on my toes ready to fight somebody. And they came at me and treated me completely different with a lot of love and the only thing that changed–they showed me everything in the entrance and the pyro–the only thing that I think I was a little petty, in particular, about [is] I made them remove a few freckles. I don’t know if that’s a if that should be knowledge or not but I’ll go ahead and put it out there there was one too many freckles on the American Nightmare that was in that game.

Now, we’re obviously looking ahead to you and Brock going one on one at Backlash. I was in the arena for the Raw after Wrestlemania, when you were beaten down by Brock. Not the most fun ending to that show. How exactly does one prepare for a match against Brock Lesnar? You’ve faced a lot of different types of people. But I’ve yet to see anyone quite like that.

I have to laugh when you mentioned being there just because I have already said it, but this is definitely the worst beatdown and the most prolonged beatdown I’ve ever been part of. [It’s] genuinely humiliating, coming off of a difficult night, if not the most typical night already. It’s humorous now looking back, but looking out in the crowd and seeing a lot of the younger fans who had been at WrestleMania and who had been at Monday Night Raw, that was a really difficult pill to swallow in terms of you don’t want to leave them disappointed like that. So you have to make sure you get up and go out on your own feet and give them an opportunity to know that you’re okay.

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Brock being so large, being so violent, and again [being] the most decorated combat sports athlete of all time. But I just feel like I don’t know how to put it. It feels like there’s an ace up my sleeve that Brock Lesnar is not aware of. I think Brock Lesnar’s not aware of anything about me, other than the fact that I came into WWE and lit it up. And at the time I did that, he was in the main event against Roman Reigns and really pulling the wagon and being one of the biggest stars in the history of the sport. And some people look at that and go, “Oh, great, we got this guy, he’s gonna help us this is a good thing. We’ve got this new addition.” I believe, judging from where we are now, Brock looked at it and just thought somebody was trying to get at his plate, somebody was trying to get at his food. And other than that, that’s all I think he knows about me, which goes to my advantage in Puerto Rico [at Backlash]. I’m very optimistic. We’ve trained, we’ve done all the right things, made any adjustments we need to adjust to. But again, you say that, and then you’re standing across from Brock Lesnar. But I think I have his number, and I don’t even think he’s got a firm grasp on who I am at all.

Since your WWE return, you’ve spoken at length about “finishing the story” that was started by your father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. In hindsight, with Wrestlemania, behind us, in your mind is finishing the story beating and toppling Roman Reigns for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship that he’s held for nearly 1,000 days? Or, with you being drafted to Raw and in contention for the newly-revived WWE World Heavyweight Championship, could that finish the story you’ve been telling?

I think they’re very different stories. And I think they’re all really special stories, you kind of said it yourself. There’s a whole roll roster that wants to be the very first World Heavyweight Champion for this iteration of the title that Triple H showed last week. However, the story that I was talking about when I came back at Wrestlemania, the night getting as close as anyone has ever [gotten to beating Roman], if not even closer–to the point where Paul Heyman was fully out of breath, thinking this was it, this was the end. And I think everyone thought this was the end. And it wasn’t. I’ve been careful about not going on TV and complaining about the nature of how I lost because it’s just not in my makeup. It’s whining. Everyone saw it, you already know.

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That involves the WWE Championship, which way, way, way back was the WWWF Championship in 1978. That’s the story that needs to be finished, that I want to be finished. But it doesn’t mean that other stories won’t happen, as long as I’m under contract with WWE. The goal was to get my hands on the title that he never fully got to take home. And that is still the goal. But I imagine a lot of things will happen.

That’s a huge, huge, huge rematch. And if you know anything, which most fans do about the nature of the tribal chief’s deal and how frequently we see him, it’s probably the rematch that and the match in general that WWE wants the most, but it could also be the most difficult to get to. So right now what’s laid in front of me is Brock Lesnar–can’t look past that. If the World Heavyweight Championship, the new one that is the shining beacon for Monday Night Raw is there, I don’t look down on that in the slightest. But just so we all are clear, the story that needs to be finished was the story that revolves around the title that Roman has.

And last thing, I know you’re a huge Zelda fan. How are you feeling/preparing for Tears of the Kingdom?

I’m fully preparing in the sense that I redid a Breath of the Wild playthrough. And I’m really focused on stuff that I didn’t touch last time. I just wanted to get through the narrative. The story I was really, really loving. And the story is kind of minimal and Breath of the Wild, in a sense that you play for so long, then you get to hidden memory, or you get to one of the Divine Beasts and get another piece of the canon. I got all that. So I’ve been doing stuff like trying to beat Lynels. I’ve been trying to actually get good at the game, because it seems like Tears of the Kingdom is going to be [based] a lot around the mechanics of the new things you can do with the vehicles and stuff. And I don’t want to be a jabroni. I was on an Air France flight coming back from Paris just the other day and there was a man much much older than me. I mean, pushing 80, maybe 90. And he looked over my seat and talked to me, even with a little bit of a language barrier about how excited he was for Tears of the Kingdom. And that was one of those moments when I realized this is one of those generational huge huge deals, not just for Nintendo [but] for gaming. And it’s cool that it brings people together.

Note: This interview has been condensed for clarity and length.

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