Monday 8 September 2014

Bad Dust

Over the last two weeks we’ve been treated (and I use that term loosely) to seeing Goldust and Stardust turning heel. They’ve attacked the Usos after matches and cheated to gain a singles victory over them. Why this has happened is hard to figure out.

It was just about a year ago that Cody Rhodes found himself storyline-fired by the then-newly formed Authority. In Cody’s absence his brother Goldust returned to WWE screens in an effort to win his bro’s job back. He failed. Then Cody, after enjoying a real life honeymoon, showed back up and the brothers won themselves WWE contracts, and the tag team titles, in spirited matches against The Shield.

At the time it felt like a big deal for the brothers, particularly Cody. He’d turned babyface earlier in the year during an entertaining and expertly booked Money in the Bank match in which he was betrayed by so-called best friend and current Miz stunt double Damien Sandow. He seemed to be on the rise. An affable, talented guy that was finally getting his crack at progression.

The tag outings alongside Goldust were great. Everyone enjoyed them. Cody was praised for his work as a babyface after years of being the bad guy while Goldy was clearly having a career resurgence, doing some of the best work of his twenty-three year career. Alongside The Shield combo of Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns they made tag team wrestling in WWE something to look forward to seeing. After years of the likes of Cryme Time that was quite the feat.

'Look, there goes your singles push!'
And this wasn’t the first time Cody Rhodes had been doing solid work when handed the opportunity. The year before he’d made the best of an incredibly bad situation by making his Intercontinental title feud with Big Show not entirely atrocious. The year before that he provided Rey Mysterio with his final noteworthy WWE feud. By the end of 2013 it was clear Cody Rhodes was a man who could and would make the most of any opportunity handed to him and that audiences would invest in him emotionally.

When 2014 began and the Rhodes brothers dropped the tag titles to the New Age Outlaws it felt like a split was being prepared. That turned out not to be the case, which was a pleasant surprise. It seemed that WWE understood what they had in the genuinely popular combo of Cody Rhodes and Goldust and that they were going to keep them both affiliated. My assumption was that they would either go through a peaceful split or that they’d remain affiliated but work more singles outings in order to prepare Cody for a bigger role.

Instead they remained together and stagnated. They started being booked as an afterthought and people, naturally enough, lost interest in them. If viewers aren’t given a reason to care about a performer or a tag team then they probably won’t.

This stagnation led to WWE turning Cody Rhodes into Stardust, basically another Goldust character, in what we can only assume was a half-hearted attempt at freshening them up. That not only neutered ‘The Bizarre’s One’s’ appeal, that he was an oddball unique on the WWE roster, but also harmed Cody’s already damaged image as a man ready to break out as a singles star. Becoming a clone of an overly familiar character his brother had played to near enough perfection for a little under two decades did nothing for him. It was a regression.

So what we have now is Cody Rhodes and Goldust dressing and acting the same, taking away an aspect of their pairing that was originally enjoyable (Cody being nonplussed by his brother’s peculiarity) and being bad guys for no reason. Well, no reason beyond the creative team not knowing what else to do with them. They were far more effective as good guys, as demonstrated by their popularity when given things to do last autumn and at the start of this year. Cody’s prospects as a singles star were far greater as a good guy too.

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