If you had a chance to catch last night’s solid WWE Smackdown, you saw Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes highlighted in a way they haven’t been before in their respective WWE tenures. Both men, especially Sandow, have the “gift of gab”. Both men know what they’re doing in the ring. But up until recently, creative seemed absolutely clueless on how to properly utilize Sandow and Rhodes, and their endless strengths.
What changed? Classic conflict 101.
The “break-up story” has been used so many times before it doesn’t even seem worth mentioning. Two singles wrestlers, paired up for a short successful tag-team run, almost always ends in a feud. Pro-wrestling history is always doomed to repeat itself. What’s different this time is the way Rhodes and Sandow are selling it. Cody Rhodes absolutely looked like a star by getting the better end of things at every turn last night against “the savior of the masses.” And Damien Sandow gives serious credibility to an otherwise shallow, oversimplified “I’m better than you” character archetype.
I complained for months that both of these men deserved a bigger spotlight. Rhodes Intercontinental Title run a few years back as the Dr. Doom-like villain was pure fun. Remember when he would come out and “bag” the audience? Perfection. But now he’s getting a chance to play a different role, a role where the audience can truly appreciate his charm instead of being asked to hold it against him.
At Money in the Bank, Sandow’s turn on Rhodes was the moment that stood out to me as the surprise of the night. We knew WWE had been hinting at a turn as far back as Wrestlemania. Thank goodness they waited to let it play out in such a spectacular fashion.
Ironically, this happened on the same night that Paul Heyman and CM Punk kicked off their friends-no-more breakup saga. The difference, though, is that Heyman and Punk have this larger-than-life angle to their feud. They’re fighting for the heavens. Revenge? Betrayal? Family? These are the basic themes of any great drama, and they’ve all served as a catalyst for “The Best” vs. “The Beast.”
Rhodes and Sandow have an equally important angle, however. They’re playing to the you-stole-my-girlfriend crowd. While we all like to think our lives are filled with epic confrontations, we probably just revel in day-to-day obscurity. We don’t get mad at our friends for killing our parents, or destroying our lives. We’re just pissed because they hit on the cute redhead at the bar.
Cody Rhodes versus Damien Sandow, much like CM Punk vs Paul Heyman, is, at the core, about friendship. The difference is that Rhodes and Sandow feud has the relatability factor. These guys embody what your and my friendships are actually like. No scene captured this more than last night’s ending on the dock – with Sandow pleading, begging for the Money in the Bank briefcase, Rhodes simply enjoyed the moment. And after Sandow told Rhodes that Rhodes is smarter, looks better, and has a better ‘stache, he still tossed the briefcase in the water. Because, at the end of the day, you simply want your friend to feel a little more humiliation than what you went through. That’s how it works in real life.
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