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USA Insider American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes Answers Questions His Documentary American Nightmare Didn't Cover

The American Nightmare gives the WWE Universe insight into what was left on the cutting room floor of his documentary on Peacock.

By Chris Phelan
Cody Rhodes poses on the red carpet for the premiere of "American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes"

SummerSlam is less than one week away, but pardon the WWE Universe if their collective attention span is focused on something else: Peacock's documentary American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes.

How to Watch

Watch Monday Night RAW every Monday evening at 8/7c on USA Network. Stream more exciting WWE series on Peacock.

Cody Rhodes is set to compete at SummerSlam 2023 on August 5 against Brock Lesnar. The highly-anticipated matchup – the third and presumably final match in their trilogy that has spanned the last several months – is one of many that has the potential to steal the show in Detroit. However, for Cody Rhodes, SummerSlam isn't the only thing on his mind. 

American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes is Garnering Rave Reviews

Cody Rhodes wrestles Roman Reigns for Undisputed WWE Universal Title Match during WrestleMania Goes Hollywood

Scheduled for release on July 31, American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes is more than just a career retrospective of one of the biggest Superstars on the WWE roster. The documentary doesn't just appeal to pro wrestling fans. It is a story of growing up under the shadow of one of the all-time greats – who also happens to be your father. American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes is a love letter to the wrestling industry in many ways, but it's also so much more. It is infinitely relatable to anyone who aspires to be better than their parents – not in a callous sense, but in an "I'm going to make my father proud" sort of way. Whether you're currently embroiled in the latest storylines of Monday Night RAW and SmackDown, or you're a lapsed fan who stumbled upon the documentary's listing on Peacock in between binging old episodes of The Office, do yourself a favor and watch American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes. It's a story worth telling – and, therefore, worth watching. 

Of course, the documentary serves as a wrestling fan's dream – it extensively covered every aspect of Cody's career, including an extensive look at his time creating All Elite Wrestling.

USA Insider caught up with Cody Rhodes during his whirlwind press tour ahead of the documentary's release. As expected, The American Nightmare was candid, open, and honest with his thoughts. Throughout the years, Cody has developed a reputation for being unbelievably accessible to fans and media alike, and he didn't disappoint during our time with him. 

Warning – American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes spoilers ahead! 

Was Cody Rhodes Happy With the Content of His Documentary?

Cody Rhodes standing on the top rope of the ring.

We wanted to make it easy on him, so we flipped his signature catchphrase around and asked him what he wanted to talk about. Cody revealed that he was surprised that he hadn't been asked if there was anything he wanted to see more of in the documentary. So, in true Cody fashion, he answered his own question!

"They had a lot of ground to cover, and honestly, looking at it, I think Ben Houser from ESPN and Matt Braine from WWE, I think they got the perfect amount of everything," Cody said. "I got to see enough screeners, and there's some hard stuff to watch going through a lot of emotions at certain points in my career and how I was dealing with them. But I'm impressed with how they were able to wrangle this and put it in a nice, tight package for our audience to look at it and be more connected with what it is I'm trying to do."

Why Did Cody Rhodes Go to Hollywood Instead of Directly Into Wrestling?

Cody Rhodes speaks to the crowd

Early in the documentary, Cody revealed how his Hollywood aspirations led him to follow his sister to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career after high school graduation. What Cody didn't express in the documentary was why professional wrestling wasn't his first priority upon graduating. So, we had to know, why didn't he go straight into pro wrestling instead of heading to Los Angeles?

"All I ever wanted to be was in wrestling, and then my fear right after high school, when I was kinda in this rebellious stage and I followed my sister to LA, my fear was that I wasn't physically big enough," Cody confessed. "Which is fun today because today I'm one of the bigger guys, even with the big types in there I match up well. But yeah, my fear was that I wasn't physically big enough and I was thinking, 'Well, maybe I could get some roles and some parts and it'll make it easier for me to jump into sports entertainment and wrestling,' which is a super backwards plan. It was an odd-level strategy – I should've been going straight at it."

Nevertheless, Cody admitted that once he became acclimated to the world of pro wrestling, there was no looking back.

"Immediately when I got home, Tommy Dreamer brought me to Deep South, which then brought me over to OVW – and immediately after that I was hooked, I was plugged in, and didn't want to be anywhere else."

Was Cody Rhodes Protective of Brandi Rhodes During his WWE Return in 2022?

Wwe Tattoos Cody Rhodes

Ahead of his return to WWE at WrestleMania 38, Cody was understandably anxious, made worse when he was unsure how the WWE Universe would receive him after such a prolonged absence. At one point in the documentary, he recalls telling his wife Brandi to leave the backstage area if the WrestleMania crowd booed him upon his arrival. Interestingly, Cody didn't follow up on that comment during the documentary. So we asked him what he meant by that. Was he trying to shield Brandi away from the possibly panicked response of WWE officials if his WWE return wasn't received positively by the WWE Universe?

"That's one-hundred percent what I meant – I didn't want her to see how things would be pivoted," Cody revealed. "If a crowd boos, a crowd boos, and I was coming off doing quasi-heel stuff in AEW, so I was fine if they started booing because you just lean into that. But I didn't want her to feel like she needed to be in the war room during that."

It's a testament to the family man Cody has become over the years. Throughout the documentary, he credits both his father, the late Dusty Rhodes, and his daughter, Liberty, as inspirations as he ages. 

Did Cody Rhodes Feel Shame After He Suffered His Pec Injury?

Cody Rhodes being declared the winner of his match by the referee

One of the most heartbreaking parts of the documentary was following Cody as he dealt with the aftermath of his devastating pectoral injury that put him out of action for most of 2022. Throughout American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes, Cody was surprisingly emotional when speaking about the injury – almost to the point of being embarrassed. We asked him point-blank if Cody felt any shame when the injury occurred. 

"I think there was an element of shame to it, for sure," Cody said. "It's such a strong word, but it's true – because the shame was the responsibility of going on last [at Hell in a Cell 2022] and being the main event, the flagship of the show that evening. That responsibility, I felt like I'd maybe not taken it as seriously as I should – even if that wasn't the case. It was definitely this feeling of shame because here I was the whole time I was away, saying, 'Here's how good I think I am' and 'I'm gonna come back and be the best,' and I came back to WWE and I was working toward that – and I think it was one of those moments where I doubted it and maybe some fans doubted that I had 'it.' That's why it was so important that I had to wrestle that match at Hell in a Cell."

Above all else, Cody seemed like he would do anything to turn back time and remove the pectoral injury from his legacy, despite how career-defining many fans view it in retrospect.

"That's an area of the documentary that I wish could be replaced by something completely different – like, there's a memory that I never had somewhere in the multiverse where I didn't tear my pec," Cody admitted. "I know it was a defining moment for some fans and certainly a challenge and hurdle for me, but it's a little tough to watch."

Some moments of the documentary were highly emotional. We don't remember being so in our feelings in 2022 when Cody valiantly returned from his injury!

Which Wrestlers Took the Craziest Cross Rhodes Ever?

Seth Rollins punching Cody Rhodes in the ring

We couldn't help but notice footage from Battleground 2013 when Cody Rhodes performed an absolute monster of a Cross Rhodes on Seth Rollins for the win. We asked Cody if that was the best version of himself of his career because we couldn't imagine any that have looked better.

As it turns out, we were right on the mark, but Cody took our question one step further, revealing the opponent who made Cross Rhodes look so good Cody thought a severe injury occurred – and it happened recently! 

"I'd say that's the number one Cross Rhodes of all time, and as much as I liked [AEW wrestler] Sammy Guevara's, I'd actually say Chad Gable is number two," Cody explained. "Chad Gable took one where I didn't think he was coming back, you know? He went to a different zone – but Seth's at Battleground is definitely number one."

Cody wasn't wrong – he spiked poor Chad on his head!

SummerSlam may represent the next step in the WWE career of Cody Rhodes. After all, if American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes is any indication, Cody is destined for greatness – on August 5, Cody won't shy away. 

American Nightmare: Becoming Cody Rhodes is streaming now and WWE SummerSlam streams August 5, only on Peacock.