Inside Cody Rhodes-Paul Heyman promo that lit up WWE: ‘Need you to know’

Cody Rhodes wanted to make sure the story was told and didn’t tell Paul Heyman much else.

The two were set to share the ring for a promo during the Feb. 6 episode of “Monday Night Raw” for the first time since Rhodes returned to WWE last April. That’s because Rhodes had won the Royal Rumble and at WrestleMania 39 is set to face the Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns, for whom Heyman is the on-screen “special counsel.” He is trying to become the first Rhodes to win a world title in WWE.

So in the challenger’s mind, the story that intertwines Heyman, Rhodes and his father Dusty Rhodes had to be told before all the on-screen struggles that were to follow could happen. It was Dusty Rhodes who gave Heyman his first real chance behind the scenes in the business after he crashed one of his Jim Crockett Promotions booking meetings in 1985. Heyman returned the favor in 2000 by inviting the legend to ECW to work at a time when the Rhodes family was broke. Heyman’s gesture got them much-needed money and restored Dusty Rhodes’ confidence as a performer.

The story had to be told.     

“To be totally fair, I think the only thing he [Heyman] was aware of that I was going to discuss was 2000 and Dusty liking his experience in ECW,” Cody Rhodes told The Post prior to Monday’s “Raw” at Barclay Center. “I purposely, knowing you’re gonna go to war with a Mr. Heyman and you’re gonna go to war with this [Bloodline] group on-screen, off-screen, whatever it may be, it was just my goal for before all that happened — I want you to hear the story because the story’s gonna be in my dad’s [A&E] documentary. I don’t know how much of it’s in there. I need you to know from his kid’s perspective, [that] you can be the worst human being on earth, you’re not to me because it was life-changing for us. It was.”

Once in the ring, Cody Rhodes expressed his gratitude and Heyman became emotional and was crying in the ring as they talked about Dusty, who died in 2015. Cody Rhodes called that time in 2000 rough for his family seeing “your hero fall” and said he wanted to remind the audience that being a wrestler’s kid doesn’t mean there are no hard times. He also wanted to make sure both Heyman the person and the on-screen character heard how much it all meant to him before the story and promo turned.

The segment ended with Heyman telling Rhodes that Reigns was the son Dusty “always wanted” in a mic-drop moment. Rhodes then forcefully shook Heyman’s hand and told him he was going to take him making it personal out on Reigns in Hollywood.

“More than anything, you know you are going to get into this shouting match [at the end]. This war of words and this terrible … as he dropped the line on me at the end,” Rhodes said. “You’re gonna get into this. Before you do, I want you to hear the story. I’m glad at least he heard it. At least it resonated with him.”

He gave WWE a lot of credit for letting him tell his story the way he sees fit.

“Tip of the cap to WWE, more than a tip of the cap, they have let me do whatever,” Rhodes said. “And it might just be because it’s a real story, not the specific Heyman story, everything. I came back. This is why I came back. This is a real story. It’s fairly interesting and I’m interested in where we go from here. I was glad to tell him before things got contentious.”

Rhodes said he held that promo to the “highest standard I’ve ever held anything” because he is trying to tell the most important story of his career all while Reigns and Sami Zayn are telling one of the best stories in the company’s history parallel to him. There is a portion of the audience that would rather see Zayn, not Rhodes, be the one to potentially end Reigns’ 800-plus-day run as champion.

Add to that the burden and expectation of being the main event of WrestleMania weekend and Rhodes is doing everything he can to live up to it.

“By the end of weekend, they [fans] are going to come out of pocket deep and you’re the thing that is last. So everything is held to the highest, highest [standard],” Rhodes said. “I say that and think I’m ready for it because I waited and worked for it, but every ‘Raw’ is going to be a test, and the things people don’t see, every live event is gonna be a test. Noise and numbers in wrestling don’t lie. Speculation, debate, stuff online is fun as heck but noise and numbers don’t lie and just kind of keeping that going, not taking it for granted is a big part of it.”

Rhodes unleashed that magic again on the Feb. 13 “Raw” where he and Zayn shared the ring for a promo. While others may have thought it better to keep the two top babyfaces apart, the segment was well received as Rhodes showed belief in a doubting Zayn’s ability to defeat Reigns at Elimination Chamber on Saturday and told him he hoped to see him at WrestleMania. With so much at stake, every word, every segment matters.

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