Anyone who has ever loved WWE SmackDown on television is in for a treat, said “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, one of more than a dozen wrestlers appearing in the SmackDown World Tour at James Brown Arena on Saturday, Dec. 3.
“The TV brawls and SmackDown are basically just commercials for the live tour,” Rhodes said. “The live events are hands-down our favorite things. It feels larger. The fans are closer. The people are right on top of you. There are no cameras in the way.”
Rhodes, a Marietta, Ga., native and son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, doesn’t mind that he’ll be booed when he makes his entrance.
“It’s pretty hectic,” he said. “I’m used to being the bad guy. People tend to boo me pretty well. The South in general is really vocal. They love you or hate you.”
Rhodes will face off against Booker T, who comes out of his partial retirement for the match.
The live tour features a number of other unique and exciting match-ups that fans won’t ordinarily see on television, Rhodes said.
There’s the “Apex Predator” Randy Orton versus the “World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry in a bout for the World Heavyweight Championship.
“Celtic Warrior” Sheamus faces off against Christian in a street fight match.
SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long will also make a special appearance.
“These are the type of matches we only put on pay-per-view,” Rhodes said.
As a teenager, Rhodes, born Cody Garrett Runnels, was a successful wrestler at Lassiter High School in Marietta. As a junior, he won the Georgia state wrestling tournament at 189 pounds in 2003, and defended his title his senior year.
As a professional wrestler, Rhodes is the current Intercontinental champion and is a four-time World Tag Team champion.
The highlight of the job, however, happens almost entirely behind the scenes.
“My favorite part is the part no one sees,” he said.
Since making his WWE television debut in 2007, he’s had the opportunity to be a spokesman against bullying in schools and has traveled to visit and entertain troops with the U.S. Army National Guard. “It’s the coolest thing,” he said.