The Surprising Inspiration Behind Cody Rhodes' Wrestling Costumes

In the tradition of shows such as "Total Divas" and its spinoffs "Total Bellas" and "Miz & Mrs.," another wrestling-centric reality show will be coming to TNT on September 29. The series, titled "Rhodes to the Top," stars All Elite Wrestling power couple Cody and Brandi Rhodes, and as noted by Deadline, it will feature the two as they "navigate their growing family while helping to build AEW's global wrestling empire." This could make for interesting television, considering how Cody and Brandi recently welcomed their first daughter, Liberty, to the world (via TV Line) and how they both hold high-ranking positions within AEW — Cody is one of the promotion's executive vice presidents while Brandi serves as chief brand officer. The couple also remains active in the ring, with Cody being a two-time TNT Champion and Brandi competing in AEW's women's division.

As most wrestling fans know, Cody Rhodes spent several years working for WWE before the launch of AEW in 2019. The son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and younger brother of Dustin Rhodes (formerly Goldust), Cody was mired in the mid-card for most of his time working for Vince McMahon, which made it extremely satisfying to see him play a key role in AEW's success, both as a wrestler and as an executive. And as someone who worked various gimmicks through the years, he also rocked a number of in-ring costumes with all sorts of unexpected pop culture references.

Rhodes often referenced his Legend of Zelda fandom in his costumes

Outside of the ring, Cody Rhodes loves video games, and he's an especially big fan of Nintendo's long-running "The Legend of Zelda" series. He's such a huge fan that for several years, he wore wrestling boots with the Triforce logo on them. He has acknowledged this in several interviews, including one with ESPN in 2009 where he explained how he decided to start integrating his "Zelda" fandom into his persona as a wrestler. "Some kids like books, some kids like movies, but for me, every year I still go back and play 'Legend of Zelda,'" Rhodes said. "So to me, when I got up to the big time, I thought that Zelda was my thing. CM Punk has a Pepsi tattoo, so why can't I have the Triforce? Gaming is huge to me, it's all I do."

In 2010, WWE's creative team decided to give Rhodes' character an overhaul, as he was billed for some time as "Dashing" Cody Rhodes. Gone were the boots with the Triforce symbol and in their place were more generic-looking silver boots, as noted on his Fandom page. He did, however, find a way to tip his hat to his favorite video game franchise, as he added a mirror to his jacket that resembled "Legend of Zelda" hero Link's Mirror Shield, which debuted in the 1992 title "A Link to the Past" and has appeared in several other games since.

He honored a rock legend toward the end of his WWE run

In his last two years or so in WWE, Cody Rhodes was reinvented as Stardust, a face-paint-wearing character who also rocked a metallic bodysuit and cut somewhat bizarre promos. Now the inspiration for the gimmick and costume is obvious here — Stardust was clearly a nod to Goldust, the character played by Dustin Rhodes from 1995 to 2019. Initially partnering with his big brother, Cody ultimately turned on Dustin and kicked off a lackluster solo run as a heel. His booking left him feeling so unfulfilled that he asked for his release in the spring of 2016, per Last Word on Sports.

Cody Rhodes may have hated his final WWE gimmick, but he understood the importance of another guy named Stardust and his impact on the world of music. On January 11, 2016, Rhodes took to Twitter to share a photo of himself painting his face to match David Bowie's look on the iconic cover of his 1973 album, "Aladdin Sane." This came just one day after Bowie's tragic death, and given Cody's gimmick at the time, he saw it fit to honor the legend and his Ziggy Stardust persona for his match on "Monday Night Raw."

Unfortunately, WWE didn't see it fit to give Rhodes the win despite his earnest tribute to Bowie, as he ended up losing quickly to fellow mid-carder Titus O'Neil.

Rhodes might have just paid homage to an extremely corrupt TV superhero

Fast forward to 2021, and Cody Rhodes doesn't appear to be done baking pop culture references into his ring attire. On September 22's "AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam" special, Rhodes made his return to the ring after a nearly two-month absence, and one of the first things fans noticed was how similar his new costume looked to that of Homelander (Antony Starr), the ostensibly virtuous All-American superhero on "The Boys" who, as anyone who's watched the Amazon Prime series will tell you, is not the wholesome do-gooder suggested by his public image. He's self-serving, sociopathic, and remorseless, and since Rhodes plays a babyface on AEW television, many fans on Twitter felt it wasn't fitting for a good guy like Cody to dress up as the most corrupt and evil member of The Seven.

Then again, some fans believe Rhodes' new ring gear might be the sign of a heel turn to come, one where he is the only person who still sees himself as a good guy. "Cody said he would never turn heel," wrote Twitter user MetalMixael. "I imagine Homelander doesn't view himself as a villain either. And if Cody's Homelander inspired gear gives us a hint this is the direction we're heading, it could be a brilliant move for Cody's character going forward."