I was away for a family funeral, but late at night I made sure to catch the debut episode of Rhodes to the Top for my friends over at the At Odds with Wrestling podcast. This isn’t homework, just a bit to increase my GPA.
The show features Cody and Brandi, the Rhodes, in the standard reality show/Modern Family on the couch talking directly to the camera. Either setting up or reacting to the next segment. The camera crew tapes everything Rhodes and Rhodes related backstage, plus in their homes. Cody talking to talent, getting ready for matches. Brandi talking to the female talent while being very pregnant. Then back to home where there is set up for and then a baby shower. It’s all very normal, well as normal as running a wrestling show can be. There is some potential for that show. Dozens if not hundreds of employees, plus your own character, plus being a spouse and a soon to be parent. That’s a lot to juggle. There is stress, lack of sleep, leaning on yet also frustrations with each other.
Unfortunately, the show is a cut and paste for not only most previous reality shows, but also for parodies of them. This is Great Value Modern Family. Dramatic editing. Creating issues where there are none. Creating villains where there really aren’t any. But can wrestlers truly turn it off? Maybe the fakeness that comes through the entire hour isn’t acting, but an innate reflex to turn on the character when the camera light is on.
Brandi has to deal with a misunderstanding between Red Velvet and Jade Cargill. See, Jade hit Velvet too hard and now Red is worried it’s a shoot. I call bullshit. Stiff shots happen in wrestling. It’s the nature of the game. The only appropriate time to be surprised by a hard hit should be day one. And if that’s not what you want, seek your fortunes elsewhere. A better reaction would be, damn Jade that was a hard hit. Oh I’m sorry Red, you ok? And scene.
Most of Cody’s problems in this episode spin off from Brandi. Cody’s mom and Brandi’s mom aren’t happy that they are going to have a night nurse or something? I forget the proper title. Someone they’re going to hire to help take care of the baby. Both soon to be grandmothers think this is ridiculous and are upset by it. Maybe this is legit, but is unreasonable. The two parents are helping to run a giant company and will need help. Not grandma willing to pop in when it works within her schedule. Someone who that is their job, that is their schedule. Family loves us, but there is eventually a tap out time. Someone under your employ is there at least as long as previous contractually agreed upon.
Then it gets better. Cody’s sister is mad that Brandi uses the Rhodes name in the ring. She didn’t earn it. She’s a Rhodes just by marriage. Um, correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Cody lose the right to use the last name Rhodes because WWE claimed ownership yet found a nice little loophole by being introduced as “Cody and Brandi Rhodes”. Your sister in law saved your family name. She didn’t steal it. She helped to reclaim it. Also, if people are going to get mad about family names in wrestling being just handed out I think the line forms behind Ole Anderson.
Now the best part for wrestling fans is probably Cody and Tony Khan meeting with Ricky Starks. Ricky’s neck is injured so he has to take it easy for a few months, but he doesn’t want to lose his character momentum. It is built up as a last chance moment for Starks with Cody and Khan hoping for the best but also preparing for the worst. The intangible of not knowing what will happen until it happens live in front of the audience is interesting. All of their faith isn’t enough if Ricky stumbles on the mic. However, this real concern doesn’t need the reality show editing and inflated drama. It’s interesting enough on it’s own.
For the future, I guess it depends on how much free time you have. If you’re already watching AEW Dynamite and don’t have anything to do until your nightly news comes on at 11 and then bed time, why not keep it on the channel? But I wouldn’t make it destination programming.