As I watched tonight’s episode, I thought I saw someone I recognized. I did the classic double take, which naturally led to sitting up and asking myself out loud: “Is that…?” Straining the eyes comes next (as if that really helps) until the realization sets in…
For those of you who don’t know who he is, it makes sense that a manchild like myself, who still enjoys pro wrasslin’, be the one to tell you.
Cody Rhodes (real name Cody Runnels) is a professional wrestler who comes from a very rich wrestling pedigree. He also just happened to play Derek Sampson—the drug slinging, zombified bad guy—in tonight’s episode.
I liked him in this role for a couple reasons, which I’ll get into shortly. But first, I want to just take a second to give you a quick background on Cody, as he’s been a favorite of mine in the squared circle for a long time…
He’s the son of Hall of Famer—and all-time great promo cutter—the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. What’s more, he’s the brother of another of my favorites, the make-you-feel-weird Goldust. Cody is a top talent in my opinion. He’s gifted both athletically and on the mic. I loved his heel (bad guy) work, his time with The Legacy faction and the “Dashing” Cody Rhodes days. I always liked when he rocked the no-knee pads look or a Freddy Mercury style mustache. A favorite gimmick of mine that he did was Stardust—a character so weird, he would be right at home in the pages of a cosmic Grant Morrison comic book. But perhaps Cody’s best quality is outside the ring. He’s a humble guy with an appetite for comics and movies.
Oh, and here’s another little #DCTV Secret for anyone who doesn’t know: Cody Rhodes once teamed up with Wade Barrett in a tag match against both his fellow wrestler Neville and Arrow star Stephen Amell at Summerslam 2015—in which Neville and Stephen won!
Needless to say, I’m a fan and so I was extremely happy to see him in tonight’s episode for a couple of reasons.
Let’s start from a physical standpoint, shall we?
When you first see Derek (Cody) in the drug lab, you can tell he’s in exceptional shape. Billed around 6’2” and 220, he’s one solid customer. He has an inch or two and probably 30-35 pounds on Oliver, which makes for an interesting mismatch when the two clash. His background in wrestling also helps bumps up the level of thrill in the fight scenes—as he looks natural and moves well.
Here’s why the above things are important…
After Derek falls into the vat of drugs and loses the ability to feel pain, he essentially becomes a Terminator-like villain. I really liked this because it meant that no matter how many arrows Oliver put into him, he wouldn’t be stopped. So, Green Arrow would have to find another way to put this brute down. But how?
In wrestling, the term “over” has two meanings. It can mean a particular wrestler is cared for and adored by fans. It can also mean the act of making another wrestler look good. That’s why Cody really helped in tonight’s episode—he put Ollie over for me. Remember, I said in my first column that I’m a fairly new fan to Arrow—citing that the version of Oliver I’m a fan of played a different role in the stories I’ve read than the TV version. But that’s not a bad thing. I was still getting a feel for this version of Green Arrow and tonight helped me buy in—completely.
Towards the end of the episode, Ollie and Derek lock horns. It’s clear that in close quarters and with his newfound ability to feel no pain, Derek has the advantage. His strength will eventually be too much for Oliver to handle. I’ll admit, I was expecting either one of (or all) the new recruits or maybe some sort of cheesy circumstance to bail Oliver out, but I was wrong. Instead, like the savvy veteran he is, Oliver relies on smarts. He realizes that even though Derek can’t feel pain, the damage done to his body still takes a toll. With quick thinking, Oliver slices the tendons in Derek’s arms and legs, before stapling him to the floor with an arrow—subsequently rendering him useless and unable to move.
Right there is when this version of Oliver went over with me!
He showed resourcefulness and smarts—benchmarks of a true hero. No matter how smart, strong or fast you are, there’s always someone better out there. What separates our heroes from them is the ability to adapt. To recognize and execute what needs to be done in order for them to prevail. Oliver did just that. He’s the real deal. I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to buy in.
Before we adjourn…pop quiz! Did any of you pick up on the #DCTV Secret regarding the drug Derek was slinging?
I’ll give the wrestling fans out there a minute to think about it…
The drug Derek is selling in Star City is called “Stardust,” which is the name of Cody’s former gimmick (that I mentioned above).
All for now,
Matt Ross covers Arrow as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Catch new episodes of Arrow Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.