This really isn’t one of life’s recommended pick-up lines.
Cody and Brandi Rhodes (shown here) met when he said her hair looked awful. “It was not ideal for a first encounter,” he said.
Then again, she admits: “It wasn’t an ideal hairstyle. I did change it.”
Now they’re married and at the core of TV’s latest wrestling surge. (See previous story.) They’re among the founders of All Elite Wrestling, where he’s one of the CEO’s, she’s chief brand officer, both are wrestlers … and neither fits into any loud-lout, dumb-hunk image.
“I remember thinking he looked like a model,” Brandi, 36, said.
She actually had been a model. She’d also been a figure-skater and a TV anchor, graduated from the University of Michigan and added a Master’s Degree at Miami. Then there was a call looking for a model who had any athletic background.
That’s how she reached the WWE, which would teach her to wrestle … and would give her an unfortunate hairstyle. “It was like big Texas housewife,” Cody, 34, said.
Nothing about Brandi – black, slim, educated – fit the prevailing wrestler image. For a time, she said, she was Eden, the ring announcer, “a sterile position.” Now she’s in the ring “scratching eyes out.”
Well, in a fake-wrestling kind of way. Matches are carefully planned; the storylines for the first season are plotted out, Cody said … but could change due to fan reaction.
It’s a different sort of universe, merging acting and athletics, and it draws interesting people:
— Teal Piper grew up watching her dad (the late Rowdy Roddy Piper) being a wrestling star and, occasionally, an actor. After modest success as an actress and singer, she’s training (at 34) to be a WOW – Women of Wrestling villain. “I’m really enjoying this – unleashing my dark side,” she said.
— Like Piper, Charlotte Flair grew up with a dad (Ric Flair) who was a wrestling star. Unlike her, “I never watched wrestling.” She was a gymnast – a shaky choice for someone who’s 5-foot-10 – and then a volleyball star. She was on two state-championship teams, got a sports scholarship to Appalachian State … and now, a 33, has won eight WWE championships.
— Jack Perry’s dad (the late Luke Perry) was a TV star. Still, Jack, 22, says, wrestling “was the thing I always dreamed about.” He created the Jungle Boy character that’s now on the All Elite roster. “It’s funny, because my dad’s favorite wrestler was Cody’s dad.”
— That was the late Dusty Rhodes, who brought a common-man image. Cody recalls being moved first by the excitement of the event. “The crowd reacted … and I had to be out there.”