WWE Superstar Stardust -- "Superstar" being the official parlance of WWE, rather than the less colorful "pro wrestler" -- has evolved into a rather deliberate take on a comic book supervillain.
Naturally, he's been looking for a superhero to torment, and in his quest, Stardust has expanded his scope beyond the WWE roster, landing on Stephen Amell, the star of The CW's DC Comics-based hit "Arrow." Amell isn't a wrestler, of course, but he is a longtime WWE fan, and, if you've seen any of his workout videos, an impressively nimble, salmon ladder-climbing athlete. For several months, the two engaged in a back-and-forth feud conducted mainly over social media before things got physical this past Monday on "Raw," WWE's flagship program.
With Amell watching the show from ringside as a celebrity guest, Stardust confronted his foe and gave him a firm shove -- leading to the actor leaping over the barricade, vaulting into the ring and taking down Stardust with a healthy amount of punches. While such behavior would typically result in the perpetrator being dragged out of the arena by security and facing legal repercussions, in Amell's case, it led to the signing of a match at the upcoming "WWE SummerSlam," happening on Aug. 23, where Amell and high-flying WWE Superstar Neville will team against Stardust and Wade Barrett, who recently became WWE's "King of the Ring.".
CBR News spoke in-depth with Stardust -- who in a past pro wrestling life was known simply as "Cody Rhodes," the son of recently departed wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes -- about the upcoming match. We discussed not only his comic book fandom, but why he's targeted Amell, who he sees simply as the real-life incarnation of DC's Green Arrow. The interview was conducted with Stardust 100 percent in character -- well, he might question the use of "in character" -- so feel free to forgo any obvious "but, pro wrestling is fake!" comments, since, yeah, we get it.
CBR News: Stardust, how are you today?
Stardust: Albert, do you know what color the sun is?
Sort of a yellowish color?
It is white. It is our own atmosphere, our polluted planet, that colors it yellow.
That's some education right off the bat.
Right out of the gate!
You've got this big match coming up at "SummerSlam," and the first thing I'm curious about -- this back-and-forth feud has been going on for a while between you and Stephen Amell, and obviously, it exploded this past Monday on "Raw." Why have you targeted Stephen Amell to this extent? He's an outsider, an actor, not a WWE Superstar. What is it about him that got your attention?
Albert. You insist on calling him "Stephen." "Stephen Amell." Who the world knows as a Canadian hunk, Hollywood's up-and-coming... but that's not who he is, is he Albert? That's not who he really is. Tell me, who is Stephen Amell?
... the Arrow?
He is indeed. The Green Arrow. And Stardust is green with envy. Why else? Why wouldn't I pick someone with such fandom? Such Olicity madness going on in their lives to compete against? Come on! He's perfect.
Given that, were you surprised to see him fight back on Monday, or was that pretty much what you were expecting?
Do we call it fighting back when a fan, no matter a superhero fan or not, jumps the barricade -- unbeknownst to me, with my back completely turned -- and begins to pummel me with some sort of martial arts-style forearms? I was shocked. I was appalled.
Yet all the same, he answered the call. Could you imagine, Albert? You're sitting there and you turn on the Bat-Signal, and Bats doesn't show up? What do you do? I have made it my mission -- I have asked on "Raw," on "Smackdown," on "Main Event," in the sit-down, Barbara Walters-style interviews on WWE.com with [WWE interviewer/play-by-play announcer] Michael Cole -- I have asked for a hero. And these sons of bitches haven't been showing up! Finally, someone answers the call. Whether he jumped me from behind or not, he answered the call. So Stephen is riding high after Monday -- tweeting about the grandeur of this sneak attack. But how will Mr. Queen fare at "SummerSlam"?
He seems very confident, based on everything on social media, and even on that backstage segment on "Raw" on Monday. What are you expecting from him inside the ring? He's not a WWE Superstar, he's an actor, but he's certainly an athletic young man. What are you expecting from him in the match itself?
I don't know if Mr. Queen knows how the world of sports entertainment and pro wrestling work. How the ring has four sides, three ropes and there isn't any trampoline -- it's actually quite a long way down and an incredibly hard landing. There's no salmon ladder. There's no bamboo sticks to play with one another like boys out in the yard. This is a whole 'nother game. Whoop-de-doo, he jumps onto the apron -- he even vaulted the top rope. He's a professional jumper. Well, Stardust isn't trying to be the best at exercising. Stardust is trying to be something completely different.
What is it that you're trying to be, then?
That's a little personal, Albert. All I can say is -- this being Comic Book Resources, you already know. Let me give you a comparison for the world here. Let me bring it to you: Think about little Jimmy Olsen. Redheaded. Poor thing. Probably bullied heavily. Always got that trusty watch on. Then you think about Granny Goodness, right? You thinking about that? You have that image? Who Wins?
Absolutely. And that's who I am to Oliver. I'm his grandmother. I'm his grandmother, and I am going to spank him as such.
Is that one of your supervillain role models, Granny Goodness? Because you wore the Mister Sinister-esque ring gear at "Wrestlemania" this year.
That's if you're looking at it from a two-dimensional sense. You know, as we discussed the sun's real color, we could sit here and talk about Mercury and Venus not having any moons. I'm sure you know that space-time is a confusing, confusing, fluctuating mess. It's a menagerie of madness. So who came first? Mister Sinister, in all his blue and red glory, or Stardust? Who came first?
I'm still thinking Mister Sinister.
Well, to be honest, it was Mister Sinister. It was completely ripped off. It's a great look!
He's got a couple decades on you.
Ah! Again, it depends. You're a smart man. But yes, it was inspired by him.
To talk a bit more about this match -- you've been targeting Stephen Amell, but you've also been going after Neville quite a bit lately, and he's teaming with Amell in this match. What is it about Neville that you don't like? Is it the cape, that whole thing? Reminding you a little too much of a superhero?
What a body. What a physique that Neville possesses. Not just a hollow physique. Think about the things he is capable of doing in a WWE ring. The adoration he obtains from doing the Red Arrow. You have to think about that. Who else? The guy wears a cape. As I said, I put out the call, and he is perfect. I have so long, since the day that toady little musclebound son-of-a-gun showed up, just wanted, just lusted, for a hero. And that stratosphere, it is reserved for little Neville and myself.
The fact that his move is called the "Red Arrow," it seems almost like destiny that he'd be teaming with the Green Arrow at "SummerSlam."
You can call it destiny, I call it tacky.
And The Queen's Crossbow, your finishing move, is that a reference, that name? Oliver Queen, he shoots arrows.
Is it? I don't know. But if one more little smarty fan tells me on Twitter that Oliver doesn't use a crossbow, I'm literally going to puke.
Are they doing that? Seems like an obvious thing to point out.
We get it. We get it. And just like they should get it. The Queen's Crossbow: I'm calling you out, buddy.
We talked about Neville, and in this match you're teaming with Wade Barrett -- King Barrett. The two of you seem to have fairly different dispositions, and you haven't really teamed much before. What are you expecting out of him as a tag team partner?
Any time that a man has subordinates, that he has responsibilities, that's a whole new ilk of a man. Wade Barrett is the king. I couldn't think of anyone better than royalty to join me at "SummerSlam." And coming up very soon -- before we even step out onto the ramp, onto the astral plane that is "SummerSlam," coming up, I am going to name, I am going to official christen, King Barrett the "Cosmic King."
That's even more responsibility than being the king of the WWE -- now he's the king of the entire cosmos?
It depends. Listen, it could just be like an honorary thing. I don't know how much of an official mandate it carries.
It's still an impressive title.
It is. And you made this dubious, obvious correlation between the Red Arrow and the Green Arrow -- you forgot to mention that Stardust is the Prrrrrrrrrince of Daaaaaaaaaark Matter!
Indeed. There's a lot of symmetry here.
A lot of symmetry. Symmetry is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Since this is Comic Book Resources, and I know you're a comic book fan -- we already talked about Granny Goodness and Mister Sinister -- are there any comics you're currently enjoying, that are maybe serving as creative fuel for you in your endeavors?
I enjoy the Earth medium that is "comic books." I enjoy their perspective, their glance into the reality that is my life. There are several on my "pull list," as the kids are saying today. I have become quite a fan of "Secret Wars." Quite a fan. I have become quite a fan of the current "Star Wars" run. These intrigue me. "Star Wars," doing everything it can to really bring to life what space is actually like -- it's a little far-fetched, but close enough.
Yeah, you must see it from a different perspective than most of us would.
It's like going back and watching "Terminator 2," or even, hell, "Quantum Leap." It's 2015 and half this technology hasn't happened yet, but still. It's fun. It's a suspension of disbelief. There is black. There is white. There is reality. There is fantasy. And there is the hole in all things. And that's what I am. Albert, I am swimming -- swimming! -- in the grey.
It seems like that! This is definitely a big match on a big show -- "SummerSlam" is usually the second biggest WWE show of the year after "Wrestlemania" -- how excited are you to get this much of the spotlight on such a high-profile show? And what are you hoping it leads towards? What do you have your sights on next after conquering Neville and the Green Arrow?
You are good at your job. You are good at your job. The synaptic stimulants -- the three stones that sit, that adorn my forehead, that relay information to the astrometrics lab -- these are the questions that I'm asking myself. But think about this: Oliver films his little documentary show. His little "show." What's going to happen? He's literally in the middle of filming. What is going to happen when his boy body is twisted and mangled at the hands of myself and the Cosmic King Barrett? What will they do with the show? What should they do, Albert? You know what they should do? Do you know?
Rename the show.
I think people would tune in.
I think people absolutely will tune in. I think it will be like when Jeri Ryan joined the "Star Trek: Voyager" cast and the ratings went up 60 percent. I think it'll be something absurd like that. Some sort of television milestone.
You'd fit right in, the show has definitely brought in a lot more colorful characters, like The Flash, and Atom. You'd fit right in there.
It's a perfect fit. It's natural.
I don't want to bring up any bad blood, but is there any update on your brother, Goldust? We haven't seen him in a few months. The last time we did see him, the two of you weren't on great terms. I think he has a shoulder injury?
I think he did have a shoulder injury. And I think he's healed, or close to healed, of his shoulder injury. You have to think, though -- what is next for Goldust? What's next after being swept out of the WWE? After those looked at Stardust and said, "You're just doing Goldust," and then they realized, "Oh, that's not leading anywhere," but it is indeed leading somewhere. It is indeed leading to the astral plane at "SummerSlam." So what's left for Goldust? I don't know. Him and his lot of "Attitude Era" soldiers that provided us with soooo much entertainment -- I love them, we love them, I should watch them on the WWE Network. I don't need to watch them live anymore.
That's fair -- perhaps a little harsh, but fair.
If nothing, I am fair.
To wrap it up, what should people look forward to with this match? Are you predicting a quick victory for your team? Get it over with quickly, or extend the punishment you're looking to deal out to Amell and Neville?
I think if you look at "SummerSlam," and you look at the table that we have set, I think Mr. Amell -- as you like to call him -- this "actor," or this man who is the Green Arrow, however you want to look at it; he is our guest. And he is a celebrity guest. He is going to have to look at it from that perspective. He is going to be the very first, or the only one that can come to my mind so quickly, celebrity, that is going to step into a WWE ring, and, simply put, lose. And then the search for a hero begins all over again. [Laughs maniacally]
Stardust and King Barrett will face Stephen Amell and Neville at "WWE SummerSlam" on Aug. 23, airing live on the WWE Network.