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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: April 7, 2013 - The Dark Knight's Cerebral War with Wrestling's Joker
By The Doc
Mar 22, 2013 - 11:21:50 PM

April 7, 2013

“You want to know how I got these scars?"

Cody Rhodes made his way to the ring with the hood of his jacket creating a shadow that hid most of his face. He did it on purpose. Recently, his facial expressions had developed somewhat of a cult following, with people trying to dissect what they meant. Some had questioned his sanity; others thought him brilliant.

Cody could not care less about the people, though.

People are sheep. His dad never came right out and said as much because he probably did not understand it. Men like his father usually didn’t. Despite the fact that Dusty Rhodes could merely swirl his hands in the air prior to an elbow smash and have the audience frenzied proves that the “American Dream” was asleep to his powers. Cody has had to work a lot harder to wield his influence, but has a better appreciation for what it means to be influential.

The WWE Champion has earned his respect. To the reigning titleholder heading into Wrestlemania’s credit, he, too, is a sheepherder. Their goals might be different, but they are each on crusades. Cody’s is completely selfish; he’ll admit to that. CM Punk is attempting to bring about change for the “greater good,” or so he says. The change that he seeks will serve him and the people, as well. Altruistic his words may not be, but his actions tell an egocentric tale that only a fellow egotistical egotist could recognize. Punk’s face is easy to read, in Cody’s book.

So, the Royal Rumble winner hid his face en route to the canvas upon which he intended to paint his latest maniacal masterpiece. He could afford to give no edge to the champion. Of that, he was keenly aware after watching Punk endure countless mental and physical trials over the last two months. If a man can overcome having to tell his sister that he hates her guts in order to prevent a so-called “madman” from revealing her deepest and darkest secret on national television; if he can withstand a banned substance investigation brought about by “anonymous” sources; if he can get out of an arena on his own power (even if he was crawling) after being powerbombed off of a ladder and through a table which had been set on fire; then he is really not a man at all. He is a legend. And you can’t kill a legend.

It matters not.

Weaker minds exist for the reason of being manipulated by the strong. That is why it has no bearing on Cody that Punk’s face painted the perfect picture of supreme confidence in victory. For each, it was their first Wrestlemania main-event. Such things mean a great deal to men like Punk. If this had been a fair fight, then it would probably have been enough added motivation for the champion to retain his title.

But, again, weaker minds exist for a reason.

CM Punk entered the ring with purpose. What had started as a match against a uniquely troubled opponent had become deeply personal. As such, Mania was no longer about simply winning; it had not been from the moment that his sister was targeted. A pinfall or submission was the means to ending this battle, but the key to winning the war was to emotionally break his foe. Unfortunately, that would be easier said than done. While he knew that there was no way that Rhodes could match his in-ring skills, Cody presented as great a mental challenge as had been John Cena in the physical realm. If Cena was the Superman to Punk’s Batman, then Rhodes was his Joker.

He could not pinpoint the motivation of Cody Rhodes. He understood the trigger – that the heartache Cody felt from losing his dad had generated emotional expression in the most violent and dastardly ways possible. Punk, himself, knew plenty about being distraught about a father and some of the rage that could come from it. What he could not comprehend was how Cody seemed in total control. There was seemingly no rhyme or reason for his actions, but they’ve been calculated and measured. In addition, there’s a difference between a trigger and a cause. What was Cody’s intention? What was his end game?

“Some men just want to watch the world burn,” Punk quoted from one of his favorite films.

Pinpointing what makes a man’s mental clock tick is much different than finding his physical weakness. To find a flaw in the games of the Zigglers and Cenas of the world, Punk had simply studied hours of footage. To prepare for Cody meant constructing a multi-layered gameplan. Physically, he would dominate from the outset. Mentally, he needed help.

Punk sought the advice of numerous psychologists with various styles of treatment, hoping to gain some insight. He had reasoned that, in some perverse way, Cody was attempting to honor his father. Dusty had been on top of the wrestling world, using unmatched charisma and knowledge of the wrestling business to get there. His son could not pretend to possess as a great a reservoir of the same qualities, so he intelligently put to use unbridled creativity and a penchant for cerebral warfare to help him climb the ladder. The flaw in his analysis, according to the therapists, was that it only took into account the surface layer of grief when there were multiple layers of misery.

Complex was the psyche of Cody Rhodes, so complex would be his approach to breaking it down. He would have to endure whatever tortuous acts that were in store for him – or, sadly, his family members – and he would have to counter them. At Mania, he would have to add one final wrinkle.

Midway through Wrestlemania’s main-event, the champion had physically conquered the challenger. Part one of Punk’s plan was complete. Time for phase two…

Truth be told, Punk never actually figured out Cody; he never could find his underlying drive. Instead, he had tried to think like him. He tried to do things that stripped away his challenger’s illusion of control. So, with Cody already bloodied and beaten, Punk started employing the signature moves of Dusty Rhodes. The use of the elbow elicited a staggering response. He did a little jiving and hand gesturing. He even went so far as to drag Cody to the announce table, put on a headset so the world could hear, and do his best impression of the former three-time NWA Champion. To add insult to injury, Punk also took a page out of Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes’ playbook, yelling at Cody that he would “remember the name ‘CM Punk’” before delivering the Curtain Call.

No cover was made. Observation took its place.

Punk watched as an infuriated junior Rhodes busted himself open with a beer can in a manner that would have made the Sandman proud. In his mind, he had Cody’s body broken and his emotions in shambles. It should have been merely a formality, at that point.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the man tasked with counting to three. Cody had been the one behind the heap of accusations hurled his way last fall, when Austin was forced to go into hiding to avoid the media firestorm suggesting his wrongdoing in a situation that he had little to do with. Austin had every inclination to kick that little bastard’s ass, but he had to give the kid credit for being one smart S.O.B. He managed to get ‘ole Stone Cold booked as the special guest referee in his little title match and a handsome paycheck for doing it, ensuring that the Rattlesnake could not unleash his bite on him before or at Wrestlemania. His consolation was the chance to watch Punk, a guy that he liked and respected as the future of the business, give Cody what he had coming to him. He had the best seat in the house.

Though he had learned over the years not to be surprised, these two guys had challenged his aging sensibilities tonight. Punk was dealing out a heavy damn dose of comeuppance. He had been expecting Rhodes to put up more of a fight and back up all those things he’d been doing to everybody in the last six months, himself included. When push came to shove, it seemed like Punk was the best wrestler by a mile. But, then, Punk starts acting like Dusty? And Cody wastes one of his celebratory beers? What the hell, son?

Austin was as surprised as Punk when Rhodes kicked out of the pin attempt following the Go To Sleep. Punk sported the appearance of a man who thought he’d just won the main-event of the year’s most important show. He knew about that all too well.

“I don’t like that look in your little beady eyes,” thought Stone Cold when Punk turned his gaze on him with an accusatory glance. Austin did not much like it when someone questioned his decisions. He had been in this referee shirt a time or two and he didn’t need anyone giving him any lip to an obvious two count. He understood that Punk was frustrated when he thought he had his opponent beaten, but damn.

Unbeknownst to both of them, Cody was grinning from ear-to-ear. Weaker minds exist for the reason of being manipulated by the strong.

Punk hoisted Rhodes up for the GTS again. “Night, night, Cody,” whispered the champion after he connected with the presumed knockout blow.

When the kid kicked out again, Austin had to look away to hide his shock. Punk was incensed, once again snapping his head Stone Cold’s way. The Hall of Famer, again, did not appreciate the cursory look. He didn’t hide it, either, locking eyes with Punk as he brought his two fingers up to reiterate the count.

Cody turned his back toward both of them and laughed inaudibly.

Punk was irate. He got Rhodes back on his shoulders and delivered a third GTS. On Cody’s way to the mat, Punk pushed him as hard as he could. The challenger made sure that he stumbled in the direction of Stone Cold. The impact knocked Austin down.

With Cody in a heap on the ground, Austin got up and marched straight toward Punk, whose pride did not allow him to view the situation anything close to objectively. The crowd erupted into a chant of “Austin,” which only served to act like a cheese grater on the nerves of the champion. A Dark Knight, by title, is not your typical hero, but as flawed as he is, he would not dare strike the commissioner of his fate. Instead, he turned his back and attempted to avoid further confrontation.

Austin stood there, enraged, old instincts taking over his impartiality and plummeting him to depths that he had not reached in ten years.

Rhodes thought back to a moment from weeks ago when he came to the realization that Punk was his most formidable psychological rival. As Cody was in the ring doing an interview with Jim Ross, being asked questions about the true meaning of his exploits, a child suddenly walked down the aisle with the WWE Champion by his side. The kid couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old. He had on a Cody Rhodes t-shirt. He had his hair styled like Cody’s. He, in fact, looked a lot like Cody from almost twenty years ago.

Punk ushered the child into the ring and then stood outside on the apron. Cody thought this was clever and intriguing until the kid spoke.

“Why don’t you see me,” he asked Cody.

Puzzled, Cody just stood there studying the boy.

“Why doesn’t he see me,” he turned and asked Punk. He did the same to Ross.

Turning his attention back to Rhodes, the kid said something that nearly floored Cody, though the only person that knew that was Cody, himself; he appeared to be a tower of strength and poise. “Dad died. You’re pretending that it didn’t happen. I cry every day. You don’t. You can’t move on until you see me. You have to embrace me. We’ll never get over this if you don’t.”

That was it. Cody exited stage left and disappeared.

He understood what Punk was trying to do. A younger version of himself trying to reach the older version. Spiritual leaders employed this tactic to ensure that people didn’t bury their emotions after the loss of a loved one. He could not help but be impressed by the champ. It was then that he realized that Punk was not a pathetic simpleton like the rest of them, necessitating that he find one to properly execute his plan. He, now, understood that he needed an “ace in the hole.” That was when he decided to reveal that he’d been behind the Austin scandal and got him booked to be the special referee.

Weaker minds exist for the reason of being manipulated by the strong.

Rhodes intentionally stumbled hard into Austin’s back, ushering him forward into Punk. Cody mimicked his venomous mentor and slithered over to the corner to watch what would ensue.

Punk turned around and held nothing back, unleashing a furious barrage upon the referee, in the back of his mind thinking that the worst consequence was disqualification, title retention, and a future battle to end the war with Rhodes.

Austin hauled off with everything that he could in retaliation, attempting to “open up a can” like he had always done in the past. The younger and more cunning Punk got the best of him, forcing him to step back and retreat to a corner, temporarily.

At that moment, Cody came out of the corner and struck quickly with a poke to the champion’s eye.

Stone Cold returned to the center of the ring to find Punk with his guard down. He kicked him in the gut and delivered a thunderous Stone Cold Stunner.

Before any middle finger gesturing could be done or before any second, regretful thoughts could be made, Cody rushed in and made the cover, prompting Austin to have to use his hands to count.

1…2…3.

Cody wasted no time in grabbing the WWE Championship belt and retreating mid-way up the ramp. The crowd stood up in arms. Austin and Punk, two self-righteous human beings without remorse despite their protagonistic status, nearly stole the attention away from the new champion, staring at each other in one of those moments that create future Wrestlemania matches.

And then the lights went out.

A lone spotlight was shown on the ramp.

He thought of his dad. He thought of missed opportunities. He thought of the last thing that his dad told him before his death. “I’ll help you get to the top.” Now at the top, Cody thought, “Thanks, dad.”

Surrounded by darkness, Cody Rhodes had successfully plotted a course to take over the WWE.

Surrounded by darkness, Cody Rhodes raised the title in the air.

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