Five years ago this week, Cody Rhodes competed in his first-ever match on Monday Night Raw. It's amazing to think that these past few years have just flown by since that point in time, as it feels like just yesterday Rhodes was still seen as nothing more than an enhancement talent.
However, the second-generation star has since proven many naysayers wrong, as his evolution over the last five years has seen him grow from just a son of a legend to a tag team wrestler to a solid mid-card act to being on the cusp of the main event.
Following his stellar performance at last Sunday's Money in the Bank pay-per-view, there is no doubt in my mind that this young, rising up-and-comer will one day achieve his destiny and become the World Heavyweight Champion.
His rise to the top has been built perfectly, and his time will surely be coming sooner rather than later.
In light of this special anniversary, I'll highlight the top 15 moments in the WWE career of Cody Rhodes over the course of the last five years. One can only assume that these moments are only the beginning of Rhodes' tenure going forward.
Before he was the Viper, Randy Orton was a cocky up-and-comer who referred to himself as the Legend Killer, having his goal be ending the careers of illustrious legends. During the summer of 2007, Orton has set his sights on Dusty Rhodes, who he went on to defeat at The Great American Bash.
Prior to that pay-per-view contest, Dusty's son Cody Rhodes made his first few appearances during backstage segments on Raw in July 2007.
The second-generation star would later challenge Orton to a match on the flagship show later that month apart of his in-ring debut, but was unsuccessful in scoring a win over the former WWE Champion.
"One day, you can be just like me," Orton told Rhodes during their initial confrontation backstage. Little did Cody know that he and the Legend Killer would cross paths a brief while later.
After Dusty Rhodes was punted in the head by Randy Orton and was subsequently removed from television, Cody was left to fend for himself. In the latter half of 2007, he traded victories with established veteran Hardcore Holly, whom he grew to respect over time.
By the end of the year, the two formed a tandem in the hunt for the World Tag Team Championships. Although they came up short of winning the straps at Survivor Series, Rhodes and Holly picked up the gold at the historic 15th Anniversary of Raw that December.
The fact that Cody's father, Dusty Rhodes, was in his son's corner that night made the moment all the more monumental.
During their sixth month as World Tag Team Champions, Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly met their hardest and strangest challenge yet in the form of the debuting Ted DiBiase.
The son of the Million Dollar Man taunted the champs for nearly a month, claiming that he and his "mystery" tag team partner would win the straps upon his in-ring debut.
At the Night of Champions pay-per-view, DiBiase approached the ring alone and told the referee it would be better to just start the match without his "partner" rather than forfeit.
Once the bell rang, Rhodes connected with a Silver Spoon DDT onto Holly, revealing himself as DiBiase's anonymous partner in crime.
Moments later, DiBiase hit his finisher as well on the discombobulated Holly and scored himself and Rhodes the World Tag Team Championships.
How Rhodes was able to win the tag team titles from his own self is beyond me, but this moment would forever be remembered as the night Rhodes made a deal with the devil.
After Rhodes joined forces with Ted DiBiase, Team Priceless reigned supreme over Raw as the World Tag Team Champions for the remainder of the summer. However, they hit a major roadblock when they dropped the titles to feuding duo of John Cena and Batista that August.
In a shocking turn of events, Rhodes and DiBiase cashed in their rematch clause the following week and were able to successfully recapture the straps they should've never lost.
With this victory, the Priceless tandem had proven they could beat anyone as a team, even two former multi-time World Champions.
During the month of September, Randy Orton had returned from injury and took numerous shots at then-World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
To prove they weren't "worthless," DiBiase and Rhodes aided Orton at the Unforgiven event in dismantling then-World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk.
And thus, the Legacy was formed.
While a part of the stable, Rhodes was given the opportunity to main event numerous pay-per-views while battling established veterans such as John Cena, Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
He was also able to take notes from Orton along the way, as the faction certainly helped him grow over with the fans.
During the summer season of 2009, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase were embroiled in a feud with Triple H and the returning Shawn Michaels. The duo, collectively known as D-Generation X, soundly defeated the young up-and-comers in their return match at SummerSlam, but the feud wasn't over just yet.
At the inaugural (and only) Breaking Point pay-per-view, the two tandems battled in the first-ever Submissions Count Anywhere Tag Team Match.
After applying their infamous method of separating both members of DX and dismantling them both, Legacy forced HBK to submit and picked up the biggest upset victory of their respective careers.
Sure, one may argue that WrestleMania 24 was technically Cody Rhodes' first WrestleMania match, but it was a part of a massive battle royal dark match that was used to crown a number one contender to the ECW Championship, so it still wasn't featured on the main card.
At the turn of the decade, the Legacy was slowly but surely dissolving and tension began to arose. Once Orton was exiled from the stable that February, he looked to take on both Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania 26.
Although Rhodes wasn't the one who emerged victorious, he still solidified himself as a singles star with major potential now that he was on his own.
Following his loss at WrestleMania 26, Cody Rhodes would later be sent packing to SmackDown via the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft. His first two months on the blue brand were nothing of note, but it wasn't until July that Rhodes really made a name for himself as a singles star by debuting his "dashing" moniker.
During a promo of his on an edition of SmackDown one evening, Rhodes revealed that the WWE Divas had voted him the most handsome Superstar of them all.
From that point forward, the second-generation star was known as "Dashing" Cody Rhodes, which needless to say got under the skin of many viewers.
But hey, you're only smoke and mirrors to him.
Cody Rhodes spent the remainder of 2010 floundering in the SmackDown mid-card, but wasn't given anything really to work with until September.
After he and Drew McIntyre defeated the Hart Dynasty two days prior to Night of Champions, the newly-formed tandem would capture the WWE Tag Team Championships together in an unadvertised tag team gauntlet match.
They'd only hold the title for a month before dropping them to John Cena and David Otunga at the Bragging Rights pay-per-view.
After Rey Mysterio unintentionally broke the nose of Cody Rhodes during one of their matches together in January 2011, Rhodes targeted the Master of the 619 on the road to WrestleMania 27.
Upon Cody's return to television in March, he donned a protective mask covering his mask that reflected his new, dark personality.
Rhodes was built to look like a complete threat heading into Mania, getting the better of Mysterio on numerous occasions. Up to this point, Mysterio hadn't lost a one-on-match on the grandest stage of them all in many years, so it was highly believed he'd be once again emerging victorious.
Nonetheless, the second-generation star was able to pull out the upset victory over Mysterio and score his first (and only to date) singles victory at WrestleMania.
After scoring a non-title singles victory over then-Intercontinental Champion Ezekiel Jackson on an episode of SmackDown, Cody Rhodes shifted his focus in taking the title off of the Guyanese Goliath.
His partner in crime, Ted DiBiase, came up short of winning the gold a few weeks prior, so it was high time that Rhodes won his first singles title in WWE.
Only 48 hours prior to last year's SummerSlam event, Rhodes received his first shot at the Intercontinental Championship against Jackson. With some help from DiBiase at ringside, Rhodes sealed the deal with a vicious Cross Rhodes and scored his first Intercontinental Championship.
Shortly after capturing the Intercontinental Championship, Cody Rhodes became engaged in a feud with then-World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton.
Despite two previous losses to the Viper on different editions of SmackDown, Rhodes was placed in yet another match with Orton on Raw only six days prior to the Night of Champions pay-per-view.
It seemed as if history would once again repeat itself with Orton decimating the Intercontinental champ, but following some help from an interfering Mark Henry, Rhodes connected with his devastating finishing maneuver on Orton and scored the upset victory.
Never before had Orton put over a younger talent in such fashion, so the ending result of this contest was a sure shock to many members of the WWE Universe. This major win also foreshadowed a feud between the two that would occur the following month at Vengeance.
At the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event, Cody Rhodes emerged from the back with a mysterious burlap sack in hand. Having been Intercontinental Champion for two months by this point, Rhodes promised that he'd bring back prestige to the prized possession known as the Intercontinental title.
Rhodes also went on to state that he'd hold the strap longer than any other champion before him, but there was only one way to do so.
He then proceeded to unveil the original white Intercontinental Championship belt from the burlap sack he'd been holding, while placing the old title strap in a disposable bag.
Since then, that very same title is still being defended to this day, with the other title's whereabouts unknown.
During his final fight with Randy Orton on the Nov. 4 edition of SmackDown, Cody Rhodes' mask was destroyed by Orton, which allowed the Viper to pick up the victory. Following the contest, Orton bagged the second-generation star and seemingly put an end to his "undashing" days.
Ten days later on Monday Night Raw, Rhodes reappeared without the protective mask for the first time in nearly a year. He was also given a remixed version of his old "Smoke and Mirrors" entrance music, which seemed to signal that Rhodes was finally developing his stale character.
He went on to pick up the victory for his team that night against Kofi Kingston and Sin Cara, before being one of the two sole survivors that Sunday at Survivor Series alongside Wade Barrett.
Sometimes, looks do indeed matter.
For the first few months of 2012, Cody Rhodes was developing nicely in his new persona and gradually growing as a character. He was one of the longer lasting participants in the 2012 Royal Rumble, as well as having an impressive showing inside the Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Championship.
However, Rhodes suffered a setback when his lengthy eight-month reign as Intercontinental Champion came to an abrupt end at WrestleMania 28 at the hands of Big Show.
Similar to any other past title holder, Rhodes still had his rematch clause and was determined to cash it in at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
With their rematch being contested under Tables match rules, the former Legacy member was able to outsmart Show into stepping right through the table, causing it to collapse and thus capturing his second Intercontinental Championship reign in the process.
Sadly, Rhodes dropped the title to Christian three weeks later at Over the Limit, and hasn't been able to reclaim it since. He qualified for the SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match earlier this month, but was unsuccessful in claiming the opportunistic briefcase.
At the young age of 27, Rhodes still has a lot left to accomplish in WWE, but has surely made a name for himself only five years into his WWE career. While this past Sunday might not have been his time, I've got a feeling it will be sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment with your thoughts on the illustrious career of Cody Rhodes so far, as well as predictions for the future of the second-generation star. As always, your overall feedback and criticism is greatly appreciated.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling, as well as listen to my SAVE US GSM radio show that returns Thursday, July 26th at 10/9c for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, reviews, recaps and more.