Cody Rhodes, son of ''American Dream'' Dusty Rhodes, is a second generation professional wrestler. But these days he feels like he's in a different business.
His father and the wrestlers of that generation were on the road seven days a week and did two shows on Sundays. Cody Rhodes said he usually is home at least two days week and Thursdays are set aside for a good massage and a regular visit to the chiropractor.
That doesn't mean everything is easier for today's wrestlers.
''(Back then) fans were more responsive if you just give a guy a headlock,'' he said. ''Today, you put a guy in a headlock and - crickets. There's a different level of expectation, especially with high-definition television.''
Fans watching at home on a 50-inch HD TV can see every pulled punch, so not only do they expect to see a level of athleticism and acrobatics that was uncommon two decades ago, it also better be more realistic than those old-school moves.
The expectations even are higher for a guy Rhodes' size. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Rhodes would be an imposing figure walking around the concourse at the Covelli Centre. But in the ring opposite The Big Show (7-feet tall, 441 pounds) or The Great Khali (7-foot-1, 347 pounds), Rhodes is smaller than the average WWE star. That can be an advantage and a disadvantage.
WHAT: WWE Smackdown World Tour
WHEN: 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Covelli Centre, 229 E. Front St., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $95, $50, $35, $25 and $15.
''I can blow up anybody,'' Rhodes said. ''Shawn Michaels had that ability. When you're working a guy like the Big Show, they expect you to dance around him just like Muhammad Ali. Just like when a giant gets his hands on you, they expect him to throw you around the ring and outside of the ring. If you get the upper hand, they expect you to incorporate things you only see in a Cirque (du Soleil) show. That's one of the best things in sports entertainment, turning it around on a big guy.''
Rhodes will get that opportunity on Sunday when the WWE Smackdown World Tour returns to the Youngstown arena. Instead of defending his Intercontinental Championship belt, Rhodes will team with Christian for at tag team match against those two giants, Big Show and Great Khali.
Just because his title won't be on the line, that doesn't mean Rhodes can take it easy.
''Honestly, any time anything involves Christian, it's never a phone-it-in-type situation,'' Rhodes said. ''I really like being in the ring with guys like Christian. He's been there, done that. It's good to see where you're at, gauge yourself, because he's one of the best in the world.''
Rhodes no longer is wearing the clear plastic mask that was part of his character when insisted on being called Dashing Cody Rhodes and used the protective gear to save his golden boy looks - and bash the occasional opponent when the referee wasn't looking. While it became an important part of his ring persona, it was born out of necessity.
''Misfortune became fortune,'' he said. ''My nose was actually broken, the septum deviated. I thought it would be the genuine end of the Smackdown run of Dashing Cody Rhodes before it really started.''
When a doctor created the mask for him, he wasn't sure he would be able to compete in it. Instead, it became a prop that he kept beyond its required use.
''The character evolved from a real-life situation.'' Rhodes said.
Those storylines are as much a part of professional wrestling as what happens in the ring, and the best ones are born out of personal experience.
''That's why I love wrestling,'' he said. ''It's not so much dependent on WWE creative. The best ideas are thought up on over-200-mile car rides between you and the other superstars. WWE creative is there to help streamline ideas ... but some of the greatest concepts come from guys in the rings themselves.''