On the July 2, 2007 episode of Raw, Rhodes made his television debut in a backstage segment with his
father Dusty Rhodes and Randy Orton, where Orton introduced himself to Rhodes and then slapped Dusty as a sign of disrespect. On July 9, Rhodes slapped Orton in return, and the following week, Rhodes faced Orton in his debut WWE match, but lost. Rhodes appeared at The Great American Bash to prevent Orton from further attacking his father. The next night on Raw, Rhodes challenged Orton to a rematch from the previous week, only to lose again. Orton followed this up by kicking Rhodes' father in the head, similar to how he had, in storyline, nearly ended the careers of Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam.
Rhodes' next storyline was a rivalry with Daivari, after he pinned him on the July 30 episode of Raw, to keep his job. In the midst of this rivalry, he also feuded with The World's Greatest Tag Team, defeating both members, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin in singles matches. The two feuds combined, when Rhodes, along with Paul London and Brian Kendrick, beat The World's Greatest Tag Team and Daivari in a six-man tag team match. The following week, Rhodes teamed up with Mickie James to defeat Daivari and Jillian Hall, ending their scripted rivalry.
Three weeks later, he began a feud with Hardcore Holly and lost three consecutive matches to him. Rhodes eventually earned Holly's respect, impressing Holly during their matches with his persistence and several near-falls, and the two formed a tag team. They earned a shot at the World Tag Team titles by defeating Paul London and Brian Kendrick and The Highlanders in a WWE.com exclusive match after an Alabama Slam. They fought against the Tag Team Champions Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch at Survivor Series, in what was Rhodes' first on-screen title shot and pay-per-view match, but were unsuccessful. On the November 19, 2007 episode of Raw, Rhodes faced Holly for a fourth time, and beat him for the first time, although they were both attacked by Randy Orton afterwards.
On December 10, 2007, on the Raw 15th Anniversary special episode, Rhodes along with Hardcore Holly defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag Team Championship, marking Rhodes' first championship in WWE. The following week, Rhodes and Holly retained their title, in their first title defense, against Cade and Murdoch. They also successfully defended the championships against the teams of Santino Marella and Carlito and Paul London and Brian Kendrick. In May 2008, Ted DiBiase began feuding with the duo, threatening to take their titles in his first match as part of the Raw brand.
At the pay-per-view event, Night of Champions on June 29, Rhodes turned on Holly by revealing himself as Ted DiBiase's partner to help DiBiase win the match, becoming a villain. After holding the championship for just over a month, they dropped it to John Cena and Batista on the August 4 episode of Raw. The following week, DiBiase and Rhodes used their rematch clause to regain the championship. Rhodes and DiBiase were joined by Manu, the son of Afa Anoa'i, in September, forming a stable of multi-generational superstars. On the October 27, 2008 episode of Raw, Rhodes and DiBiase lost the World Tag Team Championship to Kofi Kingston and CM Punk.
During this time, Rhodes, DiBiase and Manu entered a storyline with Randy Orton where Orton constantly criticized and insulted them, and attacked DiBiase on the November 3 episode of Raw. At Survivor Series, Rhodes, along with Orton, was a sole survivor, for Orton's team, in the annual Elimination match. Rhodes and Manu accepted Orton's offer for an alliance in the following weeks, and the trio dubbed themselves "The Legacy"; debuting in a two-on-three handicap match against Batista and Triple H. Orton began scheduling tests for The Legacy members, so they could prove themselves, and over two weeks, both Manu and Sim Snuka were kicked out.
On January 12, Snuka and Manu gave Rhodes the chance to align with them to attack Orton, along with the returning Ted DiBiase, but Rhodes refused. As they ambushed Orton, DiBiase instead joined with Orton and Rhodes to attack Snuka and Manu, and became a member of The Legacy. As part of The Legacy, Rhodes entered the Royal Rumble match in order to help Orton win, and lasted until the final three, before being eliminated by Triple H. Rhodes and DiBiase became involved in Orton's scripted rivalry with the McMahon family, helping him to attack Shane and Stephanie McMahon, and Stephanie's real-life husband, Triple H. Rhodes was also elevated to main event status as a result of joining The Legacy, competing in handicap and six-man tag team matches against Orton's opponents and rivals. On April 26, at Backlash, Rhodes, DiBiase, and Orton defeated Triple H, Batista, and Shane McMahon in a six-man tag team match, which, per the pre-match stipulation, resulted in Orton winning the WWE Championship. Rhodes suffered a minor neck injury in June, but did not need any time off to recover. Throughout mid-2009, Rhodes and DiBiase continued to compete against and attack Orton's rivals, especially Triple H. This led to Triple H reforming D-Generation X (DX) with Shawn Michaels, and DX defeated Rhodes and DiBiase at SummerSlam. Rhodes and DiBiase defeated DX at the following pay-per-view, Breaking Point in a submissions count anywhere match, but were defeated in a Hell in a Cell match at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in October, when Rhodes was pinned following a sledgehammer shot to the head. To sell the injury, Rhodes was taken out of the arena on a stretcher following the match.
Tension within The Legacy became apparent at the 2010 Royal Rumble, when Rhodes attempted to interfere in Orton's match for the WWE Championship. Rhodes was caught by the referee, resulting in a disqualification for Orton, who attacked Rhodes and DiBiase, who had tried to help Rhodes, after the match. On the February 15 episode of Raw, Orton took on Sheamus in a non-title rematch, but was again disqualified after Rhodes and DiBiase interfered. During the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Rhodes interfered, passing a lead pipe through the cage to DiBiase. DiBiase hit Orton with the pipe and eliminated him from the match. The next night on Raw, Orton attacked Rhodes and DiBiase during a six-man tag team match, and they attacked Orton the following week in retaliation. This led to a triple threat match at WrestleMania XXVI, in which Orton defeated Rhodes and DiBiase.
As part of the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft, Rhodes was drafted to the SmackDown brand. He made his debut for the brand on the April 30 episode of SmackDown, by defeating John Morrison. The following week on SmackDown, Rhodes participated in a tournament for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship, but lost to Christian in the semi-finals. On June 1, it was announced that Rhodes would be mentoring Husky Harris, a third generation wrestler, in the second season of WWE NXT.
On the June 25 episode of SmackDown, Rhodes began a new narcissistic gimmick, claiming to be the best-looking wrestler in WWE and demanding to be called "Dashing" Cody Rhodes. As part of the gimmick, vignettes began airing in which Rhodes gave 'grooming tips'. As part of the gimmick, Rhodes was extremely protective of his face during matches; if he was hit in the face, he threw a fit and checked his mirror. In September, he attacked Christian along with Drew McIntyre after a match, and the duo also attacked Matt Hardy, forming an alliance. At Night of Champions in September, Rhodes and McIntyre captured the WWE Tag Team Championship in a Tag Team Turmoil match, also including The Hart Dynasty, The Usos, Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov, and Evan Bourne and Mark Henry. At Bragging Rights, Rhodes and McIntyre lost the championship to The Nexus (John Cena and David Otunga). On the October 29 episode of SmackDown, after losing a tag team match, Rhodes and McIntyre dissolved their partnership.
In January 2011, Rhodes faced Rey Mysterio in a match, during which Mysterio hit Rhodes in the face with his exposed knee brace and legitimately broke Rhodes' nose. This prompted a storyline between the two, with Rhodes declaring he was no longer dashing and required facial reconstructive surgery. As part of the storyline with Mysterio, Rhodes was off television for several weeks, missing both the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber pay-per-view events. Upon his return, he wore a clear protective mask over his face, and colluded with his father to attack Mysterio and remove Mysterio's mask on the February 25 episode of SmackDown. Rhodes would go on to use his protective mask as a weapon during matches by headbutting opponents and sometimes took off the mask to use it to hit his opponents.
Rhodes and Mysterio faced off in a match at WrestleMania XXVII on April 3, which Rhodes won. The duo also faced off in a Falls Count Anywhere match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view in May, which was won by Mysterio. On subsequent episodes of SmackDown following Wrestlemania XXVII, Rhodes, with the help of assistants, would hand out paper bags to the audience during his promos. Rhodes demanded the audience to put on the paper bags on their heads to cover their ugliness and imperfections, because they offended him. Rhodes also put paper bags over several of his opponents' heads after matches with them.
Rhodes reformed his alliance with Ted DiBiase on the May 20 episode of SmackDown, and the duo went on to feud with Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan. At the second annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Rhodes participated in the Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful as Bryan won the match.
At the August 9 tapings of the August 12 episode of SmackDown, Rhodes defeated Ezekiel Jackson to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, his first singles title with the company. He made his first title defense the following week on SmackDown, by defeating Jackson in a rematch. That same night, Rhodes and DiBiase had a verbal confrontation with Orton. The following week, Rhodes attacked DiBiase after the latter lost a singles match to Orton, ending their alliance and resulting in a Intercontinental Championship match between the two at Night of Champions which Rhodes won.
Simultaneously, Rhodes had begun a feud with Orton, with Orton defeating Rhodes on the September 9 episode of SmackDown, but Rhodes defeated Orton on the September 12 episode of Raw with the help of Mark Henry's distraction of Orton. On the September 23 episode of SmackDown, Rhodes defeated Orton by disqualification when Orton took Rhodes' mask off and hit him with it. Post-match, Orton attacked Rhodes with the timekeeper's bell, legitamately cutting Rhodes and causing bleeding. The footage was highly edited for some broadcasts. The following week on SmackDown, Rhodes claimed he needed nine staples to close the wound.
At the same time as his feud with Orton, Rhodes was successfully defending his Intercontinental Championship, including in a 10-man battle royal and against Sheamus in a singles match. At the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on October 2, Rhodes debuted a new white design for the Intercontinental Championship, similar to the classic 1980's design, before successfully defending it against John Morrison. Throughout October, Rhodes continued feuding with Orton, costing him the World Heavyweight Championship and attacking him. At Vengeance, Rhodes was defeated by Orton in a non-title match. On the November 4 episode of SmackDown, Orton defeated Rhodes in a Street Fight to end the feud; in the process, Orton broke Rhodes' mask.
On the November 14 episode of Raw, Rhodes reappeared without his mask, claiming that Orton had set him free, signalling the end of his masked gimmick. Rhodes was a member of Team Barrett for a traditional Survivor Series match at Survivor Series, in which he and Wade Barrett were the only two survivors and won the match. Rhodes then feuded with SmackDown commentator Booker T, attacking him from behind on several occasions, and successfully retaining the Intercontinental Championship against him at Tables, Ladders & Chairs and on the January 6, 2012, episode of SmackDown. In the 2012 Royal Rumble match, Rhodes lasted over 40 minutes, and eliminated more wrestlers than other any other competitor with six, before he was eliminated by Big Show. At Elimination Chamber Rhodes pinned Show in the World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber match, before being eliminated by Santino Marella. Rhodes spent the following weeks highlighting Show's embarrassing moments in previous WrestleManias, often costing Show to lose matches in the process. At WrestleMania XXVIII, Rhodes lost the Intercontinental Championship to Big Show, ending his near eight month reign of 236 days.
Following the loss at WrestleMania, Rhodes would go on a brief losing streak due to Show distracting him during matches. Only four weeks after losing the title, Rhodes would regain the Intercontinental Championship from Show at Extreme Rules in a Tables match. On the May 7 edition of Raw SuperShow, Rhodes retained his title against Show in a rematch after getting himself counted out. Two weeks later at Over the Limit, Rhodes lost the Intercontinental Championship to the returning Christian. At No Way Out, Rhodes failed to regain the Intercontinental Championship from Christian in a rematch. On the June 29 episode of SmackDown, Rhodes and David Otunga were defeated by Christian and United States Champion Santino Marella in a Money in the Bank qualification match for the World Heavyweight Championship, due to Otunga being pinned. Afterwards, Rhodes would claim that he hadn't lost and would demand another chance. Four days later on Super SmackDown Live, the WWE Board of Directors granted Rhodes another shot and he defeated Christian to earn a spot in the match. However, at Money in the Bank, he was unsuccessful as the match was won by Dolph Ziggler. In August, Cody Rhodes restarted a feud with Sin Cara where he was obsessed with unmasking Sin Cara, whom he claimed was ugly. However, Sin Cara got the better of Rhodes twice in singles and tag team matches. On September 16 at Night of Champions, Rhodes failed to capture the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz in a fatal-four-way match, also involving Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara.
Rhodes then aligned himself with Damien Sandow, attacking Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) on the September 24 episode of Raw and vowing to become the next champions. The team, now known as the Rhodes Scholars, were entered in a Tag Team Championship tournament and defeated The Usos to advance. On the October 8 episode of Raw, the Rhodes Scholars defeated Santino Marella and Zack Ryder to advance to the finals in the tournament. Ultimately, the Rhodes Scholars defeated Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara on the October 22 episode of Raw to win the tournament and become the number one contenders to the Tag Team Championship. The Rhodes Scholars got their title opportunity against Team Hell No at Hell in a Cell, where they won by disqualification, thus Team Hell No retained the title. Rhodes Scholars received another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship on the November 14 of WWE Main Event, but were again defeated by Team Hell No. During the match, Rhodes suffered a concussion and a strained shoulder, resulting in him being removed from his Traditional five-on-five tag team match at Survivor Series. Rhodes returned from injury on the December 10 episode of Raw, sporting a mustache, where he and Sandow defeated Primo & Epico, The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O'Neil), and The Usos in a fatal four-way tag team elimination match to earn the right to face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in a number one contender Tables match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. Six days later at the pay-per-view, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Mysterio and Sin Cara to become the number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship. Team Rhodes Scholars received their title shots on the following episode of Main Event, but were again defeated by Team Hell No. On the January 7, 2013, episode of Raw, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Team Hell No in a non-title match to earn another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship. The title rematch took place on January 27 at the Royal Rumble, where Team Rhodes Scholars once again failed to capture the tag team titles. Later that night, Rhodes participated in the Rumble match and lasted for twenty seven minutes (the fourth longest of the match), eliminating four men including his half-brother Goldust, before being eliminated by the eventual winner John Cena. On the following episode of SmackDown, Rhodes and Sandow mutally decided to dissolve Team Rhodes Scholars and remain "best friends". However, Rhodes and Sandow would reunite during the pre-show of Elimination Chamber on February 17, but were defeated by the team of Brodus Clay and Tensai. Rhodes and Sandow then aligned themselves with The Bella Twins as they began feuding with "Tons of Funk" (Brodus Clay and Tensai) and The Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi). The two teams were originally booked to face each other in an eight-person mixed tag team match on April 7 at Wrestlemania 29, but their match was cut due to time constraints. The match instead took place the following night on Raw, where Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls emerged victorious. Rhodes returned to singles competition, and was defeated by Kofi Kingston on May 10th of SmackDown. Rhodes also participated in Extreme Rules Pre-show where he went up against The Miz in a losing effort.
On July 14 at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Rhodes competed in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful as the match was won by his tag-team partner Damien Sandow; Sandow threw Rhodes off of the ladder just as Rhodes was about to reach the briefcase. Rhodes cemented his face turn the night after on Monday Night Raw, attacking Sandow following his match with Christian. On the July 26 episode of SmackDown, Rhodes stole Sandow's briefcase while Sandow faced Orton in a match and managed to throw the briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico, which infuriated Sandow. On the August 5 episode of Raw, Rhodes gave Sandow the briefcase that he retrieved from the Gulf of Mexico but kept the contract itself. Rhodes continued his feud with Sandow on that same week's SmackDown, by preventing Sandow from cashing in his new Money in the Bank contract on a vulnerable Alberto Del Rio. On August 18 at SummerSlam, Rhodes defeated Sandow in a singles match, and did so again the following night on Raw. Rhodes ended his feud with Sandow the following week on Raw, when he teamed with The Miz to defeat Sandow and Fandango. On the September 2 episode of Raw, Rhodes was told by COO Triple H that if he did not defeat WWE Champion Randy Orton, his job would be in jeopardy; he lost the match and was soon after "fired" by Triple H.
On the September 9 Raw, his half brother Goldust lost a match to Randy Orton with Rhodes' reinstatement on the line. On the next Raw, his father, Dusty Rhodes, talked about Stephanie McMahon's "business proposal" which was he could reinstate only one of his sons Cody or Goldust. The Big Show was forced to knock Dusty out on McMahon's orders. On the September 23rd episode of Raw, Rhodes along with his brother Goldust, attacked The Shield on behalf of their father, Dusty Rhodes.
Rhodes along with his brother and father showed up on the September 30 Raw to be granted an offer of employment from Triple H. That offer being if the brothers can defeat Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, the WWE Tag Team Champions at WWE Battleground in a match, they will be reinstated. If not, they will never be working for WWE again and their father won't be a trainer for NXT anymore. They accepted the opportunity, but were suddenly attacked and laid out by The Shield afterwards. Dusty would be in their corner in support of his two sons as they faced The Shield at the WWE Battleground pay-per-view, which resulted in a victorious effort for the Rhodes Family. On the October 14 edition of Raw, he and Goldust defeated Rollins and Reigns once again, but this time to start their first reign together as the WWE Tag Team Champions with Big Show interfering on their behalf by knocking out all three members of The Shield, due to the match being a no disqualification match made by Triple H himself. On October 27 at Hell in a Cell, the Rhodes brothers' first successful title defense came with winning a triple threat match against the Usos and Rollins and Reigns. At WWE Royal Rumble, Rhodes and Goldust dropped the tag titles to The New Age Outlaws. Having entered the rumble match itself along with Goldust, Cody was accidentally eliminated by Goldust, who was subsequently eliminated by Roman Reigns. Goldust and Rhodes had a rematch on RAW after the Royal Rumble, which ended in a no contest after Brock Lesnar F5ed them both. The match was rescheduled for the February 3 Raw in a steel cage. Rhodes was pinned after he missed a moonsault off the top of the cage onto Road Dogg, allowing Billy Gunn to pin him for the win. Starting in April, the two brothers began to fall out, with Cody throwing his frustration at Goldust over their recent losing streak, and both men attacking each other either accidentally or intentionally during and after their matches. This culminated at Payback when they were defeated by Ryback and Curtis Axel with Cody taking the pin. After the match, Cody; believing he's just a hindrance to his brother, asked Goldust to find a better Tag Team partner and left disappointed.
Following Payback, Cody made several attempts to find a new partner for his brother, recruiting the likes of Sin Cara and Kofi Kingston to replace him in the team but with little success. On the June 16 episode of Raw Cody debuted a new character, Stardust, wearing facepaint and a bodysuit and adopting mannerisms similar to those of Goldust. As Stardust, he teamed with his brother to quickly defeat Rybaxel. He teamed with his brother to defeat Rybaxel again at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
On the August 18 episode of Raw, Stardust and Goldust defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions – The Usos in a non-title match. This led to a rematch on the August 25 episode of Raw, where Stardust and Goldust defeated The Usos via count-out, however, didn't win the titles. After the match, both Stardust and Goldust turned heel and attacked The Usos. At Night Of Champions 2014, Stardust and Goldust defeated the Usos to become WWE Tag Team Champions. At Hell in a Cell, they successfully retained against The Usos. Goldust and Stardust lost the tag titles a month later at Survivor Series on November 23rd to The Miz and Damien Mizdow in a fatal four way match involving Goldust and Stardust, Miz and Mizdow, Los Matadores and The Uso's when Damien Mizdow pinned Goldust.
In early February 2015, Gold and Stardust were defeated by The Ascension and once again began tensions with Stardust showing his frustrations at Goldust. After the match, Goldust called Stardust "Cody" and Stardust responded by telling Goldust to never refer to him by that name again. On the February 16 episode of Raw, Stardust hit Cross Rhodes on Goldust after a tag match, dissolving the team. He then explained to his father that Cody Rhodes was dead and Dusty may as well be, too. This led to a match between Goldust and Stardust at WWE Fastlane, which Goldust won. Afterwards, Stardust attacked Goldust backstage, while exclaiming to his father that he had killed Cody Rhodes. The feud between Stardust and Goldust has ended as Stardust became involved in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania 31, which he lost. At the April 6 edition of RAW, Stardust came out to an open challenge by John Cena for the U.S. Championship, but failed to capture the title. A week later he defeated Fandango in a quick match, which made Fandango turn face. Stardust competed in the King of the Ring (2015), but got did not go past the first round, by getting defeated by R-Truth. On the May 5th episode of Monday Night Raw, Stardust brought in a bag during his match with R-Truth. Truth tried to open the bag to see what was inside, but it was revealed to be a trap, as there were spiders inside, which distracted Truth for Stardust to roll him up for the win. Their feud would end on the WWE Payback pre-show, when Truth would defeat Stardust. On the Elimination Chamber (2015) pre-show, Stardust defeated Zack Ryder. After taking a brief hiatus, Stardust would return on the July 13 episode of Raw, defeating Neville. On July 30th episode of Smackdown, Stardust defeated R-Truth in a one on one match. After the bout, Stardust attempted to put a Stardust mask on Truth before Neville made the save. On the August 10 Raw, Stardust attacked Neville following his match with King Barrett. Stardust would then attack guest star Stephen Amell, leading to Amell attacking Stardust. It would then be announced that at Summerslam, Stardust formed a team with the now "Cosmic King" Barrett to face Neville and Amell in a tag team match. At Summerslam, Stardust, along with Barrett, lost to Neville and Stephen Amell. The next night on Raw, Stardust attacked and put King Barrett out of action. On the September 3 Smackdown, The Ascension aligned themselves with Stardust by attacking Neville before their match, with Stardust dubbing them the "Cosmic Wasteland". Stardust defeated Jack Swagger on the September 11 episode of Superstars. At Night of Champions, Stardust and The Ascension defeated Neville and The Lucha Dragons in a Six-Man Tag Team Match in the pre-show. Stardust made an appearance at NXT TakeOver: Respect as Cody Rhodes with his brother Dustin to congratulate Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe on winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. On the Survivor Series 2015 Kickoff, The Cosmic Wasteland (Stardust, Konnor, and Viktor), The Miz, and Bo Dallas were defeated by The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley), Neville, and Titus O'Neil and the returning Goldust in a five-on-five traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match. On the December 7, 2015 Raw, Stardust lost to Jack Swagger by submission. At the Slammy Awards on December 21, Stardust stole Stephen Amell's trophy for "Celebrity Moment of the Year".
On the February 15, 2016 episode of Raw, Stardust participated in a five-way match for the Intercontinental Championship, but did not win the match. Also in that month, Stardust was assigned to wrestle on WWE Superstars, where he traded wins and losses with Zack Ryder. At WrestleMania 32, Stardust would compete against Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, which was won by Ryder. Post-WrestleMania, Stardust lost to Apollo Crews four times on television, which was followed by a loss to Zack Ryder on the May 20 episode of Superstars.
On May 22, 2016, Stardust was released from his WWE contract after requesting it.