In the vein of Total Divas, Total Bellas and Miz and Mrs, Cody and Brandi Rhodes are the latest professional wrestlers to get a reality television show based on them with the premiere of Rhodes to the Top.
After watching the first episode, do I personally think it is worth checking out, or would I recommend that you skip it?
Judging a Book by Its Cover
I’m one of those people who says “most things aren’t black and white, but somewhere in the gray…yet some things just are black and white.” Usually, this means I piss off people on both sides of any argument for pointing out the flaws and the positives on both arguments, but sometimes, things are outright the way they are and that’s that.
Judging a show like this is very much a case of both contradictory philosophies, which sounds like a cop-out, but it’s just a fact of the matter.
Fundamentally, if you’re looking at a show like Rhodes to the Top and you see one commercial for it, you kind of know what you’re going to get out of it. Generally speaking, if reality shows like the WWE-based ones and the onslaught of similar shows (83 listed on Wikipedia just in the “Docusoaps starring celebrities” category alone) are something you’re fond of or NOT into, you have your answer right there.
However, I’ll always point out that I was never a fan of The Amazing Race, but I used to love Big Brother and I was into Survivor for a good couple seasons. A competition show like The Mole was great, but I couldn’t possibly sit through Beauty and the Geek. Sometimes, a few tweaks to a formula and you get a recipe that actually works.
That means this is both black and white (you probably know whether or not you’ll get into it) and gray (but you never know for sure). Keep that in mind, along with how opinions are subjective and even if you agreed with 9/10 things I liked/disliked, that 1 disagreement might be the thing you feel the strongest about.
For the Wrestling Fans
Based on you being here at eWrestlingNews, your entry point to this show is undoubtedly that it’s about a professional wrestling family. Duh. So does it appeal to that part of the fandom?
At least for this first episode, I think there’s enough there that can potentially hook you. It wasn’t super meaty like Dark Side of the Ring or a WWE Network documentary would focus entirely on those subjects, but there were some moments here and there peppered throughout which could intrigue you.
For my tastes, I find it most fun to see some of the behind the scenes stuff we don’t normally get to witness, like Tony Khan and Cody talking to Ricky Starks about sitting out of the ring to heal up his injured neck. Nothing crazy went on in that conversation to make it sensational, but I was interested to watch how Khan talks to his talent and so on.
A brief second of Jon Moxley speaking about how he’s dealing with a hangover could have been put in there just for a laugh, but I’d love to see more of that. As a professional wrestling fan, I want more of that kind of content. However, that’s kind of what Being the Elite is about (when it isn’t skits, of course) and not what this show is striving for.
One thing I did find worthy of an eye-roll is that they flat out had to explain “a promo is when a wrestler is on the microphone trying to sell tickets for pro wrestling” to the audience that is solely coming here for the other half of this type of program and doesn’t have much wrestling knowledge. That’s the type of thing that can make a lot of fans like us turn this off and think it’s going to be too slow for us. You can’t expect people to have advanced insider knowledge and be brushed up on all the lingo, but if you start diving into “in wrestling, I’m what’s called a babyface, which means I’m a good guy, and we have heels, who are bad guys, or villains” stuff too long, skiiiiiiiiiip.
This was a roller coaster. I had written down “yes, no, yes, probably not” for whether or not I think wrestling fans should watch this. Eventually, I settled on “maybe”, which isn’t an answer worth sticking to.
For the Family Drama Fans
Maybe you’re more into this for the generic reality show type of stuff, though. If that’s the case, I honestly feel you might be disappointed.
The key is whether or not you like “scripted reality” that is campy and over-the-top like “Wuh oh! How did we drop the birthday cake we were supposed to pick up? The party’s in an hour! What are we going to dooooo!?” If that’s your style, this didn’t feel quite on that level.
It did, however, still have some stench of manufactured tension that all these shows have, which I’m not at all a fan of, but millions of people are.
It annoys me to no end to see all of these shows revolve around two people arguing over something stupid, getting super loud and bitchy, then “realizing that they’re truly sisters and they love each other and have to stick together” before repeating the cycle the next episode.
At one point, there was a scene where Brandi tells Jade Cargill that Red Velvet thought Jade had slapped her too hard. That in and of itself was fine. When it turns into Brandi setting up a wine tasting and inviting Cargill and Velvet so they can hash out their problems, only for the editing to go straight to an argument and then a resolution 10 seconds later, I can’t get behind it.
I’m also not one to like the “here’s my wacky family and the archetypes they fit into” trope. Of course Brandi’s mom is someone who thinks she’s the queen of the castle since Brandi and her daughter are princesses. Want to know who “the tough bad ass who probably has a heart of gold but just can’t express herself properly” is? Cody’s sister, who they want you to know is this gangsta hellraiser who does not like Brandi, hmph.
I’m not a celebrity-worship type person. I’ve never and will likely never really care about someone just because they’re famous or be obsessed about their lives or any of that. If you are, the sheer nature of this following celebrities can be checked off your list as a reason to watch it.
See It or Skip It?
If you’re a fan of AEW for the professional wrestling content and not so much for any of the revolving elements like being a fan of the celebrities themselves, I say Skip It unless you’re into reality television programs as another part of your fandom.