The return of The Rock to WWE has brought with it many questions, most notably, when will he finally face Roman Reigns? And for fans of Cody Rhodes, the biggest question is, where does that leave Rhodes and his story?
What once seemed like a potentially winning situation for The American Nightmare appears to be turning into a bad dream as word on the street says that a showdown between The Rock and Roman Reigns isn’t happening at Elimination Chamber. If that’s the case, Rhodes may get muscled out of the main event of WrestleMania XL, and his mission to finish his story of winning the WWE Championship may be delayed indefinitely.
While that may upset his legion of supporters, Rhodes should consider himself fortunate if such a situation plays out.
Only 2 steps left— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) January 9, 2024
If WWE and Rhodes play their cards right, fans are likely to rally behind Rhodes even more as he gets derailed from his goal. Though such swerves can only last so long before spectators grow tired and move on, WWE is not there yet.
Not even close.
With or without a title, Rhodes remains one of the company’s most popular performers. His merchandise continues to move well, and crowds love singing along to his entrance theme when he comes out. At this time, Rhodes doesn’t need the title. Instead, he needs rivalries and stories that resonate with viewers just enough to get their minds off his title aspirations while they cheer him on to victory in the ring.
While such a strategy should satisfy the average wrestling-goer, it may not be enough for those who follow the product more intently and believe that Cody’s time is now. While that desire may cause that section of the audience to lash out, presumably during a Reigns-Rock encounter, it still bodes well for Rhodes as the yearning to see him reach the pinnacle of sports entertainment reaches a fever pitch.
But more importantly, the longer WWE keeps Rhodes from the championship, his popularity doesn’t just increase. It is maintained.
In 2022, Seth Rollins was arguably WWE’s most valuable performer. His matches were as thrilling as his character work. Many thought he should’ve been the one to dethrone Reigns as early as that year’s Royal Rumble.
But in 2024, and eight months into his World Championship run, some are tiring of him as champ and are looking forward to someone relieving him of the gold relatively soon. Such is the attention and affection of modern wrestling buffs, whom Daniel Bryan (now Bryan Danielson) labeled as fickle not long after he won the WWE title in 2018.
If Rhodes were to secure the championship, how soon could it be before audiences turn away from him as champ and demand a fresh face? But without the title, Rhodes is unlikely to lose support as long as his performance continues to satisfy.
But the day will come when Rhodes wins the championship. The ensuing question is, what comes next? At that point, he would have effectively concluded his storyline. While he could embark on an extended title reign, as mentioned earlier, such reigns can only persist for a limited duration.
When Rhodes captures the WWE title, he should have the most glorious post-match celebration in wrestling history, complete with family and friends joining him in the ring to commemorate the occasion. His wife and daughter should have tears in their eyes, as Daddy’s hard work and sacrifices have finally paid off.
That’s when WWE lowers the boom with the most heartbreaking Money in the Bank cash-in of all time. Having a no-good dirtbag rob Rhodes of his long overdue moment would ensure that the people stick with Rhodes as he embarks on a different journey with new meaning and, hopefully, new obstacles to clear.
And while that’s happening, the next wave of superstars who will one day replace Rhodes — and even Roman Reigns — will begin to get their feet wet on WWE’s main roster, making strides to becoming the next faces of the company.
It’s a perfect scenario for everyone involved, particularly Rhodes, who doesn’t require a prolonged championship reign. His primary goal is to secure the title to conclude his narrative, and that achievement is within his reach at any given moment.