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Why The Rock’s return is good for Cody Rhodes

The dream is still very much alive for The American Nightmare

Following The Rock’s return on Raw and his less-than-subtle poke at Roman Reigns, one of the questions now is, when will this match take place? The other question, perhaps most important for fans of Cody Rhodes, is, what does this mean for The American Nightmare?

Most assume that Rock’s return means Rhodes won’t finish his story at WrestleMania. Some believe that Rock may challenge Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. However, a triple threat match between Randy Orton, AJ Styles, and LA Knight this Friday on SmackDown is supposed to yield Reigns’ Rumble rival.

Instead, the long-awaited family squabble between cousins could happen at Elimination Chamber in Perth, Australia, in February. A recent edition of our Rumor Roundup included an item about The Western Australia Tourism Board, which paid WWE to bring the Elimination Chamber to Perth, requesting that Dwayne Johnson appear at the Feb. 24 show. Wrestling Observer’s coverage specified that it was only a request, not an official indication that The Rock would be there. Dave Meltzer did add that getting The Rock to Perth would “cost far more.”

While a potential title fight of this magnitude makes the most sense for WrestleMania, booking it for Perth allows WWE to have its cake and eat it, too.

According to a report by PWInsider in December, over 45,000 tickets had been sold for the Australia extravaganza at Perth’s Optus Stadium. The stadium’s website lists Optus as a 60,000-seat building, so WWE isn’t far off from a sellout on par with a typical WrestleMania-sized crowd in recent years. Essentially, WWE could have three WrestleMania-esque events: Elimination Chamber in Perth and two nights of ‘Mania itself in Philadelphia in April.

And that’s in addition to anything the West Australian Tourism Board paid to bring the show — and possibly The Great One — to the South Pacific.

Second, a victory by Reigns goes a long way toward making Cody Rhodes’ story potentially more compelling.

Since losing to Reigns at last year’s Showcase of the Immortals, Rhodes has had a long and winding run. He had a brutal trilogy of matches with Brock Lesnar that ultimately saw The American Nightmare prevail. He got sucked into a feud with Judgment Day and now finds himself knee-deep in a war with Shinsuke Nakamura.

One of the criticisms against Rhodes’ run to the WWE Championship last year was that he overcame a few obstacles in his path to greatness. Despite suffering a torn pectoral muscle in 2022, it had been smooth sailing for Rhodes. He defeated future World Champion Seth Rollins in three straight encounters, won the 2023 Royal Rumble match from the number 30 spot, and became the first person to pin Solo Sikoa on television.

But after a year-long struggle that brought as much heartache as it did triumph, now Rhodes would have the tall task of wrestling what would appear to be an insurmountable foe. Since their meeting last spring, Reigns beat up his family, took down LA Knight, and downed whoever he’ll face at the Rumble. Add to that a victory over The Rock, one of the greatest superstars in wrestling history, and Reigns, who has been champion for more than three years, looks like God.

For Cody Rhodes to go to WrestleMania in an attempt to topple that version of Roman Reigns makes for arguably the most compelling rematch in WWE history. And it could lead to an unprecedented outpouring of fan emotion if the uber-popular Rhodes finally realizes his dream.

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