WWE sought to add a bit of intrigue behind who Cody Rhodes will ultimately face at WrestleMania by placing him in an emotional segment with Seth Rollins on the Jan. 29 edition of Raw. Despite a phenomenal performance by both men, which saw Rhodes fighting back tears at one point, WWE found a way to again trash its product in another attempt to add value to its World Heavyweight Championship.
After Rhodes took a moment to bask in the glow of his Royal Rumble victory, Rollins interrupted the party with a unique proposition. Rather than hunt Roman Reigns for his Undisputed WWE Universal Title at WrestleMania, Rollins reasoned why Rhodes should challenge him for the World Championship, which Rollins referred to as the Dusty Rhodes title, the blue-collar championship.
First, Rollins began by running down Reigns. He shamed the Tribal Chief for his infrequent appearances and fewer title defenses. He called Reigns a cheater and dismissed him outright, saying, “Hell, we don’t need Roman Reigns at all!”
Next, Rollins took to devaluing Reigns’ Undisputed Championship. He called it the Hollywood or Hulk Hogan title, a championship for posers and frauds who politic their way to the top. In contrast, Rollins stressed the value of his championship, one he has defended with great regularity, implying that its worth falls in line with the values of Cody’s late father, Dusty Rhodes. Rollins then closed by asking The American Nightmare, “What kind of man do you want to be?”
By the World Champion’s estimation, Rhodes could opt to face a man whose presence is unnecessary and whose title is for pretenders and charlatans. That belittling of Reigns and, mostly, the WWE Championship ultimately made this an awful segment and devalued the tale Rhodes and WWE have been telling for the past two years.
Regarding Roman Reigns, debating his value to the company seems futile now as it boils down to two perspectives: either Reigns is an indomitable force whose infrequent appearances enhance his aura, or he’s a cowardly paper champion with a light workload. Regardless, within WWE lore, he consistently finds a way to win. From Rollins to Rhodes, no one has succeeded in dethroning him.
But in dismissing Reigns’ title, Rollins demeaned every person who came before Reigns, including himself, as Rollins is a former two-time WWE Title holder. He also discounted Rhodes’ dream of winning the championship that eluded his father and his family for almost 50 years. And should Rhodes choose to chase after Rollins for his crown, it would mean disregarding two years of carefully crafted storytelling.
Rhodes’ return to WWE in 2022 was fueled by his desire to catch the title that slipped through his dad’s fingers. Yet, the narrative here suggests that he might abandon this pursuit for a secondary world championship, the only distinction of which is its holder’s stellar work attendance. However, ongoing discussions over a potential clash between Roman Reigns and The Rock might force WWE in that direction. And if it does, then Rhodes’ story would have been a colossal waste of time.
Cheapening matters further is that Rhodes, who has never bested Reigns, would instead face Seth Rollins — the same Seth Rollins whom Rhodes defeated at three consecutive premium live events. Two of those wins include Rhodes’ comeback at WrestleMania 38 and a victory over Rollins with a torn pectoral muscle inside the demonic structure known as Hell in a Cell.
So what is Rhodes to do?
He can, according to Rollins, challenge a grifter for an honor reserved for frauds and posers. Or, Rhodes can go after the World Heavyweight Championship held by a two-time former phony whom Rhodes has beaten multiple times and who, like himself, failed to dethrone Roman Reigns, WWE’s allegedly worthless, lazy con man.