When CM Punk returned and stated his goal of main event-ing WrestleMania, Cody Rhodes’ fans reassured themselves that Punk would likely face Seth Rollins on night one of this year’s ‘Mania. It still looked like their guy was set to finish his story against Roman Reigns on night two in Philadelphia.
But then Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson showed up last Monday on Raw and said “head of the table”, and while the Elimination Chamber rumors are keeping hope alive... there’s been quite a bit of consternation in the American Nightmare fanbase.
You know who’s unfazed, though? Cody, that’s who.
The 2023 Royal Rumble winner told Sports Illustrated he’s “not flinching” in the face of possibly losing a main event spot at this April’s Showcase of the Immortals:
“The Rock is The Great One — he’s still electrifying. CM Punk is one of the greatest stars in the history of wrestling. I know what I’m up against. Look at the roster — it’s loaded with stars. But that doesn’t bother me. I’m not flinching. I’m not rooting against anyone else, I’m just working to make it happen.”
And it’s because of those fans that he’s able to keep grinding and focus on his goal. As our Rick Ucchino pointed out in his column about the ‘Mania main event scene, Rhodes has been working a champion’s schedule despite not holding a championship. It’s in making all those towns that Cody fosters his relationship with the audience, a relationship that then fuels him:
“This job, it’s not like punching a clock. It’s a really fun movement with the fans. We’re really enjoying this moment that we’re having together. And I only get better with a heavy schedule. I’m able to be the best I’ve ever been because I’m doing it so frequently. That confidence has really been snowballing. I hit milestones I didn’t anticipate. Beating Brock Lesnar twice, for example. I keep thinking, ‘What’s better than this?’ It’s the way each of those moments has connected with the fans. They’ve given me their trust. That has made me even more confident.”
The company’s success also strengthens his desire to represent at the highest level a wrestler can:
“The milestones keep building. We keep climbing to new levels. Now the question I keep asking myself is, ‘Who is the face of the place?’ That’s what I want. That’s another level I need to attain. Hopefully that starts at the Royal Rumble.”
Rhodes also reminds himself to cherish what he has while he’s striving for more:
“No run lasts forever. I know that. I’ve seen that. So I’m savoring every moment–and I’m working toward accomplishing what’s never been before.”
Will the weeks and months ahead see Cody achieve new heights? Or will his story have to wait until after Punk & Rock headline a blockbuster WrestleMania?