Cody Rhodes returned to WWE with an exceptional amount of fanfare. The pyro, the stage, the match itself, everything pointed towards Rhodes being the next big thing to re-emerge into the main roster. Having beaten Seth Rollins and won over the masses with his legendary performance at Hell in a Cell while nursing an injury, Rhodes was positioned to be the one to dethrone ‘The Tribal Chief’ Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 in a triumphant conclusion to not only the Rhodes family story but The Bloodline’s saga as well.
However, it didn’t quite go down the way we all expected. For various reasons, Reigns’ titanic run with the world championships continues to this day with seemingly no definitive end to his championship reign in sight. Fans were miffed when Cody’s textbook babyface run was given an abrupt end at Mania, the perfect place for Cody’s ‘story’ to be given its peak. Wrestling audiences have been a bit hot and cold with Cody, but if there was ever a time for him to be crowned world champion, thus fulfilling his late father’s dreams, it was in Hollywood for ‘Mania.
Alas, here we are with Cody temporarily out of the world championship picture, set to finish his feud with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam and then, well, it’s anyone’s guess. You’d assume that once his rubber match against ‘The Beast’ is behind him, he’d once again be elevated back into the title scene. But, with Roman on a separate roster to Cody, it’s now the case that the Rhodes story is at risk of never being completed.
Sure, Rhodes could step up to Seth once again and challenge for the newly dubbed WWE Heavyweight Championship, but is that really the finale fans wanted to see for Cody’s return sprint? Naturally, Rhodes/Rollins IV would be an absolute banger, especially with a major championship hanging between them, but it will always seem like a second rate victory for Cody if he did go on to win the title.
Regardless of how WWE pitch the championship, it’s not quite the belt(s) worn by Roman Reigns. His 1000+ day reign overshadows all other world champions in the business today, inside and outside of WWE. If WWE wanted Cody Rhodes to live up to Dusty’s wishes and be ‘the guy’ in WWE, then he needs to defeat Roman Reigns. The longer WWE keep Cody away from Reigns and his championships, the less likely he’ll have the moment everyone wanted to see go down at WrestleMania.
For all we know, Reigns could drop the championship to his cousin Jey Uso at SummerSlam, therefore negating any momentum Cody had to be the one to stand tall over the fallen ‘Tribal Chief’. This isn’t to say that Cody can’t one day step up to face whoever is the one to defeat Roman, and stake his claim as a heel challenger, the guy that is desperate to finally finish the story, willing to do whatever’s necessary to do so. That I could get on board with. However, this wouldn’t be the defacto ‘good end’, that opportunity has been and gone and, much like many other storylines in WWE, has been squandered for the sake of a ‘swerve’.
So how will WWE get around this? Quite frankly, it seems like this is going to be a long game approach, hoping that fans will give a hoot when it eventually comes back around to Cody’s time. It could be that Cody does a Steve Austin and wins the Royal Rumble two years on the trot, but then again, would that really be as effective as his first win? WrestleMania XL brings with it a lot of excitement, being a milestone WrestleMania, so that could be enough to help Cody scrape back the hype he had this year. Ultimately, it relies upon a decent build, one that was even better than the lead-up to WrestleMania 39. It needs to be a parallel story, with Roman at his very weakest, no Bloodline, no Heyman, just him vs. Cody. Then the story can finally come to an end.
Alternatively, if Rhodes does pick up the World Championship on RAW, defeating either Rollins or whichever member of the Judgement Day happens to be next in line, then WWE could go down another unification route. A little bit of a step backwards from them reinstating two separate titles on the roster, but enough of an excuse for Cody to once again be standing across the ring from Roman as a worthy challenger. Roman has already teased his desire to pick up a new trophy to add to his collection, it would make sense for him to suddenly turn his attention to the RAW roster once he’s finally dealt with the last few of the SmackDown lads left for him to beat. But again, this would once again defy the brand extension and remove any need for them to enforce it.
So what’s next for ‘The American Nightmare’? Will the Rhodes story be given a satisfying end? Will WWE ever learn from their mistakes? Only time will tell.
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