For Cody Rhodes, it’s about finishing the story. For WWE, it’s about keeping themselves interesting beyond The Bloodline.
The moment Cody Rhodes announced his return to WWE via the Men’s 30-man Royal Rumble match, the excitement began to build as “The American Nightmare” was instantly the favorite to win the match and go onto WrestleMania. But as we know with Rhodes, that was never going to be enough. And we know after the way the recent months have unfolded for Roman Reigns and The Bloodline, that the gigantic main event match between the co-creator of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and WWE’s top guy isn’t going to be enough for WWE either.
It took all of two nights after returning at WrestleMania Saturday in 2022 that Rhodes made his intentions perfectly clear — he wants to be world champion. And not just any world champion, but the WWE Champion. Something that his father, Dusty Rhodes, was never able to accomplish nor did his brother Dustin Rhodes (aka Goldust).
As Rhodes said on Logan Paul’s podcast, IMPAULSIVE, this story is as real as it gets.
"“I gotta finish the story,” Rhodes said. “For those who don’t know, 1978, my dad won the WWE title, but it was by over-the-top rope or disqualification is how he won the match. He put the belt on, big pantomime, the crowd’s excited, but then they took it away. So you won the match but the champion got to keep the title, that’s mentioned on RAW, so it’s a real story.”"
The world has seen Cody Rhodes get brought to tears each time he talks about his dad on both AEW and WWE television. He’s never been as close to a world title in his WWE career as he is now. “The American Nightmare’s” entire reason for returning to WWE hangs on this match and, of course, finishing the story once and for all.
But will he? As we’ve seen with the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship reign of “The Tribal Chief,” nothing is certain for any challenger. Time and time again, the WWE Universe has seen a challenger deserving and worthy of becoming the next world champion fall by the side and fail.
Drew McIntyre was the obvious one — losing at Clash at the Castle with Solo Sikoa debuting on the main roster. Sami Zayn is the most recent as his hometown match in Montreal still wasn’t enough to put him over the top. Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan, Edge, John Cena, and many others all stepped up and failed. Only Seth “Freakin” Rollins has walked away a winner but that story has gone incomplete for ever a year.
So why is Cody Rhodes different? Why is “The American Nightmare” and his story different from the likes of Drew McIntyre, who never got his moment in front of fans, and Sami Zayn, who naturally got over with the WWE Universe just to come up short? Because he’s the final hope. He’s all that’s left. Rhodes is make or break WWE moving forward.
Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes is all or nothing for Triple H, WWE
On the March 13 episode of Monday Night Raw, Rhodes’ promo was not only perfect for his character but fitting of Reigns’ run on top as well. WWE has stuck to their guns with Reigns on top of the promotion as he nears 1,000 days as champion and while holding out for that accolade alone may be tempting, a loss for Rhodes whether it be clean or via multiple interruptions from The Usos, Sikoa, and Paul Heyman can destroy everything.
“On April 2, when the sun goes down on Hollywood, it is going down on Roman Reigns’ generational run,” Rhodes said. “On April 2, it’s not just those who have the Rhodes and the Runnels’ blood pumping through their veins. It’s every single person who has followed me until the end. On April 2, I have waited my whole life. I will wait no more. On April 2, Roman Reigns, I pin you, I stick you in this ring, and become the first Rhodes to ever say he is the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.”
When you cut a promo like that, you don’t just give yourself a shot to win. No. You need to win. Rhodes knows that and WWE has to as well.
Rhodes is the WWE’s final shot. The perfect closing act to The Bloodline’s dominance on top. There’s no one left. Every loss by a challenger was to make Reigns and his reign that much more important. For good reason, as it has given WWE their most compelling story in years, but it still was at the expense of most of the stars remaining on the roster.
Rollins hasn’t won enough to be in consideration for another few months — this company can’t do another few months of the same story. Zayn’s white-hot run as a babyface isn’t there as much as it was just a month ago. The excitement of him and Owens is certainly there, but not alone. “The American Nightmare” has the WWE Univ-, scratch that. He has everyone behind him. Whether it’s a WWE fan or a wrestling fan overall, Rhodes has them with him come April 2.
The work has been put in by Rhodes to reach this level. WWE has put in the work to make the world know Rhodes isn’t only their top babyface but he’s their new ace. Their top dog. The first babyface that has had complete backing since Reigns was a babyface, truthfully. WWE can either take a chance with the man who left, created an opponent, and returned or they can keep going with The Bloodline, Reigns, and all the criticism that will follow if this story is not completed.
Finishing the story is important. Doing it on time? Essential. One loss for “The American Nightmare” and it’s all unredeemable. The bright lights of WrestleMania in Hollywood cannot be matched. It’s time for WWE, it’s time for Cody Rhodes, and it’s time for the end of Reigns as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. Now or never.
The time is now for Cody Rhodes to win. The time is now for Roman Reigns to lose. WWE is undergoing a shift and “The American Nightmare” as the new Undisputed WWE Universal Champion is what they need more than anything else. Finish the story.