Cody Rhodes failed to win the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship and WWE failed to capitalize on a rare moment in wrestling.
WrestleMania Night Two was certainly an experience. Depending upon who is asked, the momentum that was built with Night One evaporated by the end of Night Two. Roman Reigns stood victorious as another set of shenanigans cost Cody Rhodes the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship. At least that night, Rhodes was unable to “finish the story.” But what if he finishes it later in 2023? By that point, Rhodes will not be as “hot” as he was on April 2 and WWE dropped a major ball.
Big moments in professional wrestling are fleeting. Even in an industry that is as manufactured as such, a laundry list of mishaps can occur to cut into the momentum and anticipation of big outcomes. How many times in history have injuries robbed fans and promoters of the big moments that were built over days, weeks, months, and years? WWE didn’t have any of those issues when Rhodes and Reigns stood across from each other in Los Angeles, and WWE opted to go another direction for reasons not understood.
As with anything in wrestling discourse, both sides are raging about why their point of view on the matter is correct. Cody can win the title at SummerSlam and it will still matter. Rhodes’s story isn’t done yet. A babyface should go through some sort of trial before reaching the mountain top. Sure, all those things can be true, but can the WWE be trusted to tell those stories? And even if they do, are those stories told with the same care that professional wrestling fans want to see?
WWE has a track record of failing to deliver on these moments
For every Yes Movement and Daniel Bryan, there’s a KofiMania or a Big E WWE Championship run that leaves much to be desired. Remember how over Dolph Ziggler was when he initially cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase to win the title? Or how about Shinsuke Nakamura – a consummate superstar in professional wrestling relegated to even lower than mid-card status after winning the Royal Rumble? There are too many examples of WWE failing to tell the story that fans want to see, telling it too late, or abandoning things right when fans are getting invested.
The very next night, Rhodes gets thrashed by Brock Lesnar to set up his next feud. Yes, Lesnar is a massive name on the WWE roster, and Rhodes is the hot name, but would anyone be surprised if Lesnar is booked to pick up the win when they finally face off? Not in this WWE. Not with who is in charge of the booking.
There’s a value in predictability in professional wrestling. Look at Adam “Hangman” Page and MJF as two examples of individuals that were clearly going to win in a big moment and fans still ate those moments up. WWE consistently books like they are smarter than all the fans that watch and spend money on their product. That’s a detriment that is going to come back to bite them in the form of completely missing the opportunity to build Cody Rhodes into the star this company desperately needs.