Paul Heyman Makes Bold Statement About Cody Rhodes’ Future

Apr 2, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Cody Rhodes during Wrestlemania Night 2 at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Cody Rhodes during Wrestlemania Night 2 at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Paul Heyman had some interesting words to say about Cody Rhodes and the outcome of WrestleMania.

Cody Rhodes’ homecoming to WWE after six years was one for the ages. Not only had he developed a rival wrestling company during his time away, but he had also become the best version of himself as a professional wrestler.

His comeback appearance at WrestleMania 38 is still one of the most viewed moments in WrestleMania history, followed by a thrilling trilogy with foe Seth Rollins through the next two premium live events.

The career and recognition Rhodes always wanted were at his fingertips, with the audience hanging onto every word when he held a microphone. He swiftly became integral to WWE programming until he suffered a torn pectoral just days before the Hell in a Cell PLE in June last year.

In typical Rhodes form, however, Cody delivered exactly what the fans were promised, putting on one of the best matches in recent WWE history in the final chapter of his feud with Rollins.

Although his return unexpectedly paused not long after it started, he had gained a ton of momentum in his quest to win the WWE Championship.

Six months after he underwent surgery to repair his muscle, his return from injury began being hyped in the weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble. The vignettes of his surgery and recovery on the road back to the ring were shown every week during episodes of RAW and SmackDown, garnering more excitement when a new video was shown.

Rhodes entered the Royal Rumble match at the coveted number thirty spot, the most historically lucky position of the night. Despite being in the ring much shorter than others, he went on to have quite the match. He provided the fans with a thrilling ending as he was able to eliminate the current reigning and undefeated Intercontinental Champion, Gunther, to secure his spot in the main event of WrestleMania 39.

It was one of the more exciting superstar returns over the last few years, not only for the fans but for Rhodes as well. He was finally in the position he had worked so hard to get to and was set to face off with Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, who had been at the top of the company for nearly 900 days at that point.

The problem was, would he really be facing Reigns at WrestleMania?

The hottest storyline in all of wrestling at the Royal Rumble was between the Bloodline and Sami Zayn, who most believed would get a title shot against Reigns after he betrayed the Tribal Chief by hitting him with a steel chair at the end of the main event match against Kevin Owens.

There was a lot of speculation that Zayn would potentially be champion come ‘Mania, but the stars aligned perfectly for that match to happen a month before at Elimination Chamber in Montreal, the hometown of Zayn.

With Reigns’ win over Zayn six weeks before the biggest show of the year, Rhodes’ path to WrestleMania had not deterred; he would be facing the greatest champion in WWE’s modern era, thus beginning the build-up to the biggest match of his career.

As the Reigns/Rhodes storyline was starting to take shape, the Bloodline versus Zayn and Owens was happening simultaneously, making it more challenging to properly build the anticipation for the WrestleMania main event.

Reigns was absent for several weekly programs, leaving Rhodes to essentially carry the burden of building the story between the two. He created several memorable moments with Paul Heyman throughout the weeks and delivered some of the most captivating promos that enthralled the fans. Regardless of Reigns’ absence, it was difficult not to be invested in the match.

Then came WrestleMania.

Night one completely over-delivered and outdid all expectations for the show, leaving those scheduled for the following evening with big shoes to fill. Rhodes and Reigns were in a prime position to do just that, and boy, did they.

The match was an utter showstopper, filled with emotion and determination that was apparent as early as Rhodes’ entrance to the ring. There was not a single fan in that crowd that didn’t have their eyes glued to the match, watching Rhodes give everything he had to take down the Head of the Table, who underestimated Rhodes’s power.

There were multiple Superman punches and Cross Rhodes.

There were interferences in favor of Reigns and in favor of Rhodes.

And there were breath-catching two counts that were mere milliseconds away from declaring either performer the winner.

It was everything you could ever want in a wrestling match at the biggest stage of them all, except for the unpredictable ending.

In the weeks leading up to the show, the consensus was that there was absolutely no way Rhodes was going to lose this match. The mentioning of his father, Dusty Rhodes, and his legacy, one that never saw the world championship, and Cody’s passion to be the first in the family to win that title engrossed fans with its relatability. We all wanted to see him finish the story at WrestleMania, the show he had worked his entire career to get to.

But it didn’t happen.

Most reactions to the finish were not positive. Finding a fan celebrating Reigns’ win was almost impossible because it was such an unexpected result. And most felt it was a knock to Rhodes’ character not to have him win, proclaiming it as one of the biggest mistakes WWE could’ve made for the weekend.

But one of the main players in the storyline had a vastly different reaction to it all, which makes much more sense than the initial emotional responses.

While speaking to BT Sports’ Ariel Helwani about the historic matchup, Paul Heyman was asked about his take on Rhodes’ loss and if he felt the decision to make him lose was the wrong one.

In short, Heyman believes it made for a better future for Rhodes.

"“The response tonight to Cody Rhodes, which was louder than the response last week to Cody Rhodes, which was a response more passionate tonight for Cody Rhodes, which was a response of an audience that believes in Cody Rhodes this week more than they did last week when they hung their hopes into dreams on him and he didn’t disappoint them, we disappointed them. We took that away from Cody Rhodes. Roman Reigns took that away from Cody Rhodes and the audience. They blame Roman Reigns for it, and they appreciate how close Cody came, and they know, now, they know the next time Cody Rhodes steps in the ring with Roman Reigns, this will be the one. That’s the business, that’s the business at its very best. That’s promotion at its very best, that’s storytelling at its very best.That’s what you want, a challenger to come out a bigger star than he would have been if he had won the championship because then where do you go from there? What’s the story to tell? Now you know the story, it’s Cody’s redemption. He’s coming back from what was just taken from him, from the defeat he suffered that he didn’t deserve to have inflicted upon him. “"

Could Heyman be right with his assessment?

The entire purpose of Rhodes’ return to the company he once walked away from was to become a main event talent, hoping to finally win the championship that has eluded his family for decades.

Would placing the title on him just one year after he returned be the right thing to do?

Absolutely not.

There couldn’t have been more hype around a WWE superstar than there was with Cody Rhodes on April 2nd, with the most significant moment of the weekend there for the taking. Fans were salivating at the idea of Reigns finally being dethroned, who has had a historic reign with virtually no other opponent that could take him down.

Fans wanted to see the hero who had climbed mountains just to get a chance in the match be the one to end it all for the top villain, for himself, the fans, and his family. It was within his grasp and completely expected, but had he won, how long would the satisfaction last for fans to see the American Nightmare walk away as the champion so quickly upon returning?

The build-up, overcoming obstacles, and tenacity are all relatable traits built within a storyline that adds much more to Rhodes’ comeback story. It’s a tale as old as time to watch an ultimate underdog fall to the all-mighty, to leave all the blood, sweat, and tears in the ring only to come up short in the most critical seconds of their career.

Throughout the past year, Rhodes established himself as a top talent in the company and the professional wrestling world. It’s a business about creating stars and moments, and his performance since returning to WWE couldn’t have gone better.

From fans singing every word of his entrance song to outselling any other talent in merchandise sales including over WrestleMania weekend, Rhodes has worked his way into becoming a star all on his own, and the loss to Reigns could catapult him into an even bigger superstar.

The moment has drawn comparisons to a former talent that many touted never to be “the guy” as well, Daniel Bryan. Despite his obvious talent and incredible career before WWE, he could not get the crown in the company for several years.

The fans were so invested in his story; his come-up, his struggle, and the continuous beatdown and belittling by the McMahons on-screen only made them support him more. Finally, Bryan became so over that the fans even hijacked an episode of WWE Raw and the company was forced to act accordingly.

Of course, circumstances between Rhodes and Bryan are a bit different, considering Rhodes has not been treated like a mid-card talent up to this point. But could a similar future be in the cards for him?

Could he become so over with the fans that there’s no way they could keep the titles off him for much longer?

Losing at WrestleMania may not be the favorable result right now, but maybe Heyman is correct about it being the best thing for Rhodes’ future. Admittedly, it may cause fear-inducing assumptions because it feels like an enormous missed opportunity by a company that has undoubtedly dropped the ball with talent more than once in its history. Yet at the same time, with Heyman’s experience and knowledge, he’s likely much more in tune with how he perceives Rhodes’ future than most of us at home.

Rhodes has gone from undesirable to undeniable, and although he may still be uncrowned, it’s not about whether he will ever be the champion but when he will become the champion now.

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