AJ Styles vs Cody Rhodes should be a much bigger deal

AJ Styles and Cody Rhodes have very similar stories to tell but it doesn't feel like a big deal heading into WWE Backlash
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WWE is heading to France for Backlash. The PLE is just one week away and it doesn’t seem to have the major buzz one would expect. Coming off WrestleMania 40, the still-developing lawsuit against Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis, and the company – there are several other topics demanding headline space. Backlash is set to be headlined by Cody Rhodes versus AJ Styles for the WWE Undisputed Championship. It is a story of two men that have remarkably similar journeys in the business and that should be the story. But with so much else grabbing the focus, the potential drama is easily being overshadowed.

Styles and Rhodes both had to take a roundabout way to reach the top of WWE. Styles had two matches back in 2002 with WWE that wouldn’t result in a contract but would kick off a run that would see him become the biggest star in wrestling outside the company. He’d put on classic matches and snag several titles in TNA, Ring of Honor, AAA, and New Japan Pro Wrestling before making his big debut during the Royal Rumble in 2016. It was a Hall of Fame run before he even made it to the WWE, but since then he’s continued to add accolades to his resume.

Rhodes started in WWE, but it would take a long time for him to leave the company to build his name into what it has become today. That meant stepping into some of those same companies that Styles did while winning some of the very same championships along the way.

But what never happened, these two men didn’t cross paths. Other than the 2016 Royal Rumble, Rhodes and Styles would never be in a match together. This is what makes their contest at Backlash so interesting. And it should be the foundation of an exceptional story.

While Rhodes returned to WWE and Styles made his debut with the company, one thing was similar – they had massive fanfare behind them. Their “surprise” debuts were major moments and the YouTube views on both videos reflect that. Yet, Rhodes was able to leverage the WWE Universe and the promotional machine into becoming one of the biggest icons in the industry today. Styles would pick up big wins but was never positioned as the top guy. In many ways, he felt more like a transitional champion whenever he held the title – rather than the one the company was ready to build around.

Imagine that being relayed in a face-to-face promo. Two fantastic pro wrestlers making it clear that they want nothing more than to be the best. But one is especially incentivized because he was never given the green light to be “the guy.” WWE should be focusing on this angle, but it feels like much of the build has been rushed. Will it be an exceptional match? Of course, two of the best workers, one looking to cement his run and another openly discussing his time coming to an end. It’s understandable why so many are looking forward to Rhodes versus Styles.

There’s a lot going on within and outside of WWE. So much so, that it’s distracting from WWE Backlash in less than a week. Still, Cody Rhodes versus AJ Styles is a main event that deserves major attention because it brings together two of the best performers in the business for the first time ever.