Cody Rhodes let the world know that “wrestling has more than one royal family” when he successfully left WWE to reestablish himself, and the Rhodes name, beyond the walls of Vince McMahon. Despite his efforts, he was still left laying by Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39 in a failed quest to win the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. And when it comes to royal families, he who sits on the throne is arguably king.
While it may seem less impactful to see Rhodes lose, only to come back and win later, it’s still very much a viable possibility. Many are scratching their heads at WWE’s decision to have the son of the son of a plumber lose the big one but if you are to believe reports, this was always the plan and the former AEW EVP knew he was going to break fans’ hearts.
Rhodes’ loss to Reigns seems eerily similar to how John Cena beat Brock Lesnar at WWE Extreme Rules 2012. If you recall, The Beast left WWE in 2004 and headed off for the UFC, where he became the Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion. Upon his return on Raw the night after WWE WrestleMania XXVIII, he confronted John Cena, the face of WWE, and dropped him with an FU.
When it came time to settle their differences in the ring, Lesnar bloodied and beat Cena but ultimately got dropped with another FU onto steel steps, eating a pinfall loss in his return match. Cena would take a hiatus following the match while Lesnar would go on to win more titles and main event countless premium live events.
The general consensus regarding Lesnar’s loss to Cena at Extreme Rules was that WWE was sending a message. You can leave and get as big as you want but when you come back, you are going to do business our way. Here were are in 2023 and it feels as if that message got sent again in the Mania 39 main event. How ironic, it would seem, that on the Raw after Mania, Rhodes is assaulted by Lesnar who, get this, drops him with an F-5 onto steel steps, just like Cena had done to him eleven years earlier.
At this point, you’re probably asking me to take my thumbtacks and red string off the wall but I can’t. There’s so much symbolism and layered storytelling here, I can’t look past it. So, now that Cody has come back and shown he can do business the WWE way, meaning lose without complaint if they ask him to, he can be free to achieve the success he craves, just like Lesnar.
Part of me thinks Lesnar sees a lot of himself in the way Rhodes’ has carried himself and the decisions he has made. So, at WWE Backlash, I do think Rhodes will beat Lesnar, opening the door for him to re-enter the WWE main event picture.
Let’s pivot now to the theory that WWE may have kept the titles on Reigns at Mania 39 in hopes of him passing the 1000-day marker as champion, an impressive statistic by any measure. As I write this editorial, WWE lists his reign as lasting 953 days. Reporting currently says that Reigns will not compete at WWE Backlash and his next defense could come at the next big Saudi Arabia show, King & Queen Of The Ring.
That show is on May 27, 46 days from now.
953 + 46 = 999 days as champion.
I CANNOT MAKE THIS UP.
There’s a very real chance that Rhodes beats Lesnar at WWE Backlash, confronts Reigns on the following Raw and sets up a match where if Reigns losses, he does not hit 1000 days. And, of course, Rhodes would “finish his story” if he were able to stop The Tribal Chief.
Make what you will about how The American Nightmare won the big one on foreign soil if this comes to pass. I am sure no one would have opinions about that!