“Destiny can be delayed but can never be denied. What will be, will definitely be.”Mansoor Ahmad
All signs pointed to Cody Rhodes fulfilling his self-proclaimed destiny at WrestleMania 39 by doing what no one has been able to do in over 900 days and that was defeating and dethroning the tribal chief, Roman Reigns. This was not just Cody trying to end Roman’s reign as WWE Undisputed Universal Champion for the sake of doing it for his own career as the motivation was much deeper than all of that.
Cody’s motivation to be WWE Champion goes all the way back to when he was only a child at 8 years old, when his legendary, HOF father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes told Cody that the photo below with him holding the WWWF Championship was a moment in time he thought he won the championship but was denied to him due to a technicality.
The night after Cody returned home to WWE he told this story, how he made a decision in that moment as a kid that he would one day win the championship that Dusty was denied and hand the title over to his father. Unfortunately, that will not happen as we lost Dusty in 2015, but Cody’s almost 30-year vow to win the championship that the Rhodes family has been denied is still the end goal for Cody to finish the story that started with Dusty on September 26, 1977.
This journey for a Rhodes to hold the top prize in the biggest promotion in the world started years before Cody was even born. Both his HOF father and his future HOF brother, Dustin (Goldust) were not able to achieve this goal, but Cody is motivated to do it for both of them.
One of the criticisms that was made in the buildup to WrestleMania is that it was made too predictable that Cody would dethrone Roman at the showcase of the immortals. Personally, I strongly believed that Cody would in fact fulfill his destiny and “finish the story” at WrestleMania. As I said in my piece about it and even on Wrestling Republic’s Daily broadcasts that this story spoke to me on a deeply personal level. Wanting to do something to make your father proud or to do something that they were unable to achieve themselves is very relatable.
Looking for that acknowledgment from your father as a son is something that every son can relate to but when you lose your father and can no longer get that acknowledgement, you look for anything to feel some piece of that connection. You do that by doing the things that you shared a bond over because you just so desperately want to get that connection back. So, for Cody Rhodes that ring is a sanctuary for him, it is a place he can feel that connection with his father.
My Personal WrestleMania Experience:
As I said, going into the show, I felt a very strong connection to this story on a deeply personal level. To be able to actually be in the arena for this story to play out was something I never thought would be a thing when I watched at home as Cody made his WWE return at WrestleMania 38 and the next night on Raw when he told the Dusty story as the reason for his return.
Me going to Mania was such a meaningful experience for so many personal reasons and I can never thank Wrestling Republic’s own Clark Taylor enough for everything he did for me to truly make that whole WrestleMania trip as special as it could be. Thanks again Clark (BFL).
Being in Sofi Stadium to feel that 80K plus audience is something that you don’t get the full experience watching from home. Any doubts going into the show by fans that this didn’t have that WrestleMania Main Event big fight feel was dissipated the moment that promo package hit. Everyone was on their feet as Cody’s music hit and it felt like the entire audience was singing along to Kingdom as Cody made his way to the ring and when Roman made his way out there wasn’t too many people that didn’t have their finger in the air to acknowledge their tribal chief.
The arena was on their feet for like 99% of the match, no sooner did we sit we were right back on our feet. Roman and Cody delivered an absolute masterpiece in that ring and there was no loser coming out of that match as both men gave a performance that they both could be proud of and elevated both of them. Clark knew how much I wanted to see Cody finish the story, and actually warned me going in that the Vegas numbers shifted to Roman being the favorite to retain. I knew in that moment that Cody was likely going to be denied his destiny that night, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wanted Clark to be wrong.
However, I still believe that Cody is the guy that should ultimately be the one to dethrone Roman as there really is no one else more deserving than Cody to do it. My long-held belief is that when you have someone as a dominate champion, whoever beats them should be made by the win. With over 900 days as champion and likely going to pass 1,000 days, I feel that the man that defeats Roman should be someone that has never been WWE Champion and should be made by the win.
Cody meets those requirements, and he has that added layer of the Dusty connection and that is storytelling that is so real and relatable that you couldn’t write a better storybook ending. For me, I probably had blinders on wanting the story to be finished at WrestleMania 39, but as Clark said to me that night from a creative standpoint it may be better to have Roman shock us by retaining and denying Cody the win for now, but Cody is still the guy that should ultimately do it.
Could Cody Do The Rocky Balboa Story?:
Clark said to me that night, what if they drag this until WrestleMania next year in Philly? As Clark said to me, Rocky Balboa didn’t win that first fight against Apollo Creed, did he? Maybe they will do a Rocky Balboa type story with Cody?
Clark knew exactly what he was doing by bringing up Rocky Balboa’s story to someone that was born and breed in the birthplace of the Italian Stallion. Unlike CM Punk who has said he has never seen a Rocky movie; it was mandatory curriculum for me growing up and I’ve seen all of them multiple times. A Rocky story with Cody could certainly work and as tempting as it is that I may have the opportunity again to witness that story finish live in the arena is very tempting to me as a possibility and I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that possibility as Cody himself has said in an interview that Philly is one of his favorite places to wrestle.
However, I’m not sure if the audience and WWE creative has enough in them to be able to successfully drag this out a whole other year. The complaints that this year’s matchup was too predictable would be echoed even louder if they did Roman vs Cody II and if they tried to swerve the audience again by having Roman retain again at Mania would totally alienate the crowd and completely destroy whatever momentum they had with Cody.
This Is Where Would I Have Cody Finish The Story:
On September 26, 1977, Dusty Rhodes was denied the precursor to the WWE Championship in Madison Square Garden. What better place for Cody to finish the story than in the very building where the story began? Yes, I know having Cody winning it on the grandest stage maybe the biggest place to do it but doing it where the story started in the World’s Most Famous Arena may be even more ideal from a story telling prospective.
For now, Cody’s road to the title is detoured with a feud with the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar after Brock destroyed Cody on the Post-Mania Raw. Having Cody busy with Brock, frees Roman to rest up and hit 1,000 days as champion so the feud with Roman isn’t over it is just delayed.
I know WWE doesn’t run MSG very often due to the costs associated with it and I did speculate on an episode of the Wrestling Republic Daily broadcast that they should televise a MSG show on Peacock/WWE Network with Cody winning the title and even use an event name that Dusty created. Soul suggested Starrcade on the Daily, but when I was researching information for this piece I found a very interesting piece of information.
WWE is actually scheduled to have a Smackdown in MSG on July 7, 2023. So, what I would do is have Cody challenge and win the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in the main event of this Smackdown. This would be the first time since Brock Lesnar won the WWE Championship on the Smackdown 20th Anniversary Special on October 4, 2019, that a world championship has changed hands on a Smackdown.
With WWE’s contract with Fox for Smackdown expiring soon, it would be a smart move for WWE to do something big and buzz worthy then having Cody attempting to finish the story live on the Fox network. I would make a big deal about this WrestleMania re-match, with Cody perhaps offering up the same thing he did in AEW in order to get Roman to agree to the match, in that Cody says if he doesn’t win, he will never challenge for it again during Roman’s reign. This shows Cody learned from his mistake in AEW that he would never challenge for the title again as in this instance it is tied to Roman’s reign and not the title itself. Roman would have the incentive to get Cody out of title contention and protecting his reign.
With the event taking place during the Independence Day holiday being three days after July 4th, I think WWE could get away with going with the patriotic theme and what better option than use the name of an event that Dusty created with The Great American Bash as the name of that episode of Smackdown. The main event should be commercial free as a WrestleMania main event rematch.
To fend off members of the Bloodline from repeating what happened at Mania, it would be amazing if talent that were Dusty’s NXT kids or maybe even someone like Hunter that had incredibly strong ties to Dusty steps in to prevent the Bloodline from denying Cody the finish to the story.
Just the visual of Smackdown closing out on Fox with tears in Cody’s eyes finishing the story that started in 1977 in the very building that it all began is storytelling at its absolute finest. It is a storybook finish to that story and then Cody can write his own story as the first Rhodes to have WWE Champion associated with the Rhodes name. Also, Fox would likely be very thrilled to have that momentous moment taking place on their network and certainly couldn’t hurt in new contract negotiations to have that positive taste in the network’s mouth.
There are a number of ways to play this story out, but the storybook finish of Cody dethroning Roman is the ultimate way to end this story. No one should be dethroning Roman except for Cody as no one has the better story and appeal with the crowd being the biggest merch seller during Mania according to reports. I’m along for the ride wherever this leads, I’m just hoping it ends with Cody raising the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship belts as the crowd cheers him on around the world.
Photo Credits – WWE, MGM and MSG