“A man often finds his destiny on the path he takes to avoid it”Cody Rhodes – Monday Night Raw April 4, 2022
This quote from Cody Rhodes this past Monday night on Raw fits so perfectly in capturing Cody’s 16-year journey up until this point. It is no secret that Cody’s hero has always been his father, Dusty Rhodes, and like almost all sons he looked up to him and just wanted to make him proud. Cody always wanted to be just like his father and older brother, Dustin Rhodes, and pursue a career in professional wrestling. As I previously wrote about Cody’s career, following in the footsteps of a legend is an incredibly hard act to follow.
Cody’s first run in the WWE was successful, but Cody knew he was capable of so much more than what WWE saw in him. WWE only saw him as a mid-carder and had him in a knock-off gimmick of his brother’s successful character, Goldust, called Stardust. Cody didn’t want to just be seen as Dusty’s son or Goldust’s brother, he knew he was capable of building a career and legacy of his own.
The wrestling world was devasted on June 11, 2015, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes passed away, but no one was likely hit harder than Dusty’s children especially Cody. Being unhappy in the profession that Cody loved and one that he got into to honor his father, was incredibly difficult for him. He was angry and depressed from not only the loss of his father, but the ceiling WWE essentially put on his career. So, after a 10-year run in WWE, he had enough and demanded his release and for the first time in his career pursued the independents in 2016.
Over the next 6 years, Cody would make his mark on the wrestling business. Doing it his way and proving that WWE was wrong for not seeing him as a main event star. Cody would go on to win the ROH World Championship and win the very world championship that defined his father’s career the NWA World Championship. Becoming the only father and son to ever win that championship.
The sheer pride and emotion on Cody’s face when he won the NWA World title was evident. Those weren’t staged tears; those were 100% real. The emotions and thoughts going through his mind at that moment were no doubt about his father and not just holding the same championship. Cody continued to make in this business but none bigger than in 2019, along with Tony Khan and the Young Bucks they founded AEW, and Cody would be one of the EVPs. It seemed pretty clear that Cody Rhodes would spend the rest of his in-ring career in an AEW ring and working as an EVP in AEW.
Afterall, Cody’s relationship with WWE was far from good as he himself thought that bridge was burned to the ground as they fought over the “Rhodes” name and Cody taking shots at the company over the years, but he was also grateful for what the company had done for his father in the last years of his life and how they continued to honor his legacy to this day. However, no one could have predicted that the first talent from AEW to jump to WWE would have been Cody Rhodes.
In December 2021, I literally wrote an article saying that Cody should embrace becoming a heel in AEW, since a large portion of the audience was booing him and fast forward to April 2022, I wrote an article about his return and now this article you’re reading right now.
Cody’s triumphant return home after a 6-year hiatus, was both shocking, but also made sense. See when Cody had left WWE years ago, he felt he had no choice as he was unhappy, and the company did not see him as a main event star. Now, the company appears to see him as the major star that he is by giving him the contract and presentation befitting that main event level. As WWE for the first time ever, brought Cody in fully unchanged from his AEW run including the music, look and promo style. As Cody has said in interviews, he didn’t expect WWE to make a great pitch when they recruited him and thought if he got nothing else out of the meeting at least he may get closer. However, the company not only made him a great pitch, according to Cody when he told Vince McMahon, “I have to be me”, and Vince’s response was “Well, it’s not broke; that’s what we’re buying”.
This past Monday, Cody for the first time in 6-years appeared on Raw and cut a promo in a WWE ring that was from the heart, and it worked. The reason it worked whether it was preplanned out or not is that it was based on elements of reality and came off as genuine. For anyone that has watched Cody over the years away from WWE, you knew just like his father, Cody can cut these incredible promos. Is everyone a home run? No, but when Cody hits one you know it.
There is no doubt of question that Dusty Rhodes is a GOAT in this industry both on screen and off it his mark on this industry is permanent. His legacy and influence on this business is really unapparelled when you consider what he did in the ring and behind the scenes mentoring talents for decades. The talent that he mentored in NXT are the cornerstones of WWE today. Dusty Rhodes was a huge star wherever he wrestled whether it was in Jim Crockett Promotions or Florida Championship Wrestling. He was SO OVER, to the point they would literally send him to other territories like the WWWF to wrestle just so they could get other talent over.
The man was a major star, so in 1977 when the WWWF brought him in for at the time was thought to be a one off WWWF World title match against the champion “Superstar” Billy Graham, the company realized they made a mistake. Hearing the roar of the crowd and the appeal of Dusty they knew they needed him for a re-match as well. Neither match resulted in a Dusty win, but both men came off great and the crowd loved it. There have been multiple men that held world titles in multiple companies, but there are only three men to have ever held the NWA and WWE Championships: Buddy Rogers, Ric Flair, and AJ Styles. At the time, the WWWF title would have been Dusty’s first world title as he wouldn’t win his first of three NWA World title reigns until 1979.
Cody said in his promo that the photo of Dusty holding the WWWF title meant the world to Dusty and when an 8-year-old Cody asked his father about it, he explained the champion’s advantage denied him the title. Cody said it was at that moment his goal became to not only win the championship someday, but to physically hand his father the title that was denied his father due to a technicality. As Dusty passed away and Cody’s departure from the company, he considered that goal and dream dead, but he now has the opportunity to etch the RHODES name in history as WWE Champion.
I want to bring focus to the date of the photo with Dusty holding the WWWF title, it is September 26, 1977. This year is the 45th anniversary of the night Dusty Rhodes won the match by count out against Billy Graham but didn’t win the title as it could only change hands by pinfall or submission. Well, it just so happens that September 26, 2022, falls on a Monday. What better way to honor Dusty and really capture the fans emotions in a story of redemption and a truly triumphant return than to have Cody win the title on RAW on the 45th Anniversary?
If I was booking this, I think Cody is the perfect person to dethrone Roman Reigns as WWE Champion. I’m not saying you have Cody win the title on the first try, maybe you have him win the match by count out like Dusty. Maybe he loses the second time due to outside interference. Leading to Cody issuing the challenge for one last chance and if he loses, he’ll never challenge for it again. Fans will instantly make the connection of him saying the same thing regarding to the AEW World title and he kept his word. He can even throw in I’m a man of my word as history has shown. They could also have him win the Money in the Bank and announce he is challenging the champ on the anniversary as opposed to the last chance challenge route.
Wrestling is built on history, and this is a storyline that pretty much writes itself. Roman Reigns, who was born into this business and has dominated the world title for years now against Cody Rhodes, who was also born into this business and has the motivation to win the title for his family that has long been denied them. It is a story built on history and redemption and has a reality and genuineness that will connect with the fans. I have said before, title reigns are successful when both the title and champion are elevated during the reign. Long title reigns should only end if the person being the dominate champion is going to be meaningful like a long chase for the title paying off and it elevates the talent beating the unbeatable champion. Having Cody be the man to defeat the unstoppable tribal chief is both believable and a phenomenal story for multiple reasons.
The first reason is obviously the history with Dusty, losing the chance to be champion on a technicality and for his son to avenge him and win it on the 45th anniversary is an amazing story from that perspective. Then you have Cody’s story himself, it is a redemption story as someone that wasn’t viewed worthy of the title picture and left proved them wrong and was courted for a return home. As Cody has put it undesirable to undeniable, this would be a perfect moment for his career and an amazing moment in WWE history. If he is healthy for it, I’d have “Superstar” Billy Graham be there especially with his ties to the match and perhaps have him hand Cody the title would be amazing.
Finally, as Cody has said he is actually in possession of the WWWF title belt that was taken out of his father’s hands. I would love to see Cody carry around that title like Austin had the Smoking Skull belt during his reign as WWF Champion. Now I know WWE doesn’t like using the WWF brand, I’m not sure if they would have the same problem with its predecessor, WWWF. If they do, I’d like to see Cody carry around a belt with the same design but says WWE instead of WWWF. It would be a great connection with history using this title for Cody’s reign.
Now, I think the roads are certainly there for him to feud with anyone from Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Miz, Roman, Orton and so on over the WWE title. If done well, this could be an amazing moment in WWE history and a defining one in Cody’s career. Mick Foley winning his first WWF title on Raw is still talked about and replayed to this day. This could be another one of those rare special Raw moments where the title changes hands. The fact the date perfectly lines up on a Monday for the 45th anniversary it should really be done.
Nothing would make this a more triumphant return than having Cody become the WWE Champion and cementing the RHODES name forever to that championship. This is a destiny that Cody and the Rhodes family deserves to see happen.
Photo Credits – Sportskeeda, Variety New York Times (NYT), WWE, ROH, and Fandu Belt/PicClickUK