WrestleMania 39 was a nightmare for many fans. Cody Rhodes had returned to WWE as the prodigal son destined to win the title that eluded his family for 56 years. He fell asleep that night empty-handed, the undisputed WWE universal title still with Roman Reigns. “The American Nightmare” failed to realize a multi-generational hope designed by his dad, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
“The story doesn’t end here…” WWE chief content officer Paul Levesque, better known to fans as Triple H, assured during the event’s post-show press conference. “If I didn’t feel like we had a compelling story on the other side, it wouldn’t be the decision.”
Finishing the story has become a prevailing narrative since April 3. Levesque’s words felt like a thinly veiled promise that Rhodes would win the title at WrestleMania 40. But the landscape has changed and there’s an air of uncertainty. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson teased his long-awaited dream match with Reigns, which might take priority over the Rhodes’ ambitions. There is also a matter of statistics. Reigns is less than five months away from eclipsing Hulk Hogan and Bob Backlund to become the second-longest reigning world champion in history. WWE may want to see that accomplishment through.
Rhodes ascending to the throne is a strong candidate for this year’s showcase of the immortals, but his claim doesn’t feel quite as ironclad. Maybe that’s by design. Rhodes cannot fathom seeing another WrestleMania come and go with him not holding the title.
“Ultimately, that’s a failure. It’d be a failed year. I hope that doesn’t come to pass…” Rhodes told CBS Sports while celebrating another bucket list achievement as the WWE 2K24 cover star. “Doubt is a beautiful thing. For people to take the ride with you. I doubted that Daniel Bryan could survive a match with Triple H and then survive a triple-threat match to get out of WrestleMania 30 how he did. But it was a marvelous moment. I don’t mind doubts at all. I, myself, can’t have any regarding everything else that’s going on. I have to be straight and narrow as far as where I’d like to go and how I’d like to get there.”
Check out the full interview with Cody Rhodes below.
Rhodes can cement his place in the main event of WrestleMania by winning his second consecutive Royal Rumble match on Jan. 27. Becoming WWE champion is Rhodes’ crowning achievement. Simultaneously having his “WrestleMania Moment” isn’t a requirement but it sure would be nice.
“I feel like it could happen before. It could happen after. But I think it’s all the sweeter if it were to happen at WrestleMania,” Rhodes said. “Last year it was about the title, the championship itself and the way the match unfolded and being this close to the moment, that made it now a far more personal situation. So I’d love it to be at WrestleMania. No doubt you never know about WWE. The flow here is quite wild.
“I think the story that has been told throughout my whole career. The story that has been told since the late ’70s with my father and the WWWF championship. All of that. I don’t think anyone is looking to step in and hinder that in any way. Just because it’s been the leading story that we’ve had and it’s been a real story. And when it’s real, it’s the best.”
WWE’s main event scene is healthier than it has been in a long time. If you were to toss every active male superstar into this year’s Royal Rumble match, you could find 10 believable winners. There were times when you’d be fortunate to have two or three. It’s a credit to the efforts of the creative team under Levesque’s leadership. It’s also something Rhodes had an indirect hand in.
Rhodes played a significant role in the foundation of All Elite Wrestling, a company that springboarded both Rhodes and CM Punk back into WWE. The latest wrestling boom has provided professional wrestlers with more opportunities while encouraging talent and promotions to step up their game. Ironically, it’s the diversity of WWE’s main event scene that has taken some attention away from Rhodes. He’s not bothered by that. It’s something he expects to appreciate more as the years pass.
“I think as I grow old I’ll probably wax poetic and grow even fonder of the things I was able to be a part of. The people I was able to team with. When we were a group, The Bullet Club, The Elite, the idea was to change the world. We really did actually change, at least, our world.
“The reality is I can name about eight people. If one of them weren’t there it wouldn’t have happened. An alternative wouldn’t exist. It wouldn’t have spring-boarded me into the position I am now. All of these factors — and the biggest factor being the fans themselves.”