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New Face That Runs The Place (5-12-24)

By: Xavier Jones

Headline Photo Credit: Darrell Owens-LMS Network/AM Media LLC

It was April 2nd, night 1 of WWE WrestleMania 38, Seth Rollins is standing in the center of the ring awaiting his mystery opponent. The lights go out, and a few seconds later you hear, “Wrestling has more than one royal family!” Then, Kingdom by Downstrait begins to play and the crowd begins to go crazy because they know who’s coming out. It was the American Nightmare, Cody Rhodes! After a victorious return at WrestleMania 38, Rhodes would go on to earn two more victories over Seth Rollins in the next 2 PLEs. However, after their third encounter, Cody Rhodes would suffer a torn pectoral injury that would sideline him until the new year. 

Photo Credit: WWE

Once again, Cody Rhodes would make another return to action and this time it would be at the 2023 Royal Rumble. Coming in as the number 30 entrant, Rhodes went on to eliminate Gunther to win his first Royal Rumble and earn the right to challenge the WWE Undisputed Universal Champion, the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns. It was at that moment, Cody Rhodes would be on the path to finish his story. On April 2, 2023, night 2 of WrestleMania 39, the time had come for Cody Rhodes to finish the story. A great match with a lot of back-and-forth action, near falls, false finishes, and plenty of Bloodline interference. After two Cross Rhodes by the American Nightmare, Cody goes for the third on Roman Reigns but is stopped and Samoan Spiked by Solo Sikoa. Then, Reigns would hit Rhodes with his signature Spear for the 1-2-3. The story ended, right? No, it was just the beginning for Rhodes.

Photo Credit: WWE

The following night on Monday Night Raw, after a brief confrontation with the Bloodline, an unlikely ally appeared to help Rhodes. This ally was none other than Brock Lesnar. However, before the tag match could start, Rhodes is viciously attacked by Lesnar. This would lead to an epic trilogy of matches between the two competitors that would culminate at WWE SummerSlam. After earning the victory in their final encounter, Rhodes and Lesnar would exchange a show of respect with Lesnar raising Cody’s hand in victory. Fast forward to Survivor Series where Cody finds himself in a match that was made famous by his father, Dusty Rhodes. The match was the War Games! The team of Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, and a returning Randy Orton would face off against the Judgement Day. After team Rhodes was victorious in the War Games match, an unlikely but surprising superstar made his return to the company after being away for 10 years. It was none other than CM Punk!

Photo Credit: WWE

January 27, 2024, was the night of the Royal Rumble and the beginning of the Road to WrestleMania. Rhodes would go on to outlast 29 other superstars to earn another shot at the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship. While deciding on which champion to face at WrestleMania, another hurdle enters the fray to interject himself into the main event. That superstar is The Rock! On Smackdown, Rhodes decided to take a back seat for The Rock and Roman Reigns to settle the score once and for all. However, at the WrestleMania press conference, things took another unexpected turn. Cody Rhodes interrupts the showdown between Rock and Roman and informs everyone he has decided to finish his story against Roman Reigns. An upset Rock approaches Rhodes, and then the slap is heard around the world. A melee ensues on the stage and the parties had to be separated. A couple of weeks later, the night 1 main event was set with Rhodes and Rollins taking on Rock and Reigns. However, a stipulation was put into place if Rhodes and Rollins were to lose. The stipulation was a Bloodline Rules match for Rhodes vs Reigns on night 2 if they were to lose. WrestleMania 40 night 1, on April 6, 2024, was here and the Philadelphia crowd was hyped for it. The main event had a lot of back and forth, with The Rock securing the victory for his team by pinning Cody Rhodes in the middle of the ring. WrestleMania night 2 was amongst us, and it was time for the main event. The American Nightmare versus The Tribal Chief, Cody Rhodes vs Roman Reigns. After the memorable entrances from both competitors, it was time to settle the score after the bell rang. 

Apr 6, 2024; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Rock & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Seth Rollins during Wrestlemania XL Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The two alphas lock horns, and the action begins. At the beginning of the match, it was back and forth and hard-hitting until the first Bloodline member, Jimmy Uso, interfered. Then, Jey Uso comes out to stop his twin from continuing the uneven advantage. Next, Solo Sikoa shows up and it was similar to how he did at WrestleMania 39. All of a sudden, John Cena’s music hits and he runs down to takeout Solo. Then, The Rock music hits and he makes his way to the ring. A Rock Bottom to Cena, and then The Rock turns his attention to Cody. Next, Seth Rollins, dressed in SHIELD gear, is Superman punched by Reigns. Then, one of the most recognizable sounds hit, a gong noise and then the crowd, as well as The Rock knew who was on his way to the ring. The lights go out, and when the lights come back on it’s The Undertaker standing there ready to choke slam The Rock. Everyone that was there to help Roman Reigns retain was halted by someone from their past.

Apr 7, 2024; Philadelphia, PA, USA; WWE Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes during Wrestlemania XL Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Roman Reigns makes it to his feet first and picks up a chair looking to hit Rhodes with it. Before committing to hit Cody, Roman stops midway through and turns his attention to Seth Rollins. Instead of focusing on Cody Rhodes, Reigns let his emotions get the best of him and hit Rollins in the back with the chair. This was just like when Rollins did the same to Reigns to break up the SHIELD. After getting his revenge on Seth Rollins, Roman goes for the Spear, but it is reversed into three Cross Rhodes. With his shoulders flat on the mat, Cody covers Reigns for the three count. The emotional Samantha Irving makes the announcement, and the new Undisputed Universal Champion, Cody Rhodes. The crowd was electric, shocked, and emotional at the same time. Cody’s family and friends filled the ring. Along with them were some of the top babyfaces in the company. At that moment, the changing of the guard happened and Cody Rhodes became the new face of the new era in the WWE.