Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Cody Rhodes Establishes Himself as WWE’s Ace With All-Time Gutsy Performance

Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins

The decision made by Cody Rhodes to step into Hell in a Cell with a torn pectoral muscle that was described before the show as “torn completely off the bone” will go down as one everyone will remember as a wrestling fan. It was the moment he removed his Homelander-esque ring jacket to reveal the worst — a completely purple pec that had swelled up to the point that a Chicago crowd became completely quiet. A decision that will understandably be looked down upon by many. And despite all of that, Rhodes went in there and competed. Competed to the point that he, along with Seth Rollins, completed one of the best trilogies WWE has ever seen. And in completion of the main event, Rhodes showed that he was everything he once was for AEW — an ace. WWE’s ace. Undeniably.

The story has been overplayed already. Cody Rhodes walked out of AEW, the opponent he helped create to combat WWE, to walk back into WWE because he wanted to win “the big one.” Truth is we may never know what went down to the point that saw “The American Nightmare” return to WWE as the opponent of Seth Rollins at WrestleMania, but we don’t really need to know as it has been as good a decision as any for all parties. There’s always fear with such a big return like Rhodes’ that eventually the honeymoon phase with the fans will wear out in short order but it hasn’t been the case for “The American Nightmare” despite feuding with only one man the entire time. As we saw Sunday night, there’s no phase but rather a man who is beloved by the fans.

Earlier this week, WWE posted a video where multiple wrestlers discussed John Cena, who is celebrating his 20th anniversary with WWE this month. It was in that video where Rhodes talked about talking with Cena about what was happening to him in AEW. The crowd turned on him even though Rhodes was still the babyface we see today. Take note of this, because what we saw from Rhodes on Sunday night was something the likes of what Cena would do in the situation. “The show must go on” mentality is a real thing and it’s why Rhodes is as much of an ace as WWE has seen in years.

So fast forward to the match itself. Rhodes has revealed the gruesome torn pectoral with swelling that will be branded into your brain for days to come. Rollins, across the ring dawning the Dusty Rhodes polka dots, had a smile on his face as “The Architect’s” mind saw an opening to finally defeat Rhodes in their third and final match. It’s difficult, really, to wrap your head around the decision by Rhodes to step in there with such a bad injury to compete. How was he cleared? Who made the decision? Well as we know now, the decision was made by Rhodes to perform. No one made him do it and that’s that.

As the match gets going, it becomes apparent the only way for this to work is for Rollins to go after and further destroy the pec. It was a bright purple target and the only way the match was going to work. Whether it was the kendo stick getting stabbed into the bruise or Rollins whipping it with the custom-made “Visionary” weight belt much like Rhodes often sports, it was uncomfortable to watch at times. The purple on his chest wasn’t the only mark he’d leave with as the belt formed right on his abdomen following one of the lashes. The sheer pain Rhodes was feeling was felt through the Allstate Arena and around the world by those who were watching. Yet Rhodes found a way to fight back.

Fighting the pain was one thing but surviving it was another. You had to think Rhodes was out of his mind but you probably knew that by now. Cody Rhodes works differently than anyone in wrestling. His matches often are different from anyone else’s but he “gets it.” Rhodes feels the crowd and plays to them, this time using that energy that was apparent in the arena to fight and get back into the match with Rollins. The turning point was the Frog Splash through the table by “The Visionary,” missing Rhodes who managed to roll off just in time. This didn’t level the playing field but it gave Rhodes a chance.

Back and forth they went the rest of the match, leading you to grimace whenever Rollins got offense and have hope when Rhodes got his. A point in the match that somehow may be forgotten due to the insanity which followed is when Rhodes introduced the bull rope, a Rhodes family tradition. They utilized it perfectly with Rhodes even ringing the cowbell and Rollins’ bell with one perfect smash to the skull for Rhodes’ first real chance of stealing the win. Add in the first Cross Rhodes by “The American Nightmare” as well as a stunning Pedigree and you really felt all of Cody in this one.

Rhodes survived and survived again. Buckle Bomb through a table. Yep. A Stomp by Rollins as he tried to chase him down with Triple H‘s signature sledgehammer. You got it. When we say gutsy performance, it goes beyond the fact he wrestled with what he did. Rhodes managed to kick out and outlast the Rollins onslaught to walk out with a win. Two Cross Rhodes followed up by a sledgehammer shot hear around the world, Rhodes somehow managed to complete the sweep on Rollins and officially establish himself as what he always hoped to be — the guy WWE could lean on when they needed him most.

No Roman Reigns, no Ronda Rousey, no Sasha Banks, no Brock Lesnar, and no Drew McIntyre. Some of the top stars and champions of WWE were nowhere to be found. Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins stepped up in the main event and completed the best trilogy WWE has had in years with what might be the company’s best match of the year. It shouldn’t have happened but it did because there is only one Cody Rhodes. Few wrestlers today get the response he does but one thing is for certain — he is a star. He’s a star and the one WWE needs more than ever.

“The American Nightmare” may not be the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion but he’s just as important as any champion the company has and anyone they see as the face of their brands and company. As WWE heads into the summer, there’s no telling what amount of Rhodes will be around as he deals with the injury that saw his arm be immobile for the majority of this match. But no matter how much they do have of him, Rhodes will play the role that he knew he could when he made his return to the company. WWE’s ace.

This will be a performance remembered for years to come, just how Rhodes would want it to be.

More from LWOS Pro Wrestling

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.


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