Photo credit: WWE.com
Cody Rhodes is truly one of one.
When he declared he was the best in the world upon his return to WWE, some fans scoffed at the idea. However, you have to admire his confidence and conviction to bet on himself and win big.
At Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, he proved once again that his indomitable will makes him one of the most captivating performers in professional wrestling.
It was hard not to question The American Nightmare’s decision to leave All Elite Wrestling; a company that was partially built off his back. Many of us wondered if he would be the same Rhodes who went on an unbelievable run as the hottest babyface on that roster in 2019.
However, his first major feud with WWE should silence many detractors because he and Seth Rollins have delivered an all-time great rivalry. Their trilogy of matches has been excellent and it’s more than enough to demonstrate why the second-generation star should be in line to be the next world champion.
A Legendary Reintroduction
Rhodes had one of the biggest moments of WrestleMania 38. His entrance was everything fans hoped it would be and underlined he was an even bigger star than when cast aside in the Stardust persona previously. Even more, he and Rollins put on a spectacular showing on Night 1 of The Show of Shows.
Still, it would’ve been easy for him to rest on his laurels and coast on such a high-profile match and the buzz of being the first major AEW star to jump ship. Instead, he helped to reinvigorate the company’s flagship show and put on another great PPV match at WrestleMania: Backlash.
The newest addition to the WWE roster didn’t stop there. One could argue that his first two matches with Rollins were good but they didn’t have any heat; there was no storyline for fans to sink their teeth into.
So, they upped the ante in the build to their latest encounter at Hell in a Cell.
Rollins deserves so much credit for this because his heel work afforded Rhodes a tremendous catalyst to show off the impassioned character we initially fell in love with.
The segments between the two have gotten better and better each week, culminating in a fantastic exchange of words on the go-home episode of Raw. The proceeding pull-apart brawl was also convincing and helped to sell us on this heated rivalry.
Nevertheless, an unexpected turn of events would add even more intrigue to the upcoming match.
A Gutsy but Questionable Performance
On Sunday afternoon, WWE announced Rhodes sustained a partially torn pectoral tendon but he would still compete in the main event.
This seemed unfathomable, but The American Nightmare still marched to the ring determined to entertain the Chicago crowd.
While weight training in preparation, the tendon tore completely off the bone.
Once he took off his ring coat and revealed a gruesome bruise across his chest and arm, a hush washed over the Allstate Arena. Fans online shared the image in disbelief that he was taking part in such a brutal match stipulation with a serious injury.
Across the ring, Rollins mocked his adversary by wearing the black-and-yellow polka dots made famous by his father, the late Dusty Rhodes.
Nevertheless, The American Nightmare remained undeterred. It was either a reckless and short-sighted decision or a brave and gutsy performance from a fiery babyface seeking to etch his name in the annals of pro wrestling history.
We certainly hope the 36-year-old didn’t take more time off of his career to make sure the Hell in a Cell match went on as scheduled. We also hope he didn’t send the wrong message to some fans who may use this as an example as to why others should be able to work injured if need be.
However, Rhodes excelled with a limited range of motion in his right arm and essentially defeated Rollins with one good appendage. Reckless or not, it was a sight to behold as the two told an enthralling story in the demonic structure in what could be one of the most memorable Hell in a Cell matches to date.
It was uncomfortable to watch at times, but it was hard not to feel the excitement when The American Nightmare finally executed the Pedigree. There were many allusions to Triple H throughout the match including the use of a sledgehammer. The King of Kings even suffered a similar pec injury in 2018.
Say what you will about Rhodes but he remains one of the most influential wrestlers of his generation for a reason. If anyone thought he would play it safe with WWE, his first feud on his return to the company proved he will continue to give us unforgettable moments and the industry is a better place because of him.
To that end, Rhodes shone the brightest on a night when Roman Reigns was absent, and he proved himself as a capable main-eventer.