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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Will WWE’s Fans Turn on Cody Rhodes Before WrestleMania?

February 12, 2023 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Raw Cody Rhodes Image Credit: WWE

Welcome back to the 411mania Wrestling Fact or Fiction. I’m your host Jake Chambers.

This week we’re wrapping up the 2023 Royal Rumble with the two long-time 411 favorites who drew #1 and #2 respectively: the dynamite Dino Zee and the chaotic Kevin Pantoja!

Start the clock!

Statement #1: The audience will turn on Cody Rhodes before Wrestlemania.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – Although there is always the chance for it with fans these days, I don’t think it happens. Cody Rhodes is super over right now and is a lot more popular than the likes of Batista in 2014. What I think will really help this is that the Sami Zayn storyline is tied to Kevin Owens and it will be satisfying to see them in a program with The Usos over the Tag Titles. When fans turned on other guys for their more popular counterparts, fans were often upset that those guys had little to do. If the audience is appeased by and invested in Sami’s storyline, they’re less likely to be upset that he’s not in the World Title picture. Cody is also a feel good story that I don’t think fans will turn on.

Dino Zee: FICTION – Very tempting to go with FACT here, but I’m gonna hold tight and keep the faith that the fans will have Cody’s back. Or, at the very least, hate Roman enough for what happened with Sami that they still won’t cheer him. 

I think Cody’s support is earned and true, even though (as we saw in AEW) it can definitely be fickle and fleeting in certain occasions. But we fans tend to really love it when a wrestler returns from a really bad injury, and especially when they do so in a fast and impressive fashion. Cody will continue to get cheers all the way to WrestleMania, I’ll stick to it.

Statement #2: Sami Zayn did the right thing by hitting Roman Reigns with that chair at Royal Rumble.

Kevin Pantoja: FACT – I mean, obviously, right? While life in the Bloodline could’ve led to more success, this was always where things were headed for Sami Zayn. That’s especially true when you consider what Jey Uso had to go through. Sami needed to avoid that and even though he allowed so much to happen to Kevin Owens, that’s his family and he had to draw the line somewhere. He’ll likely take a beating for it at Elimination Chamber but that match should be something special and it should lead to something huge for him going forward.

Dino Zee: FACT – Obviously “depends on your definition of ‘right’!” and all that. But as far as doing the just and correct thing goes, yes, Sami Zayn did the right thing hitting Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. As one of the people lucky enough to have been there live (my first ever Royal Rumble, sick!!), I’m thankful he did it, too. Man, what a moment.

Sure, Sami’s going to have to answer for this, and it’s probably going to lead to some extremely painful situations, but the man had been pushed too far. And after Roman had proven his point against KO, there was no need to try and humiliate Sami like that. The man had proven time and time again to be a valuable asset to The Bloodline. Roman’s arrogance pushed him away.

Statement #3: You would love to see another Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – Look, I’m someone who likes when there is goofy shit in wrestling. This is a carny business so I’ve never been someone who is all “I want my wrestling to be serious and should be treated like a real sport.” That said, there are some things that are just stupid and not entertaining. That’s what the Mountain Dew Pitch Black match was. It was pretty dull, didn’t keep me invested and I don’t want to see one again. To be fair though, that’s how I feel about 90% of the Fiend’s stuff. Bray Wyatt has cool ideas but in execution, they’re often just a mess and miss the mark.

Dino Zee: FACT – Sure, this was not… *my* cup of tea the first time around, but maybe they can fine tune and have an incredible second version. Just give it a different name. Even just “The Pitch Black Match” is fine with me. Adding Mountain Dew does nothing to up the prestige. I don’t know that I necessary would “love” to see another one, but I’m absolutely open to seeing another one. In a while. Let’s let this one sit for a bit.


Statement #4: Royal Rumble wins for wrestlers like Rhea Ripley and Cody Rhodes are wasted because they are obvious title contenders who could easily get a championship match at any time.

Dino Zee: FICTION – As someone who has in the past absolutely championed the idea that a total longshot should win the Rumble, I’m not calling these “wasted.” Sure, maybe it’s because I wanted Rhea to win and was happy she did, but it’s also because the idea of a top contender winning the Rumble has also been used to get people “back” to the title picture after detours or stipulations held them back. Luger in 1994, Austin in 2001, Triple H in 2016. Sure, these guys could have had a title match whenever, just by saying “I want a title shot” (Luger would need Yokozuna to lose, of course), but their winning the Rumble was still a major moment for them and created stories going forward.

We clearly don’t have hindsight yet with what Cody and Rhea do with their momentum following the wins, but I’m certainly not ready to call anything “wasted” yet.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – Of course not. If people who weren’t contenders otherwise were the right move, we’d have Tamina and Elias as Rumble winners. With a WrestleMania title shot on the line, it has to be someone who can otherwise get a title shot because they’re big enough stars to headline it. The Rumble itself is an accomplishment too as winning it is part of someone’s resume. Giving it to non-obvious title contenders would be like having Yujiro Takahashi win the G1 Climax instead of a top guy who will headline the Tokyo Dome.

Statement #5: You agree with Taz about the use of the term “banger” to describe wrestling matches.

Dino Zee: FICTION – Tough, tough call. I use the term once in a while, but I also think I sound dumb saying it. But I realize that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the term, only the speaker using it. I love it when Taz gets mad about stuff, and I loved watching this whole “banger” thread unravel in real time.

But I think I’m gonna disagree with Taz. Slightly. I don’t hate it.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – I personally like calling a match a banger. Sometimes it is just a banger and I respect the ability to say that. Now, like any other popular term, it does get overused but it’s fine enough. There isn’t much else to say about this except that people get up in arms about a lot of things for no real reason.

Statement #6: Every Royal Rumble match needs someone who starts at the beginning to still be there in the end.

Dino Zee: FICTION – The fun about the Rumble is when it feels chaotic. Now, sure, we all know there’ll be someone who goes a solid 30-40 minutes (at least) in every Rumble, but that doesn’t mean it has to be one of the first 5 entrants. I also like it when late entrants dominate the match because it makes more sense that the fresher guys can manhandle the guys that have been wrestling for a long time.

It’s fun to have that workhorse to root for, and hope they’ll actually pull it off, but I don’t need it every single Rumble. If we’re gonna do something *every* time out, then I will definitely take the “superstar enters Rumble and is immediately eliminated” spot. I love that shit.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – The thing that makes this fiction is the word “every.” I prefer when this happens and love a good ironman/woman story when it’s done right like Gunther this year, Sasha Banks in 2018, or some of the classic ones. But doing it every time out makes it less special and you get cases like Jericho in 2017 who lasted an hour and did next to nothing or Natalya a few years back. Do it once every few years and you have something that really works, even in a case like this year when three people (Gunter, Rhea and Liv) all did it.

Thanks again to zany Dino Zee! We don’t get many columns from him anymore, but let’s hope we can see him again in the future.

In the meantime, check out his classic 50-statement Fact or Fiction from last year – this man never gives up!

Thanks as well to the great Kevin Pantoja for joining us – be sure to follow him on Twitter.

And swing by his epic Top 100 matches columns/ columns posted over the past few weeks – definitely some bangers in there!

We’ll see you again next week for more! And coming soon – the finals of the Larry Csonka Memorial Fact or Fiction Tournament!