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Ask 411 Wrestling: What Happens To Cody Rhodes If The Rock & Roman Reigns Main Event WrestleMania?

January 8, 2024 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Cody Rhodes Wrestlemania Image Credit: WWE

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.
If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Jon is interrupting the story:

If Rock is indeed headlining Wrestlemania vs Roman Reigns, and we already know CM Punk is going after Seth Rollins, what do you do with Cody Rhodes?

My fantasy booking would have Cody win the title at The Rumble (maybe due to the Rock) and then the Rumble winner takes Cody, leaving the Rock and Reigns as non-title.

What do you think?

With all due respect, I hate the idea of Rock and Roman Reigns being a non-title match.

The whole story is that Reigns has had an historic run with the championship, and people will tune into the show to see whether the Rock, one of the five biggest stars in company history and one of the biggest current stars in Hollywood, can FINALLY bring it to an end after so many others have failed. Yeah, without the belt, Rock vs. Roman is still a huge match, but if the championship goes away so does a significant factor in what currently makes the match appealing.

However, booking the match does kind of leave Cody Rhodes out in the cold. What do do with him, then?

I think the easy and somewhat lazy answer to the question is to interject him into the Seth Rollins versus CM Punk issue and make it a three-way. Because it’s so easy and because it’s so lazy, I could totally see WWE actually doing this.

If we don’t go that way, though, there are two matches that I would consider for Rhodes.

The first is Logan Paul. Given his celebrity outside of WWE, Paul is probably the biggest matchup that the company could give to Cody not involving one of the two main championships. Plus, if the idea is to continue the American Nightmare as somebody who could some day be the company’s main babyface, positioning him against Paul would likely help, because the hardcore Wrestlemania fanbase will likely despise the YouTuber and get Rhodes some huge fan reactions on the biggest show of a year as a result.

The second is Kevin Owens. I think that you could credibly turn Owens heel on Cody (perhaps costing him a key match between the Rumble and Mania) with his rationale being that, after facing Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 38, the World Title match at Wrestlemania 39 should have been his . . . until Cody came into the promotion and stole his thunder. The two could no doubt have a barnburner of a match and also some excellent promos setting it up, which again would keep Cody hot if the game plan is to move him back into the title scene after Wrestlemania.

Tyler from Winnipeg is pushing for a return of Ask 411 MMA:

Did you ever watch any cool UFC fights in a social setting?

No, not really. I’ve never considered myself a UFC or MMA fan. I don’t have anything against it, per se, but when MMA started to grow in popularity in the United States, I was deeply invested in pro wrestling and, as a hobby, it took up a ton of my time. As a result, I decided that I simply didn’t want to start following MMA, because I felt like if I was going to be into it, I had to be as into it as I was wrestling, and I didn’t have enough time to devote to both forms of entertainment. (Of course, there is nothing that actually required me to invest as much time into MMA as I did wrestling – that’s just how my weird brain reacted for whatever reason.)

So, I’ve actually watched very few UFC fights in my life, and I’ve never gotten together with other people with the express intention of watching a UFC fight. I have been in a few bars when fights have been on the TV, but even then they were just on in the background and not a focal point of the evening’s festivities.

Brian has snapped the rope:

I’ve got a few questions about the Rockers’ phantom tag title win on Saturday Night’s Main Event in October 1990. Why did they want to take the belts off the Hart Foundation so quickly? Back in that era, almost everyone held a title through at least one PPV cycle. Also, why didn’t they end up putting the belts on the Rockers? They had obviously committed to going that direction, what made them change their mind after?

Regarding the move to take the titles off of the Hart Foundation, the answer, as reported by Bret Hart in his autobiography, is that Vince McMahon had unveiled plans to break up the team and transition Bret into the singles division while making Jim Neidhart into an announcer. Essentially, they were taking the belts off the team because they weren’t going to be a team anymore.

Then, the infamous match happened with the bottom rope breaking. According to industry veterans who were in attendance that night, including Bruce Prichard on his podcast, the match was a fiasco because of a referee who didn’t know how to properly stall for time, resulting in an error that couldn’t be edited around. As a result, the match was in no condition to air, and you couldn’t do a reshoot the same evening because kayfabe was still being somewhat protected.

So, why didn’t they redo the match and the title switch later on?

To use a phrase that has become infamous in the 411mania comment section: Plans change.

Though certain commentors around these parts like to use those words to mock the writings of pro wrestling journalists, the reality of the situation is that, if you listen to enough shoot interviews with people who worked in the WWF/WWE for years and years, Vince McMahon’s plans actually were subject to change based on his whims. It seems that this really was a situation in which he was going to change the Tag Titles and break up the Foundation, but he simply thought better of it after he’d slept a couple of nights.

Jonfw2 if turning things around:

Have there been any matches you’ve seen where in retrospect, you believe the wrestlers should’ve changed the finish on the fly? I think the circumstances for this are incredibly rare, but as one example: Hogan/Rock at Mania. The way that match was going: The crowd, the history, Hogan himself. I feel like Rock should have leaned in and told Hogan “you’re going over.”

Am I wrong? Or do you have your own examples where this could have happened?

I would have not changed the Rock/Hogan finish at Wrestlemania XVIII because, of the two wrestlers, the Rock had more long-term upside than Hogan. He was at the apex of career, and I think that it would have been a mistake to portray him as being lesser than a man who was on the downswing of his time as a professional wrestler. Plus, if we are using 20/20 hindsight, Hogan losing didn’t hurt him. He still managed to get his nostalgia run with his sixth WWE Championship a few months later. It didn’t hurt the Rock, either, because he’s the Rock and nobody is going to turn on him the way they might turn on others who got an unwanted win over a crowd favorite.

I did think of one match in which I would have changed the finish on the fly, though:

The 2014 Royal Rumble.

For those who do not recall that year’s RR match, it is the one in which Dave Batista returned to WWE as the 28th entry in the bout while the audience booed him vociferously and chanted for Daniel Bryan. I’m not saying that I would have switched the winner to Bryan – that would have been too much because he wasn’t even scheduled to be part of the match – but I would have switched the finish so that Roman Reigns could eliminate Big Dave and win the Royal Rumble.

At the time, Reigns was red hot as part of the Shield and, though he was technically a heel, he was beginning to get some big babyface pops for his signature spots, and he was clearly the guy who fans had selected as a surrogate for Bryan once they realized he was not going to be in the Rumble. It would have been a great way to kick off the Reigns singles push when it still would have felt organic as opposed to his later ascension which many fans complained was “shoved down their throats.”

Granted, this switch was very unlikely to happen because Batista was brought back specifically for the purpose of winning this match, but if I could have pulled the trigger on it, I would have.

Michael is a big fan of Eric Cartman:

I was watching old Mid South wrestling on the WWE network and during one episode, Bill Watts is having one of his typical college football narratives, and he mentioned LSU offensive lineman John Tenta, who would later be known as Earthquake. Was he on Watts’ radar back then or was it just dumb luck that he happened to mention a guy that would end up being a famous wrestler?

It’s most likely a coincidence. You have to keep in mind that Bill Watts and Mid-South were based out of Louisiana, so the Cowboy and viewers of the show would have been familiar with what was going on at LSU. It was a local reference for the territorial audience which they would have gotten, by and large.

Plus, it seems unlikely to have any tie to Tenta’s future pro wrestling career because Tenta was not on a trajectory to become a pro wrestler during or immediately following college. His first real move after graduating was heading to Japan to try his hand at sumo, and he only got into pro wrestling when he was guided All Japan Pro Wrestling following the end of his sumo career.

I’ve never seen a more appropriate name than Scott from Scotland:

Rey Mysterio’s music, has a “better tap out” line. Has that actually ever happened? Strikes me as something other wrestlers would push back on as someone that height making you tap out wouldn’t exactly keep you looking “strong.”

I wasn’t able to find record of Rey beating anybody via submission, though there is part of me that believes, given the length of his career and the number of matches he’s wrestled, it has to have happened at least ONCE. Readers, am I missing anything?

Also, for what it’s worth, I would think that tapping out is one of the more realistic ways that a smaller wrestler could defeat a larger wrestler, because applying and putting on the right amount of pressure in a submission hold could be portrayed as a display of superior technique that overcomes a physical disadvantage.

Kung Fu Penguin could kick that panda’s ass:

Who are your Top 5 NXT “Can’t Miss Prospects” that missed on the main roster?

In no particular order, I would say:

American Alpha: At one point in time, I thought these guys were going to be a stalwart tag team for WWE, but they were separated for no apparent reason and then Jason Jordan’s injuries prevented them from ever reuniting. Fortunately, Jordan seems to have a good job behind the scenes and Gable has had some impressive staying power for a guy his size navigating the land of giants.

Bobby Roode: There were some people who really thought that Bobby Roode had everything necessary to wrestle at the highest heights of the industry, and then he . . . didn’t. Injuries didn’t help but, even prior to that, it seemed that the former Mr. Wall Street couldn’t quiet grasp some intangible quality of a main roster star.

Aleister Black: He’s got the size, he’s got the in-ring talent, he’s got the look, he’s got the charisma. Aside form lousy booking, I cannot think of one reason Black is not still wrestling high on the cards in WWE today.

Lars Sullivan: I didn’t like Lars Sullivan as a wrestler. You didn’t like Lars Sullivan as a wrestler. However, you and I both know that he had every attribute that would normally lead to WWE giving him opportunity after opportunity until he figured things out and became a main eventer, similar to what happened with Braun Strowman after he was pushed far too soon.

Authors of Pain: Two huge, legitimate badasses with amateur wrestling backgrounds who are accompanied by one of the greatest managers from the territorial era of professional wrestling. They should have been a hit by all rights, at least until you realize that Vince McMahon is not particularly interested in tag teams, amateur wrestling, managers, or the territorial era. Hey, at least they’ve got another shot.

Peter is getting up there:

As wrestlers get older a career at a high level in your forties and fifties is quite possible. I’m not talking about wrestlers who hang on in the indies or turn up at the Roayl Rumble. I’m talking being at a high level.

Hulk Hogan won the Undisputed WWF Championship when he was 49 years old.

Sting last won the TNA title in 2011 (?) at 52 years of age.

AJ Styles is 45 and could still win a WWE title.

Whose had the best post 40 years old career? A Top 5 or 10?

Because wrestling is worked and having a good match is as much about the mental component as the physical – if not moreso – wrestlers certainly can have high level careers to a much later age than other professional athletes. As a result, there are tons of people who have significant accomplishments beyond the age of 40, many of them who fans might not realize were past that age. I’ll list what I consider to be some notable examples below, in addition to those that Peter listed, and others can feel free to add to the chain in the comments.

One of the first names that came to my mind upon reading the question as Lou Thesz. Thesz turned 40 in April 1956, and he started his second reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion in November of the same year, holidng it for a little over twelve months. His third NWA Title reign lasted from 1963 to 1966, the year in which he turned 50. In addition to those title reigns, he continued to be a main event attraction across the country (and the world) for quite some time, keeping a somewhat regular schedule through the 1970s and wrestling sporadically until 1982.

Going from the NWA to the WWWF, Bruno Sammartino has a similar story. He turned 40 in 1975, which is in the middle of his second reign as WWWF Champion, which ended in 1977. He was never a World Champion again after that but he continued to wrestle and, in 1980, he had his teacher versus student feud with Larry Zbyszko, which is considered one of the greatest rivalries in the pre-Hulkamania era of WWWF/WWF/WWE. He also had a comeback in 1985 to team with his son David and another run in 1987 when he feuded with Randy Savage and the Honky Tonk Man to help give them a rub.

El Santo started wrestling in 1934 at the age of 17 and was a big star throughout the 1940s, but his popularity exploded even further when television came on to the scene in the 1950s. Championships have never been as important in lucha libre as they are in American or Japanese pro wrestling, so I unfortunately cannot list a series of kayfabe accomplishments to tell you exactly how big he was, but trust me when I say he was a top draw and cultral phenomenon south of the border. He turned 40 in 1957 and wrestled for 25 more years after that, almost always at a high level.

I’m surprised Peter didn’t mention Ric Flair in his question. The Nature Boy turned 40 in 1989, so the epic Flair-Stemaboat triology, the fued with Terry Funk, his WWF Title reigns, everything he did in the Monday Night War era, and everything he did in WWE between 2002 and 2008 all occurred after his 40th birthday and a good chunk of it even happened after his 50th birthday.

Last but not least, let’s throw one out there for the ladies: The Fabulous Moolah. She’s not exactly a role model or even a good person, but you can’t say she didn’t have longevity. Moolah turned 40 in 1963, meaing that she had 20 years as Women’s World Champion after that date, plus she played a pivotal role in helping launch the Rock n’ Wrestling era thanks to her feud with Wendi Richter. Of course, most reading this will also remember her time as a WWF/WWE novelty act in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Granted, because of the way women’s wrestling was promoted during Moolah’s career (much of which she helped perpetuate), she was nowhere near as big a star as any of the men on this list, but she accomplished as much as a woman could in her time.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.