wrestling / Columns

Is Cody Rhodes the Right Choice To Dethrone Roman Reigns?

April 10, 2022 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Cody Rhodes Image Credit: WWE

As expected, Roman Reigns was victorious at WrestleMania 38.

That means The Tribal Chief is still on top of WWE, and he has been for over 585 days. Will anyone beat him? If so, who will it be?

Here are some thoughts on what could come next for Reigns, and why WWE is running out of options.

Who Should Dethrone Roman Reigns, Pts. 1 and 2

In April of last year, I listed five options that could make sense. Key word, could.

Those five were Cesaro, Big E, Drew McIntyre, Brock Lesnar, and The Rock.

Several of those options can be removed. Cesaro is no longer with the company, Big E was moved back down the card after his WWE title run, and Lesnar has had plenty of opportunities.

McIntyre may still be a possibility, but after his century-long feud with Happy Corbin, he’d need some rebuilding. And then there’s The Rock who, as we said previously, gains nothing from defeating Reigns and absolutely should not win a potential WrestleMania 39 match between the two.

In October of last year, we revisited the question again.

Not much had changed, and new names like Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, WALTER, Bron Breakker, and Gable Steveson were thrown into the mix based on comments from the previous column.

Pretty much all of those can be removed from the equation, even if they left somewhat of an out for Rollins at the Royal Rumble.

Unless they dive deep into the history between the two, I don’t see it.

The Rest of the Roster

An easy to look at the other options beyond the ones that have been mentioned is to look at the entire male roster in WWE.

We won’t list everyone since some superstars aren’t in the same stratosphere as Reigns, but here’s the best of the group based on their main event and/or upper midcard status on either Raw or SmackDown:

– AJ Styles
– Austin Theory
– Bobby Lashley
– Damian Priest
– Edge
– Kevin Owens
– Randy Orton
– Riddle
– Sami Zayn
– The Miz

Actually, we forgot Veer. Give Veer all the belts or he will continue to come for them.

But if it’s not Veer, I also don’t think it’s any of the 10 superstars listed above. Some have had their shot like Edge and Owens, while others haven’t been booked as top stars consistently enough to be put in the spot of dethroning Reigns.

However, we did intentionally leave one superstar off the list, so let’s go ahead and address that possibility.

The Only Choice Left?

You knew from the title we were gonna get here.

The most obvious choice, based on his return promo on Raw, is Cody Rhodes. His entire story arc of eventually becoming champion was set up in the promo. That was done for a reason, and the story would make sense.

Of course, the path to get there is what matters most, and doing it right is the only way it’ll work.

This is where WWE has had issues. Putting Cody in the right position, week after week, month after month, is the only way him being the one to defeat Reigns works.

Can the company do that effectively? Or will it become another example of a start-and-stop push that lands Cody deep in the world of 50/50 booking?

It’s easy to be pessimistic based on past examples, but perhaps we should be optimistic for the reason that at least initially, WWE is going to do what it can to send a message to MJF, Wardlow, and anyone else it adores from AEW that jumping ship to the E isn’t so bad.

But again, it’s not just doing it in one 15-minute promo on Raw, or one slam dunk return pop at AT&T Stadium for the biggest show of the year.

It’s every single Raw or SmackDown that Cody appears on from now until the showdown with Reigns which, at least to me, seems to be the frontrunner for the SummerSlam main event in July.

WWE is great at creating moments (see: WrestleMania 38), but it hasn’t been great at capitalizing on the moments for the weeks and months after them.

The Reigns Dilemma

Reigns has been booked stronger than any top WWE star in many, many years.

In doing so, it has come at the expense of many other top superstars. It’s not that Reigns is squashing everyone, it’s that the layer of unpredictability in his matches has been removed entirely.

Lesnar was never going to beat Reigns at WrestleMania. Rollins was never going to beat Reigns at the Rumble. And I can say with the utmost confidence that if it’s Reigns vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania Backlash, Nakamura is not going to be the new Head of the Table in WWE.

Any match that Reigns has from now until SummerSlam likely won’t result in anything other than another notch on the belt of the reigning, defending, Undisputed Universal Champion.

If you want to turn a perceived negative into a positive, that scenario would only strengthen Reigns more which could, in turn, make his eventual fall even more meaningful.

But once again, it will also add more superstars to the list of talents who “aren’t on Reigns’ level,” and it’s a list that is already full of top babyfaces.

What’s Next?

This is one person’s opinion, but I think WWE has reached a point where holding off on having Reigns lose before a potential dream match of Reigns vs. Rock at WrestleMania 39 is becoming an issue.

That match, title or no title, would easily be the biggest thing on the card due to Rock’s involvement.

However, for the weekly television and monthly pay-per-views (sorry, premium live events), an exit plan for Reigns as champion is needed at some point. Not because Reigns is no longer the biggest star in the company (he is, and financially, business is booming), but because things have reached a point where 99.9 percent of the roster is viewed as lesser than.

Thus far, one week in, Cody Rhodes does not feel lesser than in terms of how he’s presented. That could change quickly, but for now, he feels like an opportunity the likes of which WWE has not been presented in….well….many, many years.

Combine the ascent of Reigns and the return of Cody, and there’s a chance to create magic in the future.

Elsewhere, aside from a perfectly-executed rebuild of McIntyre or Rollins, or a moon push for Breakker, the options for Reigns’ successor are slim.

So, just to bring things full circle, let’s ask the question again: Is Cody Rhodes the right choice to dethrone Roman Reigns?

The better question may be, is Cody Rhodes the only choice to dethrone Roman Reigns?

Based on how WWE has presented the alternatives, he might be.