“Finish the story.” For months we have heard these words of encouragement, hoping that Cody Rhodes would fulfill the legacy of becoming the WWE Champion, a feat neither his father nor brother could do before him do. At WrestleMania 38, Cody Rhodes returned to the WWE, after a seven-year excursion to prove his worth, make WWE regret letting him go, and more importantly, not giving the Rhodes family their due.
It was a personal vendetta, and one Cody was eager to exact. While away, Cody would become a mainstay on the indies, winning numerous world titles including the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, completing the feat 39 years and 12 days after his father. He became the leader of wrestling most important modern stable and feuded with the greatest wrestlers in the world. Cody Rhodes did everything he set out to do, and fans wondered what WWE would be if he ever came back.
“Let it play out.” We heard the same thing after Jey Uso. We heard the same thing after Daniel Bryan. We heard the same thing after The Fiend. We heard the same thing after Drew McIntre and Kevin Owens and Cesaro and Brock Lesnar. We believed it before Sami Zayn. We knew Cody Rhodes was the only certainty prior to Wrestlemania 39. And then it wasn’t. The story never played out. Sure, we saw the Bloodline’s structure crack, and saw the son of a son of a plumber main event the grandest stage in wrestling, but if anything is true, it’s that the story never ends.
When Cody Rhodes requested his release from the WWE, the majority of fans saw it as a massive loss to the company. Since debuting as fodder for Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes did everything possible to make mediocre storylines work. His time teaming with Bob Holly, Ted DiBiase, Drew McIntyre, Damien Sandow, forming a stable consisting of generational talent, feuding with Rey Mysterio, Big Show, and teaming with his brother and father to feud with Triple H’s authority made Cody Rhodes an important talent in WWE’s mid-card. Whether he was “Dashing” or traveling through space and time with the Wasteland, Cody Rhodes gave everything to his performances in the WWE. The facts are that Cody Rhodes wasn’t given a top spot within WWE prior to him requesting his release, and worked his damndest to prove them wrong
Why does the WWE care about Cody Rhodes finishing his story and winning a title that his father never won? Logically, Dusty Rhodes completed all of his career highlights in competing promotions, and the majority of the championships he won were under the NWA umbrella. The biggest and best story that Cody Rhodes could tell is winning the NWA Championship, which he already did.
Dusty never wanted to be WWE Champion, because he was Dusty fucking Rhodes. He was the arch-nemesis to the iconic Ric Flair, and changed the wrestling perspective by being an everyman, allowing future talent like Daniel Bryan and Otis to follow their dreams. When Dusty was competing, the only logical time for him to have won the WWE championship was during the time that Hulkamania was at its peak and that simply wasn’t going to happen.
Decades later, the son of the son of a plumber would create AEW. The thing is, Vince McMahon may dislike a lot of wrestlers, but always gives them a second chance, however, from my knowledge, no family in history has booked two separate wrestling promotions that both competed against the WWE. NWA, WCW, and AEW have been ruthless in their endeavors to prove their worth against WWE, and WCW nearly won that war. Why in the absolute fuck would WWE, Vince McMahon, or even Triple H want to make Cody Rhodes their world champion?
Taking an Executive Vice President from a competing company is huge. Cody was the first to jump back to WWE: a win for them, and a loss for AEW. Now, Cody is locked in place at the WWE and no longer has a bargaining chip to play in hopes of becoming WWE Champion.
The thing with Dusty Rhodes is that he oozed charisma. He was able to take dog shit and make it creme brûlée. Vince hired one of his biggest threats, put him in polka dots, and had him jive dance in an effort to break his spirits – but Dusty’s charisma wouldn’t let that happen.
Cody Rhodes is an incredible wrestler, but he is no Dusty Rhodes. That is the difference.
Cody Rhodes has nothing but a dream and sometimes you can’t sell that to someone else. Would it be a good story for Cody to win the WWE title? Sure. Cody deserves it, and I certainly wouldn’t be mad if he won it, but this whole “Finish the story” thing is never going to happen to someone who tried to stop the WWE from finishing their own stories, two generations in a row.
Yes, outside of WWE Cody Rhodes has a long list of really incredible achievements. But for WWE that’s part of the problem – all of those things happened outside of their universe. As history shows the WWE doesn’t care about the achievements that weren’t given to you by the WWE. No matter what Cody accomplished away, he will never be recognized for those things within a WWE ring, and will only ever be Dusty’s son, the former Intercontinental champion.
Cody Rhodes thought of his own best interests when he requested his release from WWE. Cody claimed that Triple H was hurt by the news: “Hunter took it very personally, because he had done so much for my dad in NXT. There was one conversation where he said ‘I’m shocked that you feel this way after everything I’ve done for your family.” Though Rhodes would often claim that there was no ill will between himself and the WWE, he is also on record as teaching Bryan Danielson how to lie.
Judging by his actions going forward, it was obvious how personal Triple H took Rhodes leaving. After AEW was founded in 2019, a newly designed WWE intercontinental championship would be introduced, doing away with the classic style that Cody Rhodes re-introduced in 2011. After AEW defeated NXT in the Wednesday Night Wars, Triple H would say “They beat our developmental system, good for them.” and called the promotion a pissant company during a Hall of Fame speech. Not one to shy away from stoking the fire, Cody Rhodes once literally smashed a Triple H inspired throne, throwing shade at the “King of Kings” moniker, on top of multiple homage’s to WCW products that WWE had long used for themselves (“The Great American Bash”, Blood & Guts). To reference a timeless classic from wrestling’s history “Cody screwed Cody.”
Following the events of WrestleMania 39, Triple H would praise Cody’s performance, but would bookend it by saying “The story never finishes.” Sure, he could be stating that Cody’s story is going to continue, and he’ll be WWE Champion soon enough, but I took it in a literal sense, as in ‘The story will never finish, and we are moving onto the next chapter where another person will feud with Roman Reigns.’ Roman Reigns remains the top dog within the WWE, because he never deserted the company that made him.