Cody Rhodes won his second match against Seth Rollins at WrestleMania Backlash last night, pinning Rollins with a little bit of tights-grabbing to score the victory. Though less decisive than his first win over Rollins at WrestleMania, this puts Rhodes up 2-0 over Rollings, though the feud feels like it isn't quite done yet. Meanwhile, Roman Reigns and The Usos won their match against Drew McIntyre and RKBro, though a collision between Reigns and McIntyre in singles competition seems imminent.
When Cody Rhodes cut his first promo since returning to WWE on the Raw after WrestleMania, he made his goal clear: to win the WWE Championship his father never could. That championship currently sits around the waist of Roman Reigns, along with the Universal Championship. And outside of "kayfabe," Rhodes made his goal clear on his Broken Skull Sessions interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin: to catapult the wrestling business into another level of "overness" akin to its 80s and 90s heydays.
Cody Rhodes made clear that he believes in himself, the crowd believes in him, and the company seems to believe in him as well. And why wouldn't they? Cody Rhodes left WWE, made a name for himself wrestling around the world, and was instrumental in creating the first real competition WWE has had in two decades before striking what seems to be a great deal to return to where it all started. While there are many ways to get the WWE Championship onto Cody, the most effective one, and the one that will cement Rhodes' legacy as the top star he believes himself to be, would be defeating Reigns one-on-one to win it. But there's no guarantee that's going to happen.
Before Cody Rhodes gets a shot at Roman Reigns, he will at least need to finish his program with Seth Rollins. Winning by holding the tights during a rollup, even if it was just desserts for Rollins, who attempted to win the same way, can hardly be considered the blowoff match for a feud. It looks like Rhodes will need to face Rollins at least one more time, and if he picks up the victory, as he should, it will give him three wins in a row over the former world champion. That assumes, of course, that Rhodes does get the third win over Rollins. In the land of 50/50 booking, such a feat would be extraordinary, so don't be surprised if Rollins gets the next pinfall to even things out.
Meanwhile, Roman Reigns looks to be headed into a feud with Drew McIntyre, who helped carry WWE through the pandemic era as champion. WWE has a big event in the UK coming up in September, Clash at the Castle in Wales, which seems like the perfect place to pit a babyface McIntyre, who hails from Scotland, against heel champion Roman Reigns. But that assumes that WWE has enough material to carry a feud between Reigns and McIntyre through Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, and SummerSlam, and also assumes that Reigns retains his title(s) in a big win at SummerSlam, the second most important WWE PLE of the year.
Another factor to consider is the status of the unified championships, something WWE thought was a good idea to build heat for Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, but which leaves the company with only one champion for two shows. The temptation to have Reigns drop one of his titles — probably the WWE Championship, so he can continue his historic Universal Championship reign — must be high for WWE. But if Reigns does drop one title in the near future, it should guarantee he keeps the other until at least the next WrestleMania in order to build his heat back up and really pass the torch to the person who finally takes it from him.
So, that leaves WWE with a few options if the goal is, as telegraphed, to eventually get the WWE Championship onto Cody Rhodes, and none of them seem perfect. Cody Rhodes completes his feud with Seth Rollins, moves on to a feud with Roman Reigns, and wins the WWE Championship from him at SummerSlam, though that leaves Drew McIntyre without a big victory to achieve in front of a UK crowd. Drew McIntyre wins the WWE Championship from Roman Reigns at Clash at the Castle, and goes on to feud with Rhodes and eventually drop the title to him, though this would likely require either McIntyre or Rhodes turn heel, which seems unlikely, especially since babyfaces that actually get cheered are hard to come by in WWE. That makes the third option most attractive for Cody fans: Cody Rhodes wins the Money in the Bank ladder match in July and announces he will cash in the title shot at WrestleMania (or maybe, according to the promo for the show down below, those are the new stakes this year), where he faces Roman Reigns to win the title his father never could and ascends to the top tier of WWE Superstars, but this would mean that either Reigns has to keep both titles until WrestleMania, killing the push of McIntyre with likely multiple losses, or he has to drop the Universal Championship, which would lessen the impact of an eventual Cody win. There's also always the old trick of having a heel win the Money in the Bank briefcase and cash it in to steal a victory from McIntyre and get one of the titles off Reigns without costing him his heat.
Of course, there are any number of options and unknown factors that could impact which path WWE chooses. As noted over the weekend, Roman Reigns was making some noise about entering a new phase of his career, hinting at a possible WWE absence or even exit in the near future. If that's the case, then the entire timeline for a passing of the torch could be shortened, leading to a Cody Rhodes victory at SummerSlam, though that would seem to still leave McIntyre in the lurch. WWE could also have something completely different in mind, and of course, factors can change in the coming months. For example, Cody's babyface momentum could slow. The crowd could turn on him like they did in AEW. Another star could catch fire and cause plans to change. And there's always the possibility WWE just screws everything up for everyone, as they have been known to do; they've had a remarkably "less bad than usual" streak since WrestleMania, and a lot of people are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Whatever the plans are, we probably won't learn much on WWE Raw tonight. Cody Rhodes will likely continue his feud with Seth Rollins, and Drew McIntyre will continue his feud with Roman Reigns, and one or both feuds may end in a Hell in a Cell match in June. After that, we may get an idea in what direction WWE is heading by the booking of the Money in the Bank PLE. For the time being, fans will have to continue to believe in Cody Rhodes, if not WWE, and see where it takes them.