Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins inside Hell In A Cell? Sign me up.
Oh, Cody Rhodes is injured? A torn pectoral? Damn… well, I guess we can just continue their feud down the road when he’s healthy again.
Wait… Cody’s still going to compete in the match? That… that doesn’t make any sense.
Are we being worked here? It sure seems like it. There’s no way he’s going to wrestle with a torn pec, let alone inside the Cell.
Huh? Every wrestling news site is reporting that we are not, in fact, being worked.
How? Why? What the hell is even going on?
. . . . . . . . . .
Does any of that look familiar? That’s the roller coaster ride that a lot of wrestling fans went on over the final stretch leading up to the Hell In A Cell pay-per-view.
We had no choice but to expect that Cody’s injury was a work. Doctor Strange used the Time Stone to view 14,000,605 possible outcomes, and none of them involved a man actually wrestling in a match mere days after tearing his pec smooth the fuck off the bone. Even with WWE promoting the match and saying that Cody was still going to wrestle, people were expecting some sort of a swerve. Forget the fact that it was clearly going to be the main event on a show that didn’t exactly have a strong card to begin with. Someone was surely going to end up replacing Cody in the match, right? Right?!?
If you read my Hell In A Cell Running Diary, you saw my immediate thoughts as I watched the show live. Upon seeing the brutal bruising that Cody had on his body, my initial reaction was one of anger. I simply could not believe how dumb of a decision it was to put him out there. Some of the initial reports said that Cody “insisted” on competing in the match. Because of that, there were all sorts of tweets and posts about how “brave” and “dedicated” Cody was, both to the business and to the fans who were buying tickets or tuning in to watch him. I didn’t see it that way. Here’s a man who was risking his health even further, and for what? Nothing that he couldn’t accomplish at a later date and time. No offense to any of you… but fuck the wrestling fans. We’re not worth that. Cody’s main focus should’ve been his wife and their soon-to-be one-year-old daughter. Take a break. Get the necessary surgery. Recover. Rehabilitate. Return.
Those thoughts simply continued as I watched the match. The man was CLEARLY in agonizing pain for the entirety of the match. He took bump after bump, including many directly to the pec area. I literally shook my head on numerous occasions, unable to understand why the match was happening.
At the end, I gave the match credit for being really good, but I just couldn’t shake the anger… maybe frustration, maybe sadness… that it happened in the first place. I knew I was going to need to take some time away and come back to it with fresher eyes and a more open mind to see if anything would be different.
So that’s what I did.
I took a day or two off and went back to watch the match again. It’s something I do a lot for pay-per-views, anyway, because the Running Diary format means I might miss a thing or two upon my initial viewing, but this felt important. It felt necessary.
Have my feelings changed?
I still think it was a dumb decision, at least when it comes to protecting a wrestler’s health and well-being. Not only is Cody going into the match with a horrific injury, but it puts the health of Seth Rollins on the line, too. What happens if Cody is unable to protect Seth properly because of his own injury, and now, Seth is injured, too? That’s not even taking into account the fact that Cody could’ve easily injured other parts of his body that had to work harder, or at least differently, to overcompensate for what his pec couldn’t do. Cody really and truly let his bravado (no Andre Chase) and maybe even his ego get in the way. Vince McMahon, on the other hand, probably has dementia setting in, because nobody knows how or why he does anything anymore. I’ve seen people defend Vince here by pointing out what I mentioned earlier… that Cody “insisted” on competing… as if that explains anything. Is Vince afraid of Cody? Does Cody have pictures of Vince that he has threatened to release to the public? Why would anybody act like wrestlers haven’t “insisted” something before, only to have Vince shut them down? This is Vince Fucking McMahon we’re talking about here. Nothing happens, or doesn’t happen, without his stamp. He can fire people, hire people, tell people to go to rehab, push uncomfortable story ideas, make people turn heel/face, and make every sort of difficult decision there is in the business, but when Cody Rhodes says he’s going to wrestle, Vince just throws his hands in the air and has no power? Get the fuck out of here.
After watching the match again, I started to take notice of everything, and I mean everything. The crowd reactions and commentary, for sure. I went back and scrolled through the Twitter and Facebook feeds of a couple dozen people whose wrestling opinions I respect and value. While doing all that, I began to notice one thing… the “legend” of Cody Rhodes was growing. From the moment he returned to WWE, he has been positioned as a huge star, but this… what he was able to do here seemed to take him to another level. If the match was ugly, I don’t know if he would be having this discussion right now. The fact that it was a REALLY good match, though? I think that helped to take Cody and place him on a rare tier in WWE. That tier, at least when it comes to male workers, consisted of Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar (when he’s around), John Cena (when he’s around), and probably Randy Orton. That’s it. It’s not about who is a better wrestler, but instead, it’s about who is presented as a huge deal by WWE, and who is accepted as a huge deal by the WWE Universe. This was a performance that placed Cody squarely in the pantheon of WWE’s biggest performers.
On top of everything that I just mentioned, what do you think this did for how Vince McMahon views Cody Rhodes? You’re out of your mind if you don’t think this elevated Cody in Vince’s mind, too. Even if Vince was hesitant to let him wrestle, and we’ll probably never know if he was or not, the fact of the matter is that he did wrestle. This isn’t just some tiny injury that requires a couple weeks of rest. Two of the more famous examples of a torn pec in wrestling are when Triple H tore his in 2018 and missed five months, as well as when John Cena tore his in 2017 and returned in just under four months. For Cody to put himself out there like that… I don’t think Vince is ever going to forget this.
Do I still think it was a dumb decision? Yes. Cody would not have been harmed by not competing at Hell In A Cell. WWE could’ve controlled the story by saying that he was injured at the hands of Rollins, forcing Cody to get surgery and miss time. Seth gets more heel heat, and Cody still gets the mega face pop when he returns down the road.
However, the question of whether or not it was “worth it” becomes more muddled. If I’m right about this placing Cody Rhodes on a rare tier, that could mean more money and hype, both for him and for WWE. He was probably going to be the WWE/Universal Champion at some point, anyway, but I think this guarantees it, as long as his surgery, recovery, and rehab goes well. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you feel it was “worth it” if you were Cody Rhodes? The excruciating pain and suffering translates into World Title reigns, bigger paydays, and a brighter profile in wrestling history when all is said and done? I think a lot… A LOT… of you reading this right now would take that deal without even thinking about it for more than a second or two.
What say you, ReaderLand? Now that it has been a few days, how do you feel about Cody Rhodes competing with that type of injury? Are you upset about it, or do you see the vision now, whether or not that vision was intended? As always, hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- MJF’s Rant: It’s a shoot. No, it’s a work. We’re still going back-and-forth on it. We thought this promo guaranteed that, at the very least, it was turning into a work. Then came information that Warner Bros. Discovery have gotten involved, with all promotional involvement from MJF being removed or edited. There’s not exactly a long history of wrestling companies and their television partners working together to further a storyline. Instead, it is usually more likely that the partner getting involved indicates that things are not just real, but really real. Lord knows what’s happening here, but this was an epic promo/rant. Passion, passion, passion. It was so good that MJF started it as a heel and damn near ended it as a face. Now, we sit back and await the next chapter in the story.
- Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins: I’ve made my thoughts and opinions on this pretty clear by now.
- Bianca Belair vs Becky Lynch vs Asuka: A really good match with all three women constantly trying to outdo one another from start to finish. It’s scary that we probably haven’t seen Bianca hit her peak yet.
- Penta Oscuro & Rey Fenix vs The Young Bucks: Two pairs of brothers means there’s going to be insane levels of in-ring chemistry. This was no different. The catalog of matches these two teams have against each other is fucking phenomenal at this point.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: Well, it was fun while it lasted, at least. Seeing Tanahashi, one of the greatest puroresu performers of all-time, showing up on Dynamite to set up a match against CM Punk at Forbidden Door was a lot of fun. Then, of course, Punk got injured and won’t be competing at the show. Welp.
- Apollo Crews: WWE has done a good job in recent months of sending main roster talent to NXT. With Apollo Crews being the latest in that line of talent, there’s a lot to look forward to. Based on a lot of what he said in his promo, it sure seems like he’s going to be sticking around for a while. The NXT crowd welcomed him back with open arms, too. Not only did we get Apollo in a good main event (teaming with Solo Sikoa to defeat Carmelo Hayes and Grayson Waller), but there was also a tease of him being one of the next challengers for Bron Breakker’s NXT Title. This is a good opportunity for him to really show what he’s capable of, and to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
- Miro: After several months away, Miro finally made his return to AEW. He was missed. Now we see if he can build some momentum again.
- The Street Profits vs The Usos: We’ve seen these teams face each other a million times, but we’ve also seen them have a million good matches. You can count on that. It looks like we’re going to be getting at least one more match, so… hooray?
- Jon Moxley vs Daniel Garcia: Daniel Garcia is too good to be where he is on the card, but with the AEW roster being loaded the way it is, not much can be done about that. This was a really good match, but with the loss, Garcia is now 0-9 in singles matches on AEW television. On the bright side, he has won his last 12 singles matches that have taken place on AEW’s YouTube channel, so there’s that. I guess.
- Santos Escobar vs Nathan Frazer: I’m interested to see Escobar really working as a face in NXT. I know he can do it, but it remains to be seen how he will be booked and presented in that role. On the other side, Frazer continues his string of impressive performances and looks to be a major player for NXT in the future.
- The Usos vs Riddle & Shinsuke Nakamura: I think we’re destined to see The Usos taking on some sort of combination of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Big E (if he’s able to return to the ring), Riddle, Randy Orton, Montez Ford, and Angelo Dawkins for the rest of eternity. Good matches, sure, but come on, WWE… you’re killing me.
- Judgment Day: Nothing that has happened with this group has made a fucking lick of sense, but at least they got us with a major surprise, having Finn Balor replace Edge in the lineup. Edge was miscast here from the beginning, but now he’s in that weird wrestling spot where he turned heel, only to have other heels turn on him, so now… he’s just a face again? We’re just supposed to forget the bad things he said about us, the fans, simply because other heels didn’t like him?
- Jurassic Express, Christian Cage, Matt Hardy & Darby Allin vs The Young Bucks, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish & Hikuleo: I’ve said it a billion times… when AEW puts a six, eight, or ten-man tag match together, you know you’re going to get mile-a-minute action. That’s what we got here. Well, except for Matt Hardy, who moves at more of a foot-a-minute pace.
- Alexa Bliss vs Doudrop vs Rhea Ripley vs Liv Morgan: Battling to become the next challenger for Bianca Belair’s Raw Women’s Title, this was a fun match, but the result was never in question. Bianca against either of the faces would be weird, especially coming off of Bianca involved with another face in Asuka. She also just beat Doudrop approximately 28 times in the span of a couple months recently. That left Ripley, who is being pushed as a dastardly heel in the Judgment Day stable. Bianca and Rhea’s history together only makes this more intriguing.
- Roxanne Perez vs Tiffany Stratton: The match itself wasn’t necessary a classic or anything, but it showcased two women who might be big-time players for the company in the future. Perez has yet to celebrate her 21st birthday, but she has a lot of experience for someone of her young age, and it shows. Stratton just turned 23, but she isn’t quite seven months removed from her professional debut. With a rare combination of power and athleticism, there have been a lot of comparisons between her and the early days of Bianca Belair. They both were able to step into the world of pro wrestling and pick it up right away. We’ve seen how far Bianca has come since her debut. We’ll have to see what the future holds for Tiffany Stratton.
This Week’s Playlist: “Nena Trampa” by Cazzu… “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At The Disco… “Bleed It” by Logic… “Hazel Eyes” by Kolohe Kai… “How Do You Love Somebody” by Why Don’t We… “Will Of The People” by Muse… “life waster” by CORPSE… “Voices In My Head” by Falling In Reverse… “The Other Side” by DAMPF… “Never Coming Back” by Wake Up Hate… “Hypocrite” by Of Virtue… “I’m Not Surprised” by Unlike Pluto… “Here With Me” by Marshmello & CHVRCHES… “LOVE” by CHVRCHES… “Get Out” by CHVRCHES… “Ditty” by Paperboy… “Back to the Hotel” by N2Deep… “It’s Goin’ Down” by Celly Cel… “It’s Goin’ Down (Remix)” by Celly Cel, Rappin’ 4-Tay, E-40, B-Legit & Mack 10… “Let’s Ride” by Richie Rich… “On A Sunday Afternoon” by A Lighter Shade Of Brown… “Hey DJ” by A Lighter Shade Of Brown… “Somethin’ To Ride To (Fonky Expedition)” by The Conscious Daughters… “The Heist” by Da 5 Footaz… “Murder Murder” by Ghetto Twiinz