What if Cody Rhodes returns to WWE?

Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes may be the hottest name in independent wrestling. But what if he comes back to WWE?
Mike Chin

For so many wrestlers, WWE is the ultimate goal of their careers- to make the most money and have the most exposure. Consider talents like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, and Kevin Owens who worked their way through the independent scene or wrestled abroad to hone their craft and finally garner WWE’s attention.

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Cody Rhodes essentially started his professional wrestling career under the WWE banner, signed because he’s Dusty Rhodes’s son and he demonstrated potential. Cody came up not through the indies, but rather WWE’s own developmental system. He then grew up before our eyes, going from a face rookie to a member of Randy Orton’s Legacy stable, to his Dashing gimmick, to a character with supervillain overtones, to a big face turn, before he transformed into Stardust.

Cody left WWE of his own volition when he felt underutilized, and has gone on to not only be a successful wrestler elsewhere but a successful promoter as one of the masterminds behind the All In super show.

Rumor has it WWE wants him back if only to head him off from hosting more events like All In that could be perceived as a threat to WWE. It’s unclear that Cody would take them up on the offer to bring him back, but it does open quite questions about what it would look like if he did go for it.

#5 An NXT run

An NXT run could breathe new life into Cody's WWE career.

Some big names coming from outside WWE skip NXT and head straight to the main roster. Recent examples include AJ Styles and Mike Kanellis. Moreover, Cody Rhodes is already a familiar face to WWE fans and has successfully worked within the WWE system.

However, WWE proved that there is some merit in talents who come home to WWE from the indies stopping in at NXT. Take Drew McIntyre, who went so far as to reign as NXT Champion before coming back up to the main roster. Like McIntyre, Cody’s independent work may make him more readily popular with the kinds of fans who follow NXT. Add in the big time connections his father had to the developmental brand, and it could be a great place for Cody to have an impact for a period of months or even a year before heading back to the main roster.

#4 Cody in the world title picture

Cody Champion
Cody Rhodes was never taken seriously as a top title contender in WWE before, but now may be his time.

There was a very brief period when it looked as though WWE might pull the trigger on Cody Rhodes as a main eventer.

He was a key figure in standing up to The Authority after Triple H turned heel, Stephanie McMahon went on a power trip, and Randy Orton won the WWE Championship. When he joined Goldust in unseating The Shield for the tag titles, it looked as though it might have been a stepping stone.

Instead, the start of that tag title run was arguably the peak of Cody’s WWE run.

There are no guarantees Cody’s prospects would be much better if he were to return to WWE. However, given his positioning—that he made the decision to walk out on WWE, and he has thrived since—it’s reasonable to think he might call some of his own shots if he came back. Cody wouldn’t be able to make himself the face of WWE, but he may have the leverage to garner promises of main event program or two.

#3 Split personalities

Cody may get his chance to play two gimmicks simultaneously after all.

Cody has explained in multiple interviews that in the latter days of his WWE run, he pitched an unusual idea to management.

At the dawn of the new brand split, when he was firmly cast as Stardust, he suggested that he continue to play that gimmick on one brand while he returned to the Cody Rhodes character on the other.

He seemed to acknowledge that he wasn’t lined up to be a top guy but wanted the challenge of playing the two gimmicks at once. In the powers that be denying him, he was not only creatively disappointed, but felt disrespected for not getting the opportunity.

If WWE were unwilling to make Cody any promises of a big push, one compromise might be to give him the green light to pursue this oddball booking he seems to have been so passionate about.

Moreover, it is a compelling idea that could offer something genuinely different in the modern WWE landscape.

#2 The Club focuses

Balor Club
Club-related alliances have been unfocused and inconsistent. Cody's arrival might spark something more meaningful.

Rumor has it that it’s not only Cody Rhodes whom WWE management is interested in. Based on the success of The Bullet Club and particularly their All In show, the word is that WWE is interested in Cody, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and potentially others.

WWE has had Finn Balor under its banner for some time now, and scooped up AJ Styles and The Good Brothers in one big move. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson rekindled their New Japan Bullet Club partnerships with both Balor and Styles at different points.

There have been allusions to The Balor Club, or simply The Club, all making reference to the Bullet Club, which still belongs to NJPW. These efforts have never resulted in a sustained stable or meaningful storylines, though.

With Rhodes, and potentially other leaders and key members of The Bullet Club in WWE, the company may be all the more prone to push these guys as a unit and try to capitalize on their previous chemistry and popularity with the fans.

#1 An NWA Crossover

Cody Rhodes in ring
Cody Rhodes wouldn't be the first man to bring the NWA's ten pounds of gold to WWE.

At All In, Cody Rhodes pinned Nick Aldis to be crowned the National Wrestling Alliance Worlds Heavyweight Champion. There’s no guarantee he will have a long reign, and the odds are that he would drop that title before going back to WWE.

But what if he didn’t?

It would take some major wheeling and dealing, but if Cody were to carry the ten pounds of gold into WWE, it actually wouldn’t be the first time a wrestler had done so, as Ric Flair’s “Real World Champion” gimmick from 1991 was based on exactly that premise.

It’s doubtful that WWE would want to give the current NWA that kind of exposure, or that Billy Corgan and the NWA would necessarily want to get in bed with WWE. If anyone could broker a mutually beneficial deal, though, Cody may be uniquely equipped to do so.

He’s not only a star, but a guy who has coordinated interpromotional collaboration before, not to mention that he just might have the leverage in WWE contract negotiations to make something unconventional happen.

Edited by Alan John
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