Who is the next WWE Champion?

Page 3 of 8
November 10, 2013

Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes is the first wrestler I can remember watching become great.

Cody & Goldust claim WWE Tag Team Titles

Before him, I’d either catch onto an emerging talent in the middle of their break out, or keep an eye on a promising upstart who never quite lived up to his potential. With Cody, I was there from day one, watching Raw on July 2, 2007, when the son of a son of a plumber turned up in an oversized dress shirt and just stood there as Randy Orton slapped his dad right across the face.

Had I been asked this question back in those days when Cody was stepping out in emerald green trunks alongside Hardcore Holly, I don’t know that I would have picked him to become a future WWE Champion. Next to Legacy cohorts like Ted DiBiase and Manu, Rhodes lacked presence and seemed even younger than his early twenties. But that is what has allowed him to get so good.

Most second- and third-generation Superstars spend their careers trying to convince everyone that they deserve what they’ve been handed. Rhodes’ young legacy has been defined by the opposite. He was never unduly rushed into the spotlight. He pushed and shoved his way there. And each step in Rhodes’ unexpected evolution — from entitled second-generation snob to self-obsessed sleazeball, from demented masked super villain to mustachioed rogue — has been thrilling to watch.

Cody’s latest left turn on his road to self-discovery — a working-class hero with deep family roots — has been his best yet. He’s maturing rapidly alongside his ultra-talented brother, Goldust, and he has added so many interesting facets to an already brimming skillset.

I don’t know that Cody Rhodes will become WWE Champion in a year. I don’t know that he’ll do it in two years. But he will. He’s gotta. He’s come too far not to. — RYAN MURPHY

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