When Cody Rhodes made his return at Royal Rumble at number 30, it was pretty clear to the WWE Universe that it was Rhodes who was going to stand tall at last in the ring.
And when he threw Gunther over the top rope and became the winner, Cody sent a message to the WWE Universe that his return at WrestleMania 38 against Seth Rollins was just a trailer, and that there was an unfinished business left to be completed.
From leaving the company over being frustrated over his bookings in 2016, to completely revamping his image, and then coming back in a new avatar in 2022, Cody proved that in WWE, its the personality that sells.
Did Cody deserve it? Being the son of a veteran wrestler, Dusty Rhodes, Cody carried the baggage of stardom in his first phase in WWE (2006-2016). When he made his debut in WWE, he worked with wrestlers like Hardcore Holly, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. The change occured when he teamed up with Ted Dibiase and Randy Orton forming a group, which they called as 'The Legacy'.
From 2008-2010, Cody Rhodes, worked alongside Orton and Ted, but was hardly booked in singles match. In short, though he got some limelight, his growth as an individual wrestler was obstructed by the shadow of Orton.
In 2011, he feuded with Rey Mysterio and towards the second half of the year he also became the Intercontinental Champion (IC).
In 2012, the company also booked him in a storyline against Randy Orton, but that hardly did good with his image. After that, from 2013-2014, Cody also teamed up with his brother Dustin Rhodes who wrestles under his ring name Goldust, in WWE, which again didn't help him at all.
From 2014-16, the company brought Cody in a new character with the name 'Stardust', a character similar to his brother's character Goldust, where he had face paint, body suit and same gimmicks like Goldust's.
But the image makeover didn't satisfy Rhodes, and it was after Wrestlemania 32 in 2016, that he finally requested his release from the company.
The changover: For the next six years, Cody went through a complete change where he went around the world wrestling and becoming the hottest creation in wrestling before he returned to the WWE. Cody first joined Ring of Honor and then, Impact Wrestling.
In January 2017, he made his debut at the New Japan at the Wrestle Kingdom. He defeated Juice Robinson and towards the end of the year, won the ROH championship.
His work in ROH and New Japan Pro wrestling, also made him to team up wth some wrestling freaks to build a show that would go down as the biggest independent wrestling show of all time.
In 2019, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) saw its birth, with Cody Rhodes being one of the star wrestlers in the company. But as fate would have it, Cody was also the first one to leave the company in 2022 due to personal reasons.
And Vince McMahon wasted no time in signing back the wrestler who they couldn't understand at the first place.
The return at WrestleMania: Cody Rhodes made his comeback as the mystery superstar against Seth Rollins. Six years later, he was in a new avatar. It wasn't the Cody who needed the support of fellow wrestlers to make heads turn.
It also wasn't a Cody who needed a heel character to move ahead in the company.
New Cody Rhodes meant business. The following night on RAW, Cody Rhodes declared his vision for WWE Championship, something that his father Dustin Rhodes never gold hold of.
And he went on to defeat Seth Rollins thrice in different events. The last match, where he wrestled against Rollins, Rhodes had a legitimate pectoral muscle tear, but still he went ahead and won the bout, inviting applauds from every corner.
And after undergoing a surgery, Rhodes in January 16 episode of RAW announced that he would be coming back to WWE at Royal Rumble. And finally on January 29, he won the Roal Rumble, becoming the fifth man to win the Rumble at number 30 after Undertaker (2007), John Cena (2008), Triple H (2016) and Brock Lesnar (2022).
Cody deserved it: Being the son of veteran wrestler had given Cody an access to the world of wrestling, where he received training from many wrestlers including Randy Orton. But the craft which he has mastered in the last six years in wrestling is something of his own doing.
So much so that even the WWE was forced to book his return at the biggest stage WrestleMania and then booking him to win the Rumble.
Rarely does it happen that a veteran wrestler's son goes on to achieve heights of success in the same company. With exceptions like Randy Orton and The Rock, Cody Rhodes is probably the third wrestler ever to make it so big after nearly 14 years of his debut, at a point where many wrestlers turn to commentary, training and some even take retirement.
At WrestleMania, he is expected to challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Championship.