We are right at the beginning of the road to Wrestlemania, personally my favorite time of the year. This year, Wrestlemania emanates from Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles, CA and WWE has a ton of momentum behind it ever since Triple H took over the creative reins of his father in law’s company. While Vince is back in business capacity, Hunter is still the man with the pencil and is dead set on making his first Wrestlemania as head of creative a memorable one. However he has a very huge, yet very good problem on his hand: The main event. It does appear as if the rein of The Tribal Chief is hitting the home stretch, and that the Bloodline story is headed towards an epic conclusion. However, what will that conclusion be? Let’s look at two different options that Triple H might choose to be the one to finally defeat Roman Reigns: Cody Rhodes and Sami Zayn.
Cody Rhodes, son of the legendary “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, has had quite the journey so far. He joined WWE in 2006 and never really made a huge impact. There was a time where he did some intriguing character work as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes where he even brought back the old white Intercontinental championship, and even had a very good feud with The Shield as he teamed up with his brother Dustin, known to WWE fans as “Goldust” where we saw the final bionic elbow in Dusty’s life in a fantastic match at Battleground 2013. However past that, Cody never really did anything of note. Towards the end, WWE repackged him as “Stardust” where he painted his face similar to his brother and while Cody tried his hardest to make it work, it was never going to work and really seemed like it was just Vince McMahon being vindictive and putting Cody in a no win scenario.
In 2016, Cody requested and was granted his release from WWE and would bet on himself. Going to Ring of Honor, NWA, and Impact. However it would be his work with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, together known as “The Elite” that would start the change of modern wrestling history. On May 16th, 2017, twitter user @TheWWEGuy_ would tweet at Dave Meltzer “Do you think Ring of Honor can ever sell out an arena with 10k+ fans? Something like Madison Square Garden?” Meltzer would respond with “Not anytime soon”. Then, Cody would respond to this tweet saying “I’ll take that bet Dave. I already gave them (ROH) their biggest buyrate, put The Bucks and I on the card & 3 months to promote”. This inspired Cody, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega, in partnership with Ring Of Honor, to put on a show called “All In” on September 1st, 2018, signifying that they are going all in on themselves. This event would be a resounding success. it sold out the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, Illinois with a buy rate of 50,000 on ppv, in an era where ppv is a far thing of the past.
At the same time, the son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, Tony Khan, a lifelong wrestling fan, was heavily interested in creating his own wrestling promotion. All In signified there was a huge interest in professional wrestling in America that wasn’t the WWE. So Khan would partner with Cody, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega to create “All Elite Wrestling”, WWE’s biggest competition since WCW. AEW would go on to secure a tv deal with Warner Brothers, creating their television show “AEW Dynamite” airing at the time on TNT before moving to TBS shortly after.
Cody was a huge centerpiece of the show. Cody would have creative control over his character in AEW as he was an executive vice president of the company and for some reason, took himself out of the title picture right away, stating he will never challenge for the AEW World Championship. Because Cody couldn’t challenge for the company’s main prize, this would lead to Cody essentially booking himself in these weird side feuds, known to AEW fans as “The Codyverse”. He had awkward feuds with Shaq (Yes that Shaq), QT Marshall, and Anthony Ogogo where he cut a weird promo where he attempted to end racism, and that went over like a wet fart in church.
After awhile, the AEW fans would grow tired of Cody’s continued attempt at being an all American good guy babyface, especially considering his wrestling gear was an extremely not subtle reference to Homelander from Amazon’s “The Boys”. Eventually things came to a head for Cody and in early 2022, word came out that his contract with AEW was up, and he would not be renewing with the company he helped create. After months and months of speculation, where some AEW fans swore up and down this was all apart of some elaborate slow burn heel turn, it would be reported on March 18th, 2022, that Cody signed a multi year deal with the WWE. Cody wanted to do what his father never did in his legendary career: Win the WWE Championship. His return at Wrestlemania 38 in Dallas, TX would be one of the great moments in Wrestlemania history, coming back not only as Cody, but under the exact same “American Nightmare” persona he was using in AEW. He would face and defeat Rollins and kick start an epic rivalry that would culminate in an epic match at Hell in a Cell 2022, however with a caveat: He legitimately tore his pectoral muscle days before the match. Cody would work this match with the entire right side of his torso bruised black, and put on a 5 star performance that will be talked about for years to come, however the injury would force him to miss several months, right as he was really getting going in WWE.
In January 2023, WWE would air promo packages confirming Cody’s return in the 2023 Royal Rumble, just one day from when I am currently writing this article. These packages are very similar to the “Beautiful Day” packages Triple H had ran for him when he was recovering from his torn quad in 2002. Triple H would go on to win that Rumble and defeat Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 18, however that match is forever overshadowed by the epic Hulk Hogan vs The Rock match that took place right before. Maybe Triple H seeks to right the wrongs of his past through Cody? Time will certainly tell. That’s his first option, his second option… Is Sami Zayn.
Sami Zayn spent years under a mask as “El Generico” a pasty luchador from Mexico. Upon signing with WWE, Zayn was told to take the mask off and really show off his true personality. Zayn debuted in NXT, at the time booked by Triple H, and Hunter would make Zayn his first big babyface of the WWE Network era of NXT, something wrestling fans look fondly upon.
Zayn’s babyface run in NXT was incredible as he plays the hell out of the underdog role, he has an innate way of connecting with the fans, he’s genuine, real, and you feel that through the television screen. Zayn would face injury issues upon his callup to the main roster, and then was turned heel, showing off his range as a fun heel, a conspiracy theorist. This heel run would have him cross paths with Johnny Knoxville at Wrestlemania 38 in a match that had absolutely no right to be as incredible as it was. A huge reason that match was special was Zayn’s ability to make Knoxville, a celebrity from yesteryear, actually look like a threat. This performance would garner a ton of respect from the locker room and shortly thereafter Zayn would be paired up with Roman Reigns, where Zayn would pitch himself to join the bloodline, Reigns accepted this offer, and The Bloodline would go from good, to one of the best stories WWE ever told. Zayn would spend months trying to win the approval of the Tribal Chief, and would constantly butt heads with Jey Uso, Roman’s real life cousin and one half of The Usos.
Then at Survivor Series 2022, Zayn would be solidified as a full on Uce after saving Reigns from defeat by the hands of Zayn’s real life best friend, Kevin Owens. This would also win the approval of Jey Uso, and the crowd would go nuts at just the sight of the two men hugging. However, on the 30th anniversary of Monday Night RAW on January 23rd, 2023, days after Zayn would fail to come to the aid of Reigns after he was surprised attacked by Kevin Owens at their contract signing for their Royal Rumble match, would undergo “Tribal Court” where Reigns was the judge. Reigns would find Zayn guilty and sentence him to death via Solo Sikoa Samoan Spike. However right before Sikoa would hit Zayn, Sikoa’s actual brother, Jey Uso, would stop the spike right before, where the Philly crowd would go crazy over this stunning turn of events. Zayn has this lovable underdog vibe about him, and the fans are firmly in the honorary uce’s corner. If Hunter really wants to conclude the Bloodline story in the most heartwarming way, the happy ending if you will, then Zayn winning the rumble and finally overcoming The Chief, proving he is capable of winning the big one on his own, and that he’s done being manipulated by Roman is the way to go. This would conclude the best longform story WWE has ever told.
This is the problem Triple H has. He has two incredibly solid ways to approach Wrestlemania, and no one could blame him for choosing one or the other. Time will tell and we will find out in less than 24 hours at the Royal Rumble where this is headed. Now as a disclaimer, The Rock or Stone Cold might actually return at the rumble as well, rendering this whole thing pointless and honestly would be very disappointing as there’s no way Rock or Austin would beat Reigns. Roman has been the main champion for over two years and it’s time to land this enormous plane, and honestly, Reigns has earned some time off after carrying the company for years. It’s Cody or Sami’s moment. What would you do? Cody or Sami? Maybe Cody vs Roman at night one for the WWE title and Roman vs Sami at night two for the Universal title? Let us know, and enjoy the Royal Rumble and enjoy Pro Wrestling!