Cody Rhodes is a made man in WWE, with his Royal Rumble win guaranteeing him a championship match at WrestleMania 39 versus the current Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. But to get there, Rhodes had to face off with one of the biggest, baddest stars in the entire promotion in GUNTHER, the current Intercontinental Champion of over 200 days.
Speaking with Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick on After the Bell about his big moment, Rhodes described how his one-on-one mini-match with GUNTHER really helped him to feel like he was back from his pec injury, which left him on the shelf for six months.
“I can’t tell you it felt good [laughs]. I can tell you though, that’s the moment where I felt like I was truly back,” Rhodes said via Fightful. “It wasn’t the first chop. I believe (it was) a back suplex, and I was able to land on my feet, pop to my feet, and when he turned around, I thought I had him, but he had me with another one of those very flat, stop your motion, those type of chops are very specific. That one that he got me with was where I felt like, ‘I’m back.’ Some of us like the pain. That’s a weird thing to say. I had blood in my mouth from something earlier, then this chop came, and that’s where I felt like, ‘I’m back in it, this is what I do,’ it’s essentially what I was born to do. As much as it hurt so bad, it also felt so good. The next 50 chops or whatever didn’t give me the same response, but that specific (moment) felt like, ‘welcome back.”
While few would like to receive one chop from GUNTHER, let alone 50, the battle sparked something in Rhodes that he would like to revisit again in a more traditional match, albeit one worthy of a special venue.
What cardinal sin did @CodyRhodes commit during his #RoyalRumble Match victory? Find out as he joins @WWEGraves & @kev_egan on #AfterTheBell, available now on @Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts!
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— WWE After The Bell (@AfterTheBellWWE) February 3, 2023
Cody Rhodes has a very specific venue in mind for a WWE match with GUNTHER.
Rhodes continued in his conversation with Graves and Patrick, telling the duo that while there might be some bad blood between himself and GUNTHER from past comments, he would love to revisit their back-and-forth in a proper match from a very specific venue.
“I don’t know Gunther on a personal level, I’ve made fun of the name in the past, and maybe there was a little bad blood perhaps because of that, but I can say this: that [facing Gunther] looks like something I could see myself revisiting,” Rhodes added. “I could see that happening again, in terms of a one-on-one encounter with the current Intercontinental Champion, who I believe just broke my record, not to mention he broke the Royal Rumble record, he broke my record for days with the Intercontinental Championship. That’s the kind of next-level elite athlete that I would love to wrestle anywhere in the United States, but specifically, I would love to wrestle him in Europe. In Europe, it’s an away game for me, it’s hostile, and I’d be all about that. I think there might be part of him that thinks, ‘I’ve gone an hour and I was able to hold it with you in there,’ and I want him to know that I had his number as much as he had mine. Right now, I can’t say enough superlative items about the current Intercontinental Champion. His future is massive, his present is also massive. We’re living it. I could use a few weeks before I’m living it again. Certainly, I look forward to another one-on-one encounter and I’d love to wrestle him in Europe to see what that feels like.”
For those out of the know or who might have simply forgotten, Rhodes did make fun of GUNTHER for changing his name from WALTER at the very end of his AEW run and suggested that his company allowed performers to be themselves. While it’s impossible to know how that hit GUNTHER at the time, especially since he had a far more expansive indie run than Rhodes before signing with NXT UK in 2019, including stops at Progress, Evolve, and PWG, none of that matters now. No, GUNTHER and Rhodes suddenly find themselves as two of the top stars in WWE and even if they are on different paths at the moment, with the former holding strong as the IC Champion and the latter vying for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, who knows, maybe a match or even a program between the two stars could be in the cards down the line?