After hinting at his arrival since the opening segment, when he arrived in St. Louis in an SUV with Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns finally took the ring in the main event of the penultimate edition of Monday Night RAW to lay out a message to Cody Rhodes about why he would retain his straps at WrestleMania 39 and leave “The American Nightmare” as just another name crossed out in his wins column.

Unfortunately for Reigns, Rhodes was waiting in the wings to intercept the shot a la a cornerback for St. Louis’ former football team in order to turn the monologue into a conversation. Still, Reigns has been a champion for over 900 days, so he was ready to cut Rhodes down to size, all the while alluding to AEW in the most tactile way to date.

“And you come in here and you say all of the things you’re gonna do, when we know you aren’t going to do them because look at your track record,” Reigns said. “Let’s look at it. You didn’t want to do the Stardust thing, and what happened, you ran away. You started a promotion that you couldn’t get over in, and then you ran away. And then you came here, and you actually got over and his body quit on him, as your little pec went pop. You aren’t cut out for this. You keep talking about finishing the story, ‘April 2nd, I’m going to finish the story,’ no you’re not. April 2nd is just a moment, it’s an opportunity, it’s like a lotto ticket for you. Your real moment was on April 3rd, because when you wake up, you’re gonna have to look in the mirror and then you’re gonna have to confront that adversity again. Not like you used to, because when you look in the mirror, I want you to make a choice and I want that choice t be something your Dad would be proud of. Otherwise, you’re gonna do what you always do and run away like a little b**ch.”

Needless to say, this did not go over particularly well with the audience, as they have largely grown tired of Reigns in favor of the new hot commodity, Cody Rhodes, but fortunately, “The Grandson of a Plumber,” has grown pretty good at taking a punch. After allowing Reigns to speak his mind uninterrupted, Rhodes bounced back up and, like a classic rope-a-dope, rocked “The Tribal Chief” right where it hurts: his pride.

Cody Rhodes prepares Roman Reigns for his life are the Undisputed WWE Title.

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Picking up the mic himself, Rhodes started off slowly before plunging the knife right into Reigns’ heart and leaving the megalomaniacal superstar completely speechless.

“Okay, okay. Run, run away, so for those out here, these little nightmares if you’ve got the belts, if you’re someone who like the ‘undesirable to undeniable tale,’ you have to know that what Roman is saying right now is true; I did run away,” Rhodes said. “The business broke my heart, I met adversity, and I ran away. I don’t hear a lot of people complaining, though, because what I did while I ran away was make sure that 100 percent of every locker room can make a lot more money, so I’m not worried about it.

“In addition to that, you’re calling me what our fathers were, a wrestler? Man, I tried, I started here at 20 years old, WWE born and bred. I wanted to be a Superstar and sometimes I still want to be a Superstar, but maybe that’s the truth; maybe inside I am just a runaway, violent, love the taste of blood in my mouth professional wrestler. And I’ll tell you what, I’ll make it clear right here and right now, nobody needs to bring up my father one more time because if I hear it one more time, I’m absolutely gonna vomit. He’s not coming to this ring to hit a bionic elbow, my brother works elsewhere, the only thing you’re gonna see at WrestleMania is me.

“And you want to talk about family? I’ll bring up someone you don’t know, my mean a** Cuban mother who in this moment, do you know what she would tell me? She would say knock that boy out. And while he’s laying there, hit him again for good measure. Tell everybody all of this truth about April 3rd and what it means for me, let’s talk about what it could mean for you. What it will mean for you. April 3rd, Tribal Chief, you will have to wake up and remember what it’s like to lose. You’ve got to wake up without these titles that mean the most in our world and when that happens, here’s what else happens; Jey is gonna leave you. And then Jimmy will leave you too. So no Usos, guess what happens then? Solo… solo leave you too. And when Solo leaves you, this man (Paul Heyman), well, he becomes an advocate again. So there you’ll be, a man without a family, a Roman with no more Reigns, a Chief without a tribe.”

Wow, if this is the very last time Reigns and Rhodes converse before WrestleMania 39, which, considering the latter is already booked for a match against Ludwig Kaiser on SmackDown, it very much might be, it’s clear Dusty’s kid wasn’t going to leave anything on the table or any bullets in the chamber. For a performer who freely admits that he occasionally gets too personally invested in the storytelling aspect of professional wrestling, Rhodes laid himself bare in order to feel like the realest guy in the room, whereas Reigns sounds more like a supervillain running through a tired shtick and on this particular occasion, even the “Tribal Chief” looked like he knew his act was getting stale. After almost 1,000 days in the same role, that sort of thing is going to happen.