After having his big moment on the RAW after WrestleMania 40 ruined by yet another appearance by The Rock, Cody Rhodes took the ring for the opening segment of SmackDown with the Blue Brand's top title around his waist, and he had some talking to do.

Sure, the point of the promo was to ultimately set up a tournament of sorts to decide on the next number one contender for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, but Rhodes would have been remiss if he didn't talk at least a little bit about The Rock, who now serves as his rival in waiting while finishing up some commitments in Hollywood, a situation that very much could explode back into relevance at any time considering the near-unlimited resources at his disposal.

Still, Rhodes isn't afraid; if anything, he welcomes the future feud with open arms.

“This past Monday, I was out here doing some talking, and I was interrupted by The Rock. As his music hits and he strolled down here, and I was thinking about somebody I know, somebody who happens to be from Detroit, and what would they say, and I think it went a little something like this, ‘Who the h*ll told you tonight was open mic night, b**ch?' Forgive me for cursing, I don't know what's gotten into me. I can tell you when Rock was in here, the air got a little colder, the mood certainly changed. He placed an item in my hand, I instantly knew what it was, it was a wartime overture, if you will, something that I had gifted to The Rock. It was uncomfortable, it was awkward, but I believed The Rock when he said that he was going off to Hollywood, and I believed him even more when he said that he'd be coming back here, and when he did, he would be looking for me. Well Rock, you don't have to look very far, I will be standing right here,” Cody Rhodes boldly declared on SmackDown.

“But that is in that rear view, we need to look forward: three weeks from now, I'm going to hop on a plane, and I am going to fly to the first of our international Premium Live Events, Backlash, in Leon, France and I am going to face one of the six competitors you see here tonight. It could be Santos Escobar; it could be Rey Mysterio; it could be the fastest-rising star in all of WWE, LA Knight, yes. You can't talk about LA Knight without talking about AJ Styles; AJ and myself are two of the only four men who were ever the NWA Champion and WWE Champion. And then there's Bobby Lashley. And then I can't leave our my friend Kevin Owens. Like all friends who happen to be wrestlers, Kevin thinks he's better than me bell to bell, I think I am better than him, sometimes there's only one way to find out.

“This is all so fresh for me, I am no longer the hunter, but I am the hunted, and my message for those six competitors tonight, if you come at the king, you best not miss. For those on the blue brand, on SmackDown who claim to be unfamiliar with me, I will make it easy for you, my name is Cody Rhodes, once undesirable, become undeniable and now your Undisputed WWE Champion!”

Welp, there you go, folks; while Rhodes ultimately has the match of his career sitting in front of him, one potentially more big-time than his two bouts with Roman Reigns, and all he has to do is keep the strap around his waist until that day eventually comes while fielding challenges from performers like LA Knight or AJ Styles. No pressure, right?

Charlotte Flair is proud of Cody Rhodes' accomplishments.

Speaking of Cody Rhodes fulfilling his legacy at WrestleMania 40, Charlotte Flair, another performer who knows a thing or two about having champions in her family, gave the “American Nightmare” a massive shout-out in an interview with ESPN, noting that he was the perfect man to win the title in South Philadelphia.

“I really think his story is just beginning. He’s exactly where he should be. The biggest takeaway is that Cody was here. He went away, he came back,” Charlotte Flair told ESPN. “Kind of like Paul Heyman’s speech at the Hall of Fame — People kept telling him, ‘No, no,’ or things kept failing. That never wavered his confidence. Cody is a testament to knowing your worth. That’s what we need to take away from [WrestleMania XL Sunday]. He believed in himself, and he knew that he deserved more. That’s why he walked out WrestleMania 40 as champion.”

If there's anyone who unflappably believed in himself through the last 15 or so months, it would have to be Rhodes as, despite everything he went through, including a weird false star with The Rock after the 2024 Royal Rumble, he stuck true to his guns and left WrestleMania 40 with the belt he's been dreaming of for decades. Now much like Flair, he has to see if he can keep his reign alive with all eyes on his 10 pounds of gold.