When news broke that Cody Rhodes, the winner of the 2023 Royal Rumble, was going to be featured in the opening segment on Raw – thanks for the scoop, Byron Saxton – fans strapped into their seats, knowing that something very interesting was coming their way.
Popping up from the Cody-vator to the tune of “Kingdom,” his theme from the indies, AEW, and now WWE too, Rhodes began his speech like oh so many CR promos before, cheekily asking the crowd, “what do you want to talk about?” before kicking into a promo not too dissimilar to the one he gave after returning at WrestleMania 38; he talked about his father, his path to, through, and back to WWE, and even hinted at deep cuts that long-time fans may recall, like setting himself on fire in a match with Andrade near the end of his AEW run.
This promo, though over with the fans, did have a few detractors, including the male members of Judgement Day, who emerged from the back and talked all sorts of trash on the former star of Rhodes to the Top, with Balor accusing Rhodes of re-hashing his old storylines – which is kind of fair – and Dominik declaring that he was supposed to win the Royal Rumble to match with his Mami – which isn’t kind of fair.
Considering himself a fighting… Royal Rumble winner(?) Rhodes declared that, to paraphrase Mark Henry, the time for talking was over, and declared that whichever member of Judgement Day wanted to go, he was more than willing to take on, with Balor taking the spot before he was absolutely dominated by a returning Rated-R superstar who remains out for blood against his former faction.
It's @EdgeRatedR!!!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/kNhZMCXf6u
— WWE (@WWE) January 31, 2023