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Cody Rhodes Finishes His Story, Pays Tribute to His Late Father at WrestleMania

The American Nightmare revealed what he would say to his father if he could in an emotional post-WrestleMania moment.

By Chris Phelan
Cody Rhodes wrestles Roman Reigns for Undisputed WWE Universal Title Match during WrestleMania Goes Hollywood

WrestleMania 40 is in the books, and if the reaction from the WWE Universe is any indication, it will go down in history as the greatest night in WWE history.

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New champions were crowned, WrestleMania moments were made, and shocking twists were the norm, not the exception. But perhaps most importantly, Cody Rhodes finally captured the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship by pinning Roman Reigns after a chaotic WrestleMania Night Two main event that must be seen to be believed. It was like something out of an Avengers movie, as WWE Superstars from past and present contributed in their own way to ensure that Cody finally finished his story and defeated The Bloodline once and for all.

The two-night event couldn't have been more unforgettable. From Sami Zayn ending GUNTHER's 666-day Intercontinental Title reign to Drew McIntyre defeating Seth Rollins to win the World Heavyweight Champion to Damian Priest finally cashing in his coveted Money in the Bank contract to steal the title away from the new champion – and every match in between – it was a WrestleMania for the ages.

In the months leading up to WrestleMania 40, WWE made a big push in promising the biggest WrestleMania of all time – in USA Insider's eyes, the company exceeded all expectations. We still haven't caught our breath.

Cody Rhodes Pays Tribute to Dusty Rhodes After Title Victory

Dusty Rhodes puts his arm in the air during a match

Of course, all attention is on the new Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. We'd be remiss if we didn't highlight his post-WrestleMania press conference – we can't imagine the pressure he felt as he competed in the main event against Roman Reigns, especially after falling short last year at WrestleMania 39. In true Cody fashion, however, he paid tribute to his father, the late Dusty Rhodes, in arguably the night's most emotional moment.

After Cody's triumphant win, the WWE locker room emptied to pay their respects – and help The American Nightmare celebrate in front of the sold-out Philadelphia crowd. However, Cody confessed that what happened after he exited the arena and stepped through the curtain was the moment he'd appreciated most. 

"I came to the back and Bruce Prichard, Triple H, and Nick Khan handed me this," Cody said as he showed off a watch. "It's the same watch my dad had that he pawned so he could go to acting school. The level of investment and responsibility the company just put in my hands, I hope I can pay it back, pay it forward, one-hundred times over."

(We can't wait to find out more details about how WWE brass somehow tracked down the same watch Dusty Rhodes pawned over 20 years ago. That's a next-level commitment to rewarding a WWE Superstar like Cody Rhodes!)

Let's be honest: Dusty's watch will pair fantastically with Cody's impeccably tailored suits, which have become his trademark since returning to WWE a few years ago.

Thankfully, Cody didn't shy away from answering the questions on the minds of most journalists in the room. When asked what Cody would say to his father if he could speak to him, the new champion (and the new face of WWE) became visibly emotional as he poured his heart out.

"If I'm being honest, I think I'd want to say to him that I hope I've lived up to your name and thank you for that name," he admitted. "And then I'd say sorry about the tattoo."

The WWE Universe is in very good hands with Cody Rhodes as its champion, that's for sure. There's a new era rising in WWE, and we know The American Nightmare will lead the way with his legions of fans supporting him.

What's Next For Cody Rhodes in WWE?

Cody Rhodes walks to the ring

Now that the Roman Empire has fallen, one question is on the minds of millions of WWE fans: what's next for Cody Rhodes? Who will step up to challenge for the championship? Cody officially finished his story – but what happens when a new book begins?

WWE has never been this top-heavy with elite talent. Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, LA Knight, Jey Uso, CM Punk, GUNTHER, Randy Orton, and countless other WWE Superstars could easily rise up and challenge Cody for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title. Roman Reigns—who held the championship for over three years—has more than enough pull in the organization to receive a rematch. Cody's dance card could be full for the next year and beyond, making subsequent successful title defenses all the more improbable. 

However, one of the names heavily rumored to be in the championship mix is none other than The Rock. After all, he spent most of his time beating Cody Rhodes into a bloody pulp in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania. Conventional wisdom suggests that The Rock will want to use his influence over the company to try to bring the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

Will The Rock Challenge For Cody Rhodes' WWE Title?

The Rock returned to RAW on New Year's Day 2024

Surprisingly, The Rock doesn't seem like a man who is planning to pack up and return to Hollywood in light of recent events. During his post-WrestleMania press conference, he alluded to sticking around for more matches in the foreseeable future.

When asked if there are more matches on the horizon for himself, The Rock didn't mince words, giving the WWE Universe hope that his current run will continue. 

"There might be," he revealed. "I can't elaborate that much on that, but there might be. I love what I do, and I love our business. I was born into our business, as you guys know. So, we'll see."

In our eyes, Cody Rhodes's most likely next opponent is The Rock, but that could just be our optimism (and adrenaline) talking. Regardless, the reign of The American Nightmare officially kicks off during Raw After WrestleMania. A new era is upon the WWE Universe, and we have a feeling WrestleMania 40 was just a preview of the fantastic things fans will experience moving forward. 

You can tune in to Peacock to watch Backlash France on May 4. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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