Cody Rhodes put on one of the gutsiest performances ever seen in a wrestling ring, making it one of the all-time great matches. Gruesome imagery and sheer anguish made for an engaging yet uncomfortable watch that made an indelible impression on wrestling fans.
Rhodes tore his pectoral muscle off the bone while weight lifting late last week. WWE announced the injury and confirmed Rhodes would still wrestle in the main event of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view against Seth Rollins.
The narrative changed from who will win to how Rhodes will make it through the match.
Rollins came out first dressed in a mocking tribute to Cody’s father, Dusty Rhodes, donning yellow polka dots. Cody came out next, walking slow and not moving his right arm. Cody cautiously took off his ring robe as the bell sounded.
Every mouth inside the Allstate Arena was left agape at the massive bruise on Cody’s chest, resembling something out of a horror film. Now, everyone knew. Cody is injured and in for a world of hurt.
I once wrestled with a torn pec. The tear occurred four days before a show during a new weight training regimen that was more than I could handle. I never told my trainers or the promoter as the pain worsened with each passing moment.
Super nervous, and with an assist from Tylenol #3, I got through the match as the adrenaline helped me forget about the injury. After the match, the adrenaline wore off, and my pec turned heel on me and took a page out of Clubber Lang’s playbook.
I risked my health for a match inside a cold New Hampshire warehouse and didn’t even get a hotdog and a handshake. I can’t even fathom wrestling in the main event of a pay-per-view, inside Hell in a Cell, with a more severe injury.
No one would have blamed Cody Rhodes for taking it easy on Sunday, using smoke and mirrors (no pun intended) to get through the match. However, Cody did the opposite and, for 25 minutes, worked as hard as he did in his return bout at WrestleMania.
The pain etched on Cody’s face made fans cringe with every bump, slam, and suplex he took. Seth even targeted Cody’s injury with a kendo stick.
Even the little things hurt with a torn pec. Sitting up, kicking out of a pin, and reaching for something take their toll. Also, not just taking moves but executing maneuvers is excruciating.
Many wondered if WWE would have Rollins drop three straight matches. It’s something they usually don’t do. Once news of the injury broke, everyone assumed Rollins would win. Nope, Cody won, which augmented the story of the match but also his career.
The injury bug has plagued wrestling in recent weeks. Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, and Nikkita Lyons (NXT) are out on the WWE side, while AEW will soldier on without CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Jeff Hardy, and Adam Cole.
Last year at this time, Cody Rhodes was amid a maligned feud with QT Marshall in AEW. Diehards, who once championed him, had little love for the executive vice president. Today, Cody is the biggest babyface in the business.
Cody should not have been medically cleared to wrestle. Still, he put on a legendary performance in the most painful circumstance—props to Seth Rollins for being an absolute pro through and through.
Hopefully, Cody didn’t shorten his career by wrestling on Sunday. He deserves to enjoy the fruits of his labor as he’s primed for a massive return following pectoral surgery in six months.
What do you say about someone who put himself through so much agony for our entertainment? No one would have blamed Cody for backing out of the match. All we can do is say, Thank you, Cody.