Hello, fellow Bleachers!
WrestleMania 28 was a great event and much of it went right. But among the things that went
wrong, striping Cody Rhodes of the Intercontinental Championship was near top of the list.
Don’t get me wrong—this is not a repudiation on Big Show, who is a very talented wrestler, especially for a big man. More to the point, this is a commentary on how good Cody Rhodes is and how much he did for the Intercontinental Championship.
Back at WrestleMania 27, Cody Rhodes defeated Rey Mysterio in what can only be described as an upset. In one of the rare brilliant moves made by WWE Creative, a star was born.
Now, I wasn't always on Rhodes bandwagon. I remember thinking he was talented but too lanky, and his lack of size was evident in his first feud with Randy Orton. He got in his licks, but was dominated.
Then came the ‘Dashing’ bit he did for a while, framing him as the imperious narcissist. It was better and somewhat entertaining, but I never took it or him all that seriously.
Then came the whole plastic mask gimmick, which was silly, especially since we could see under the mask that there was nothing wrong with his face under the mask and he came off as some Phantom of the Opera reject.
But then he beat Mysterio, a top face in the company, and looked good while doing it. The match showcased his in-ring skills and I began to take notice.
Then came August 2011, when he defeated Ezekiel Jackson for the Intercontinental Championship. A mid-card honor for a solid mid-card performer.
As time went on, the man and the strap began to form a symbiotic relationship and both grew stronger from the process.
Since winning the IC title, Rhodes has grown by leaps and bounds as an in-ring performer and on the mic. His promos and ring presence are mesmerizing and disturbing. He goes from almost light-hearted to darkly menacing with the way he makes those sudden changes in facial expression.
He speaks in a monotone that reminds one of a snake hypnotizing its prey till suddenly he strikes. In many ways, he is reminiscent of one of the great mic workers, Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
Having that Intercontinental Championship around his waist seemed to imbue Rhodes with an air of success—the air of a champion.
At the same time, Rhodes had infused a level of worth to the Intercontinental Championship that it has not had in some time.
This is the title once held by Randy Savage, Chris Jericho, Honky Tonk Man, Ric Flair, Rey Mysterio, Tito Santana and a host of future world and WWE champions. In recent years, the belt has either been ignored completely or given to transitional champion after transitional champion.
With Rhodes, however, the title regained an air of respectability and value, by virtue of a truly talented performer holding it.
By stripping him of the belt, it has stripped it of some of the value it has gained under his reign.
WWE is also diminishing the potential of Rhodes.
Yes, being stripped of the belt makes Rhodes open to being able to compete for a world title, but it could also mean a trip right back to mid-card limbo.
Furthermore, allowing Rhodes to further mature as a truly great Intercontinental Champion would make him that much more of an effective world champion. Not every IC titleholder went on to win the world belt, but many of the greats did and held on to their IC championships for long periods of time.
Rhodes did hold his from August to April (approximately eight months) which was great, but were it up to me, he should have kept the strap at least through SummerSlam.
Rhodes has the makings of a world champion who has some maturing to do. Blossoming as the Intercontinental Champion would have fit the bill nicely.
It is my hope that Big Show will do the belt justice or, at least, will make a good transitory champ until a talented up-and-comer can claim it and grow from wearing it.
Until then, this fan will think upon what could have been if a great champion had been allowed to keep the belt just a bit longer. Both championship and wrestler would have benefited from that arrangement.
I welcome your thoughts.