Even though he lost to Chris Jericho on Wednesday's WWE Main Event, Cody Rhodes showcased talent worthy of a top spot in the company.
There are few performers as consistent, well-rounded and savvy in the ring as Rhodes. He showed that again in his battle against Jericho.
This was clearly designed to be a stepping stone for Jericho on his way to face Ryback at Money in the Bank 2013. Miz talked about the importance of momentum going into a match like that and how beating Rhodes provides Jericho with plenty.
Even in the role of someone else's route to success, Rhodes flourished.
Rhodes found himself getting chopped in the chest and tossed around the ring by the veteran. After surviving this early beating, Rhodes took charge of the match by way of poking Jericho in the eye.
Jericho's reddened eye became the blood and Rhodes became the shark.
Rhodes relied on his trademark mercilessness as he attacked that stinging part of the body. He ground his forearm into it and whenever he held Jericho in a submission hold, he made sure to crush his arms against it.
Rhodes' villainy here was enthralling as usual.
He appeared to genuinely want to hurt and punish Jericho. There was a surgeon-like approach to his offense and a sadistic pleasure he derived from it.
Rhodes later hit Jericho with a Disaster Kick, landing the move on that injured eye, but it wasn't enough for a three-count. A vicious Alabama slam wasn’t enough either, nor was the Cross Rhodes.
The frustration that Rhodes then showed in the ring, screaming and pounding on the mat, must also be how his fans feel about his booking. Despite his high-level mic skills and how consistently he produces great matches, Rhodes can't seem to get a win.
Three of his most powerful moves were not enough to earn him a victory on Wednesday. He ended the match watching someone else celebrate victory, something we've seen plenty of since Rhodes lost the Intercontinental Title last May.
However, Rhodes and his fans should remain patient. His time in the limelight will come; he's only 27 years old.
Rhodes is just too good of a wrestler and too convincing of an in-ring actor to remain where he is forever.
It's easy to point to Jericho kicking out of every finisher and signature move Rhodes has in his arsenal and say that Rhodes is being buried. This victory may have gone to Jericho, but don't think WWE didn't notice the greatness that Rhodes displayed in defeat.
It's greatness that Jericho certainly recognized as evidenced by this tweet.
You don't hear rumors about him complaining about his position or any word of diva-like behavior. Rhodes appears to be a good soldier, willing to take losses when other stars need wins and willing to put his heart into every match regardless if it's on pay-per-view or on WWE Main Event.
That is sure to sit well with the folks in charge.
Rhodes' superb match against Jericho shows both how much he's grown since debuting in 2007 and how much potential he still has left to tap into.
When the time comes for a slew of new stars to take the place of the old guard, Rhodes will be right there with a mustache over his grin and his taped fists at the ready.
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