On Sunday night, at WWE's annual July pay-per-view event Money in the Bank, fans watched as Cody Rhodes entered the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with little expectation that he would be much of a factor in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match.
After all, in recent months, he had lost more than he had won and was deemed expendable by his own company, as seen by his last-second elimination from the WrestleMania 29 card.
He has played second fiddle to Damien Sandow over the last 60 days, and bright spots for the second-generation star have been few and far between.
But now, some ten hours removed from the conclusion of Sunday's broadcast, Rhodes' performance remains one of the most talked about topics in the sport.
The World Title Money in the Bank match featured seven young Superstars battling it out to see who would leave the "City of Brotherly Love" one step closer to achieving the goal of becoming the next heavyweight champion.
Being that all involved were villains, the company more or less left it up to the fans in attendance to cheer who they wanted rather than program them to react to a particular Superstar.
The night's opening contest featured several innovative spots that left fans on the edge of their seats.
The involvement of The Shield on behalf of Dean Ambrose was a great way to involve one of the hottest acts of 2013 in the bout. Also, Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger's pure strength was on display on two separate occasions, while Fandango delivered a slingshot leg drop onto a ladder that even the stars at the very top of the card would not have tried.
As great as those men were, however, it was Rhodes who stole the affection of the Philadelphia crowd and made himself a legitimate star in the process.
Whereas his opposition excelled more in delivering crowd-pleasing spots, Rhodes created legitimate drama with his performance. His moves were crisp and he was incredibly intense in everything he did. The top-rope dropkick that halted Cesaro and Swagger's attempt to steal a win turned the tide in his favor, and by dumping Ambrose onto a huge cluster of Superstars around ringside, he turned the crowd completely.
Chants of "Cody" rose up through the Wells Fargo Center, and they were ready for the young man who had undergone so many character changes in his six-year career to finally ascend the ladder and take down the briefcase that would assure him a World Heavyweight title reign.
It was not to be, however, as Rhodes' tag team partner Damien Sandow revealed his true colors, dumping him from the top of the ladder and retrieving the briefcase for himself. The betrayal signified the end of Team Rhodes Scholars and immediately elevated both men to heights they never could have imagined back in April.
More important than who won the briefcase, however, is the young star who left fans buzzing about his performance.
There were seven talented individuals involved in Sunday's opening contest, but it was Cody Rhodes who rose to the occasion and showed tremendous heart en route to winning the sympathy of the WWE Universe.
Blood trickled down his face as he watched his now former tag team partner snag the World Heavyweight title contract and move that much closer to achieving the goal of every WWE Superstar.
As disappointed as he and the fans inside the Wells Fargo Center may have been with the outcome of the match, Rhodes should take solace in knowing that, on one July night in 2013, he did not need the assistance of a briefcase to make himself a star.
He did that all on his own, and the future of World Wrestling Entertainment may be far better off because of it.
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