Cody Rhodes, a viable Royal Rumble candidate at the moment, seems all but guaranteed to cap off his breakout babyface year in a match against older brother Goldust at WrestleMania.
Goldust has been lobbying behind the scenes for a match against his brother for quite some time. In a January interview with Arda Ocal of the Baltimore Sun (via Prowrestling.net), Goldust explained his series of sales pitches for a Rhodes-Rhodes WrestleMania to Vince McMahon:
[Cody vs. Goldust] was discussed several times. I took it to Vince's attention many times and this was like months before and almost a year before things like that. Each time he was like no, second time no not going to do that, third time no, not yet, he left that open for me with not yet, it gave me a little hope.
The interview took place while Goldust was unemployed after being released, as was originally reported by PWInsider (via Prowrestling.net).
Upon his WWE return in September of 2013, however, Goldust has experienced a renaissance year. Now competing alongside Rhodes as a tag team champion, hope for a future WrestleMania match between the two has turned to fate.
I could see Cody Rhodes bringing his wife in to be a valet and Goldust not liking the change to the "Brotherhood"...turns into WM match.— Vacant (@WWEVacant) December 16, 2013
As fitting as a sibling rivalry would be in what could be Goldust's curtain call at WWE's hallmark pay-per-view, Rhodes has bigger fish to fry come WrestleMania season.
He has become a bigger star than ever during his Rhodes Dynasty run. In 2013, Rhodes has directly relied on the established name brands of his legendary father and notorious older brother.
Fans are reminded each week of the Rhodes lineage through family cooperation. This is a far cry from the usual matter-of-fact reminder of the Rhodes prestige on commentary.
The strategy has worked.
In an emotionally charged victory at Battleground that led to the Rhodes' reinstatement, it was Cody who scored the decisive pinfall.
The match went on to receive Match of the Year consideration at last week's WWE Slammy Awards. The plight of the Rhodes Dynasty during their feud with The Authority has made Cody a hero. After all, he is one of only a few babyfaces to successfully stand up to the WWE's resident power couple of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. That goodwill should go a long way once he breaks away from Goldust and resumes his singles career.
Given the "every man for himself" moniker that has come to define the Royal Rumble, WWE's January pay-per-view in Pennsylvania will be the perfect stage to set up a Rhodes-Goldust split.
Coming off a potential breakup, the money (and the story) is in the rare brother vs. brother match at WrestleMania. But Daniel Bryan is currently occupied by the Wyatt family, who defeated him at TLC and followed up with a promo on Raw vowing to "make Bryan burn."
CM Punk may be headed for a WrestleMania match against Triple H after calling him out that same night. The current heel opponents of both Bryan and Punk will figure to foil their Royal Rumble chances.
John Cena's ongoing babyface chase—sure to be met with apathy and Cena fatigue—is all that stands in Cody's way at the moment.
Is Cody Rhodes a Royal Rumble Contender or Pretender?
Why not Rhodes?
The 2014 Royal Rumble will be wide open. Cena's 2013 Rumble win—his second—makes him a sketchy choice to repeat. A third Cena victory at the Royal Rumble in six years would make an otherwise historic WrestleMania XXX come off like a rerun.
Rhodes is an exception to WWE talent victimized by inconsistent booking in a crash-and-burn second half of 2013. With no clear favorite, Rhodes must be considered a contender.