Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Rhodes Reportedly Expected Back Before Nine-Month Timetable
Cody Rhodes is reportedly expected to be back from his surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle more quickly than the timeline WWE announced.
Last week, WWE announced that Rhodes would be out for nine months after undergoing surgery, putting him on track for an early March 2023 return.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News), Rhodes and most around him believe he will be back before then.
Meltzer noted that bringing Rhodes back for the Royal Rumble in late January would be an ideal scenario for WWE since Cody is perhaps the odds-on favorite to win it.
It was also reported by Meltzer that WWE is considering giving Rhodes the "Triple H 2001-2002 treatment," meaning they would hype up Cody's return and give him a huge victory out of the gates.
After missing several months with a torn quad, Triple H returned in January 2002 and went on to win the Royal Rumble before beating Chris Jericho for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania X8.
A similar situation for Rhodes would make sense given how much support he has garnered as a top babyface.
Despite tearing his pec off the bone, Rhodes faced Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view a couple of weeks ago, battling through severe bruising.
The American Nightmare won the match and was then written off television the next night on Raw due to an attack at the hands of Rollins.
Rhodes figures to get a massive pop when he returns, especially if it is to announce his entry into the Rumble match or as a surprise entrant in the match itself.
WWE Reportedly Has Reigns Backup Plan if Orton Misses SummerSlam
Roman Reigns is reportedly slated to defend the undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Randy Orton at SummerSlam, but if Orton is unable to compete due to injury, WWE reportedly has another plan in place.
According to Meltzer (h/t Subhojeet Mukherjee of Ringside News), there is a backup plan, although it doesn't include Riddle, who is Orton's tag team partner.
Meltzer did not specify who the backup plan involves, but he opined that Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Gunther are among those who could fit as a challenger to Reigns.
While Meltzer was the first to report on the planned Reigns vs. Orton SummerSlam match, Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc's Dominic DeAngelo) reported Thursday that there is concern within WWE regarding Orton missing significant time due to a back injury.
Per Fightful, there is "fear" that Orton may need surgery, which would force him to miss the remainder of 2022.
Orton was written off TV last month when he and Riddle dropped the Raw Tag Team Championships to The Usos in a unification match on SmackDown. After the match, The Usos and Reigns brutally attacked RK-Bro.
Riddle was back on television quickly and cut a promo about Orton suffering a back injury and possibly missing an extended period of time, which led to speculation that the beatdown angle was done to set the stage for Reigns vs. Orton down the line.
During Orton's absence, Riddle has continued his feud with The Bloodline, and he is set to challenge Reigns for the title on Friday's episode of SmackDown, representing Reigns' first title defense since unifying the WWE and Universal Championships in a win over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 38.
Wyatt Addresses Rumor of Childhood Photo with Sting
Former WWE Superstar Bray Wyatt took to Instagram on Thursday to shoot down a longstanding rumor regarding a childhood photo with legendary wrestler Sting.
Wyatt posted the photo, which fans have long assumed was of him and his brother, former WWE Superstar Bo Dallas, alongside Sting. Wyatt made it clear that he and Dallas weren't the children in the photo, however, writing:
"I never thought I would actually do this…. But I have seen this picture seemingly every time I check my social media for years now. I've seen it on wrestling news sites, I have even signed this picture for fans. One of my good friends sent me this TODAY, and he was far from the first to make the mistake. The truth is I have no idea who the hell these kids are, but I know for sure they are not me or Taylor. It's always been kind of a hilarious little joke to me but today my curiosity has gotten the best of me. So what say you, bowl cut brothers….. are you out there?? Is this a funny little joke to you too? I think it's high time you step up and take credit for this cool ass picture of you and prime Stinger."
The timeline could have worked out since Wyatt's father, Mike Rotunda, was in WCW at the same time as Sting under the name V.K. Wallstreet, following his run in WWE as Irwin R. Schyster.
Despite that, Wyatt has made it quite clear that it wasn't him or his brother, creating a true pro wrestling mystery.
Wyatt has now been a free agent for over a year since shockingly getting released by WWE in spite of his status as a top star and three-time world champion.
Meanwhile, Sting is still wrestling at the age of 63, often teaming with Darby Allin in AEW.
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