If you’ve watched the latest episode of SmackDown you will have seen a Randy Orton versus Cody Rhodes match. What you won’t have seen during that match is a nasty cut on Cody’s forehead with blood gushing from it, courtesy of an overzealous ‘Viper’ and the ring bell. Due to their current policy on graphic imagery (including blood) WWE decided to edit the red stuff off the show (because, as we all know, SmackDown is taped on Tuesday nights, giving the company several days to polish the show before its Friday night broadcast). It was there though, and it could be used to launch a new feud.
In a way this couldn’t have happened to a better person than Cody Rhodes. He’s been the recipient of a steady, if at times underwhelming, push all year, stemming from an errant 619 delivered by Rey Mysterio which allegedly required facial reconstructive surgery. He dropped his ‘Dashing’ moniker and started wearing a hood and a faceguard to the ring. Despite the logic flaws related to the faceguard (if Cody is wearing it so people don’t see his “hideously deformed” face why is it see-through?) it’s helped to establish Cody’s character direction for the last nine months.
With a win over Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania XXVII in April it’s been clear for some time that WWE sees Rhodes as a potential headliner. His recent Intercontinental title win has further demonstrated this while the addition of the “bag men” to his entrance has helped to set him apart from the rest of the roster.
WWE need to capitalise on this accident by putting Orton and Rhodes in a proper feud with one another. Cody can complain, as he did with Mysterio, that Orton was deliberately trying to harm him and attacked him with the sole intent of injuring him. Orton, being Orton, could probably get away with denying this but saying he wouldn’t have minded permanently injuring the former ‘Dashing One’. That could lead to a brawl that sees Cody eat a crowd-pleasing RKO before hiding under the ring at Hell in a Cell and costing Orton his title match with Mark Henry.
It’s nothing special, but that’s a basic outline for a Rhodes v Orton feud. The two have wrestled several times on RAW and SmackDown in the last few weeks and turned out good contests every time so I’d much rather see this feud begin than the Orton v Henry feud continue. And realistically, where can ‘The Viper’s’ feud with Mark Henry go after a Hell in a Cell math? That is traditionally a feud ending gimmick. There’s no way to keep the feud alive without adding more guys, so WWE should cut their losses and start a new feud for each man after the pay-per-view.
Whether it’s this storyline or something else WWE ought to be planning an on-screen rivalry between the two former Legacy members that lasts several months and sees each man take clean pay-per-view victories over the other, ideally with Cody winning their final encounter. An inadvertent cut could be the catalyst for another solid top of the card feud for Rhodes that helps to establish him as a main eventer if WWE lets it. And let’s not forget that’s exactly what they need.