Cody Rhodes pleads for being the best baby face in the business and reminds us of how powerful a personal problem in wrestling can be.
Rhodes and arch-enemy Maxwell Jacob Friedman have been at the heart of arguably the most powerful segment of All Elite Wrestling since the debut of "Dynamite" on TNT last year. And there was no wrestling.
Rhodes, who came in with nines and too much pyro, had to pull ten full lashes off a belt as part of the checklist of regulations MJF had drawn up so that Rhodes deserved a match against him on the revolution payout. View on February 29 in Chicago. It feels like an old school video game in which the hero had to navigate through the challenges to get to the boss in the end.
The story goes back to MJF, the then protégé and best friend of Rhodes, who threw in the towel at Full Gear in November for one of the company's four vice presidents. This cost Rhodes his match against Chris Jericho and every subsequent shot at the AEW World Championship. MJF, who wants to prove that he's better than his previous mentor in every way, took Rhodes under the belt to get it all started.
Wednesday night was all about quitting again. MJF urged Rhodes to give up or stay down after each viscous eyelash, with long pauses between most to let go of the pain for the audience. They left red spots and cuts on Rhodes' back and an expression of excruciating pain on his face – probably because it was exactly what he felt. This is the type of segment where the TV-14 rating is helpful as opposed to PG.
There was nothing wrong with the blows that Rhodes got. He let the audience feel it too. The crowd kept shouting "Cody! Cody! “To try to get their hero through while some of the villains watched the promotion from that stage.
After the first lashes and moments of defiance from Cody, members of his wrestling family kept coming out – each showing real concern and probable encouragement from real life during the painful undertaking. Rhodes often dropped on the mat to sell the pain, and he couldn't touch MJF, another condition for the match to take place.
First it was Rhodes & # 39; manager Arn Anderson who came to his aid. Then it was Brother Dustin who warned MJF earlier that Cody was "tougher than you think" and later offered to take the rest of the eyelashes. Then the Young Bucks and finally Rhodes & # 39; Ms. Brandi appeared – without their nightmare collective screen wear. Her wardrobe only added to the more realistic feeling of the segment, and she also told him, "It's only one more, you can do this. I love you so much." This is a bond and message that most people deal with can identify with family or a significant other person.
MJF added another kick to Cody. He looked disgusted that he couldn't break Rhodes and their match was still on the right track.
The segment was a sequel to Rhodes, who made his big matches personal – he fought his brother Dustin at Double or Nothing, put his World Cup hopes on the line against Jericho and now has to pay back the man who cheated and helped him to take away the AEW championship from him.
It was also AEW's promise to deliver stories without the stupidity we often see in pro-wrestling. While Chris Jericho was well built against Jon Moxley for the AEW championship, Cody's and MJF's feud has so many layers that it has the company's best baby face and one of the hottest heels in the business.
More is coming. Rhodes must have a cage match with MJF's massive bodyguard Wardlow in two weeks – on Wednesday before her possible match at Revolution.
When AEW made the decision to take Rhodes the world championship title, her best baby face was deleted from the equation. But he has proven time and time again that you can have the match that the audience wants to see the most without being gold.
Yes, AEW had some missteps in history and a few minor ones on Wednesday. But if WWE wants to shift its main talent for NXT cameos down here and there, like this week with Charlotte Flair, AEW must continue to deliver powerful stories and new regulations that the audience can connect with emotionally, so that is not the case change the channel.
It is still Rhodes who consistently delivers this in a way that feels both fresh and has a touch of nostalgia like in the 80s and 90s. He and MJF continue to be committed to being in the elite of what they do in the pro-wrestling field, and this only contributes to a strong start to 2020 for AEW.