The latest edition of WWE Raw saw tensions hit a boiling point between CM Punk and Cody Rhodes, as the two engaged in an intense war of words that has fans buzzing. Their confrontation seemed to set up a potential showdown at the upcoming Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Injury Forces Rollins to Relinquish Title
The show kicked off with former WWE Champion Seth Rollins coming out to address the knee injury he suffered at the end of last week’s show. Rollins confirmed that the injury will require surgery and several months of rehab, forcing him to relinquish the title.
Rollins was emotional as he reflected on his reign and said that while he’s stepping away for now, “this is not the end for Seth Freakin’ Rollins.” His comments seem to foreshadow an eventual return and attempt to reclaim his spot at the top of the mountain.
Rollins’ Accomplishments as WWE Champion
|August 21, 2023
|September 18, 2023
|WWE Clash at the Castle
|November 23, 2023
|WWE Survivor Series
With Rollins sidelined, a Fatal 4-Way match has been set for next week’s Raw to crown a new WWE Champion. Participants will include Bobby Lashley, Johnny Gargano, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins.
Cody Rhodes and CM Punk Trade Verbal Jabs
Later in the show, Cody Rhodes and CM Punk met face-to-face in the ring for an explosive confrontation that saw both men take personal shots at one another.
The segment started with Rhodes questioning Punk’s claim that he’s the best in the world, saying “the best wrestler and the best talker” is standing in front of him.
Punk fired back by making reference to Cody’s father, WWE legend Dusty Rhodes, saying that while Dusty was “The American Dream,” his son is just a “nightmare.”
As the verbal jousting continued, CM Punk said that he hasn’t seen passion from Cody in years, criticizing him for leaving WWE. He accused Rhodes of taking the easy way and money instead of fighting for change from within like Punk did.
Cody retorted by bringing up Punk’s failed UFC run, saying he at least won championships elsewhere after leaving WWE. He said Punk failed outside “the safe spaces of scripted promos and choreographed wrestling.”
The tense face-off ended with both men agreeing that they’ll be victorious in the upcoming Royal Rumble match. The comments point toward a showdown between the two fan favorites late in the signature 30-man melee.
Other Notable Moments
In other title action, Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day defeated Imperium in a non-title bout. The match built momentum for New Day ahead of their title defense against Elias and Matt Riddle at the Royal Rumble.
Drew McIntyre also scored an impressive win over former United States Champion Damian Priest. McIntyre won with help from an accidental distraction by R-Truth. The Scottish Warrior looks to keep charging toward another WWE Championship reign.
Additionally, there were tensions between The Judgment Day and The Miz & Maryse backstage over recent social media posts. This seems to set up a mixed tag team clash soon with Maryse likely returning to the ring after recently giving birth.
What This Means for Royal Rumble
The animosity displayed between CM Punk and Cody Rhodes is clearly setting the stage for both men to have a major role in the upcoming 30-man Royal Rumble match.
They made their intentions clear to win in order to main event WrestleMania and essentially claimed dibs on eliminating each other from the Rumble bout. This points to both fighting their way late into the match before an intense final showdown.
Fans can likely expect a dramatic sequence where Punk and Rhodes battle with one of them eventually punching their ticket to WrestleMania by eliminating the other. This would undoubtedly create an iconic moment adding fuel to their simmering rivalry.
The question remains whether WWE plans for them to continue feuding after Royal Rumble or if this will be a one-off grudge match blow-off at WrestleMania. Their promo duel certainly left things open-ended for WWE to revisit the budding conflict.
Either way, the Cody Rhodes versus CM Punk confrontation has succeeded in making their eventual clash in the Royal Rumble match a must-see moment. Their verbal sparring created gripping tension that should explode when the two collide at WWE’s next big event.
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