sport news Cody Rhodes insists The Rock does NOT need to return thanks to WWE's top ... trends now
It's been a whirlwind for Cody Rhodes in WWE recently.
The veteran wrestler has made a spectacular comeback to the wrestling ring, winning the 2023 Royal Rumble to give himself a shot at WrestleMania.
And in an exclusive interview with Sportsmail's Alex McCarthy, Rhodes opened up on the sport and discussed his personal journey.
The 37-year-old insisted legendary figure The Rock does not need to return for WrestleMania thanks to WWE's top storylines, that he expects Sami Zayn's story with Roman Reigns to converge with his title pursuit, and revealed his talks with Triple H when Vince McMahon 'retired'.
Read everything he said below...
It's been a massive whirlwind for American wrestler Cody Rhodes (right) in WWE recently
The veteran has made a spectacular comeback to the ring, winning the 2023 Royal Rumble
Talk to us about your Royal Rumble win...
Cody Rhodes: There are things you feel will like will be commonplace when you say it in your mind: 'Oh I want to win Royal Rumble, I want to go on last and be the main event in Wrestlemania'. When you say them and you're ambitious and you have goals they don't come out the same as when it actually happens.
For me, I'm so glad that there was 60 yards running to the ring and then obviously coming back because I really did get to think 'things are going to change, this is a life-changing moment'.
And then when I came back to the curtain, my friend who works in talent relations John Cone stood next to me and he had a giant book and he said 'are you ready for this?'. What he meant was the amount of media that potentially would follow but also every step of the way.
And to hear it from him because he was a referee, we had come up together, it was… I won't say sobering, that's probably the nicest thing I could've heard. There's nothing nice or romantic about those words but I knew what they meant: 'Are you ready for this', I just said 'yes, let's go' and it's becoming more real everyday.
Obviously, I'm an emotional guy. I get emotional about the idea of what's about to happen but I've got to reel that in and remember we did all this training, months and months of rehab in addition to strength training and the dietitian and everything we had on board with us at the nightmare factory.
Now we've got to do it at an even higher level. Best way to put it: The work isn't done.
His victory in San Antonio, Texas in January gives him a shot at the upcoming WrestleMania
Rhodes (pictured) , 37, opened up in an exclusive interview with Sportsmail's Alex McCarthy
How was it returning to the ring?
Rhodes: Obviously, I'm not in charge of anything here, I'm a man on the roster and I want to be the top man but in the case of the video packages, the vignette and the build-up, that was Triple H's idea.
WWE is always super anonymous in terms of the team but I have to shoutout Coleen, JB, Adam Panucci, Ben Williams, these guys who put these videos together. My situation is unique in the sense that I do not play a character. I don't even think I'm one of those turned up to 11. I am me always and that's a little scary.
That's intimidating if you're saying 'He's coming back at the Royal Rumble'. You're putting yourself in a situation where you best deliver and I thought that they covered my journey in such a real way.
I do love that there was a parallel with, as we all know, Beautiful Day. The score did such a good job with Born for This, it's a fun package plus (my dog) Pharoah got to be in the video.
It's hard to look at videos of yourself and be anything but a huge critic. I'm very critical of my things but I loved what they did.
I think sometimes it's nice as a wrestler, as a superstar, competitor, to call your shot. But it's always risky when you call your shot, Joe Namath called his shot, Babe Ruth called his shot. I'm not saying im those individuals, but in our world Triple H called his shot.
It's very important to keep your word with fans, especially now as I have got older, keeping your word. I felt like I kept my word. I showed up in the best shape of my fricking life and I was able to get it done.
Rhodes said he 'called his shot' like baseball legend Babe Ruth (pictured) had called his shot
Describe the transition from Vince McMahon to Triple H...
Rhodes: One of the really nice things was the amount of communication. It's already a downtrodden, melancholy situation when you're injured and you're on your couch. This happened very quickly, I'm not really up and moving and I'm not hitting the weights, I'm not in that process of getting near coming back.
At the time when the transition happened, I wasn't even close to coming back and I was communicated with every step of the way. I was communicated with by Vince and by Triple H. That was very nice. I was never left in the dark on anything and obviously, these are different visions, they change.
My transaction needs to be simple. I don't need to be caught up in whatever is happening behind the scenes. Those stories can be fun but I need my story on the screen to be the more important story. For that to happen I need to be at the very best. Best as a superstar, best as a wrestler because then the other stuff will come.
You wont have to worry about does he like me, does she like me, do they like me. It's the best I could be, was the best I could be.