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    Saturday, December 16, 2017

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/16/17): Cody Wins the ROH World Championship

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

    When Cody Rhodes left the WWE last year, he was (rightfully) touted as the biggest thing that would happen to the rest of the wrestling world, especially the indies. Here was a WWE alumnus of sufficient credibility, who still had upside, who was still about to hit his peak, coming into shows smaller than WWE bringing everything he'd learned in the world's biggest company. He had a list of dream matches, and that list alone held so much promise for what wrestling outside of the mainstream could be.

    For months after his WWE departure, he was traveling all over the world, lending his name to different companies (including NJPW, EVOLVE, and even TNA) before officially settling with Ring of Honor as his home promotion. He first appeared for ROH back in July 2016, but would take around nine months to officially be exclusive with the company (and with it, NJPW by association). 

    Of course, being a big name from the WWE, it was pretty much paramount that he be inserted into the World Championship scene. The match where he'd win his first ever world title, from previous ROH champion Christopher Daniels, would happen at this year's Final Battle in June.

    While the match was a big moment in Cody's career, his work in the ring is an epitome of how he's been doing outside the WWE so far. Despite being able to work really well in the midcard during his time in WWE, outside it his main-event work has been lacking that little something that separates him from most of the industry and puts him among the elite of main-eventers.

    Long story short: he apparently doesn't seem to be ready to carry a company, and he's getting by on his stature. The fans have long started to catch on, too. If Ring of Honor was banking on Cody to get them to the next level, history will record that they've made a tactical mistake in pulling the trigger this year.

    There's always a lack of gravitas in the third act of his matches, a flaw that's magnified even more now that he's featured in more main event matches. It's evident in the match with Daniels, and especially in big-time dream matches like the one against Minoru Suzuki; often he'll need a better ring general, such as Kazuchika Okada, to help pull out a world champion-caliber out of the Grandthon of a Plummah.

    It seems that Cody doesn't know exactly what his character wants to be and how he's supposed to fight. It feels like he's only just carrying over what he grew up doing in the WWE, never really evolving his movement with his newfound place in the business and the companies he's wrestling in. There's always a certain level of adaptation expected of those who come from within the (during the time Cody was a real youngster in the company) rigidity of the WWE, which has only really embraced the dynamism of different styles and influences recently. 

    Cody's yet to bring his game up the same way alumni like Juice Robinson or even Luke Gallows have after leaving, and if he wants to help bring up everyone else, it's about time that he did. Perhaps Ring of Honor saw the same issues with Cody many fans have, causing them to finally switch the title to Dalton Castle today. Only time will tell if the most successful Rhodes since Dusty will step up to the challenge. He's still got 2018, and the rest of his career.


    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

    Read our previous entries:

    1. The Okada/Omega Trilogy
    2. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33)
    3. The Mae Young Classic Finals
    4. Billy Suede vs. Jake De Leon (Wrevolution X 2017)
    5. WarGames
    6. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark (Ultima Lucha Tres)
    7. Fatal Four Way for the WWE Universal Championship (SummerSlam)
    8. Manami Toyota's Retirement
    9. Jinder Mahal Wins the WWE Championship
    10. Roman Reigns Tries To Take The Torch (No Mercy 2017)
    11. Hanzello Shilva vs. Aldrin Richards (MWF Balikbayan 2017)
    12. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega (G1 Climax 27 Finals)
    13. The Implosion of #DIY
    14. Ubusan ng Lahi

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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/16/17): Cody Wins the ROH World Championship Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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