Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, and More

Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, and More

Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, and More

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02:  (L-R) Cody Rhodes wrestles Roman Reigns for Undisputed WWE Universal Title Match during WrestleMania Goes Hollywood at SoFi Stadium on April 02, 2023 in Inglewood, California.
 (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes. It’s unlikely this will be the last time you hear those names in conjunction with each other as WWE prepares to embark on the Road to WrestleMania.

    However, this week’s collection of wrestling rumors is not about a potential rematch of their classic in Los Angeles last April.

    Reigns and Rhodes are the subject of their own, individual insider reports amid Royal Rumble speculation and big-time merchandise sales.

    Joining those reports are the latest on Cora Jade and Kyle O’Reilly, both of whom are expected to make their returns to WWE and All Elite Wrestling programming, respectively, in the near future.

Roman Reigns’ Royal Rumble Opponent

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    Roman Reigns is expected to return to action at the Royal Rumble in January, and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that Randy Orton, Kevin Owens and LA Knight are under consideration to challenge him for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

    However, he also noted Knight was expected to go in “another direction” and KO is being primed to battle Logan Paul for the United States title, which would seem to indicate that the opponent will be the recently returned Orton.

    Should it be The Apex Predator, it’s a creative decision that makes sense.

    Orton was put out of action by The Bloodline in May 2022. And in his first promo since returning at Survivor Series: WarGames, he vowed to avenge the injury by taking out each member of the family dynasty.

    The Viper even signed with SmackDown to accomplish that goal before dropping Jimmy Uso with an RKO to jump-start the feud.

    Orton vs. Reigns is a high-profile title bout that gives the Rumble a match to build around outside of the same-titled men’s and women’s matches. It also pays off the journey back to the squared circle for one of the best of his generation in The Viper.

    Will Orton win the title from Reigns, thus ending his historic run at the top of the company? It’s highly unlikely, but it is a return to the main event for a decorated competitor last seen working in the tag team division. For that reason alone, it’s a worthy addition to the card.

Cody Rhodes’ Record Merchandise Sales

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    CM Punk may have made headlines for his shocking return to WWE at Survivor Series in his hometown of Chicago, but there is no question who the fan favorite was entering the show, according to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select.

    “There were some within WWE who claimed that Cody Rhodes’ merch sales in Chicago were the highest at an event in the company’s history in Chicago,” he wrote. “When we asked WWE in an official capacity, they didn’t deny it.”

    Considering the number of truly legendary competitors who have worked at Allstate Arena in Chicago over the last 50 years, including Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Undertaker, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena and Punk, it is an impressive feat for The American Nightmare.

    Cody Rhodes @CodyRhodes

    Freshly signed for #wweportland ✍️📸

    The achievement is enhanced even more when taking into consideration that the Windy City has hosted three WrestleManias.

    Rhodes has been the most consistently over babyface all year, and the fans’ connection to him and his story has been undeniable. It is reflected in how eager they are to buy up the latest in the second-generation’s merchandise collection.

    Those numbers, whatever they end up being, will likely only get better in the coming months as The American Nightmare makes the journey back to the WrestleMania main event.

Cora Jade Expected at NXT Deadline

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    Cora Jade has not been seen on NXT television since July 25, when she lost a Kendo Stick match to Dana Brooke.

    However, Mike Johnson of has reported that the 22-year-old is expected at the NXT Deadline premium live event Saturday.

    Jade was one of the stars of the NXT women’s division when she disappeared from television over the summer. Earlier in the year, Dave Meltzer reported she had battled an undisclosed injury but remained on television for another four months (h/t Fightful).

    She returns to a women’s division in flux, with fresh faces such as Tiffany Stratton, Kelani Jordan, Blair Davenport and Kiana James receiving considerable screen time.

    How Jade figures into the show remains to be seen, but one would assume she will return as a heel. She appeared much more comfortable in that role than as a rather nondescript babyface.

    Whether fans react to her as a villain or greet her with a nice pop for her first appearance back remains to be seen, but expect her to pick up where she left off as one of the faces of a division with plenty of potential.

Latest on Kyle O’Reilly’s AEW Return

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    Kyle O’Reilly has not wrestled a match in AEW since losing the Interim World Championship No. 1 Contender’s match to Jon Moxley on August 6, 2022, after undergoing neck fusion surgery.

    Sapp wrote: “Kyle O’Reilly has been out of action for 18 months, with no sign of a return on-screen within AEW. Unfortunately, the updates in the summer we heard weren’t good. Sources had indicated to Fightful that O’Reilly was not factored into AEW plans due to his injury, and there is currently no timetable for him return.”

    Luckily, the insider’s report continued with a much more positive addition:

    “At least one part of that has changed, as we’re told Kyle O’Reilly has been backstage recently and is looking like he could return to programming after a period of it looking quite unlikely.”

    This is great news for a celebrated in-ring competitor once viewed as one of the best in the world. Given the timing of the report, one has to wonder if his return could align with the impending reveal of The Devil character who has been tormenting AEW world champion MJF amid his friendship with Adam Cole.

    It would make sense given the rich history between Cole and O’Reilly, and would give MJF a fresh contender to defend his title against.

    It would also allow the veteran competitor and former Ring of Honor world champion to pick up where he left off by challenging for the top prize in AEW as one of its top competitors.

    Regardless of what role O’Reilly finds himself in when he does return, it will be a triumphant comeback for a wrestler who deserves better than to have his career end prematurely due to injury.

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