Real Reason Cody Rhodes Entered The 2023 WWE Royal Rumble Last Revealed

Cody Rhodes enters the Royal Rumble

Cody Rhodes marked his return from injury with victory in the 2023 men’s Royal Rumble match. By securing the win, Rhodes guaranteed himself a shot at World Championship gold at WrestleMania.

The match was Rhodes’ first since undergoing surgery on a serious pectoral injury in June. In the lead-up to the Royal Rumble WWE aired a number of vignettes and hype packages across their programming before it was announced that Rhodes would be taking part in the match. On the night, Rhodes entered at number 30, something which was criticised online with many questioning why his participation was announced in advance when he was always going to enter last.

It has now been reported that WWE chose to have Rhodes enter last as a way of preventing any negative reaction to Sami Zayn not being in the match. The theory being that if number 30 was a surprise and it wasn’t Zayn, fans would have turned on the match upon realising their beloved hero wasn’t appearing. Fans famously vented their anger at WWE throughout the end of the 2014 Royal Rumble match when Rey Mysterio appeared as number 30, instead of Daniel Bryan.

Why Did Cody Rhodes Enter The Royal Rumble Last?

Writing in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer broke down how the scenario played out.

“On the broadcast during the pre-show, they made it clear that Zayn wasn’t going to be in the Rumble. The live crowd didn’t see that so wouldn’t have known. But given that Rhodes’ return in the Rumble was a major selling point of the show and he had not entered when it came time for No. 30, it had to be him. He got a gigantic pop, given the videos showing his story, the return at Mania, the match with Rollins with a torn pec, the surgery and the rehab. There were some boos from people who wanted it to be Zayn, but hardly enough that it mattered and they only lasted a few seconds…

While it wasn’t the perfect babyface move to have the heel start 56:30 earlier than the babyface when they were the final two, or the booking where Rhodes was basically gifted No. 30, putting anyone else at No. 30 would have likely led to a very bad reaction live because it wasn’t Zayn. Rhodes was the guy they felt they could count on to quell any negativity from the fans. Zayn should not have been in the Rumble if he wasn’t going to win it, because that would only get people who wanted him in the main event spot madder.”

While the WrestleMania clash between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns is now considered “locked in,” it has been reported that WWE weren’t always married to the idea. The report stated that WWE’s attempts to bring in The Rock and Steve Austin to face Reigns show they weren’t always set on Rhodes being in the main event.