Cody Rhodes returned to WWE at the Royal Rumble, entering at number 30 and winning by last eliminating Gunther.
Cody had not wrestled since WWE Hell in a Cell in June 2022 when he faced Seth Rollins inside Hell in a Cell with a torn pectoral muscle.
Speaking on WWE After The Bell, Cody recalled how he felt getting back in the ring and taking one of Gunther's chops during their closing sequence.
"I can't tell you it felt good [laughs]. I can tell you though, that's the moment where I felt like I was truly back. It wasn't the first chop. I believe (it was) a back suplex, and I was able to land on my feet, pop to my feet, and when he turned around, I thought I had him, but he had me with another one of those very flat, stop your motion, those type of chops are very specific. That one that he got me with was where I felt like, 'I'm back.' Some of us like the pain. That's a weird thing to say. I had blood in my mouth from something earlier, then this chop came, and that's where I felt like, 'I'm back in it, this is what I do,' it's essentially what I was born to do. As much as it hurt so bad, it also felt so good. The next 50 chops or whatever didn't give me the same response, but that specific (moment) felt like, 'welcome back,'" he reflected.
Cody and Gunther would have an extended closing stretch and served as a short one-on-one match before Cody was able to eliminate Gunther.
"I don't know Gunther on a personal level, I've made fun of the name in the past, and maybe there was a little bad blood perhaps because of that, but I can say this. That [facing Gunther] looks like something I could see myself revisiting. I could see that happening again, in terms of a one-on-one encounter with the current Intercontinental Champion, who I believe just broke my record, not to mention he broke the Royal Rumble record, he broke my record for days with the Intercontinental Championship. That's the kind of next-level elite athlete that I would love to wrestle anywhere in the United States, but specifically, I would love to wrestle him in Europe. In Europe, it's an away game for me, it's hostile, and I'd be all about that. I think there might be part of him that thinks, 'I've gone an hour and I was able to hold it with you in there,' and I want him to know that I had his number as much as he had mine. Right now, I can't say enough superlative items about the current Intercontinental Champion. His future is massive, his present is also massive. We're living it. I could use a few weeks before I'm living it again. Certainly, I look forward to another one-on-one encounter and I'd love to wrestle him in Europe to see what that feels like," said Cody.
Gunther entered the Royal Rumble at number one and lasted one hour and 11 minutes. Cody was the WWE Intercontinental Champion for 236 days at the end of 2011 and into 2012. Gunther surpassed that mark days after the Royal Rumble.
Cody is set to challenge for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title at WrestleMania 39. Fans can read Cody's comments on facing Reigns by clicking here.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit the original source with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.