Cody Rhodes Eliminates CM Punk To Win WWE Royal Rumble For Second Consecutive Year

Cody Rhodes has become the first person since "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to win back-to-back Royal Rumble matches. Rhodes outlasted opponents like GUNTHER, Sami Zayn, Jey and Jimmy Uso, and CM Punk tonight to earn his place at WWE WrestleMania 40 in April. After Rhodes eliminated GUNTHER, he and Punk went back and forth as the last two competitors. Withstanding several close calls, including a Pedigree from Punk, Rhodes was able to counter a GTS and launch Punk out of the ring for the win.

It seems as good as certain that Rhodes will challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania. The former AEW star faced Reigns at the event last year as well but came up short in the end. Since then, Rhodes has promised to fight for a rematch, allowing him to "finish the story" started by his late father, Dusty Rhodes.

Rhodes is now the fourth person in history to win two Royal Rumble matches in a row, joining Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Hulk Hogan. Since returning to WWE two years ago, Rhodes has had a lengthy feud against Seth Rollins before dealing with an injury to his pectoral muscle that took him out for more than six months. Rhodes returned to win the 2023 Royal Rumble before going on to challenge Reigns at WrestleMania.

With Punk unable to seal his fate for WrestleMania, he'll undoubtedly look for another path toward Seth Rollins and the World Heavyweight Championship. Tonight's match saw Punk show a familiar, arrogant side of himself, possibly hinting at a move away from the more wholesome version of his character that has been on display since Punk returned at WWE Survivor Series: WarGames.