It wasn’t very long ago that Rhodes and Sandow united as a tag team (Sept. 24, 2012 to be exact), and by all accounts, the duo was never really given a chance to reach the level that it could have.
Most fans expected Team Rhodes Scholars to dethrone Team Hell No to become WWE Tag Team champions and have a lengthy run with the title, but obviously neither happened. Instead, the WWE prematurely pulled the plug on a tag team that wasn’t able to reach its true potential.
Now, Sandow and Rhodes are both on their own looking to make marks as singles stars.
That appears to be good news for Sandow. For a while now, we’ve heard that Vince McMahon is a big fan of the “Intellectual Savior of the Masses” and that he wants to push him as a single star. In order to do that, the WWE had to split up Team Rhodes Scholars.
While Sandow has the support of McMahon and may be ready to step up to the next level soon, the same can’t be said for Rhodes.
Rhodes has all the physical tools and is one of the most well-rounded performers on the entire WWE roster, but what he doesn’t seem to have is the support of the higher-ups in the company. That’s been pretty evident by the way he’s been “pushed” since he parted ways with Sandow.
Of course, I use the term “pushed” sarcastically because Rhodes has been anything but pushed in the short span since Team Rhodes Scholars went their separate ways.
Although Rhodes did pick up a victory over Kofi Kingston on last week’s SmackDown, that win only came after he became the new Zack Ryder and jobbed to two of the WWE’s top stars on two consecutive Raw shows.
On the episode of Raw after the Royal Rumble, Rhodes quickly jobbed to John Cena in a match that lasted only a few minutes. The next week, he did the exact same thing—only this time, he was squashed by Alberto Del Rio.
Both of these instances are examples of, at best, bad booking and, at worst, a tremendous lack of long-term planning on the part of the creative team.
Why on earth would you have Rhodes’ first two matches back in singles action come against two of the WWE’s top babyfaces? Better yet, why would you job him out against the guy who just won the Royal Rumble and then again against the World Heavyweight champion?
We get it—Cena and Del Rio are in the midst of major pushes right now. But we certainly don’t need to see them squash a bright up-and-coming star in order for the WWE to get its point across.
Now, the first impression fans will have of Rhodes during this singles run is that he’s an absolute loser who is not in the same league as either Cena or Del Rio. That doesn’t benefit him in any way whatsoever.
In fact, it does just the opposite. It makes Rhodes look, quite frankly, stupid, and it does the same for the creative team because it’s clear that those guys had no clue what they were going to do with Rhodes once Team Rhodes Scholars was over and done with.
The WWE took a great thing it had with Team Rhodes Scholars, blew it up far too early and is already dealing with the negative consequences.
We all knew that Sandow and Rhodes were going to part ways at some point in 2013, but the widespread expectation was that that point wouldn’t come until after WrestleMania at the very earliest. But oh, how wrong we were.
Sandow and Rhodes are now trying to stand out as singles stars at the WWE’s busiest time of the year when neither really has much of a chance, especially Rhodes.
Rhodes played so well off of Sandow and was really developing into a great tag team performer, but the WWE grew impatient waiting for Sandow’s push and has screwed over Rhodes in a big way as a result.
It’s not like Rhodes needed to stay with Sandow for the rest of time or even for the rest of 2013. He just needed to stay with Sandow to succeed both right now and for the foreseeable future.
Instead, Rhodes has already become just another midcard heel on a roster that’s full of them. The only difference is that Rhodes is the only one who’s jobbed to two top stars two weeks in a row.
Way to go, WWE. You’re officially going to have to dig Rhodes out of a major hole now.
Good luck with that.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!