Rhodes, Ripley, Belair to adorn covers of WWE 2K24 editions

Cody Rhodes is still looking to finish his story.

But the book will get another chapter early this year. Rhodes, who has emerged as one of the faces of WWE in his second go-around with the promotion, will adorn the cover of the standard edition of WWE 2K24, the upcoming video game, officials told ESPN.

Rhodes described being on the cover of the video game box as a “little bucket list thing I wanted to get at one point.”

Since returning to WWE in 2022 after six years away, with AEW and other companies, Rhodes has headlined WrestleMania 39 against Roman Reigns, won the Royal Rumble, beaten Seth Rollins in Hell in a Cell, been featured in a War Games match and won a series of bouts with Brock Lesnar.

“I mean, back in the day when I first started here, I was just looking at what my rating was and I didn’t want to be the worst in the game,” Rhodes told ESPN at a photo shoot in Los Angeles for 2K Games. “So, we’ve come a long way.”

Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair will share the cover of the WWE 2K24 deluxe edition, the first time a pair of women have graced a WWE video game cover. There will also be a “Forty Years of WrestleMania” edition with cover art featuring the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and Hulk Hogan.

The deluxe edition and Forty Years of WrestleMania editions are scheduled for release worldwide on March 5. The standard and standard cross-gen digital edition will come out March 8.

“I don’t blame them to be honest,” Ripley told ESPN. “I would want this face on a cover, too. But it’s pretty cool. It is wild to think that I get to be on a WWE 2K24 deluxe edition cover. I never thought that this day would come, to be completely honest. It’s wild to see how many amazing things I get to do within my career and just how far it’s gone.”

Ripley is the current WWE women’s world champion, while Belair is a former two-time WWE women’s champion. Rhodes is a two-time WWE Intercontinental champion, but is looking to finally complete his goal of winning the undisputed WWE Universal title and is a favorite to win a second straight Royal Rumble on Saturday in Tampa, Florida.

“For me to be able to get back [to challenge for the title at WrestleMania], I’ve gotta win in one of those two settings — the Royal Rumble or the Elimination Chamber,” Rhodes said. “And that’s really where my focus is at. I can’t see WrestleMania 40 until I see one of those.”

One boulder-sized obstacle could be presenting itself in the way of Rhodes facing Reigns at back-to-back WrestleManias: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who returned to WWE on Jan. 1 and asked the crowd if he should sit at “the head of the table,” a reference to Reigns’ nickname. Johnson and Reigns are cousins.

“I don’t consider him in my way,” Rhodes said. “Maybe he is, and I’m being naive to it. Maybe he maybe he wants to get in, I don’t know. But I don’t consider him in my way. Again, The Rock is one of the main reasons we’re here today. Nothing but respect. But also at the same time, I have to have the respect for myself to know where I’d like to go.”

WWE 2K24 will have four new match types: special guest referee, ambulance, casket and gauntlet. More than 200 WWE wrestlers and legends will be playable in the game, including Batista, Kurt Angle, Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Chyna, the latter whom Ripley considers an inspiration.

“I know that I get a lot of messages from my ‘moshes’ — my fan base — and they’re so ecstatic that there’s someone out there that can represent them — represent the weirdos, the freaks, the people that just don’t fit the norm,” Ripley said. “So, I feel that it was really important for me to get out of my shell and stop following that mold and be the person that you see today to help other people be confident within their own skin as well. So, I have to thank people like Beth [Phoenix] and Chyna, because they were so different in such a time where it was very obvious what was wanted within women in the sporting business.”

In the upcoming title, 2K24 Games is promising improved animations with more than 90% of facial expressions updated, plus improvements to the ramp and dive cameras and the ability to move the camera during live gameplay. There will also be a “Showcase … of the Immortals” mode, which allows players to play through some of the most epic WrestleMania moments of the past 40 years.

Perhaps in forthcoming games, players will get to play Rhodes during the WrestleMania moment he so craves: winning the WWE’s top championship on the grandest stage of them all. He’s now crossed another item off his list: being on the cover of WWE 2K24. There are only a few things left to accomplish — not bad for a guy who left WWE in 2016 after playing the cartoony, gold-face-painted Stardust.

“I don’t think Stardust makes the cover of WWE 2K24,” Rhodes said. “I don’t think Stardust even gets the back box art.”

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