For all intents and purposes, the WWE is now at the start of a new era. Technically, it began when King Roman was deposed by Cody Rhodes at Wrestlemania XL. An historic streak ended and a new one was immediately off to the races. It’s a seismic shift. Roman’s reign was a heel’s reign. Cody’s will be a baby face’s one. Cody doesn’t come with a faction or acolytes or any firm set of followers other than his group of allies which are doing their own thing (see Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Jey Uso) this time around. For the moment, Cody sits on his throne alone.

So, what does this mean for the future of the WWE? Has the Age of Cody officially begun? The short answer is…not yet.

Thus far, Cody has defended his title against Shinsuke Nakamura, has faced AJ Styles (and is on for a rematch at Clash at the Castle), and has flirted with being a Grand Slam champion with Logan Paul. While these matches have largely been crowd-pleasers, they haven’t had that big blockbuster fight feel that Roman Reigns matches had. The hype that got built up around who would finally take the belt from Reigns multiplied after each title defense. There was a lot of storytelling energy afforded to his inevitable fall, and it fueled WWE fans for the entirety of it.

For the Age of Cody to truly start, the WWE must develop a steady lineup of heels to really get fans into it. If people start to really fear the new champ could lose his title at any moment, then the excitement will balloon exponentially for every PPV event. Cody needs Thanos, Magneto, and Ultron-level threats coming for his belt, and pretty consistently.

In other words, for the Age of Cody to succeed, an equally grandiose Age of Heels has to emerge with it. I’m not talking about the caricatures of evil that dominated the 1980s. I’m talking about big bad guys that come to the ring with strong stories behind them and a proven track record of destruction. Cody has to really struggle to get a win over them. It’s what’s needed given the company’s inclinations towards heels and anti-establishment champions in the past.

It’s fair to say that, from the Attitude era onwards, heels and anti-heroes have dominated the World Championship listings in the WWE. When it comes to very clean and traditionally good title holders, it really comes down to Hulk Hogan and John Cena. They’re not the only faces to have held the belt, but they’re the ones that come closer to the type of face Cody represents. They were built up as if there wasn’t a bad bone in their body. They had their egos and their arrogance, sure, but at the end of the day they were about being the bigger person and doing the right thing.

Cody presents himself like an honest champ. Not like a superhero or a symbol of American values like Cena and Hogan. But there is a bit of both of them in Cody by virtue of being a good guy champ. Cody is a scrappy face, a guy that goes through the wringer to get the win. He’s built to match up perfectly with bad men that want to get to the top and conquer for years to come.

This doesn’t mean Cody should only fight big bads every PPV. He also needs to face wrestlers on an equal skill level, like he’s been doing with AJ Styles. But knowing he’s always in shark-infested waters (Great Whites at that) can set the tone for his title run and really elevate it into something special.

In the coming months, feuds with the likes of Drew McIntyre, Damien Priest, Gunther, and Bron Breaker should be the priority. Friendlier bouts that are more about skill and endurance than good vs. evil should come later. LA Knight, Jey, and CM Punk can wait. Let Cody establish his reign by facing big heels first. Open it up to other challengers after a few of these types of fights have transpired. Hell, maybe consider opening that forbidden door to bring in other blockbuster threats (like they’ve already done with TNA and Jordynne Grace).

The Age of Cody has the potential to be incredibly exciting. There’s a lot he can do to keep the momentum from his title win at Wrestlemania XL going, but there needs to be an intentional ramping up of intensity. So far, the noise has been good but not arena-shattering. Cody doesn’t have to be Hogan or Cena, or The Rock or Stone Cold for that matter. He just needs to face some of the toughest heels in the sport to make sure this era is seen as undisputably his.