Editorials/Features

Backstage Update On Why The Rock Took WrestleMania Main Event Spot From Cody Rhodes

By Joe Burgett
Feb 3, 2024
The Rock & Cody Rhodes

On WWE SmackDown this past week, 2024 Men’s Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes made a shocking move. He revealed that while “finishing the story” was winning the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship Roman Reigns holds, and that he will come for it…this just won’t be at WrestleMania. Rather, someone Roman knows very well will face him. That’s when The Rock came out to do what was pretty much a staredown with his cousin, Roman.

Many WWE fans are rightfully upset about this move, so much so international news outlets like USA Today are covering the unhappiness. While one could see how and why WWE decided to do this, was it their plan all along? Were they always planning to have Rhodes win the Rumble only to give up the main event to The Rock? Technically speaking, no. In fact, The Rock was technically not part of any official plans for WrestleMania until recently.

According to The Wrestling Observer, before the recent Vince McMahon lawsuit as well as before CM Punk went down to an injury, the card was set. The plan was always to do Seth Rollins/CM Punk for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Meanwhile, Rhodes would be taking on Reigns in the main event. Sadly, Punk had a tricep injury that required surgery. The McMahon lawsuit named Brock Lesnar in it, which forced WWE Creative to remove him from all WrestleMania plans.

The Rock had been pushing for a match with Reigns anyway. The idea was that it would take place more likely at WrestleMania 41 or at one of the Saudi Arabian events WWE does each year. Those shows have to usually be loaded and need to use veterans the audience knows more. Therefore, either would make more sense.

WHEN THE CHANGE HAPPENED

Cody Rhodes & Roman Reigns Waiting On The Rock

When did WWE decide on adding The Rock to the main event spot, forcing the card to change dramatically? Fairly recently, if we’re being honest. There were no plans to do it until the extent of Punk’s injury was known. When he was out of WrestleMania plans, that made WWE feel they needed The Rock on the show. On top of that, while the McMahon lawsuit took Lesnar off the table…the TKO Group that owns WWE felt Rock’s addition would be a welcome distraction from the Vince drama.

Understandably, WWE fans aren’t happy with the move. Social media has been roaring with hatred for this move by WWE. The reason is that people seem to love Cody Rhodes far more than WWE management ever realized. This should certainly make Cody feel pretty good as it’s great job security when you think about it.

However, conspiracy theories have naturally started to come out. Some believe that The Rock used his power as a member of the TKO Group Board of Directors to force this match to happen. The issue with this is that being a member of the Board does not offer one massive power to change things. Rather, you have to vote on things with other Board members. If what you want goes through, it is not only because you wanted it. Rather, because a majority of other Board members did too.

According to PWInsider, this is pretty much what went down. The Rock lobbied the TKO Group Board to make the main event himself vs Roman Reigns. He sold them on his name value as well as his familial connection to Reigns. It truly is a story that writes itself, so one could see how they were swayed by the idea.

FAN BACKLASH

Most Disliked WWE Segment In 24 Hours

As mentioned, fans aren’t thrilled that WWE forced The Rock into the main event of WrestleMania 40. Plus, there are rumors that The Rock allegedly has even been pushing to win it. Of course, all of this has led to a backlash that WWE likely never expected. In fact, if you go to WWE’s YouTube account and look for the full segment last night where Cody made his announcement, you’ll notice something big.

As of just this writing, the video has 3.2 million views. 87,000 people gave it a like, while a little over 400,000 have given it a dislike.

This is the most disliked video WWE has ever released on the YouTube platform in a 24-hour period. The video is still getting disliked by fans and could very well be over half a million by the end of the weekend.

However, on Facebook, Instagram, and X, we have been seeing a lot of people weigh in. It is not just fans who are expressing their displeasure about the move. Former WWE Superstars like Summer Rae have been discussing it on X.

Fightful reports that the move has not been loved by the WWE Creative Team members or by the locker room. This means most of the roster is pushing back on this. They know how hard Cody worked for this spot, and they also hate when part-timers come back and take big spots from current roster members. It is different if they come back to take a small spot, which is often what John Cena does.

However, Cena has never returned as a part-timer and took part in a World Championship match at WrestleMania. He knows that would be horrible to do. That’s the difference between Cena and The Rock though.

WHERE DOES THE WWE GO FROM HERE?

Rhodes, Rock, and Reigns

What is often lost in all of this is that the TKO Group is mostly made up of people who understand the PPV Model. As in, one needs to put the biggest names on the card to draw the most buys possible. Yet for WWE, that is not how things work. While the WWE Network will show WrestleMania internationally, Peacock will do so in the United States. Both have a free first-month option, or at the very least a very low tier.

On top of this, WrestleMania 40 tickets for both nights were nearing a sellout before any matches were ever announced. This means adding The Rock to the card was not necessary for buys or subscription numbers, and certainly not necessary for ticket sales. The idea of treating this like a PPV Model concept where you put the biggest names in the biggest spots is simply idiotic in today’s WWE.

We never needed The Rock on this show in any form to sell it to people. It won’t result in bigger numbers for subscriptions as the free first month will be used and one does not need to keep the sub going. Could it draw more viewers? Sure. However, adding The Rock to the card in any match or announcing he’ll be there in any form will generate fan interest.

WWE Needs To Consider Their Options:

Fans want Cody Rhodes to be in the main event. It has gotten to a point that over on X, the hashtag “WeWantCody” has become the #1 trending topic. That is along with #JackPerry due to people weirdly blaming him for all of this somehow. Conspiracy theorists are gonna conspiracy theorize.

On Feb. 8th, WWE is doing their WrestleMania XL Kickoff show live from Las Vegas at 4:00 PM EST. It’ll be streaming on Peacock with fans live in attendance. The Rock and Roman Reigns will be there, likely to make their match official. On top of this, Cody Rhodes will also be live in attendance along with his prospective opponent, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins.

WWE could potentially make the smartest move possible and tell us that The Rock/Roman Reigns will not be for the title but rather for the honor of being the Tribal Chief. This means Rhodes/Rollins becomes the Night #2 main event. That could possibly save them a bit here, as we give Rhodes the true main event match of the weekend as a form of payment for giving up this match.

If not, then one could make the case that WWE needs to try to create some sort of thing on the fly here. Where Rhodes could feel compelled to still take on Reigns in some form. We will have to see what the company decides to do in response.

Unlike Vince McMahon, Triple H takes note of what the internet is saying, which means we might see a change.

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