- If Rock vs Reigns was always happening, why have Rhodes win Royal Rumble?
- The Rock keeps leaving clues on social media that may not be what they seem
- Rhodes made it clear on SmackDown he wants Reigns’ title, not Seth Rollins’
The internet slumped to its knees this weekend after The Rock appeared on SmackDown and took Cody Rhodes’ WrestleMania main event with Roman Reigns right out of his hands.
Rhodes has been working his way towards winning the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship for two years. Ever since he set foot back in the WWE from AEW, with a torn pectoral muscle along the way, the American Nightmare has been on a mission, one that cannot be sidetracked by a recently created world title held by Seth Rollins.
It has to be Reigns’ title. And while many might argue Rhodes should have defeated the Tribal Chief in Los Angeles last year, the reality is he did not.
Now, the idea of ‘finishing the story’ seems to have been blocked by the biggest Hollywood A-lister of them all. A man who, on the surface, appears to have made a deal to become a board member with WWE’s parent company TKO and insert himself into the biggest match-up possible, at Rhodes’ expense.
Is there good reason for fans to get upset at one of the most popular full-time babyfaces in recent memory being pushed to the side? Or, is this exactly what WWE wanted? Mail Sport dissects.
WWE could have turned their back on a Roman Reigns (left) and Cody Rhodes (right) rematch
The Rock could instead be set to face Reigns, having confronted his real-life cousin on Friday
The pair faced off on SmackDown and appear to be building to a match ahead of WrestleMania
All part of the plan?
The Rock joined TKO’s board on January 23, four days before the Royal Rumble went down in Florida.
According to Dave Meltzer, as part of The Rock’s agreement to join the board, he was to get his match with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania.
Even in light of that, WWE still decided to have Rhodes win the Royal Rumble and, during his celebration, point out Reigns declaring his challenge for the showpiece in April.
It’s believed WWE anticipated Rhodes would get ‘Daniel Bryan-esque’ reactions as a result of being pushed aside and boy, at least on social media, were they right.
That suggests WWE are manipulating the story to put the momentum behind Rhodes, not the Bloodline story between Reigns and Rock, two real-life cousins.
WWE still had Rhodes win the men’s Royal Rumble match, despite reports that plans were in place for him not to face Reigns anyway
Reigns is the biggest draw in wrestling right now, and, after beating Rhodes last year, fans were keen to see a re-match this time around
So who faces who?
It would be staggering if they went ahead with Rhodes vs Rollins for a world title Rhodes has already stated he doesn’t want.
The 38-year-old has also said he intends to take everything away from Roman.
With the stars in play, this is one of those storylines where it pays to listen closely to the promos. From what Rhodes said on SmackDown, it sounds like he is still very much coming for the title, but Rock wants to unseat Roman from the head of the proverbial table.
How do we get there? That’s a complicated question. Roman working both nights, one versus The Rock and one versus Rhodes, is a strong option. A triple-threat would detract from both stories, so that seems far-fetched.
Brock Lesnar is not being used by WWE moving forward. His name cropping up in Vince McMahon’s lawsuit has nixed plans for a mouth-watering showdown against Gunther.
Instead, the Austrian is the natural challenger for Rollins with Rhodes still on a collision course with Reigns.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther (pictured) seems best place to challenge Rollins after Brock Lesnar was cut from all plans
What have they said?
Could The Rock face Reigns elsewhere? He won’t want to, and quite rightly, the biggest money match-up in wrestling should be at WrestleMania.
The Rock keeps saying he is a ‘long-gamer’ in both interviews and social media posts and Brian Gewirtz, former WWE head writer and senior vice president of development at Rock’s Seven Bucks production company, also tweeted: ‘You all have no idea’.
It’s hard to buy that legendary figures like The Rock, Paul Heyman, Triple H behind the scenes and even Gewirtz are silly enough to not be able to read the room.
The Rock could well be just a tease and this is the way they kick off the battle for the head of the table. If WWE are monitoring fan reactions to this story and are prepared to adjust it as PWInsider suggests, that would fit in with Rock’s ‘longer-term’ vision.
If the story really is about ‘taking everything’ from Reigns, then The Rock actually beating Roman (though he has gone on record saying he would want to put Roman over) and Rhodes taking his title in one weekend would be the perfect way to do that.
WWE chief Triple H (pictured) and the rest of the company are reportedly managing reactions
Rhodes seemed set to announce that he would be facing Reigns until he stepped aside
The Bloodline has been on the verge of imploding for a while now. It’s widely expected that real-life twins, Jimmy and Jey Uso, will square off at WrestleMania 40.
Solo Sikoa is gradually making his own way and were he to turn on Roman during this process, that would be the end of WWE’s most box office faction of the modern era.
Rhodes has long stated he wants to win Roman’s title because it’s the same championship that his late father, WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, never got to win. Given that Rollins’ world heavyweight title doesn’t have that same lineage or history, that wouldn’t be finishing his story.
The Rock’s team appear to be doing their best to let us know there is a grander story in play that fans can’t see yet and one has to imagine they hear the cries for Rhodes as loud as anyone.