There are more backstage details about when WWE decided to go with Roman Reigns and The Rock at WrestleMania 40 instead of Cody Rhodes.
The ending of WWE Smackdown in Birmingham featured a staredown that would suggest that Roman Reigns defending his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against The Rock was the company’s plan as one of the WrestleMania 40 main event matches.
By doing that Reigns-Rock dream match, it likely pushes 2024 Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes out of the picture as an opponent of Reigns, even though many fans likely wanted a Reigns-Rhodes rematch.
While WWE has yet to announce the Reigns-Rock match officially, there is a press conference scheduled for February 8th in Las Vegas with Rock, Reigns, Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair as some of the superstars set to be there.
In a lengthy update on Fightful Select, Sean Ross Sapp reports that the plan for WrestleMania 40 is The Rock vs. Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins. They also confirmed what was reported elsewhere that the original plans were Rhodes facing Reigns and CM Punk going against Rollins, but that was before CM Punk tore his triceps in the Men’s Royal Rumble match.
After winning the Royal Rumble match for the second year in a row, Cody Rhodes made it clear he was coming after Roman Reigns, who watched from a skybox. Fightul has reported that there were people who heard in the afternoon of the Royal Rumble that Rock was going to face Reigns at WrestleMania. It’s also been added that there were Rock “Head of the Table” WrestleMania-themed merchandise prototypes within the company by that weekend.
According to Fightful’s report, there are many people hopeful that WWE and TKO will see the negative reaction to Rock-Reigns that exists online and go back to the original Reigns-Rhodes plan.
It was also reported that The Rock pushed to have the match and some people believe that Rock wants to win the match with Reigns. Multiple sources also feel like TKO thinks that this will lead to more immediate money compared to a Cody-Roman match. This wasn’t done as something against Rhodes because they do value him as a talent.
Brian Gerwitz’s name was mentioned just like in PWInsider’s story. Fightful also noted that Gewirtz will be involved in the WWE product as it pertains to The Rock since Gewirtz works for The Rock and was a longtime WWE lead writer through the 2000s and into the early 2010s. Apparently, TKO “valued Gewirtz’s skill set and that they could see him in a key WWE role creatively if the right situation aligned between all parties.”
When Did WWE Talents Know About The Rock-Roman Reigns Match?
As for when talents knew about WWE’s booking decision, Cody Rhodes knew about it before going to Smackdown on Friday. It’s not known exactly what day Cody was told about it. Many talents including The Rock were already booked for the February 8th press conference in Las Vegas, but The Rock’s involvement wasn’t clear.
Fightful also learned that it was around three weeks when a talent element was pitched for The Rock’s role with TKO. It was a case of both sides wanting to maximize the deal around the board position, licensing fees, and rights of “The Rock” name.
Assuming WWE still goes through with the planned Roman Reigns-The Rock match, it is believed that Rock will work a full-length match. There are some concerns about him having a long match due to his recent appearances where he looks winded a bit after doing moves. At 51 years old, age catches up to everybody, even The Rock.
As previously mentioned, WWE has yet to announce any WrestleMania 40 matches other than WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY defending the Women’s Title against Bayley.