WWE reportedly overestimated interest in the WrestleMania kick-off event.
On February 8th WWE held a press conference in Las Vegas bringing together the biggest names in the company. The major selling point for the event was to see The Rock, Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, and Seth Rollins go face to face on the same stage.
The end result was pure chaos in which The Rock effectively turned heel to join Roman Reigns, and Cody Rhodes was confirmed as Reigns’ next challenger.
Writing in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer tried to break down how all of the respective deals came together. The belief is that The Rock agreed a deal to join the TKO Group Board of Directors and compete at WrestleMania 40 back on January 3rd.
This in turn led to the company booking the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas because they knew the Hollywood megastar would be there. However, the event didn’t pull in the masses as WWE had hoped, with Meltzer noting that only 3000 people were in attendance.
“As it turned out, they greatly overshot. Even with it being free and Johnson being there, the estimate was only 2,000 to 3,000 people were there, but they were very vocal. It didn’t draw the casual masses with the idea of seeing Johnson for free in a city filled with tourists for Super Bowl weekend. The funny thing is those masses would have been more likely to cheer Johnson.”
The Rock Slaps Cody Rhodes At WWE Press Conference
During the event, Roman Reigns said he would be facing The Rock at WrestleMania and the match was seemingly agreed. But Cody Rhodes had other ideas.
The American Nightmare called the situation “bullsh*t” and said Reigns didn’t get to choose his match because he’d won the Royal Rumble. This led to Reigns vs. Rhodes II being agreed. As tensions escalated, Rhodes managed to insult both Rock and Reigns causing The Great One to slap him in the face. This sparked a melee with Triple H and others attempting to keep the peace.
Once backstage, The Rock and Roman Reigns were seen leaving together with the veteran telling Triple H to “fix this.”