“Time stands still when you are fully present in the moment”Unknown
Last week on Smackdown after 4 years away the Rock made his WWE return home. There was no promotion for this and that was the best way to do it because the pop he received both from the fans in the arena and those watching at home was genuine and pure shock and excitement.
I’ve been a wrestling fan for pretty much Rock’s entire run in this business and I can honestly say there is no one that can electrify a crowd like him. The moniker the People’s Champion isn’t just a nickname, he truly is the People’s Champion. However, with his return the question immediately turns to will he derail what fans have been expecting for the WrestleMania 40 main event of Cody Rhodes finally finishing the story?
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Cody Rhodes should finish the story at WrestleMania 40, it is something that I very much strongly felt should happen and I’d still love for the story to be finished there. However, I’d be lying to you my audience and myself if I said that was a bigger marquee match than Rock vs Roman. From a strictly marketing standpoint the Rock vs Roman is a blockbuster match that cannot be passed up if they have the chance to offer it to us.
That doesn’t mean that Cody Rhodes isn’t still the right person to dethrone Roman. The Rock returning doesn’t change the fact that Cody Rhodes is the most deserving and could benefit the most from being the one to take the championship from Roman and to fulfill his destiny and finish the story.
Why Roman vs Rock Shouldn’t Be For the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship:
It has always been my strong belief that a truly successful championship reign should not only elevate the title and the person holding it but should also help elevate the person who dethrones them if there is a long championship reign. You don’t build up Roman for 3 years as the unstoppable champion to have him drop it to someone that can’t possibly be more elevated or over than the Rock is. The Rock is already on top of Mt. Everest over when it comes to popularity and status as a GOAT in this business. Winning the Championship one more time is just a number and does nothing for him or the company as a whole long term.
For the people that want the Rock to win the title again at WrestleMania 40, I ask okay you get the moment then what? Do you think the Rock is coming back full time or even the Roman schedule to defend it? No, that is NEVER going to happen. This is not 1999, we are not getting the Rock back even on a part time schedule, after WrestleMania he is done and the only reason, we are getting him now is probably because of the Hollywood strike.
Winning the title again gets them press coming out of WrestleMania, but was having Roman’s dominate reign worth that momentary press? No, it is not because as a company you need to be thinking long term about the company as a whole and what talent will actually be there post WrestleMania to carry the company forward. If the Rock wins, what’s he going to do lose it the next night on Raw or vacate it so there’s a tournament? Neither one makes Roman’s reign ending make any sense as it just seems like a wasted opportunity to make someone.
During Roman’s reign there have only been three men that logically would have made sense storyline wise to end it, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn and Cody Rhodes. Jey and Sami are on separate brands, but to be honest are either of them truly strongly over enough to be the face of the company for merchandise and popularity? I don’t think so and I really do like both men.
Cody Rhodes still is the logical choice as someone that can make the most of it now from a popularity, merchandise mover and media appearances as the face of the company. I hear some people mentioning Solo Sikoa being the one to end Roman’s reign and I cannot emphasize this enough that would be a horrible move and will fail miserably.
Solo is nowhere near ready for that spot, he has done absolutely nothing of note to even remotely justify being the one to do it. He has worked no single programs since coming to the main roster outside of being Roman’s henchman and barely worked any in NXT. He is the wrong choice if you are choosing him now as he has shown nothing in that ring in my opinion that says that would be successful transition.
Whoever beats Roman needs to be someone that can carry the torch and be the face of the company and to be perfectly honest there is no one else that makes more sense than Cody Rhodes from business and storyline standpoints.
Finally, from a marketing standpoint the title isn’t needed either as two of Rock’s most iconic matches of his career did not need a title to sell them. Both the Rock vs Hollywood Hogan from WrestleMania 18 and Rock vs John Cena from WrestleMania 28 were both sold on that dream match standpoint. Adding a title to this situation isn’t needed because the tagline of who is the true tribal chief is strong enough as it is to sell this match. Even to casual fans if they see the Rock on a billboard they’ll be interested and a title isn’t needed since they likely won’t stick around watching long term to the product. So, it makes no sense to sacrifice long term booking of the product for the I only watch WrestleMania crowd.
This Is How You Book An Adjusted Cody Finishes The Story & Build To WrestleMania 40 Too:
There is a way for Cody to finish the story, but it not being at WrestleMania 40. As much as Cody completing the story ala Rocky II style at WrestleMania 40 is the best way storyline wise, they now have an alternative which may be just as fitting. With the Royal Rumble taking place in the state of Florida, it may be a phenomenal alternative that has very strong ties to the Rhodes family.
We all know Cody was an EVP for AEW which is headquartered in Jacksonville and arguably his legendary father, Dusty Rhodes, had some of his greatest successes in the ring for Florida Championship Wrestling. So, there may not be better place for Cody to finish the story than the place that has meant so much to his family.
From a storyline standpoint, Cody somehow got Jey Uso traded to Raw and with no one announced at the time of my writing this (Noon on 9/17), why not let the person traded to Smackdown in return be Cody Rhodes. They could totally make it work as this now puts Cody on the same brand as Roman and most importantly on the same brand with the championship that has alluded his family since 1977.
In January, Cody could easily cut a promo saying Roman, I told you I wasn’t done with you after WrestleMania. I have a story to finish, and we both know I couldn’t finish that story on Raw as the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship is here on Smackdown and that is the only championship that can finish the story.
Roman will of course try to find a way to back out of this challenge as he knows that no one has come closer than Cody to dethroning him and that was when he had his whole Bloodline supporting him. Now Jey is gone, Jimmy is reluctantly there and can’t be trusted and Solo is now a wildcard.
Cody than says I knew you would probably try to back out of this Roman, that’s why I asked the host of the Royal Rumble for the match. Roman and Paul look all confused when he says host of the Rumble, then the music hits and out comes the Rock to the shock of everyone and says the most electrifying host in all of sports and entertainment wants to give the people the most electrifying main event possible. Roman looks furious as the match is now set for Cody to finish the story. Rock of course is from Florida so it makes sense he could be the host of the show and with the Hollywood strike going on he may be available to make it happen.
At the Rumble, Rock visits Cody backstage wishing him luck tonight, but when he goes to wish his cousin, Roman luck he gets disrespected as Roman says how dare you not acknowledge me as your tribal chief? Rock looks at Roman and says the only tribal chief I acknowledge is my grandfather and cousin just so you know you may think you’re the tribal chief and running this family but you’re not.
Time for the main event, Cody and Roman once again put on an absolute masterful performance, but unlike Mania as Roman needs help, he looks to Solo Sikoa who instead of helping Roman takes out Jimmy. Leading to Cody being able to hit a crossroads and winning the match and finishing the story.
As all eyes are on Solo’s betrayal, Heyman is yelling why Solo? Solo answers just like his father, I did it for the Rock, the real tribal chief. This can be a great move as Heyman questioned last week on why Solo did what he did and who gave the order? This could be the payoff that the elders have determined that Roman is a mad king and they went to the Rock to set things right. Yes, I know this is very loosely similar to the story of Black Panther, but it would 100% work here.
So, what I’m suggesting is that Cody gets to finish the story earlier than planned and he can actually defend the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship on the grandest stage. Perhaps he defends it at Night 1 in the main event against a returning CM Punk or perhaps against his old protege, MJF if he jumps and wins the Rumble or someone else entirely different. Cody is more than ready to carry the torch.
The Rock vs Roman Reigns – WrestleMania 40:
The Bloodline story was the hottest most compelling story in wrestling, but that story is losing steam at a rapid pace. There is no way this story can possibly go on past WrestleMania. It is beginning to feel like a hit TV show that should have gone out on top but didn’t know when to stop making more seasons. You don’t want this to turn into Game of Thrones whose final season and particularly the final episode soured many fans about the whole series.
Having Rock play, a role in Roman losing his championship adds animosity to the feud as Roman will want revenge on the most successful member of his family tree. The title isn’t needed here and as I have already outlined above it would serve no purpose. Having the title on the line would be a massive mistake. If the Rock wins it, it makes no one and if Roman retains then that will just anger fans that the Rock was beaten, Cody didn’t get the WrestleMania match to finish the story and finally it extends a title reign and storyline that the audience is getting tired of so end it on a high note.
As I have suggested you take the belt off Roman at the Rumble and that way that burden is not on this match at all. Either Roman can beat the Rock as a passing of the torch moment or the Rock can win as a nostalgia moment and asserting Rock as the true head of the table. Either way Roman can take a vacation without Smackdown not having a champion. You could always do a re-match between the two if you want to, but again without the burden of the title being on the line frees them up creatively as well.
WWE is going to go big with the 40th edition of WrestleMania, so it won’t surprise me with stars from the past coming in for it. I suggested in my CM Punk piece that maybe they would bring in Austin to work with Punk and there would certainly be a full circle irony if 25 years after WrestleMania 15 which was main-evented by Austin vs Rock for the WWF Championship that they are once again headliners for WrestleMania 40.
I want to see Cody finish the story and to see Rock vs Roman, there is no reason we cannot get both of these moments on the road to WrestleMania 40.