“The people united will never be defeated”Cesar Chavez
On Saturday I wrote an article about my thoughts and opinions in regards to The Rock vs Roman Reigns WrestleMania 40 match. It was the only piece that I have ever written for Wrestling Republic that was fueled by anger and disgust. To follow someone’s journey for two years and to know why he was doing it and for me on a personal level feel that connection of his motivation and to have that taken away for selfish reasons that angered me.
I wasn’t scheduled for an appearance on the WR Daily Broadcast on Saturday or Sunday and unlike what the Rock allegedly has done using his political power to take someone’s spot I was not going to use my position in this company to take someone else’s spot on the show to voice my displeasure. It is why I wrote my piece on Saturday. Writing has always been something that has helped me work through things and I really thought that would be the last time I’d be addressing this anytime soon, however, since you’re reading this clearly, I was wrong.
On Sunday morning I was messaging with fellow opinion writer, Archie Carter, we were discussing how we were clearly not the only ones that thought Cody Rhodes was being screwed by the Rock. As of this writing, the video of the Rock stealing Cody’s spot continues to grow as the most disliked WWE YouTube video of all time at over half a million dislikes. Various polls are all over the internet including one here at Wrestling Republic that are all a landslide that they want Cody vs Roman at WrestleMania 40 not the Rock.
I’m not on Twitter, personally was never a fan of it and that was before Elon took it over, but Archie told me how #WeWantCody has been trending like crazy. On Instagram every post by WWE or Rock or any wrestling page posting about this is getting inundated with either that hashtag or others showing their support for the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes. Even the WWE U.S. Champion, Logan Paul has tweeted “We Want Cody”.
As I said yesterday, I fully understand that Rock vs Roman is the bigger marquee match and the likely reasoning that was further used was well CM Punk is injured and the whole Vince McMahon/Brock Lesnar mess, however, you don’t book a match like that for short term gain for the casual only watch WrestleMania fans at the expensive of the hardcore fanbase that is there every day and at the expense of a more deserving talent with a much better story.
The most asinine comment that I have seen was “story doesn’t matter”, that is a statement that couldn’t be anymore wrong. Storytelling is the lifeblood of this business, there is a reason that this industry’s greatest success and periods were driven by strong storytelling. There is a reason the Bloodline has been the hottest acts in all of wrestling for the past three years and the reason for that is the storytelling.
I said in my piece the other day and I meant it I have no issue with Rock vs Roman headlining WrestleMania 40 but, if that was the plan you don’t have Cody Rhodes becoming only the fourth man ever to win in back-to-back years and have him point at Roman in the skybox and yell, I want you. That wasn’t Cody going rogue or off script because the cameras cut exactly where they were supposed to showing fear in Roman’s face because he knows if it wasn’t for the Bloodline then Cody Rhodes would have become champion at WrestleMania 39. No one before or since got that close to beating him.
The Rock maybe the bigger name but, no rational person could make the argument that who is the true head of the table is a better and more compelling story going into Mania than Cody looking for revenge from last year and to fulfill the vow he made to finish the story. Cody Rhodes is your long-term star, and you don’t jeopardize his momentum coming out of winning the Rumble for him to give up his dream match so the Rock can have his.
No Royal Rumble winner is going to give up their shot at the title they have made clear that they want and challenge for a lesser one, it makes no logical sense and makes even less sense because Cody’s desires have been clear since day 1 of his WWE return. If this was 1999 and Hulk Hogan came in and took the Rock’s WrestleMania, you can bet any amount of money in the bank that the Rock would be less than pleased and wouldn’t be saying ah it’s just business it’s fine.
It seems clear to me that based on how everything was booked leading up to and including the Rumble and considering how Hunter talked about Cody in the press conference and knowing Hunter’s love and respect he had for Dusty that as head of creative he was booking Cody vs Roman 2. It would have been the ultimate underdog story literally in the birthplace of Rocky Balboa and a city that has always idolized underdogs.
Something clearly derailed all of that and I can only speculate, but we know the Rock has teased this match for years and with his Hollywood career not exactly setting the world on fire these days and his attempt to “save” the DC Universe with Black Adam not exactly panning out, it makes sense the Rock would come back to the place that has always viewed him as their champion. With his new position as a board member of the company and the company looking for positive press after the Vince disaster it isn’t unreasonable to speculate that he may have allegedly forced this match to happen, and it may have been sold as he will be WrestleMania’s savior.
The problem is this is clearly backfiring on WWE and the Rock as social media has been on fire all weekend as fans demand Justice for Cody and they may have inadvertently created a new version of 2014’s Yes Movement in the Woah Movement. The fans didn’t feel like WrestleMania needed saving before but, it certainly feels like the fans think it needs saving now. Rock has done this before to CM Punk in 2013 and fans are still pissed about that which is helping fuel the anger.
WWE needs to embrace this Woah Movement like they reluctantly did with the Yes Movement a decade ago and they could turn this bad situation into the biggest main event in WrestleMania history.
So, Archie Carter and I have come up with a way to possible salvage this creative mess that the Rock appears to have forced them into.
Raw – February 5th, 2024 – Start Of Course Correction:
We all know the history between Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes, if this was after Cody Rhodes already had a run with the WWE Championship and finished the story then this would be a fine WrestleMania match up, but let’s be real Seth’s title is the lesser world title and it would be a consolation prize if Cody went for it and won it. The fans have no interest in seeing Cody win the silver medal or the second-place trophy when we all know that if alleged politics and egos in positions of power being in play weren’t preventing him from challenging for the title he really wants.
Seth made his best-efforts last week to try and compare his world title to the world title Dusty Rhodes and Terry Funk held, but here’s the thing that was the NWA World title and Cody actually has already won the 10 pounds of gold. We all know Cody wants the one Dusty was denied and that is the one on Roman’s shoulder and not the one around Seth’s waist.
Anyway, we all saw what appeared to be the forced smile that Cody gave when the Rock hugged him and the complete look of dejection as Cody walked up the ramp. On Raw this week, the final segment needs to be built as Cody making it official that he is challenging Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 40.
Cody comes out to talk to the fans as the crowd in St. Louis, which has a strong history in wrestling likely pop very strong for him. What will likely happen is he will try to explain what happened on Smackdown and if the audience is anything like the internet community will boo heavily. Cody tries to explain, but the crowd won’t want to hear it.
Seth comes out with a grin and says,
Seth: Listen Cody before you say what I know you’re about to say, it doesn’t matter… it’s been my dream since I was a kid to main event WrestleMania and it is hard for me to admit this, but you’ve been the better man against me in the past. This company deserves a real workhorse world champion showing up week in week out putting on the best show that we can give these fans. Win or lose this company will have a workhorse champion whether it is me or you. It’s what the fans want, it’s what Dusty would’ve wanted for you.
Cody cringes at this statement as the crowd continues to boo and chant NO loudly.
Seth: I know this wasn’t the title that you wanted, and we all know there were forces beyond our control that “helped” you come to this decision, but like I told you that is the Hollywood title, this is the real-world championship, and it will finish your story…it will finish Dusty’s story. You know this is what he would tell you to do…
Crowd continues to boo…before Cody can answer…Cult of Personality hits
Out comes CM Punk
Seth tries to tell him that this doesn’t concern him, and Punk tells him to shut even with one bad arm and your bad knee I can beat you…I’m out here to talk to Cody not you. This also keeps the Punk/Rollins feud still simmering.
CM Punk: I made Dusty a promise to look out for you Cody and as a veteran in this business it is important to pass on knowledge so that others don’t make the same mistakes as you did. Eleven years ago, I was in your same position, I was being denied my “earned” spot on the card for the Hollywood superstar. You know I was talking about Dwayne when I cut that promo before the Rumble able a “much bigger star returning after a long time away”, I said it was me, but we were aware of the rumors going into the Rumble and you know I meant him. Last time I checked it was me and you as the final two in the Rumble and Dwayne was nowhere in sight. You took my dream that night in more ways than one, but I won’t let you lose your dream.
As much as a revolutionary I’ve been in this business, I was a coward back then and backed down because I was told it was best for business and I just accepted it instead of fighting the machine. That was a mistake and almost a year later I walked out of this place.
You know that title around Seth’s waist doesn’t finish yours or Dusty’s story, you know what Dusty would tell you to do and it certainly wouldn’t be to settle for what the powers that be want for you. You said Dusty told you to leave this place and prove them wrong and you eventually did but you regretted not leaving when he told you to.
Don’t make the same mistake again, there is more than one royal family in this business, you won the Rumble and finish the story at WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia!
Cody smirks says thanks Punk, I know what the Dream would want, I have a flight to catch to Las Vegas. Raw closes with Seth confused and annoyed and Punk smirking. The audience is hit with another twist in this road to Mania.
February 8, 2024 – WrestleMania 40 Press Conference:
As much as the Rock wants to be the babyface in this whole thing, I think he needs to put his ego and pride aside and to once again embrace his heel side. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time comes from the film, the Dark Knight, “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. The Rock knows how to pivot in this business, he was supposed to be the face in his match with Hollywood Hogan at WrestleMania 18, but the audience didn’t feel that way and he adjusted on the fly.
Here is the thing Dwayne Johnson is not an idiot, I would hope that he would realize that this isn’t working out and that he needs to pivot. If his true goal was to help WrestleMania 40 then there is a way for him to get that, his match with Roman and to make this the biggest WrestleMania main event of all time. If he doesn’t pivot and just goes off ego and selfish desires of a one-on-one match with his cousin over who is the head of a fictional table and another world title reign that he doesn’t need then it is a complete spit in the face to Cody, Dusty, the fans and everyone that has played a part in building up Roman and helped in Cody’s chase for it.
What I am suggesting is the Rock needs to once again after 25 years become the heel Corporate Rock once again. There is a way to do this so that this is the most anticipated triple threat match in WrestleMania history.
You start with Hunter giving some remarks and then turns it over to the Rock, which I’m thinking will likely get some boos when he thanks Cody for stepping aside for him and that he will show his cousin who the true head of the table is at WrestleMania. Roman gives some comments about the Rock saying your time has passed Mr. Hollywood.
Seth then goes up to comment on how he is the real world’s champion and Cody, and I will prove that at WrestleMania when we outperform the Hollywood title match.
Cody goes to the mic and will absolutely get a massive pop. I wanted to say this Monday night, but I kept getting interrupted. Everyone wanted to know why I would step aside and give up my dream to main event WrestleMania 40 and delay me finishing the story. The reason is my father instilled respect for this business in me and to always chose business over personal feelings. Even though I’m a veteran and star in this business, I understand that I’m not the Rock.
Crowd boos as the Rock is nodding and grinning ear to ear.
Cody says however, like I said on Smackdown I took counsel from multiple people before coming to my decision, but I didn’t get a chance to confer with CM Punk until this past Monday since Punk was preparing for surgery last week. The American Dream was never a yes man, he was a common man and fought for what he believed in no matter who he pissed off.
Rock is suddenly looking uncomfortable, and the crowd is beginning to cheer expecting what is coming.
Cody says the American Nightmare is a revolutionary in this business and I told you Roman I not only wanted to take your championship from you to finish the story, but I wanted to take everything from you. I cannot take the head of the table from you, only family can do that which is why I was willing to step aside, because that is what the Rock wanted and was willing to do that, but Punk reminded me I’m the one that earned my choice and nothing says I can’t get what I want too, I chose you Roman.
Crowd is popping, Rock is now looking pissed and Roman is both pissed and Heyman looks worried.
Hunter smirks as he says well it looks like it will be a triple threat match for WWE Undisputed Universal Championship at WrestleMania 40.
The challenger for Seth’s title will be determined at Elimination Chamber.
The Weeks Building To WrestleMania 40:
The only major obstacle here is how often the Rock and Roman will show up for this as it was an issue last year with Roman. I think the Rock needs to fully lean into corporate abuse of power and a mix of his Hollywood heel Rock as well. There is a way to create animosity between all three of these men in the build up here. There is already heat between Cody and Roman stemming from last year and there is instant who’s the real head of the table built in between Roman and Rock.
So, it is about building the heat between the Rock and Cody as well. This is where the Rock needs to lean into his heel persona. The greatest villains are those that don’t believe that they are villains and justify their actions as right and noble. That is where the Rock needs to be in order for this to truly work.
Rock and Cody:
I think you have a Rock and Cody segment without Roman, to lay the groundwork because this is the one the fans have created the heat between the two as Rock was trying to steal Cody’s spot, but you need to cement it. The Rock comes out first and tries doing his greatest hits, but the crowd is booing like crazy.
Rock: Okay I get it, I maybe the people’s champion, but clearly the people are angry, but you are angry at the wrong man. The Rock did nothing wrong and there is a narrative that the Rock stole Cody Rhodes spot. That is simply not true, the Rock has never stolen anything. So, Cody Rhodes come on out here and let’s clear the air.
Rock: Cody, there is this narrative going on out there amongst the people that I stole your spot, and you know how much I loved and respected your father and how proud the Rock is of you. So, can you clear up these rumors?
Cody: Rock, you’ve known me my whole life, so when I came to you for your counsel, you gave me insight on your cousin that I wouldn’t have had. That he needed to be taken down and lose everything in order to truly defeat him. You told me that I should wait to challenge him because if you defeated him first, the tribe would follow you and I could get him one on one without the Bloodline that cost me at WrestleMania.
Rock is smirking and nodding his head in agreement.
Cody: However, what you didn’t say on the phone that I found out after Smackdown is that as a board member wanted the match to be for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship and not just for the rights to head of the table.
Rock is no longer smiling.
Cody: After talking to our mutual buddy, CM Punk, he filled me in on some details that I didn’t know what happened behind closed doors in eleven years ago. So, like you whispered in my ear a few weeks ago, this isn’t personal and I’m doing this for Dusty…you aren’t one of Dusty’s kids, Dwayne, only I can finish MY FATHER’s story.
Rock: Woah woah woah…the Rock meant…
Cody: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU MEANT!…at WrestleMania 40, Cody Rhodes, the grandson of a plumber and the son of the American Dream will be finishing the story, and no tribal chief or Rock will stand in my way. Like you said nothing personal though.
This pisses the Rock off, and this is where he starts booking Cody into matches as punishment, but of course denies it is punishment.
Cody/Rock/Roman – Together In One Ring:
This is a segment to really build this up to the Mania showdown, this is where you let all the dirt laundry out.
Roman: Let the tribal chief start, this little counsel here, first let me say, Cody congratulations for showing some balls and not giving up your WrestleMania spot, however, it won’t matter because it will end up the same result as last year.
Cousin, look at you pretending to be here on a mission from the elders and claiming to be the true head of the table. Let me tell you something when I was a kid watching you on your run before you abandoned this business that you claim to love so much, the elders would say all the time he is no High Chief Peter Mavia.
Rock looks pissed.
Rock: You keep my grandfather’s name out of your mouth…The Rock didn’t need a Bloodline to keep his title.
Roman: That’s true you didn’t have a Bloodline; you just needed a Nation or a Corporation or getting Jimmy and Solo’s dad to run over your top rival.
Roman: You set the blueprint to do whatever was necessary to get to the top and stay there…how many unprotected chair shots to the head did you give Foley eleven or twelve? I perfected it which is why I’m the most dominate champion in WWE history.
Rock: Yeah, it’s true the Rock did what he had to get to the top and stay there, but I’m the People’s…
Cody: Don’t even Rock, you aren’t the People’s champion anymore. They have been booing you since you tried to steal my spot at WrestleMania. Both you and Roman both have the same problem; you both think your family is the only royal one that exists.
Rock: Cody let me guess you think you’re the people’s champion?
Crowd chants for Cody and boos the Rock when Rock asks who the real people’s champ is.
Rock: You know what you might be the people’s champion, but the people are morons.
Rock: Oh, you people didn’t like that? Let me guess you are going to start chanting Die Rocky Die…yeah, I haven’t forgotten about that you pieces of trash. You’re right I’ll admit it I tried to steal your spot at WrestleMania, but your “Woah Movement” moved the board to put you in this thing. Make no mistake about this polka dot boy this is about Roman and I
Roman: Enough! I’ve heard enough it doesn’t matter I will stack you both and still be champion when that bell rings
Cody: Arrogance will be the downfall of your entire line on Sunday…a nightmare if you will (in Dusty voice)
Closes the final show before Mania.
At WrestleMania 40 they have an absolutely spectacular triple threat match, the finish needs to be Cody Rhodes winning the championship. Now you can either have him pin Roman, which is the right person he should pin, or he pins the Rock and that gives you an option for a Cody vs Roman rematch with Roman claiming he was never beaten. I think either way a final image should be the Rock raising Cody’s hand like a passing of the torch moment.
If the Rock’s true motivations was to give the fans the greatest WrestleMania main event of all time, something that people will be talking about for years in a good way and to dispel that this is all ego driven then myself and Archie truly believe this is the way to do it. It is truly what is best for business and the best for WrestleMania 40. This gives both Rock his match with Roman and allows Cody to finish his story in grand fashion. The Rock putting himself in this match may have inadvertently made Cody more beloved and the audience even more behind him. Penicillin was created by an accident, so this colossal booking mistake could be accidentally creating an even better WrestleMania 40 main event.
Let Cody finish the story at WrestleMania 40 like the fans want him to, it’s best for short- and long-term business.