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The Rock vs. Roman Reigns: Dream Match to Reality

On this Friday’s SmackDown, the Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes arrived to make his announcement for WrestleMania. This was almost a formality after last week where he pointed to Roman Reigns in the press-box. Yet the entire WWE Universe was swerved when Cody Rhodes introduced The Rock.

How did we get here? What was the reaction? Is this a “pinch me” moment or is this REALLY happening?

I believe the dominos in motion began last weekend at the Royal Rumble event, the same place Cody Rhodes won the Men’s Royal Rumble Match and earned the right to challenge Seth Rollins and the World Heavyweight Championship or redeem himself for last year’s WrestleMania defeat to Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship.

I think the plan going into last Saturday night at Tropicana Field was Seth Rollins versus CM Punk for WrestleMania Night 1 and Cody Rhodes trying to “finish the story” against Roman Reigns on Night 2. Usually, the final two in the Royal Rumble are the two to challenge for the world titles (2005: John Cena and Batista) with some exceptions (2023: Cody Rhodes and Gunther).

And then the news nobody wanted to hear. Love him or hate him, CM Punk tore his triceps in the Royal Rumble Match and began Monday’s Raw by announcing he would require surgery and miss this year’s WrestleMania. If this was ever a “butterfly effect” moment, this was as big as it gets. You’re well on the road to WrestleMania with months of storyline built, only for one of your headliners to suffer an unfortunate injury.

So CM Punk is out. You just had Cody Rhodes win the Men’s Royal Rumble and challenge Roman Reigns. Who is on the Monday Night Raw roster, worthy of selling out and main eventing Night 1 of WrestleMania 40?

Some would make the argument for Gunther, the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in history. But after making the title prestigious for holding it over 600 days and counting, he needs to defend THAT title at WrestleMania on its own.

Some would make the argument for “Main Event” Jey Uso. After all, that’s his new nickname. But you’ve kept him from his own twin brother Jimmy Uso to have a first-time-ever match in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

Some would make the argument for Sami Zayn. A year ago today, he was one of the hottest commodities in the business after the Honorary Uce turned on Roman Reigns and the Bloodline to challenge Reigns in his hometown of Montreal for the WWE Championship. But let’s be honest, Sami’s window has passed much like your favorite NFL team’s window to win the Super Bowl.

Some would make the argument for Drew McIntyre. He’s a heel chasing his moment he was robbed of due to the pandemic in 2020. He wants to win a world title and have his WrestleMania moment in front of fans. But if the rumors are true and McIntyre hasn’t signed a long-term contract, you can’t invest a WrestleMania main event into him and have the Scottish Warrior dip to your competition a couple months later.

At the end of the day, you’re running out of options to headline WrestleMania. And none of those mentioned are a bigger draw and a bigger name than “CM Punk” making his WrestleMania return after 10 years away. You need something as significant, or as big, with this being a landmark WrestleMania (40, 35, 30, 25, etc.)

Major shuffling has to happen to the WrestleMania card and they have only 2 months to make it make sense.

Insert to the picture: The Rock. The dream match fantasized about for years. We never got The Rock versus Roman Reigns due to Rock’s heavy Hollywood schedule. Now, it might actually happen.

I’m sure this was sped up and processed much quicker than people would have liked. The Rock has appeared on WWE programming a few times during this Tribal Chief Era, but only called out Roman Reigns one month ago on Raw, asking fans if he should sit at the Head of the Table. So to have them face-to-face on SmackDown was a moment that will live on forever.

If you’ve listened to the Drop the Mike Wrestling Podcast on Tobacco Road Sports Radio’s YouTube channel, you knew this route could be a possibility. Roman Reigns calls himself the “Head of the Table” and the “Tribal Chief” and he’s beaten everybody to elevate his legacy. The only person who could catapult him into an unforeseen level is his cousin, The Rock, to determine who really is Chief of their Tribe, and who really is the People’s Champion, if you will.

Roman Reigns wrestling The Rock does several things:
It is THE money match that will attract wrestling fans, non-wrestling fans, The Rock’s Hollywood fans, and casual viewers on Peacock
This is the headline as opposed to Vince McMahon
A win elevates Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns is even higher to make the moment he loses the title that much bigger
Roman Reigns continues to compile days in his title reign

But of course, Twitter (a small community and representation of fans) is up in arms for their guy Cody Rhodes. They feel like he was robbed and let a part-timer take his WrestleMania main event. This isn’t the case.

This week, the company buried the World Heavyweight Championship as the “loser’s bracket title.” It’s always been seen as second fiddle to Roman Reigns and what he’s done with the WWE Championship, despite Seth Rollins holding the title since its reincarnation last year.

Who would wrestle Seth Rollins at WrestleMania and make that championship feel bigger? It’s not Gunther, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, or Drew McIntyre. It’s the Royal Rumble winner deciding to bring prestige to the title his father DID hold.

Now is the World Heavyweight Championship dubbed the “loser’s bracket title” because Roman Reigns was holding the WWE Championship hostage? Is it because Seth Rollins failed to capture the title to Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble 2022, due to Roman intentionally getting himself disqualified? Or is it because Seth Rollins lost 3 consecutive Premium Live Events to Cody Rhodes two years ago?

Seth Rollins needs to redeem those losses to Cody Rhodes, who has become the bigger star on Monday Night Raw. That’s why he came out on Monday’s Raw to challenge him. Cody Rhodes can bring prestige to the “Dusty title” by choosing to wrestle for it at WrestleMania.

So in one weekend WWE can make the World Heavyweight Championship matter, win or loss for Cody Rhodes. In that same weekend, WWE can elevate Roman Reigns to an unfathomable level with a win over The Rock.

And when the time is right, Cody Rhodes will win the WWE Championship, whether that’s from Roman Reigns or from Solo Sikoa as I mentioned in this SportsCarolina Monthly article. And it’ll be bigger than ever.

Just let WWE tell the story. They’ve had to rewrite it due to unforeseen circumstances, and that’s life. But based on the work Triple H has done since Summer 2022, I trust The Game.






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