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NewsWWEBrian Gewirtz Recalls Pitching The Rock vs. Roman Reigns For WrestleMania 40

Brian Gewirtz Recalls Pitching The Rock vs. Roman Reigns For WrestleMania 40

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On a recent edition of the “Busted Open Radio” podcast, Seven Bucks Production Senior Vice President and former WWE writer Brian Gewirtz recalled the initial contact with WWE following WrestleMania 39, during which he informed them about the potential for a match between The Rock and Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40.

Gewirtz also outlined the evolution of the storyline, which transitioned from The Rock vs. Roman Reigns to a tag team match on Night 1 and Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns on Night 2.

You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:

On reaching out to WWE right after WrestleMania 39: “When WrestleMania 39 happened, I called my friend at WWE on the creative team and I said, ‘Just so you know, I’ve been talking with The Rock.’ Similar to The Rock-Ronda tag match (that was set up, but didn’t happen), I said, ‘There is a chance, there is a good chance, that Rock and Roman might be a possibility for WrestleMania 40.’”

On asking what WWE was planning for WrestleMania 40: “This is a year before. I said, ‘What do you guys have planned for WrestleMania 40?’ This is the day after WrestleMania 39. ‘Cody lost, the idea is to give him a solid year to go through many trials and tribulations, starting with Brock, and then do the rematch at WrestleMania 40.’ I said, ‘Okay, great. Well, this might exist, just so you know. You don’t need to change anything because who knows.’ A year in advance, so many things can happen. ‘Just know, in the back of your mind, he’s thinking about it.’”

On this being between him and WWE’s inner circle: “It wasn’t just between me and the writer. It was in the inner circle. ‘That’s great, we’re going to do our thing, you let us know on your end. If it gets to it, it’s a great problem to have. A storyline that is a great build and this dream match.’”

On The Rock’s appearance on WWE Raw Day 1: “It started, in the fall, looking more and more like a possibility. That led us to January 1st and the promo with Jinder (Mahal). At that point, it was looking very much like a possibility that Rock and Roman was going to happen. We had a meeting in Rock’s hotel room. It was me, Rock, Triple H, and Nick Khan. We talked about it all. Triple H was very aware and astute of the Cody storyline, and we brought that up and talked about it for a while. At the end of that meeting, everyone enjoyed the promo with Jinder, but what everyone was talking about was the ‘Head of the Table.’”

On testing the audience with the “Head of the Table” line: “That came about super late into our meeting at the hotel. As we were talking about Cody, it was said, ‘I hear you, maybe we should test poll the audience.’ Not just the audience in San Diego, but the audience all over the world. ‘What if I tease it, but not say it directly.’ We brainstormed on how do that. He did it. The place went nuts. Online went nuts. For the most part, it was overwhelmingly positive when he teased Head of the Table. At that point, ‘That gives us our answer.’ He did the TKO announcement, he went to WWE HQ, I have 96 pages of merch and title belt ideas. It was pretty much locked in at that point, which begs the question, if all of that is the plan, why do you have Cody Rhodes win the Royal Rumble?”

On his thoughts on having Cody Rhodes winning the Royal Rumble: “The idea of Cody winning the Rumble, I thought, was problematic. I said in San Diego, in that meeting, I thought the cleanest thing to do, if we’re booking Rock and Roman, is to have (CM) Punk win the Rumble and challenge Rollins because there is a difference, storyline-wise, of Cody wanting to finish the story and having earned the right to finish the story by winning the Royal Rumble. Once you win the Royal Rumble, that dynamic changes. It goes from something ‘we all want things,’ but now he’s got it. Why would he do anything other than focus on Roman? That’s what he did when he pointed to him. Why wouldn’t he? That’s what the character would do. I’ll just say, with 100% certainty, the original plan is something many more people would have hated more than anything in life itself. I can’t state that any more clearly. Punk gets hurt, the dominos start falling, things start shifting, and we get to a point where the WrestleMania press conference is coming up and we need to promote something, and now we get to the infamous Alabama promo.”

On Cody Rhodes and The Rock’s segment on SmackDown in Alabama: “The idea, it wasn’t necessarily my idea, but we all said, ‘This is where we’re at.’ The story for Cody is to win the belt that his dad could never win. It’s not to beat Roman Reigns and not to do it at WrestleMania. It’s technically, obviously, that’s the ideal place to do it, and it’s the best version of it, but the idea is, ‘I need to win this belt.’ I’m not saying this is a good idea, but it’s where we were left after the injuries and everything else. If Cody himself somewhat endorses this idea and paves the way for Rock and Roman, and he does it in a confident, ‘I know what I’m doing.’ Maybe, maybe not, but maybe the audience would go along with it.”

On Cody being in an impossible situation: “It is nearly an impossible situation to put Cody in. He can’t be like he just won the Showcase Showdown on Price is Right. People would be like, ‘That’s insane, he would not be happy about this.’ If he’s too morose, that’s also not ideal. Certainly more natural, but not ideal. You’re hoping for a sweet spot of steely confidence. ‘Roman, you’re going to get fu*ked over twice and I’m going to finish my story in the end.’ You don’t know how it’s going to go until they step through the curtain. Cody and Rock did the segment. It was a little more down trodden than I was expecting, watching from the audience, but it’s an impossible position.”

On how Cody did the best he could with the segment: “This is why I said I don’t blame Cody. Cody and Rock side barred on this. I think Cody’s attitude was, ‘I don’t like the decision, but I understand the business to be done here. I’ll go ahead the best that I can do it.’ He did it. At the time, we certainly weren’t thinking, ‘Cody ruined our brilliant creative.’ All of us going into it were like, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work, but let’s see what happens.’ For a second, it seemed fine, because the crowd popped big. Rock and Roman had their stare off. Everyone in Gorilla was like, ‘Great, we’re on track.’ Then, the vitriol came.”

On The Rock reacting by pitching a heel turn and a tag match at WrestleMania: “He proposed a tag match, as the main event of WrestleMania. He liked the elements, he liked teaming with Roman, the image of bada*sery, the throwback to WrestleMania 1 and the tag match that main evented. I said, ‘I love the tag match too, but that can’t be the main event. That can be night one, but I don’t think there is a world that exists anymore that can’t end with Cody beating Roman for the title on night two.’”

On how they worked things out: “It was agreed. ‘Figure out a way to get the tag match to the singles match.’ We had an idea, by the time we got to the press conference, it was a different stipulation than it ended up being. I don’t think anyone loved them. Without getting into specifics, it was more, ‘If this team wins, this is the match. If this team wins, this is the match.’ It was problematic because it required Cody winning twice. You need that emotional release. He has to lose the first night. You have to have Cody win when he wins with everything on the line. Two days after the press conference, I threw out Bloodline rules or everyone is banned from ringside to Rock. Rock loved it. He called Nick (Khan), Ari (Emanuel), he talked to Triple H. I talked to Ed (Kosky) and Bruce (Prichard) on the creative team. Everyone was like, ‘Great, this is what we’re going to do now.’ We’re off to the races, and then everything started flowing.”

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