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NewsWWEMassive Must-Read Update On The Rock vs. Roman Reigns At WrestleMania 40

Massive Must-Read Update On The Rock vs. Roman Reigns At WrestleMania 40

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As we previously reported here on eWn, The Rock vs. Roman Reigns is currently planned to headline this year’s WrestleMania 40 pay-per-view event.

On this week’s episode of WWE SmackDown, Cody Rhodes revealed that he wouldn’t challenge Roman Reigns at this year’s “Showcase of the Immortals.” He then introduced The Rock.

We reported earlier that The Rock is believed to have pushed hard for the match to happen. According to a report from Fightful Select, The Rock was even pushing to win the match. However, that’s unconfirmed at this time.

The Rock making the push for the main event was said to have been inevitable due to his $30 million stock options payout as a recently announced board member for TKO. The Rock’s payday is partially contingent on him hitting certain financial milestones. One of those milestones was expected to be Johnson making an in-ring return this year.

It is said that The Rock was pushing for this match prior to the news of the latest Vince McMahon scandal surfacing. One source noted that this isn’t exactly going to hurt WWE’s attempt to pivot away from the negative media attention that story has been giving the company over the past week or so.

Several top TKO executives believe a match between The Rock and Roman Reigns will result in more “immediate” money than a match between Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns would have. And that’s likely true from a business standpoint.

It is said that TKO and WWE do still see the value in Rhodes and may have underestimated the negative reaction from the always passionate WWE fanbase. It’s worth noting that The Rock and Ari Emanuel have had a relationship for many years now and The Rock is said to be Endeavor’s biggest star. There was actually a pitch made around three weeks ago to have him be a talent as well as part of the TKO board. It is said that both sides wanted to make the most of the deal.

One WWE source compared this move by The Rock to his attempts to take over the creative side of the DC Universe at Warner Bros. While The Rock was originally expected to portray the character of Black Adam opposite Shazam in the planned Shazam movie, those plans later changed with The Rock leading his own solo film as Black Adam. The Rock wanted the character to eventually face Superman and attempted to go over the heads of the executives to their superiors to get some of his ideas approved. It’s alleged that Johnson wanted to gain control of the entire DC film franchise, but that was jettisoned following Black Adam‘s poor box office performance. Warner Bros. later named James Gunn and Peter Safran as the new heads of DC Studios.

As far as Cody Rhodes is concerned, he reportedly found out about the change on Friday before SmackDown. Rhodes didn’t travel to SmackDown without knowing in advance. It was added that all of the talent booked for next Thursday’s press conference were already booked at that time.

As of this writing, The Rock will be wrestling a full-length match at WrestleMania 40. There have been some concerns about him working a WrestleMania main event after his recent appearances where he seems to run out of gas fairly quickly and seems winded. Beyond WrestleMania 40, there is no word on if The Rock will continue to wrestle.

The response among talents and staff in WWE have been universally negative, as Cody Rhodes is well-liked backstage and they believe he should get his moment now. The belief is that this will be good for short-term business but not long-term.

One wrestler who has known The Rock for many years noted that the look on his face on WWE SmackDown suggests that “this decision wasn’t going to work out quite the way that he imagined it,” as it was “the same thing that he and Roman experienced in Philadelphia.”

Another former WWE World Champion stated that the match would have worked “several years ago” or this year if Cody won the title last year.

As far as creative is concerned, it is said that several of them were “demoralized” by the move and it sounded like something the previous regime might have done. There were reportedly “numerous” meetings and pitches to acquire The Rock for a match in recent years, with the excuse always being that the story didn’t make sense at the time. Many believe that is the case now, but the match will still be happening.

One source said that while The Rock is a “great guy,” this decision might hurt his relationship with the one fanbase he had “almost universal goodwill with.”

It is said that former WWE creative team member Brian Gewirtz, who worked for The Rock at Seven Bucks Productions, will be in the mix for The Rock’s creative process moving forward. One source believes Gewirtz will be physically involved for all of the major shows The Rock is featured on. Additionally, if TKO is planning to pivot the company’s creative direction with a “Johnson-backed creative team” later down the road, Gewirtz would almost surely be one of the people involved.

The current plan is for Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins to take place at WrestleMania 40. There are some people in WWE who are openly talking about Cody Rhodes winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title and then challenging the winner of the main event of WrestleMania 40 (Rock/Reigns) at SummerSlam in a title unification bout. It remains to be seen if that’s the plan or not.

And finally, it was added that The Rock’s family had pulled ahead of the McMahon family this week as far as power in pro wrestling is concerned. One person said WWE Chief Creative Officer Paul Levesque (Triple H) would “lose” a “power struggle with Johnson at this point” if he were to wage one.

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