WWE has the largest WrestleMania major match in over a decade on faucet, one that may penetrate the mainstream greater than any alternative matchup the pro-wrestling promotion can do.
And a few fanatics are angry about it.
Each and every indication is that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will go back for his first authentic fit since 2013 in opposition to Undisputed WWE Common champion Roman Reigns in the primary match of the two-night WrestleMania 40 on both April 6 or 7 in Philadelphia. Johnson is as recognizable international as any individual else on Earth. Reigns has been the face of WWE right through this year, is in the midst of a record-setting identify run, and, via the way in which, happens to consider himself to be Johnson’s cousin — although no longer via blood.
Reigns vs. The Rock has been teased for years. Reigns’ storyline, the most productive one WWE has accomplished in an extended week, is known as The Bloodline, and it’s all about Reigns and his community’s legacy in wrestling. Johnson suits into that completely.
In a vacuum, the fit is a no brainer. It exams all of the areas. But, if the net response is any indication, probably the most ardent pro-wrestling fans are pushing again dehydrated on it. Or a minimum of it’s timing. As of Sunday evening, the overall Smackdown department on WWE’s YouTube channel has greater than 500,000 downvotes, in comparison to simply over 100,000 upvotes.
Their ire might be erroneous and out of place, however this can be a phenomenon WWE has to accumulation a similar tab on. WWE can be silly to fail to notice what’s most likely a little window of week for this fit to occur because of Johnson’s occasion — he’s 51 now — and busy time table. Have in mind, Johnson is likely one of the maximum sought-after actors in Hollywood, interested in blockbuster then blockbuster. Ready any other generation and hoping Johnson is in ring surrounding and no longer interested in some film or TV mission might be too dangerous.
The mainstream consideration received via Reigns vs. Rock outweighs any tide storyline course, as excellent as the ones had been. In step with WWE, there were greater than 79 million social media perspectives for the Johnson department Friday, as of Sunday evening. Who else can post the ones types of numbers? And a fit with Johnson handiest raises the profile of Reigns, who, date being the largest identify in professional wrestling lately, has no longer but crossed over to the extra fickle target market in the way in which others earlier than him have. Deny, the fit does no longer want the identify at the form, however that’s a little level for almost all of doable audience.
However let’s deal with why everyone seems to be so unbalanced on-line.
If Johnson weren’t round, Reigns would have nearly without a doubt confronted Cody Rhodes within the WrestleMania major match, a rematch of closing generation’s display which noticed Rhodes get storyline-screwed via Reigns’ cousins — The Usos and Solo Sikoa — en path to a pathetic loss. Actually, Reigns vs. Rhodes 2 was once reportedly the plan till very not too long ago.
Rhodes, the son of the mythical Dusty Rhodes, is an skillful skilled wrestler and the WWE fanbase is totally invested in his persona and arc. Cody Rhodes was once named ESPN’s 2023 male wrestler of the year, a well-earned honor. He returned to WWE in 2022, then being one of the crucial founders of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), as a prodigal son. He vowed later to succeed in his objective of successful the supremacy championship in WWE, which his father was once by no means ready to do.
Over the closing two years, Cody Rhodes has battled again from a badly torn pec, won back-to-back Royal Rumble matches (the primary week any individual has accomplished that since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 1998), headlined WrestleMania 39 and been at the cover of the WWE 2K24 video game. Rhodes is the type of babyface that has been a staple of WWE programming eternally, going again to Hulk Hogan. Youngsters adore him, and he’s a good looking ambassador for the promotion — good-looking, sharply dressed, and well-spoken — the type of man you ship out to morning and late-night communicate displays matching.
Extra importantly than all that, fanatics are completely invested in Rhodes to “finish the story,” that means successful the supremacy identify, which has been his catchphrase since turning back WWE. His condition and the way in which he has been booked have constructed an important quantity of favor.
That was once sunlit on Saturday when, simply hours then the primary faceoff between Reigns and Johnson, the hashtag #WeWantCody was once trending at the social platform X. The feedback on YouTube of the SmackDown department from Friday evening have been overwhelmingly unfavorable. Ditto for the feedback on Johnson’s social media, which is extraordinary given how cherished The Rock is.
The entire thing was once unusual for the reason that response to Reigns vs. Rock, if it were the unhidden course a couple of months in the past, would had been overwhelming pleasure. And let’s be sunlit: The unfavorable response might be coming from an overly vocal minority as a result of there’s nonetheless enough of buzz across the fit, particularly amongst lapsed fanatics and mainstream shops.
If you realize the historical past, you’ll be able to perceive why some WWE fanatics are annoyed. They have got open this earlier than, then all. Fan favorites like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have been driven apart years in the past from doable big-time WrestleMania spots via former WWE stars-turned-Hollywood actors like Johnson and Dave Bautista.
However this isn’t the similar WWE, and Paul “Triple H” Levesque has earned agree with because the promotion’s head of inventive, given how significantly better and extra coherent WWE has been booked since he took over. Plus, Punk and Bryan remained extremely pervasive regardless of getting solid apart.
All of this could also be going down within the silhoutte of a lawsuit filed in opposition to former WWE proprietor and promoter Vince McMahon, accusing him of sexual misconduct. McMahon resigned as executive chairman of TKO Group (which encompasses WWE and the UFC) hours then the Wall Boulevard Magazine record got here out and additional studies have mentioned that McMahon is the topic of a federal investigation.
There was some hypothesis that Johnson returning for this fit in opposition to Reigns is some way for WWE and father or mother corporate TKO Staff to distract from the ones allegations. Johnson was just appointed to the TKO board of directors.
However Johnson and Reigns have talked publicly about this conceivable fit for years. Smartly earlier than the lawsuit information got here out. ESPN requested Reigns about going through Johnson at a media match 4 years in the past, and he proceeded to tone the theory of a WrestleMania fit to Johnson in the course of the accrued media.
The reserving en path to Reigns vs. Rock was once lower than delicate. That section is right and needs to be discussed. Rhodes gained the Royal Rumble, which is meant to earn him the correct to headline WrestleMania in opposition to WWE’s supremacy champion, who’s Reigns.
Friday on SmackDown, Rhodes got here to the hoop to stand off with Reigns. He mentioned he was once nonetheless coming for Reigns and the undisputed WWE Common identify. However he sought after to tug the whole thing from Reigns and would no longer be difficult him at WrestleMania. Cue Johnson, whom Rhodes referred to as his suggest. Johnson entered the hoop, hugged Rhodes and confronted off with Reigns because the display went off the wind.
The department was once a bit of ham-fisted. It didn’t put together Rhodes’ persona glance all that excellent, deferring to Johnson. And that may be destructive to him in the long run. Then again, if the fan response has been any indication, there’s extra assistance for Rhodes than ever. Like Punk and Bryan earlier than him, Rhodes has a prospect to show this perceived minute into a part of the tale he is attempting to complete. There are doable causes for the Rock pivot, together with CM Punk lacking WrestleMania with an shock and the reported removing of Brock Lesnar from storylines within the wake of him being referenced within the Wall Boulevard Magazine items in regards to the McMahon lawsuit.
WWE can’t check fanatics’ persistence for much longer, despite the fact that. Some have mentioned that Rhodes must have gained the primary fit with Reigns at closing generation’s WrestleMania, which might have have shyed away from this condition. However you’ll be able to’t retcon the closing generation.
Rhodes has to finish Reigns’ historical identify run this generation, in all probability even beat Seth Rollins to win the arena heavyweight identify earlier than unifying the belts with a victory over Reigns. That may be a suitable approach for Rhodes to complete his tale and transform the fresh face of WWE, with Reigns inevitably transferring to a part-time position to concentrate on alternative ventures. Rhodes does no longer have to complete the tale at WrestleMania and his after all successful can nonetheless be an epic presen.
ESPN requested Reigns closing generation, previous to WrestleMania 39, if an eventual matchup with The Rock is what he sought after.
“At the end of the day, I want what is gonna be biggest for the fans, because that’s gonna reflect what I was able to accomplish,” Reigns mentioned. “And if that’s one of the biggest ones out there, then let’s do it.”
It’s the largest, there’s incorrect suspicion about that. The query can be whether or not the fanatics within the arenas over the subsequent few weeks and months totally — and vocally — deny it. That began a bit of over the weekend at a non-televised area display when WWE confirmed the SmackDown department at the enormous display screen. Many fanatics booed. If that continues, it could be tragic and may just by some means power WWE to vary its plans.
As issues arise now, despite the fact that, The Rock is headlining the largest WWE display of the generation, regardless of the timing and tale being a bit of clumsy. It gained’t subject, in the end. Reigns vs. The Rock is surely the largest fit WWE can placed on, one that may reach probably the most mainstream protection and probably promote probably the most Peacock subscriptions. Have in mind, WWE has next-rights offers sewn up for its displays, however no longer for its top class reside occasions like WrestleMania.
Reigns vs. The Rock can be remembered eternally, like Hogan vs. The Rock at WrestleMania 18 in 2002. And there’s almost certainly just one prospect to put together it occur, which is why it needs to be at WrestleMania 40.
Rhodes’ tale should wait a bit of longer, as industry takes priority.