The Rock vs. Roman Reigns Might Be The Best Move for WWE in the Short and Long-Term


The Rock returned to WWE television Friday night on SmackDown and apparently supplanted Cody Rhodes as the challenger to undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 in a creative move that, to say the least, did not sit well with fans.

The decision set social media ablaze, with some expressing frustration and anger over the company’s treatment of Cody Rhodes and a story they had spent the last year investing in emotionally. It even turned into a movement, with #WeWantCody trending worldwide at one point.

Wrestle Ops @WrestleOps

The Rock & Roman Reigns’ segment from last nights #SmackDown is now officially @WWE‘s most disliked YouTube video of all time with over 200,000 dislikes in under only 9 hours.

In 9 hours: 1.6M views. 57,000 Likes. 200,000+ Dislikes

Conrad the Mortgage Guy @HeyHeyItsConrad

I don’t understand how this is lost on so many people. For two years, the story has been about Cody winning the title. It wasn’t about beating Roman, it was about winning the belt his father never did. WWE’s own video game this year is centered around Cody “finishing the story”…

SiriusXM Busted Open @BustedOpenRadio

“They made Cody Rhodes look bad.”@_denisesalcedo and @TheMarkHenry discuss how they felt about what happened between Cody Rhodes, Roman Reigns and The Rock on #Smackdown


Reports by Mike Johnson of and Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select detailing how it came about and why it was made did not help matters.

The negative response further hampered what had already been a tumultuous Road to WrestleMania, which saw CM Punk suffer a triceps tear that put him on the sidelines and extinguished plans for a World Heavyweight Championship match against Seth Rollins.

This writer agrees with those outraged and suddenly disenfranchised fans who believe Rhodes was done wrong by the decision to replace him with Rock. He is the ultimate babyface, a guy who scratched and clawed his way back to the top of the company after last year’s main event loss to Reigns and did so while remaining as over as he has ever been.

He has also been a great role model and representative for WWE at meet-and-greets and media functions. He did everything right, and to be asked to step aside in favor of a part-time Hollywood megastar who decided he wants to come back and play wrestler again after being too busy to do so for the past 11 years is disappointing for everyone involved.

To play devil’s advocate, though, perhaps The Rock vs. Reigns is the right move for WWE both now and for the long term.

What If The Rock Is the Right Guy for Right Now?

Rhodes clearly said that to finish his story, he must not only take the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, but also everything from Reigns. That would include his status as The Tribal Chief, if not the entire Bloodline.

What better way for him to accomplish that than by stepping aside and letting the one guy who can actually challenge Reigns for that title than The Rock?


“Or is finishing the story taking EVERYTHING from you?”

That caught @WWERomanReigns‘ attention real quick 😳@CodyRhodes @HeymanHustle #SmackDown

Beyond that, The Great One represents the latest chapter in a Bloodline story that has been overarching in WWE for the past four years. It has been the greatest example of epic long-term booking this generation of fans has seen and, at different points in its existence, has appeared to be leading to this matchup, only for scheduling to get in the way.

WrestlePurists @WrestlePurists

The Rock just said that him vs Roman Reigns was LOCKED IN at one point for WrestleMania 39 in Hollywood

Also is open to being on WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia

– Pat McAfee Show

The Rock is back and able to have the match, and while the timing is not ideal and the handling of his interjection in the WrestleMania main event plans was handled about as poorly as it could have been for Rhodes, it’s not like the match came out of left field.

The idea that the third-generation star, son of Rocky Johnson and grandson of “High Chief” Peter Maivia, can humble Reigns under the brightest spotlight in pro wrestling and set the stage for the both the demise of The Bloodline is one the creative team can lean into as it scurries to explain why Rhodes would just walk away from the biggest match of his career and hand it over to someone else.

It is what happens if (and, for the sake of pro wrestling social media, when) The Rock loses to Reigns in Philadelphia that helps both Rhodes and WWE in the long term.

What It Could Mean for The American Nightmare

Assuming Rock does the right thing in the expected WrestleMania main event and loses to Reigns, Rhodes will have a clear path to The Tribal Chief without the specter of The Great One hanging over the proceedings.

The son of a son-of-a-plumber will have to do it on his own; to take the title and Reigns’ place as the Head of the Table away from him in one fell swoop. Not only will he win the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship and complete a story that began with his own Hall of Fame father, Dusty, but he will take the power and prestige of Reigns as the Tribal Chief.


“There you’ll be, a man without a family. A Roman with no more reigns. A chief without a tribe.”@CodyRhodes #WWERaw

Beating Reigns after he beats Rock not only allows him to be champion, but it also allows him to do something even The Great One could not. He will beat the man who beat The Rock, doubling up on his achievement and looking stronger because of it.

From that point, there would be no denying Rhodes as the undisputed face of the company moving forward. It will be confirmation of something that most already know, hence the internet backlash to the expected WrestleMania 40 move: He is undeniably and undisputedly the ace of WWE.

Is it a perfect scenario? Not by any means, but it certainly eclipses whatever nonsense the handling of the SmackDown promo was. It gives the company the Rock-Reigns match it has desperately tried to setup since 2015 and, whether we approve or not, prevents a rematch in the main event of wrestling’s biggest show.

It also creates this uber final boss for Rhodes to slay, either later this year or next April at WrestleMania 41, so that his win is even more meaningful than it already would have been.

Does he need Rock to really put over Reigns so that it means more when he beats him? Absolutely not. He could easily beat him in Philadelphia and the length of Reigns’ run as champion and reign of dominance alone would make it meaningful.

That one last piece of the puzzle takes the long-awaited triumph and puts an exclamation point on it.

Of course, this is all dependent upon The Rock actually losing to Reigns, but that is another argument for another time.

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