News regarding the creative decision to have The Rock heel turn heading into WWE Wrestlemania 40

As seen during the February 2nd 2024 edition of WWE Smackdown, Cody Rhodes seemingly stepped aside for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to face Roman Reigns at WWE Wrestlemania 40. Despite this, Cody ended up choosing Reigns as his opponent for Wrestlemania at the Kickoff event.

In the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer of noted that WWE initially thought the Smackdown segment on February 2nd was a success due to the live crowd’s reaction to Rock confronting Reigns. However, the company realized that Rock had become a real-life bad guy in the eyes of some fans. Meltzer wrote the following regarding the creative decision to have Rock turn heel amidst the fan backlash

“A few people have said that the heel turn was necessary claiming that a combination of the bad publicity Johnson got from Black Adam and a bad content marketplace right now with the exception of sports and documentaries, and with Young Rock being canceled, the decision was made that it wasn’t good for Johnson to be booed heavily as a babyface, which is why he made the choice to go heel, feeling the booing can be explained as him playing heel wrestler and he’s even said he is very happy to do that.”

Meltzer added that during the weekend after the Smackdown segment, Rock decided it would be best to have Cody face Reigns at Wrestlemania. It’s believed that Rock then pitched his heel turn and a tag match with him and Reigns against Cody and Seth Rollins for night one of Wrestlemania. WWE was said to have quickly embraced the direction in subtle ways such as having Logan Paul write “We want Cody” on Twitter/X.