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. The Vince McMahon sex trafficking lawsuit, WWE canceling creative plans for Brock Lesnar, and CM Punk getting injured were said to be factors in plans being changed.
During Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline.com brought up how WWE is expecting Cody Rhodes to become more sympathetic with fans in similar fashion to what happened with Daniel Bryan in 2014. Meltzer stated the following…
“When he [The Rock] made the deal on January 3 to come in, that was part of the deal. Why Cody Rhodes won the Royal Rumble is a question that I cannot answer because nobody will answer it for me. The belief was that it was Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes, and nobody knew, but the deal had been made prior to that. It played out the way they wanted it to play out. The plan as of Friday night was Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes. And we’ll see how it plays out because now they’re trying to turn it into a story and see how the story goes… I can’t tell you that they didn’t tell anybody [about plans changing]. But certainly, they didn’t tell many people or almost anyone.”
“I don’t know what they were expecting [fans booing The Rock]. But they were expecting Cody Rhodes to turn into Daniel Bryan… They were expecting to make Cody Rhodes into a martyr and make him a bigger babyface out of that. Were they expecting people to boo Dwayne? I don’t know. I’ve asked that one, and I haven’t gotten a straight answer.” (quotes courtesy of WrestlingNews.co)