Being totally honest here, I’m bummed out about Wrestlemania 40. Yeah, it’s a shame that CM Punk injured his triceps and Seth Rollins injured his knee, but the WWE roster has legit depth to it. While Brock Lesnar was just cancelled from the WWE, my depth point was proven by Bron Breakker stepping in and crushing it in Brock’s place at the Royal Rumble. This isn’t 2021 where the WWE is too dependent on Brock and Roman. “Next man up”.
In my opinion, TKO/Endeavor is also overrating the Vince McMahon controversy. From mid-2022, we knew that Vince McMahon was pond scum. While the lawsuit details are very cringeworthy, we already knew that Vince had his way with the victim and pimped her off to John Laurinaitis. It’s old news and Endeavor’s TKO corporate structure already made Vince McMahon’s role irrelevant. While he was TKO Board Chairman, Endeavor owns 51% of TKO and can easily overrule any decision he made. In addition, Endeavor blocked Vince McMahon from meddling in WWE’s daily operations via the organizational chart and assigning him corporate duties. Thus, as I’ll argue, their over-reactions to shoehorn the Rock into Wrestlemania and then instantly turning him heel will prove to be problematic long-term.
The FACT is that the Rock vs. Roman Reigns was NOT planned, even though goofball “news insiders” will try to lie and insist it was the plan, all along, since early January. Meanwhile, their other reports were indicating that CM Punk would challenge Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship and that “Rock was off the table for 2024” leading to Cody winning the Rumble to challenge Roman Reigns. Cody did, in fact, win the 2024 Royal Rumble match to allow him to become the #1 contender for a world title at Wrestlemania.
Then, the Vince McMahon lawsuit hit and Endeavor completely over-reacted. Instead of realizing that Triple H had built up a STABLE product that wasn’t heavily micro-managed by Vince McMahon, Endeavor went into PUBLIC RELATIONS MODE and completely wrecked the WWE’s long-term plans for Wrestlemania 40. Yes, CM Punk and Seth Rollins were hurt while Brock Lesnar was unavailable, but the show in Philly had long sold out and Cody vs. Roman II would have drawn. Instead of trusting in Triple H, who helped make the WWE really successful again since 2022, Endeavor panicked and foolishly placed the Rock into a situation that he’s not capable of handling.
Let’s be honest about the Rock… Great wrestling talent from 1996 to 2004, one of the all-time greats. He’s made lots of money in the box office, though I can’t quite pinpoint successful franchises where he was the lead star like I can for Arnold or Sylvester. Overall, very nice guy who does a lot for charity… I thought it was foolish for him to buy the XFL, but he bought it cheap via bankruptcy proceedings and now he’s part of the upcoming subpar UFL league that will also not make money. I wouldn’t exactly call “managing the XFL” experience, especially since his ex-wife handles much of the day-to-day operations of that.
With that said, what exactly qualified the Rock to be on a Corporate Board? Aside from the XFL, which has been a struggle (why else would it already merge?), what managerial decision making or corporate management experience does the Rock have? Aside from being a performer for the WWE, what experience does he have managing a wrestling company? What experience does he have to help manage the UFC? There’s none on that level.
The fact is that the Rock joined TKO’s board not just because he’s an ex-WWE star and has lots of fame, but folks within Endeavor have been his Hollywood agents and it doesn’t hurt that he’s childhood friends with Nick Khan. What else explains why an Endeavor corporation, likely using their 51% voting share, push the Rock onto the TKO board and offer him $30 million in stock? And then suddenly, instead of settling in, the Rock thrusts himself onto the WWE product and completely changes Triple H’s long-term plans for Wrestlemania 40.
Before yesterday (Thursday 2/8), I had no problems with Rock vs. Roman Reigns and I indicated that as such in my 2/3 Column. In my opinion, it was a dream match and with Rock being an actor, his schedule was limited and you essentially take what you can get from him. I felt that online wrestling fans were taking things too far and maybe believed in Cody way too much. That was proven by a small % of fans who were harassing the Rock’s daughter online.
Honestly, I’m not that big of a Cody Rhodes fan… I think he’s talented and a good performer, but just missing that extra gear or “it factor” that is in the DNA of top stars. I also think “finish the story” isn’t about him, but about his father Dusty Rhodes. In my mind, how Cody was poorly used through the mid 2010s should be “the story”. He should be PISSED more about how he was used, but instead, we get a lot more Dusty name dropping. Hell, you JUST HEARD IT at Thursday’s Las Vegas event about Dusty Rhodes. THAT is Cody’s story, trying to vicariously repair the WWE letdown that Dusty had through Cody, not repairing Cody’s own WWE struggles during the 2010s.
I figured all of this negativity towards Rock vs. Roman would die down, and fans would grow to accept Cody vs. Seth Rollins. Hell, I even presented the opportunity that Cody and Seth Rollins could just overwhelm Wrestlemania 40 with the quality of their match to prove something.
BUT THEN… WWE changed its mind again.
That’s what I liked about Triple H‘s new reign on Creative since mid-2022… HE WAS PATIENT with storylines and let them playout. Then, when you got the amazing payoff (see Royal Rumble 2023 with Zami Zayn), you felt fulfilled by sticking around for the storyline. Instead of having endless kneejerk reactions like Vince McMahon often did, Triple H gave storylines room to breathe. Cody should THANK Triple H for helping him build this “finish the story” storyline, as HHH did a masterful job in booking his return run. Even when Vince McMahon meddled with a few early 2023 stuff, Triple H got Cody back on the right path such as resolving the Brock Lesnar storyline through SummerSlam 2023. Wasn’t that rewarding?
Now, however, the Creative is utter chaos because Endeavor/TKO are SCARED of Vince McMahon‘s lawsuit news and probably wondering if another shoe is about to drop. Meanwhile, those corporate FOOLS don’t realize that Vince McMahon’s troubles are OLD NEWS and that all of us WWE fans are 100% behind Triple H.
See, in my mind, I’m not feeling bad for Cody Rhodes in this situation… Yeah, it’s tough, but in my mind, his CHASE is the draw of his character. No, I feel bad for Triple H. Everything that he’s worked for in the past year to build Wrestlemania 40 has been thrown away.
So we go from Cody Rhodes vs. Roman to Rock vs. Roman, with Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins. We could have had TWO MONTHS to build those match-ups and make them worthwhile for fans. But NOOOOOOOOOO, the TKO/Endeavor had to meddle with the WWE’s creative and force changes once again.
Now, we somehow have Cody choosing Roman Reigns for his Wrestlemania 40 match-up, thanks to winning the Rumble match, and that somehow aligns the Rock with Roman Reigns. Wait a second… I thought Rock had an issue with Roman declaring himself to be the “Head of the Table”. However, he wants to side with his loosely tied family member now with Roman? Huh? How can your character call out Roman a few weeks ago with his RAW appearance, but now buddy up with him?
And that’s on top of the Rock attacking the WWE audience and calling them “Cody Crybabies” on Pat McAfee‘s show. Yeah, I realize that you are probably pissed at the small % who were being ignorant towards your daughter, but that’s not the majority of wrestling fans backing Cody. They were 100% invested in Triple H’s storytelling and looking for a payoff. For you, Dwayne Johnson, to belittle and slam the loyal paying fans that you CLAIM to represent as a new TKO Board Member is a JOKE. Furthermore, many of those fans who were 100% invested in Triple H’s storytelling of Cody Rhodes “finishing his story” were also BIG FANS of the Rock during the late 1990s and early 2000s. They spent time and money to make you a superstar, just as they are doing with Cody Rhodes right now.
THAT is where I now have a problem with the Rock‘s involvement. I can see clearly now…
With the Rock not only taking the Wrestlemania 40 spot with Roman BUT also turning himself HEEL, he’s completely hijacked Wrestlemania 40 and for the worse. Worse yet, you’ve actually REDUCED the value of Roman Reigns as a heel. The whole damn point of having Rock vs. Roman was a classic babyface versus heel dream match between a top wrestler from a past generation against today’s current top superstar. With Rock taking Cody’s match, which I was at first cool with, but now belittling WWE fans and then fully turning heel by slapping Cody and joining Roman Reigns in Las Vegas, the Rock has officially ruined Triple H’s plans for Wrestlemania 40, bigtime.
There is no value in Cody vs. Roman because the WWE just backtracked. Furthermore, the HEAT with Roman Reigns is gone because all of the heel energy is on the Rock.
The value of Rock vs. Roman Reigns is now gone, too… Rock has turned himself heel, trying to embrace this minority of wrestling fans complaining on Social Media. Him attacking WWE fans as “Cody Crybabies” was disgusting and the complications at the Las Vegas event paint an even worse picture. 2 weeks ago, nobody was thinking of Rock as a heel… Now, only thing that gets headlines from the WWE is Rock’s involvement INSTEAD of focusing on the great Creative work that Triple H just did to help Wrestlemania 40 sell out.
That’s right, Wrestlemania 40 already sold all of its tickets BEFORE the Rock joined. Why? Because Triple H was doing a great job with the company and didn’t need Rock’s star power.
Now, however, Triple H has to deal with Rock’s star power, whether he wants it or not.
And I want to stress how idiotic this reaction has been by Endeavor/TKO… You are overrating the effect of Vince McMahon‘s lawsuit. Endeavor rendered Vince useless and we already knew about Vince’s issue, thanks to the heavy news reporting that occurred before Vince McMahon resigned during June 2022. So why are you overreacting? The tickets in Philadelphia already sold… With Punk and Rollins hurt, while Lesnar was cancelled, it’s NEXT MAN UP and Triple H has an army of wrestlers through early 2024 that could step up. LA Knight, AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa, Austin Theory, and many more. Hell, go sign Okada if you need a talent and he’d love to give 100% on that Wrestlemania stage.
I believe that the Rock, backed by TKO and Endeavor, have over-reacted to several situations here.
(1) Overrated the effect Vince McMahon’s lawsuit would have no public relations. Did they not notice how Slim Jim returned once Vince resigned?
(2) They did not realize how fully invested WWE fans were in Triple H’s long-term storylines.
(3) They over-reacted to the online fans over-reacting, hence the rapid changes done at the Las Vegas event.
And I predict that following said Las Vegas event, there will be more changes coming because the Rock and TKO/Endeavor’s rabbit ears will be up and assessing and micro-managing the online reaction once again.
Honestly, they could have made things simple… After the Smackdown where the Rock took the match, they could have embraced said heat and had Cody Rhodes cut a passionate promo on RAW where he REJECTS the idea of Rock taking his match with Roman. Then on Smackdown, the Rock appears again and has a “come to Jesus” moment where he realizes he was wrong and opts to back-out of Wrestlemania. Then the Rock says good things, such as appreciating what Dusty brought to the WWE but also being proud of the work that Cody has done for the past 2 years. They shake hands, and that’s it. Rock can wrestle Roman another day.
Then, we have Wrestlemania 40 and Cody vs. Roman is the MAIN EVENT. Once again, we get the Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa interference but instead of being successful, the Rock comes down and takes out Solo and Jimmy. That kills the interference and now Roman is vulnerable to eat a clean loss. Cody wins the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 40 and “finishes the story”.
On the RAW after Wrestlemania, Roman Reigns hijacks the show from the start and calls out the Rock. The Rock just made things personal and as the “head of the table”, he’s not having it. And thus does the BOLD thing of challenging the Rock to a match at Wrestlemania 41. That’s right, we’re doing the 1 year build once again that helped make John Cena vs. Rock #1 at Wrestlemania 28 so big. Thus, Roman will spend the rest of the year still pissed at losing his title while the Rock can still play the hero BECAUSE he helped Cody fend-off Bloodline interference.
But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, the WWE and probably with prodding and meddling from TKO/Endeavor, has opted to embrace this so-called online heat and lean into it by turning the Rock into a full blown heel.
(a) Mocks fans on Pat McAfee’s show as “Cody Crybabies”
(b) Slaps Cody Rhodes in the face
(c) Joins Roman Reigns
Completely idiotic, if you ask me, and I’d be PISSED OFF if I were Triple H on how TKO/Endeavor/Rock have wrecked his long-term plans. From my review of the body language with Triple H, I could see some disappointment in his face though he did enjoy the chaos, a bit, from this Las Vegas event.
Congrats, TKO and Endeavor… Rock vs. Roman Reigns will NEVER mean a damn thing, ever again, as a Dream Match. GONE… Nobody will care about this Bloodline angle and its payoff between family members, ever again. YOU BOTCHED IT.
Furthermore, Cody Rhodes getting his match back with Roman Reigns no longer matters. The STRUGGLE was Cody Rhodes overcoming Roman Reigns, NOT the Rock. Rock shoehorns himself into the Bloodline and that has diminished Roman’s value as the #1 heel instantly. Now, everything is Rock THIS and Rock THAT.
What a joke…
In just 2 weeks, TKO, Endeavor, and the Rock have ruined long-term storylines while also destroying a Dream Match between Rock vs. Roman and also ruined the shine off of defeating Roman Reigns for that unified talent.
The Rock is STEALING all of the oxygen in the room now… What a shame.
If you watch last night’s video at around the 19:50 mark, you can literally see Roman Reigns role as the #1 heel disappear into the night as the Rock steps up to respond to Cody’s promo. Instead of Roman being upset and responding, it was the Rock stealing the spotlight. Then, of course, Rock and Roman are now close buddies…
What a shame.
I guess the heat is now on the Cody vs. Rock match-up, which has barely a week of interest.
Kudos to Seth Rollins for cutting a promo on the Rock with curse words and saying “I don’t care if you’re on the TKO board”. I think that’s how everyone feels now.
Wrestlemania 40 has been micro-managed. Congrats, Rock, you’re back as a WWE wrestler, I suppose.
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