For a good bit I scrolled through social media and various comment threads that showed the, uh—discontent—about the WrestleMania main event that has been obvious for months.
The Rock, the biggest crossover star that pro wrestling has ever produced, facing off against his cousin, Roman Reigns, in what will seemingly be a tale of family honor and personal glory. It is the biggest WrestleMania match since John Cena faced off against The Rock the very first time at WrestleMania 28.
This match was always going to take place, just like Cody Rhodes was always going to win the Royal Rumble again.
WWE feels that Reigns' title reign has a few miles left on it. Although I believe this storyline is getting a little bit long in the tooth, I don't feel it is to the point where it needs to end in two months. If WWE feels that there's more money to be made keeping the belt on Reigns longer, then why not? It's not costing the company money right now, so why fix something that isn't broke?
Whether anyone likes it or not, a WrestleMania main event that features The Rock—even at 51 years young—is going to be a bigger deal than Rhodes "finishing his story". And as much as Rhodes himself would probably have loved to main event WrestleMania again, he is an astute enough of a businessman and a quintessential professional to understand reality.
Rock vs. Reigns will be the latter's biggest match to date, and the one match that—in reality and in kayfabe—will cement his legacy in WWE. It is a match that both performers have wanted for years. It's better to do it now instead of never getting around to it.
And yes, Rock vs Roman needs the title to be involved, considering the story that they are going to most likely tell—The Rock will be motivated by protecting the family, the family legacy, and WWE itself from Reigns' tyranny; Reigns will be looking to supplant Rock as the most successful member of the Anoa'i wrestling family.
And to be honest? Rhodes vs. Reigns II does not have to happen at WrestleMania. It would be more of a poetic story for it to take place at SummerSlam. As Cageside Seats columnist M. GOMEZ correctly observed, a Reigns triumph over The Rock would only enhance Rhodes' story as the one man who can conquer the WWE's resident tyrant.
Fans have a weird obsession with a WrestleMania main event triumph needing to be the coronation moment for a star—even though it has only happened 2 times in the previous 39 editions of WrestleMania:
- Shawn Michaels in 1996
- Steve Austin in 1998
Yes, there were these three other times...
- He Who Will Not Be Named in 2004*
- Dave Batista in 2005*
- Bryan Danielson (as Daniel Bryan) in 2013*
- He Who Will Not Be Named was back as an upper mid-card act just months later
- Batista was relegated to being the second tier world champion just months later
- Danielson was injured a month later
Stop fantasy booking yourselves out of reality, folks (yeah, I know, irony). Some of the biggest stars in WWE history did not win the company's top prize for the first time in a WrestleMania main event. Ric Flair won his first title at the Royal Rumble. Bret Hart won the first of his 5 WWE titles at a Superstars taping. The Undertaker and The Rock won their first titles at Survivor Series. Mick Foley and Triple H won their first titles on editions of Raw. In other words, it is not the end of the world Rhodes doesn't win his first title at WrestleMania. Cody Rhodes will be just fine, people.
I have a gut feeling that due to the television deals that will put Raw on Netflix and SmackDown on USA Network, the inevitable rematch between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes will be a unification match for the world titles. I can't see a situation where WWE would put the primary world champion on one show and the secondary world champion on the other; as in, I find it hard to believe one would only be seen on Netflix and the other only be seen on TV—though I could easily be wrong.
At worst, if WWE feels the pressure of fan blowback, Rhodes could easily be shuffled into the Rock-Reigns match and turn it into a triple threat. It might be very messy to do it, but the company would be remiss not to consider it if fan reaction gets poor enough to where it could potentially lead to embarrassment.
So here's the bottom line: are you folks going to be unhappy? Yes. However, I firmly believe WWE made the right call. Do the bigger match now. Save Rhodes-Reigns II for SummerSlam.
On another note:
I am always fascinated by fan anger over creative decisions. I mean sure, I get moaning and groaning, but the anger I've seen over WWE choosing to do a match between the biggest star the company ever produced and the biggest star that's on the roster now is...weird to me?
I guess I would consider myself a detached wrestling fan—I look at things from the point of "what's good for TV" and "what's best for the show" in lieu of any real personal preference. Personally, I could care less who faces Roman Reigns at WrestleMania or if WWE wants Reigns to tie (or surpass) Hulk Hogan's four year mark. It's not worth getting angry over, in my view.
In any event, we'll see how the crowds react over the next few weeks. The live crowd in Friday didn't seem too unhappy about the pivot. I think it's important to remember that the overwhelming majority of WWE fans isn't represented in blogging communities like these or on "Wrestling Twitter". I don't even think there's going to be a serious crowd revolt.
All of you are going to get over this, don't worry. It's not that big of a deal. Fans aren't being robbed of anything except a fantasy booking dream that's obviously not going to come true (for now).