Welcome to another edition of the ‘Monday Gorilla Position’! A weekly column here at Cageside Seats that dissects the latest shows and reports, and tries to figure out just what is going on in the world of WWE, AEW & more!
Bracketology isn’t just for college basketball this time of the year, ladies and gentlemen! Periodically here on the Monday Gorilla Position, I’ll be mapping out the road to WrestleMania XL.
There’s still plenty of time between now and the opening bell of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’ on Saturday April, 6 — 54 days to be exact. And if what we’ve seen so far is any indication, expect many twists and turns along the route to Philadelphia.
In a span of of 13 days Cody Rhodes went from being to the guy, to apparently being asked to hand over his main event spot to The Rock, to being the guy once again. The conclusion to Thursday’s WrestleMania XL Kickoff event in Las Vegas not only set up the main event this year, but potentially numerous main events.
Reigns vs. Rhodes II may close the show on night two, but there’s no way The Rock sits this year out. Where does the Great One fit into the equation now that the ‘Cody Crybabies’ have gotten their way (or in other words, now that WWE has made the best decision from a creative standpoint)?
Has Seth Rollins lost all hope of finally finding himself on the marquee this year? Or does the WWE creative team have something insane up it’s sleeve? Let’s take a look!
*Disclaimer: These are simply predictions based off a combination of recent WWE TV programs, behind the scenes reporting from other outlets and good ole fashioned common sense.
Here’s what’s officially been announced so far (card always subject to change):
- Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the Undisputed WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship... We think.
- IYO SKY (C) vs. Bayley for the WWE Women’s Championship
It’s officially, official. Cody Rhodes is getting his opportunity to finally finish ‘the story’ at WrestleMania XL. There’s no going back on it now. As the Royal Rumble winner he had the right to choose which Champion he would challenge, and much to the chagrin of the Anoaʻi family, the American Nightmare chose the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns.
Even though it thwarts The Rock’s master plan of putting on the ‘biggest WrestleMania main event of all-time’, the WWE had no choice but to go with Cody.
For all the reasons I laid out last week, Rhodes winning the Royal Rumble and then willingly handing his long awaited shot at redemption off to someone else was never going to work. It was never going to be accepted by the fans.
Online criticism is one thing, but the moment that the WWE Universe loudly started chanting “Rocky Sucks” at live televised events, the company had no choice but to pivot back to the apparent new People’s Champion.
And no... this was not the plan along. This was not a work from the beginning (hard to know for sure given so many varying reports, but...). Stop that. That’s giving WWE way too much credit.
A week ago on SmackDown Cody Rhodes flat out said he would not be facing Roman Reigns in Philadelphia after seeking out the council of the Tribal Chief’s cousin. Then the #WeWantCody movement took over X for three straight days and suddenly no decisions were ‘official’ until Rhodes told Rock and Roman to take their plans to shove it on the grand stage at T-Mobile Arena.
While there’s been no attempts to date to make Rhodes’ previous comments make sense creatively, the nonsensical booking decision has worked out in the favor of both WWE and Cody Rhodes. He’s now hotter than he’s ever been. More so than when he was set to challenge Roman Reigns last year at WrestleMania 39, which many believed would be next to impossible to achieve.
There’s a chance some form of a creative retcon could happen tonight on Raw, but don’t be surprised if the hope is that you’ll just forget Cody ever made that declaration. And honestly, the wealth of great storylines the company has now fallen into may serve as the gigantic neuralyzer they so desperately seek.
We as wrestling fans are all suckers for a nostalgia act, but heel Rock is the best Rock. The 10-time World Champion is now free to lean into his more sadistic and savage (verbally speaking) side and dive into more nuanced story arc than a one off battle with his cousin to prove if Hollywood’s leading man can still compete with Reigns in his prime.
This is no longer a fight within a family, but rather a war between families. When Cody Rhodes invoked the name of the Anoaʻi elders, it became deeply personal with Rock and Roman now standing side-by-side in a united front.
Clearly by that point, it was already personal for Rhodes with The Rock declaring his own bloodline to be the greatest ‘royal family’ in all of professional wrestling. Not to mention, Reigns’ little jab at the American Dream — calling both Dusty and his son irrelevant.
And then there’s Seth Rollins. Who many saw as the loser of this entire exchange. The World Heavyweight Champion was left standing on the stage in Las Vegas, watching his dreams of main eventing WrestleMania slip through his fingers once again.
Or does hope spring eternal?
Here’s what we can safely predict is going to happen, but hasn’t been made official:
- Roman Reigns & The Rock vs. Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins - Night One Main Event
- Seth Rollins defends his Men’s World Heavyweight Championship against TBD
- Rhea Ripley (C) vs. Becky Lynch for the Women’s World Heavyweight Championship
- Jey Uso vs. Jimmy Uso
- Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar
- Judgment Day (C) vs. Awesome Truth for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships
- The Kabuki Warriors defending the Women’s Tag Team Championships against TBD
History is about to be made. For the first time in the WrestleMania’s brief five year history of being a two night affair, two men are set to main event both shows. At least that’s the conclusion I’m jumping to after the above WrestleMania XL teaser was dropped online ahead of Super Bowl LVIII last night.
The 30 second ad heavily teased two separate matches. One of which has already been announced. The other, a tag team bout no one ever dreamed would be possible. Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins, once bitter rivals, teaming up to take on the most dominant World Champion in 20 years and The Rock.
That would be a night two headliner if that spot wasn’t already earmarked for the WWE Championship match.
If that tag match is booked, it would mean Reigns, Rhodes and Rollins would all be wrestling twice this year. With the first two closing the show both Saturday and Sunday.
It’s understandable for people to feel certain way about this potential booking decision. Becky Lynch and Rhea Ripley is a main event caliber program in the eyes of many (myself included) and the groundswell of support around Bayley, the Women’s Royal Rumble winner, could certainly carry her and IYO SKY to that level as well.
Again though, the issue comes down to The Rock. He’s going to wrestle on this card and he’s going to close whatever night he’s booked. That contract has reportedly been signed and training has already begun. While a guest on The Pat McAfee Show last week, Rock said that he has multiple rings set up across the country so he can get ready to compete.
There’s no stopping this train. Rocky is coming. The only question that remains surrounds the destination. Will it be night one or night two? Will it be in a triple threat for the WWE Championship or in this tag team bout?
Smart money has to be on the tag team match. And not just because of the teaser video.
As stated previously, this is now a personal matter for The Rock and Roman Reigns. If they want their epic dream showdown they must first eliminate The American Nightmare from the equation. There’s no story, at this point in time, that exists where it would make sense for The Rock to pit himself against both Rhodes and Reigns.
Then there’s the annoying little brother that just refuses to go away. There’s clearly no love lost between Reigns and Seth Rollins. The former Shield brothers have been trading heavyweight knockout barbs at one another for weeks now and Rollins is sick of the disrespect.
And he has every right to be sick of it, because in kayfabe land, he’s owned Roman Reigns anytime these two have locked up in the past.
The only hang up might be Rollins’ health. Coming off an MCL injury, would it be the smartest thing for Seth to wrestle twice in a weekend? He’s already guaranteed to defend his World Heavyweight Championship against the winner of the Men’s Elimination Chamber match. Presumably that would take place on night two of WrestleMania.
Rollins has said he expects to be ready well ahead of time, so as long as he feels his knee is good to go, I’d expect him to jump at the opportunity to compete twice. When has the man ever been known not to take the hard road?
The Visionary finally getting his spot on the marquee is exactly why I don’t have an issue with this potential tag match taking the top spot on night one. Rollins was all but guaranteed long overdue main event with a healthy CM Punk and his back up plan of Cody Rhodes didn’t work out.
This is his one and only shot, most likely.
Likely to make the card, but exactly where is anyone’s guess:
- GUNTHER, Logan Paul, Drew McIntyre, Bianca Belair, L.A. Knight, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Bobby Lashley, Andrade & Bron Breakker
It’s very safe to assume that both GUNTHER and Logan Paul will be hanging onto their respective Championships heading into Philadelphia. It doesn’t appear the social media Superstar is going to defend his United States Championship again anytime soon. He most likely has a date with the Elimination Chamber a week from this Saturday, where I’d expect his next challenger (or challengers) to emerge.
With Kevin Owens, L.A. Knight, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Andrade and others not having clear paths to WrestleMania, a multi-man battle for Paul’s U.S. Title seems likely.
As for GUNTHER, he has Main Event Jey Uso in his crosshairs at the moment. WWE could certainly make a worse choice to dethrone the Ring General, but don’t count on it. This match, whenever it takes place, has Jimmy Uso screw job written all over it.
The twins were destined to fight each other in Philadelphia from the moment Jey was stabbed in the back by Jimmy at SummerSlam.
GUNTHER was reportedly slated to take on Brock Lesnar on the ‘Grandest Stage of Them All’, but with the Beast potentially done with WWE due to being indirectly named in the ongoing sex abuse lawsuit against Vince McMahon and the company, keep an eye on Bron Breakker to claim his spot. Just as he did at the Royal Rumble.
This is a match that makes a ton of sense, btw. Can anyone remind me who it was that last pinned GUNTHER in WWE? Oh yeah. It was Bron Breakker.
Last four to make the cut:
- Jade Cargill, Tiffany Stratton, Liv Morgan, Naomi
Liv Morgan would be an excellent choice to win the Women’s Elimination Chamber match and challenge Rhea Ripley for the Women’s World Heavyweight Championship. She has returned from injury focused and motivated, but... The Man is clearly standing in her way.
It doesn’t matter who else qualifies, Becky Lynch is going to come back from Perth, Australia as the new No. 1 contender. The Women’s Elimination Chamber match is going to be a certified banger, regardless of it’s predictable outcome. Expect Naomi and Tiffany Stratton to join the line up alongside Bianca Belair and reportedly Jade Cargill.
It’s going to be hard keeping any of these ladies off the card this April. One has to image that Liv, Naomi, Jade and Tiffany were all added to the main roster within the past few weeks for a reason. Even if that reason is unclear at this time.
On the bubble:
- Sami Zayn, AJ Styles and the rest of the WWE locker room
With Cody Rhodes now firmly in place to challenge for the WWE Championship, Sami Zayn should be a favorite to challenge for the WHC. But the Underdog from the Underground failed to even qualify for the Elimination Chamber match when he lost to Drew McIntyre this past Friday night on SmackDown.
After competing in the main event at last year’s show, Zayn’s road to WrestleMania this year has gone way off course. I’m not sure how he gets back on track.
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