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The Rock no sells the internet backlash to his WrestleMania main event push

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The Feb. 2 episode of SmackDown ended with Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes changing his WrestleMania 40 plans, foregoing another chance to finish his story by beating Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal title so Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can challenge Reigns for Tribal Chief status instead.

Wrestling fans have been using the internet to express their displeasure ever since.

The video of Rhodes, Reigns & Rock’s SmackDown main event segment on WWE’s YouTube channel has half a million dislikes. Reports are that’s a record, and while I’m not going to fact check that — it sounds like a reasonable claim.

WWE’s YouTube

The situation has been a hot topic on X (the former Twitter) for the past 36 hours, with #WeWantCody trending for most of that time.

X

Even WWE United States champion Logan Paul* is on #TeamCody.

Johnson tried to continue on with business as usual on social media, even as reports that he used his power as a member of the Board of Directors for WWE parent company TKO Group to get the ‘Mania main event spot were inciting more anger from Rhodes’ supporters and critics of the angle. Rock put out a pretty standard Rock tweet promoting a fighter on yesterday’s UFC (also a TKO brand) card.

A couple different versions of that were “ratioed”, as their replies were flooded with negative responses about WrestleMania. This one in particular got several thousand more likes that the Johnson tweet it replied to:

Making matters worse, mainstream media outlets like USA Today and TMZ were picking up the story.

But it doesn’t seem to faze The Rock. Passing up the obvious opening for an “it doesn’t matter what you think” joke, Johnson instead stole a line from Cody as he pointed out the positive reaction his SmackDown scene with Rhodes & Reigns got from the live crowd in Birmingham, Alabama. In one version he shouted out Cody & his own legendary pro wrestling fathers and closed with a message for Roman:

There’s a word for this explosive, insane reaction - undeniable.

No matter the era, the decade, or the city, the energy and connection between the People’s Champ and the People can never be broken and is truly an electrifying experience that creates chills every single time.

Thank you Birmingham, Alabama, we made magical history in the “magic city”. Thank you WWE and thank you Cody for the love and the house (dream & soulman).

Roman, there’s only one head of the table. I’ll see you in Vegas…Uso.

Then on Instagram, he gave the backlash a postscript wink:

FEEL the mana ✨ So f#%king blown away by this insane energy from the People. Undeniable - and one of the loudest ovations I’ve ever experienced in my career.Thank you Birmingham, Alabama, thank you WWE, thank you to the man himself, Cody Rhodes - and most importantly, thank you to the People.

Our connection is unbreakable and our bond is ELECTRIC.

~ People’s Champ

ps, tough skin, love the passion

It’s going to be an interesting couple of months...

* Paul and DJ have a rocky relationship (pun semi-intended). The pair made some content together in the mid-2010s, but Johnson cut ties with Paul after his widely criticized 2017 video from Japan’s “suicide forest”. Paul recently spoke to John Cena about mending his relationship with The Rock on his podcast, but this tweet probably wasn’t something Cena advised him to send.

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