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The Rock’s WrestleMania main event may have been booked without Triple H’s knowledge

TKO Announcement Photo by Michelle Farsi/Zuffa LLC

The latest report on Cody Rhodes stepping aside so Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 has a lot of information, but leaves us with even more questions about what exactly is going with WWE’s creative plans — and behind-the-scenes at the company.

On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said that a WrestleMania main event with Reigns was part of Dwayne Johnson’s deal with TKO that made him a Board member and gave him full ownership of “The Rock” name. That deal was apparently made on Jan. 3, and outside of Johnson, WWE President Nick Khan (a long-time friend of Johnson’s) and Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, very few people knew about it.

Those outside the circle could have included Head of Creative Paul “Triple H” Levesque, as Meltzer hasn’t been able to get anyone to explain to him why Rhodes was booked to win the Royal Rumble last month — and indicate he was going to use the win to once again challenge Reigns at WrestleMania — if The Rock’s main event was agreed upon weeks earlier.

Which makes one wonder about other reports that Endeavor could be looking to clean house of Vince McMahon associates at WWE in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations in Janel Grant’s lawsuit, and that Johnson’s creative/business partner Brian Gewirtz could be seen as a replacement for Levesque should Emanuel decide that McMahon’s son-in-law Levesque needs to go for any reason.

That aspect of the story will likely play out over a longer timeframe. More immediately, Meltzer says WWE does plan to do a Rhodes/Reigns rematch somewhere down the road, just not at WrestleMania 40. Regarding that April event in Philadelphia, “everything’s up in the air, nothing is locked in stone.”

On the topic of the backlash to last Friday’s SmackDown scene with Rhodes, Rock & Reigns (which conceivably could have been avoided or at least mitigated had Rhodes not won the Rumble and teased “finishing the story” against Roman in Philly), Meltzer says that for the most part it was what WWE wanted:

“[It] played out the way they wanted it to play out. The plan as of Friday night was Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes [at WrestleMania 40] and we’ll see how it plays out because now they’re trying to turn it into a story and we’ll see how the story goes...

“I don’t know what they were expecting [in terms of a reaction towards The Rock] but they were expecting Cody Rhodes to turn into Daniel Bryan, yes.

“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 because I’ve asked that one and haven’t got a straight answer.”

When his Observer Radio co-host Bryan Alvarez asked if WWE cares if fans reject a Rock/Reigns ‘Mania match, Meltzer’s response indicated that the company is confident the match will be a financial success regardless of any fan outrage:

“I don’t know how much do they care because they’re going to be getting more eyeballs for this match than any match they’ve ever had, they’re going to have more sponsorship revenue based on the fact Dwayne’s wrestling than any match they’ve had so they may go in there and just go, ‘let ‘em boo!’ It’s the biggest money match that we can ever make and that’s the match that we’re going to make.”

If that’s right, it would seem to be a common theme in how WWE is handling controversies in the real world and their fictional one, seeing as Triple H also chose to focus on the bottom line positives rather than address the disturbing allegations against McMahon at his post-Royal Rumble press conference.

But this is also just one report in a story with a lot of moving parts. We’ll see what new information comes out in either of those big stories, and how the on-screen story or stories involving The Rock, Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes play out on the road to WrestleMania.

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