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WWE, Don’t You Dare Sacrifice Cody Rhodes’ Story for The Rock!

Cody Rhodes has to finish the story, and not even The Rock can get in the way.
WWE WrestleMania 39 - Cody Rhodes

WWE’s next major premium live event, WWE Survivor Series, is right around the corner. The 37th annual Survivor Series means one thing. The Road to WrestleMania will soon begin. And with that, fans are already fantasy booking what will become the main event for next year’s Showcase of the Immortals, the Granddaddy of Them All — WrestleMania 40. One might predict that Cody Rhodes will finally fulfill his destiny and “finish the story” at last in Philadelphia. However, some recent events have also thrown an electrifying name into the mix as well, and that means Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Granted, WrestleMania 40, or WrestleMania XL, is still almost six months away, so there is plenty of time to plan and build for that event. Conversely, there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong and pear-shaped as well.

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However, while The Rock was generating a lot of buzz following his mention of WrestleMania 40 last month on ESPN’s College GameDay, and it’s had fans debating what if WrestleMania 40 is the year WWE finally pulls the trigger on an epic dream matchup featuring The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns against his own blood, his cousin, The Rock.

The Rock vs. Roman Reigns is undoubtedly a dream matchup. However, WWE has created an epic saga for Cody Rhodes, and sooner or later, Cody has to fulfill his destiny at some point. I’m going to make the case why WrestleMania 40’s ultimate headliner needs to be Cody Rhodes at last finishing the story and not a fantasy matchup with The Rock and Roman Reigns.

CODY RHODES HAS TO FINISH THE STORY

Even before Cody Rhodes returned to WWE in 2022 at WrestleMania 38, he would mention in interviews and press conferences about winning the one title his dad, the late WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, never won. That title is the WWE Championship. The WWE Championship eluded The American Dream throughout his entire career. Then when Cody returned to WWE, the goal of fulfilling not just his own legacy, but that of his father’s became an integral part of his character. Winning the championship was crucial for Cody’s journey. Cody needed to “finish the story.”

WrestleMania 39 banner - Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns
Courtesy of WWE

That means winning the WWE Championship; not the World Heavyweight Championship currently held by Seth Rollins, but the Undisputed Universal Championship currently held by Roman Reigns. That is the unified Universal and ye olde WWE Championship. That is the belt Cody wants and must have. “Finish the story” wasn’t just a mantra for Cody, it became his endgame, his destiny. Winning the WWE Championship meant everything Cody has done over the last 15 years and his ambitions of being more than just a B+ player or a good hand in WWE were truly worth it.

In 2016, Cody left the WWE with no intention of ever returning. And yet he came back to the company in 2022, and the WWE Championship was his main goal. That same goal remains to this day. At WrestleMania 39, WWE set up the perfect stage for Cody Rhodes to fulfill his destiny…except it never came to pass.

Cody Rhodes - WWE WrestleMania 39
Courtesy of WWE

After putting on an award-winning performance at WWE Hell in a Cell in 2022, Cody was forced to take an extended leave of absence after suffering a torn pectoral muscle injury. That meant he’d be out of the ring for the rest of the year. It was a terrible setback. Cody had returned with a great deal of hype and fanfare, not to mention an impressive win streak. However, the timing worked better than ever for Cody to make his return in January 2023 at that year’s Royal Rumble event.

Cody made a triumphant return that month, competing in the Men’s Rumble Match, going toe-to-toe with none other than Gunther, the man who lasted from the very beginning of the Rumble until the very end. It was Cody’s victory, and he secured his shot at Roman Reigns and the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania. The stage was set, and Cody Rhodes was the betting favorite. Despite his epic, generational title run, odds heavily favored The American Nightmare walking out with the title and fulfilling his destiny at least. Except…that’s not what happened.

WrestleMania 39 banner - Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns entrance
Courtesy of WWE

Later in April 2023 at WrestleMania 39: Night 2, the final match would be Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns. Cody had finally made it to the main event of Wrestlemania, something not even his father or older brother, Dustin Rhodes, had ever accomplished in their illustrious careers. It was a symbol of how far Cody had come and how much he had grown as a wrestler, talent, athlete, and performer.

Unfortunately for Cody, WWE was not yet ready to pull the trigger on “finishing the story” at WrestleMania 39. WWE brass was not ready to bring an end to Reigns’ title run and one of the hottest storylines in recent memory for WWE programming with The Bloodline. That means no title run for Cody. So, Cody lost to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39: Night 2, and he walked out empty-handed, despite all the bells and whistles that seemed to be perfectly setting up a Cody victory. Cody’s loss was a controversial decision, to say the least.

WrestleMania 39 banner - Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns match still
Courtesy of WWE

Some said Cody had not faced enough adversity after his return and the run to WrestleMania 39. Some argued that Reigns still needed to hold the title over 1,000 days when he was so close to hitting that mark. Reigns outright stated he was only in the third inning after WrestleMania 39, suggesting he has far more ambitious goals for his title reign than ever thought possible.

Or maybe it was serendipitous. One strange fan presciently told Cody Rhodes to his face at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con during the WWE Mattel panel that Roman Reigns would beat Cody at WrestleMania 39. This was months before Cody Rhodes even returned to the ring and won the Rumble. This was before the match was even booked. Somehow this one fan predicted exactly how the ending of WrestleMania 39 would turn out. Somehow, this fan called the finish to the WrestleMania 39 main event, declaring that Roman Reigns would win and come out victorious, and that’s exactly what happened.

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF CODY RHODES

And so Cody Rhodes lost at WrestleMania 39, and his hopes of an immediate rematch were dashed the following night. Paul Heyman and Reigns denied a rematch opportunity. That was followed by Brock Lesnar accepting an opportunity to team with Cody against Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa in the Raw main event. Instead, Lesnar turned on Rhodes and beat him to a pulp, starting a months-long feud and trilogy of matchups.

If Cody needed adversity in his journey to becoming champion, Lesnar was certainly willing to give it to him. Thankfully for Cody, the loss to Reigns did not kill his heat with the fans, and the fans continued to rally behind him as he challenged Lesnar, eventually getting the better of him in their rubber match at SummerSlam 2023 last August in Detroit. Then something interesting happened. Someone dropped a bombshell.

WrestleMania 39 banner - Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns match still 2
Courtesy of WWE

ENTER DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON

The Rock, who has more time freed up since the actors’ union (SAG-AFTRA) is currently in the midst of a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), revealed to Pat McAfee on ESPN’s College GameDay that he nearly faced Reigns for a historic matchup at WrestleMania 39.

“The Rock headlining¬†WrestleMania¬†with Roman Reigns at SoFi Stadium, that was locked. We were doing it,” Johnson stated. But how did this happen? How did it fall apart? Johnson continued, “We got really, really close, but we couldn’t actually what that thing was, so we decided to put our pencils down, but we agreed, there’s a merger coming up. Eventually, that will happen, there’s¬†WrestleMania¬†in Philadelphia.” The Rock went on, “I’m saying that‚Äôs a potential, too. I‚Äôm hoping.”

So The Rock confirmed the match with Reigns was very close to happening at WrestleMania 39, but it eventually fell through. Then he basically just declared that WrestleMania 40 is still a possibility. Not to mention, as the SAG-AFTRA strike continues, The Rock continues to have more free time. While the idea is that the strike will go through April 2024, the extended length might determine if The Rock, one of the busiest and most in-demand stars in entertainment, will return at WrestleMania 40.

THE ROCK SHOULD NOT BE IN WRESTLEMANIA 40 CONTENTION

The Rock is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars on the planet, but if they really wanted a Reigns vs. Rock matchup, WrestleMania 39 would have been the time to do it. The Rock is 51 years old and he isn’t getting any younger. And yes, some wrestlers are having miraculous careers and wrestling well into their 50s now, but The Rock himself hasn’t had a serious matchup in over a decade.

WrestleMania 39 banner - Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns - Reigns entrance
Courtesy of WWE

At the same time, Cody should be the main one in contention to unseat Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40. Currently, no one is penciled in for that slot yet. At one point, Sami Zayn was red hot and looked like he could be the one to potentially end Reigns’ run, but that time has passed. That window has closed. Cody still has one ace up his sleeve yet to play, and that is finishing the story. And if it’s not going to happen at WrestleMania 40, then it never should. Cody should then turn heel and lose it over his failure.

Cody did lose at WrestleMania 39, but over the rest of the year, he managed to keep his popularity and heat intact. The feud with Lesnar did him some good, and now, it even looks like he’s interacting with Reigns and The Bloodline again after a recent staredown with Reigns.

The fire for a rematch with Rhodes and Reigns is still there, and WrestleMania 40 is just the place to do it. Yes, The Rock vs. Reigns would be a huge historic matchup, but WrestleMania 40 will already be a blockbuster event. After tickets went on sale for the premium live event in August, they already broke attendance and gate records.

WrestleMania 40 will be huge even without The Rock. In short, Cody Rhodes’ incredible storyline of “finishing the story” should not be sacrificed for a fantasy matchup especially if The Rock can’t commit to what that amorphous history-making idea he wants for it is supposed to be.

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WrestleMania 40 goes down on Apr. 6-7 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For now, WWE hasn’t shown their hands on where they are going for the main event, but with the Road to WrestleMania beginning in a matter of weeks, fans will start getting hints at what’s next.

But what do you think? Do you think Cody Rhodes has to finish the story? Or do you think a possible dream matchup between The Rock and Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 trumps all of that? Let us know your thoughts about the topic on The Illuminerdi’s social media.

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Jeff Harris

Jeff Harris

Jeffrey is an entertainment journalist and podcast host based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Radio, TV, & Film and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. Jeffrey is also a Staff Writer at 411mania.com where he writes about movies, TV, games, wrestling, interviews talent, and covers special events such as Anime Expo, Comic-Con, and CinemaCon. When Jeffrey is not binging his favorite seasonal anime or show, he enjoys playing dodge ball, gaming, watching films, and enjoying UT football. You can find him on Twitter @Wheeljack83.