In an unexpected twist on the road to WrestleMania 40, Cody Rhodes' anticipated showdown with Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Title has been sidelined, despite Rhodes' victory at the men's Royal Rumble and his explicit challenge to Reigns.
The narrative took a sharp turn following CM Punk's severe injury at the Royal Rumble, which eliminated him from a potential blockbuster match against World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. The storyline developments unfolded on WWE's flagship shows, with Rollins engaging Rhodes on Raw, suggesting a shift in Rhodes' WrestleMania aspirations towards the World Heavyweight Championship.
However, the drama reached its peak on SmackDown, where Rhodes, in a surprising move, deferred his title challenge against Reigns, paving the way for The Rock's dramatic entrance and subsequent face-off with the Universal Champion, signaling a marquee match-up at WrestleMania 40.
The Rock's Strategic Push
Behind the scenes, wrestling insider Dave Meltzer revealed on the Wrestling Observer forum that The Rock, also known as Dwayne Johnson, was instrumental in orchestrating this pivot. With his recent appointment to the TKO Board, Johnson's influence was felt as he championed what he deemed "best for business," steering the WWE narrative towards a clash with Reigns, despite potential reservations about the storyline's direction.
This strategic shift comes in the wake of tumult within the WWE, instigated by Vince McMahon's controversies and further complicated by the injuries to marquee stars Punk and Brock Lesnar. Meltzer notes that while Rhodes was initially slated to face Reigns, plans evolved due to the unfolding situation with McMahon and Punk's injury, leading to a recalibration of WrestleMania's headline acts.
The unfolding events underscore the fluid nature of WWE storytelling, where real-life incidents and backstage dynamics significantly influence on-screen narratives. As WrestleMania 40 approaches, the spotlight turns to The Rock and Roman Reigns, whose impending clash is set to captivate the wrestling world, even as it diverges from the originally planned showdowns.