In an unexpected twist that's sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has emerged as the front-runner to challenge Roman Reigns for the coveted Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at the landmark WrestleMania 40 event this April.
This development comes as somewhat of a surprise, overshadowing Cody Rhodes, who had clinched back-to-back Royal Rumble victories, and was widely anticipated to be Reigns' challenger.
Johnson's Title Ambitions
Insiders have revealed that Johnson didn't just passively receive this opportunity; he was instrumental in orchestrating the match-up, actively advocating for his shot at the title in Philadelphia.
His ambition doesn't stop there; Fightful Select reports that Johnson is not only aiming to step into the ring with Reigns but is also pushing to dethrone him, potentially ending Reigns' monumental nearly four-year title reign.
This strategic maneuver has sparked discussions within WWE's parent company, TKO, with insiders suggesting that the decision leans more towards a business calculus, aiming for a blockbuster payoff that Johnson vs. Reigns promises, over a sequel to Rhodes vs.
Reigns. While this has raised eyebrows, sources close to TKO assure there's no ill will towards Rhodes, recognizing his immense talent and contribution. However, they concede that there might have been an underestimation of the audience's response to this sudden shift in narrative.
Despite this pivot, Rhodes is not left without a prestigious opportunity; he's set to vie for the World Heavyweight Championship against Seth Rollins. Yet, this redirection from the anticipated storyline that concluded the Royal Rumble—where Rhodes seemed to solidify his path to facing Reigns—marks a significant deviation, influenced by unexpected absences from the WrestleMania roster.
Notably, CM Punk's withdrawal due to an injury sustained during the Royal Rumble and Brock Lesnar's exclusion amid controversies surrounding Vince McMahon have reshaped the WrestleMania landscape, necessitating creative adjustments and setting the stage for a WrestleMania that could redefine legacies and reshape the future of WWE.