The February 2 edition of WWE SmackDown left the wrestling community talking. Cody Rhodes seemingly gave his WrestleMania title shot against Roman Reigns over to new TKO board member, The Rock. There’s a lot to unpack about that shift, and this piece looks into that potential change, the reasoning, and the fallout.
What The Rock vs Roman Reigns Achieves
The Rock may be the most famous person in the world today. His reach extends far beyond professional wrestling. Slotting him into the main event against his cousin achieves two things.
First, this match and its build immediately draw in eyeballs from millions of people who could not care less about professional wrestling. Mainstream media outlets will cover everything about the show and its fallout. Much like the Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift moment in the NFL, views, clicks, conversation, and revenue all are on the horizon.
Second, this averts media attention away from the drama around Vince McMahon and his actions. The news about the allegations and lawsuit he and others are facing has been the biggest headline in professional wrestling. Major outlets are grabbing the information and updating it daily. WWE booking a match with The Rock against the biggest star in wrestling Roman Reigns, immediately pulls attention away from it. This allows the company to hopefully create more buzz around the brand without it being immediately linked to a wretched story like McMahon's.
What The Rock vs Roman Reigns Does Not Achieve
WWE is running out of top stars. Especially top babyface names. Cody Rhodes has grown into an individual who can not only carry the promotion but seemingly wants to do so on a full schedule without outside opportunities. Putting him over Roman Reigns would have solidified Rhodes as a made man – not only boosting his star power but building that of anyone who works with him in the future.
Instead of playing for the long-term future, The Rock versus Roman Reigns leans on two men who are part-time performers. The Rock’s business ventures will keep him outside the ring and he will be 51, well past his athletic prime. Roman Reigns is already on a truncated work schedule and getting into a bigger spotlight will only open more doors for him to do other things outside of wrestling. WWE is running out of names that could draw mainstream attention on this level and not building others is a short-sighted move.
The Final Verdict
WWE is a promotion powerhouse that intends to do all it can to grab eyeballs and headlines. These last two weeks have been a trying time for those in leadership, and it looks like the matter will only worsen as more comes out. Booking The Rock versus Roman Reigns for WrestleMania 40 gets the heat off for a bit but creates some of a different variety at the same time. This company is going to do what’s best for business every time. And this is yet another example.