WWE May End Up Sabotaging Cody Rhodes' Big Moment | Smark Out Moment

WWE May End Up Sabotaging Cody Rhodes' Big Moment

Posted by Joshua Jones Sunday, February 11, 2024

Ever since the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes seemingly gave up his WrestleMania XL opportunity to Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson on SmackDown, fans have worried whether WWE was delaying Rhodes' big moment. It seemed as if TKO and The Rock wanted a blockbuster match that drew a lot of eyes to the product and potentially off from the controversy surrounding Vince McMahon.

Cody Rhodes faces off against The Rock.

However, the WrestleMania XL kickoff press conference this past Thursday relieved some fans who worried that Rhodes would've to wait even more to defeat the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns and take his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. During the press conference, Rhodes decided to challenge Reigns for the championship and said to the Tribal Chief that his ancestors would be ashamed of the man he's become today. This sparked a reaction from Reigns and The Rock; the latter slapped Rhodes and warned him not to talk trash about the Anoa' i family.

Although the segment gave most fans the match they yearned for and established a potentially dangerous power duo of The Rock and Roman Reigns, it also proved something that hardly anyone in the wrestling echo chamber is talking about: The Rock is still the babyface to many fans.

WWE pivoted from what seemingly was the planned scenario of The Rock straight-up challenging Reigns for the title in the main event of WrestleMania XL. After the #WeWantCody movement blew up on social media, the higher-ups in creative and The Rock agreed to change their plans and have Rhodes continue his quest to "finish the story." Interestingly, The Rock has also agreed to turn heel and align himself with Reigns to go against the American Nightmare.

WrestleMania XL Press Conference

The Rock's heel turn was even teased during the Great One's appearance on the Pat McAfee show hours before the WrestleMania XL press conference, where the Rock acknowledged the #WeWantCody movement and called some of the fans who supported Rhodes on social media "Cody crybabies." The Rock would later use the term again during the press conference and said to anyone who didn't like the idea of himself versus Reigns that it "didn't matter what they think."

The Rock's heel turn comes at an interesting time for the company. Not only did WWE ink a humongous deal with Netflix for 2025, but there is also the fact that this WrestleMania season won't have any McMahon presence whatsoever. The Rock legitimately being appointed as a TKO board member, mixed with Reigns' influence and backstage stroke, makes the Anoa' i family the most powerful family in WWE right now. It's also interesting for the Rock to use his real-life new business position to further WWE's biggest story heading into WrestleMania XL.

And yet, WWE may end up sabotaging Rhodes' big moment by having him go up against one of the most popular wrestlers and entertainers of all time in The Rock. Not many superstars in the business have cultivated the kind of genuine relationship with fans that The Rock has done. For years, the man has been nicknamed the People's Champion and receives a tremendous ovation from fans whenever he makes a surprise appearance on either Raw or SmackDown. The Rock is also legitimately the biggest action movie star in Hollywood and has the type of name recognition most wrestlers today can only dream of having.

Someone like that who has both the legacy, credibility, and genuine popularity to back him up would be hard to boo nowadays, especially in an era where fans know so much about the backstage ongoings in wrestling. Despite having grown as WWE's top babyface in the last two years, Rhodes could face an uphill battle when it comes to challenging The Rock's dynasty at WrestleMania XL. In the eyes of some fans, Rhodes may be disrespecting the Great One and preventing the long-awaited dream match of The Rock versus Roman Reigns from happening.

The People's Champion has returned to WWE

.There are also parallels between Rhodes and another popular babyface WWE superstar, John Cena. Rhodes, in many ways, has taken the torch from Cena and has become the type of mega-popular babyface superstar WWE wanted Cena to be during his run at the top of the card. Both men have had issues with the Anoa' i family; Cena, of course, with his back-to-back matches with The Rock at WrestleMania. If there is one thing WWE, and perhaps even Cena himself, took away from those back-to-back matches, it is that The Rock was the clear babyface in the eyes of the fans.

Whether it was the home crowd support for The Rock during his fist match with Cena at WrestleMania 28 or Cena's babyface run turning off a good portion of the fanbase, there was no denying that most fans preferred The Rock over the company's top babyface at the time. Fans booed Cena throughout the WrestleMania 28 clash and booed even louder when Cena got his win back over the Great One at the following year's WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium. The overwhelming fan support for The Rock and the negative crowd response for Cena throughout the feud was a clear indication that despite WWE's best efforts, they couldn't get their top babyface to surpass the legendary superstar from the attitude era in terms of popularity and interest.

Unfortunately, the same thing could happen with WWE hoping to have Rhodes become the definitive top babyface in the company by dethroning Reigns and supplanting The Rock as the new People's Champion. There is no denying the intense love and support fans have for the American Nightmare, but there will come a time when fans of Rhodes today will be looking for their next underdog to cheer on. A program with The Rock may ignite some fans' disapproval of Rhodes and begin to see him as a babyface that WWE is pushing down their throats. This mentality led to Cena getting a 50/50 reaction during his run as the top babyface, and countless other wrestlers fans once were behind on.

Can Cody Rhodes finally become the WWE Champion?

So what happens if Rhodes does become WWE Champion at WrestleMania XL. The likelihood of fans continuing to cheer Rhodes after he dethrones the Tribal Chief and overcomes The Rock is still high, but it all depends on how the American Nightmare is booked and who his next challengers end up being. For instance, a WWE Championship program with Gunther would do less harm to Rhodes than a face versus face program with Sami Zayn. Gunther is someone fans wouldn't mind being the antagonist in a feud featuring Rhodes. Also, WWE has done a terrific job so far by allowing Gunther to defeat many fan-favorite wrestlers throughout his run as Intercontinental Champion. It makes the heel-and-face dynamic much easier to digest and gives Rhodes a clear villain to go up against.

On the flip side is Zayn, who fans have wanted to see finally become a top star after his performance last year during the Bloodline saga. Zayn wouldn't be a great choice to have as a challenger for Rhodes after the American Nightmare topples both Reigns and The Rock at WrestleMania XL because there would be a significant portion of fans who would rather see Zayn finally win the WWE Championship. Hypothetically, if Rhodes would go over Zayn after denying fans the opportunity to see Reigns versus The Rock for the first time ever, then it would give Rhodes' detractors enough ammo to boo him despite his multi-year-long quest of "finishing the story."

Finish the Story

Nowadays, it seems like creating a true heel that fans wouldn't just end up cheering for is nearly impossible. Gunther is perhaps one of the only great examples of a bad guy the fans still boo in the arenas. After the SmackDown debacle with The Rock, maybe Rhodes' biggest heel is just lousy booking. If that's the case, Rhodes should be thanking his lucky stars that there is someone else in charge of creative whose last name isn't McMahon.

And yet, the American Nightmare's story seems even more muddled than it was when McMahon was still somewhat around. Whatever the case, here's hoping Rhodes can finally put a definitive end to his story and make his father proud by winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XL.


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