Home Mailbag: How does WWE book Cody Rhodes, Roman Reigns, The Rock at Wrestlemania?

Mailbag: How does WWE book Cody Rhodes, Roman Reigns, The Rock at Wrestlemania?

Chris Graham
(© rafapress – shutterstock.com)

So, Cody Rhodes will win, and Seth Rollins retains? That’s my prediction. Roman Reigns has been champ for like three years now. I think people wanna see a shakeup, don’t you?


It is, indeed, Wrestlemania Week, with the two-night Wrestlemania 40 coming up on Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia.

The matches at the top of the card involve world champ Roman Reigns, his top challenger, Cody Rhodes and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Yeah, yeah, Seth Rollins, on Night 2, defends his secondary supposed “world” title against Drew McIntyre.

Big whoop.

The Night 1 main event needed a second guy to flesh out a tag match between the top guys, so Rollins was added as Rhodes’ partner.

The live shows are pretty much sellouts – 60,000-and-change tickets sold for Night 1, 61,000-and-change for Night 2, around a thousand available each night.

Night 1 goes up against the Men’s Final Four. I’d wonder if there are a lot of people like me who will tune in the NC State-Purdue game at 6:09 p.m. ET and the Alabama-UConn game at 8:49 p.m. ET and hope that the second game is over before the start of the tag main event.

Night 2, that one is on its own, without much other than the main event between Rhodes and Reigns, who has held at least a portion of the WWE world title since 2020, so, going on four years.

Four years for a world-title reign in pro wrestling is a lo-o-o-o-o-ng time – not quite Bruno Sammartino long, but Hulk Hogan in the ‘80s long, at least.

In that sense, it would seem that it’s time for a switch.

The issue for WWE, though, is, the Reigns’ storyline with his Bloodline faction has been making bank for the company.

The Bloodline storyline has carried WWE through an awful lot the past three-and-a-half years – the end of COVID, the first Vince McMahon scandal, the sale of WWE to TKO, the second Vince McMahon scandal.

cody rhodes aew
Photo: All Elite Wrestling

Rhodes was hired back by WWE in 2022 after his work in AEW, which he helped breathe to life in 2019, and after spending much of his first year back in WWE on the injured list, he was back for Wrestlemania 39 season to challenge Reigns for the undisputed title.

The match, with a ton of buildup, turned out to be a dud – Reigns won with outside interference from Solo Sikoa.

Even without much in the way of challengers for Reigns since, WWE has continued to do monster TV ratings for the past 12 months.

Johnson, the former multi-time world champ who had a good run as the top-paid actor in Hollywood, returned to WWE earlier this year, and was briefly booked to challenge Reigns in the Night 2 Wrestlemania main event, before WWE reversed course, listening to their fans, who have been asking for a happy resolution to the nearly two-year-long Rhodes title chase.

Problem here is, what happens in WWE after a Cody Rhodes title win?

The thing with a title chase is, and this has been the case dating back to the territory days, once the babyface ends the long chase with a title win, the pizzazz from the chase vanishes into the night, almost from the moment the confetti falls from the rafters.

This is why Cody’s father, the legendary “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, had a total of 107 days for his three reigns as the NWA world champ.

WWE, for much of the past decade, has been following the NWA model that set out that the money comes with having a heel champ and babyface challengers, not the old WWWF/WWF model that had faces like Sammartino, Bob Backlund and Hogan fighting off a long line of heels.

A Rhodes win at Wrestlemania, then, flips that model, without an obvious path forward from there for either the new champ, or for the long-time champ, Reigns, and his heel stable, which has been making the company money for the past three-plus years.

If Brock Lesnar was still around, for example, there’s an obvious first challenger for Rhodes, given the feud those two had last year; but Lesnar is probably never coming back, with him being collateral damage in the second Vince McMahon scandal.

CM Punk would be another obvious challenger, but Punk is out until the mid-fall at the earliest with his latest triceps injury.

You could extend the Johnson/Reigns/Bloodline story with a sidebar feud over control of The Bloodline that could play out to Summerslam with a Rock-Reigns match, or you could try to take that out all the way to Wrestlemania 41, while having Rhodes fight off a line of second-tier heel challengers until Punk gets back off the IL, and have them battle it out on the mic ahead of their own WM 41 main-event match.

Actually, I can see something with those general ideas making sense – giving Rhodes the belt to establish a new top guy, while keeping The Bloodline story going forward as a moneymaker, with a twist.

roman reigns drew mcintyre
Roman Reigns spears Drew McIntyre to set up the winning pinfall at a WWE live event at a 2022 house show at John Paul Jones Arena. Photo: Crystal Graham/AFP.

I rarely get the fantasy booking anywhere close to right, but this exercise shows, at least, that there’s are things WWE can do with Rhodes going over at Wrestlemania 40, though, there are risks involved with flipping the model that’s been working for WWE for years, and because you could just go straight from another Reigns Wrestlemania win to a Reigns/Rock feud over control of The Bloodline and the world title without having to flip the model.

All of this said, wrestling is much more interesting when you don’t know how things are supposed to turn out.

This is why I’ll be watching Saturday night after the Final Four, and Sunday night after the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” series finale.

(The rest of the two nights of wrestling is what the highlights on YouTube are there for.)

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].