Fresh details have emerged on when the WWE had originally finalised The Rock’s upcoming bout with Roman Reigns, after the wrestling legend received fierce backlash from fans following the announcement of WrestleMania 40 plans.
WWE fans became enraged after it was revealed that the eight-time WWE Champion would be taking Rhodes’ place to challenge Roman Reigns in April after Rhodes had become the first man in 25 years to win back-to-back Royal Rumbles.
It came after the 51-year-old wrestling legend – turned Hollywood superstar – made a stunning return to SmackDown on Friday.
‘The American Nightmare’ had appeared to be in prime position to dethrone Reigns as the WWE Universal Champion and finally ‘finish the story’ of what’s been a bitter rivalry that has been building for over 18-months. But on Friday he stepped aside for The Rock, telling his rival that he did intend to dethrone him, just not at WrestleMania 40.
The Rock subsequently stepped into the arena and went face-to-face with his cousin, Reigns, as the show went off air.
WWE legend Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson made a stunning return to SmackDown on Friday and looks set to challenge Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40
While it appears that the pair will go head-to-head in April, The Rock has received plenty of backlash from WWE fans
It comes after Cody Rhodes had appeared to step aside for The Rock after he had been the immediate challenger to Reigns
While The Rock was announced to be joining the TKO Board of Directors on January 23, it appears, according to Dave Meltzer, that the 51-year-old had agreed a deal to fight Reigns at the start of 2024.
The journalist also added that no one will answer his questions as to why Rhodes won his second Royal Rumble last week.
‘When he (The Rock) made the deal on January 3 to come in, that (Roman Reigns at WrestleMania) was part of the deal, and why Cody Rhodes won the Royal Rumble is a question that I cannot answer because nobody will answer it for me,’ he said on Wrestling Observer Radio.
‘But, the belief was that it was Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes, and nobody knew, but the deal had been made prior to that.
‘It played out the way they wanted it to play out. The plan as of Friday night was Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes, and we’ll see how it plays out because now they’re trying to turn it into a story and see how the story goes.’
It had been expected that WrestleMania would be headlined by Rhodes and Reigns
After his Royal Rumble win fans hoped Rhodes would ‘finish his story’ against Reigns at WrestleMania
He added: ‘He’s been wanting to do that [match] for years. I can’t tell you that they didn’t tell anybody.
‘But certainly they didn’t tell many people or almost anyone. I mean, he got £23.8million ($30m).
‘And that was a deal with Nick Khan and Ari Emanuel, it was way above the head of everyone in WWE, other than Nick.
‘So, Nick and Dwayne are friends and Ari represents Dwayne, signed the deal and that was part of it.’
Some fans took to social media to lambast the decision for Rhodes to step aside and allow The Rock to fight Reigns.
One wrote on X (formerly Twitter): ‘This could be the biggest misstep in history at this rate, because we don’t want Rock. We want Cody.’
‘If you are GENUINELY on here thinking Rock/Reigns is the right call due to “the money, the business” then you should be banned from talking wrestling on here.
‘It’s a horses**t call and a slap in the face to 2+ years of people getting behind Cody. It’s awful,’ another added.
Fans hit out at the decision to swap The Rock in for Rhodes, with one writing ‘This could be the biggest misstep in history’
The Rock broke his silence after a controversial segment on WWE SmackDown on Friday
On Sunday, the Rock broke his silence on the controversial segment on SmackDown in which he seemingly challenged Reigns.
‘There’s a word for this explosive, insane reaction – undeniable,’ he posted on X, formerly Twitter.
‘No matter the era, the decade, or the city, the energy and connection between the People’s Champ and the People can never be broken and is truly an electrifying experience that creates chills every single time.
‘Thank you Birmingham, Alabama, we made magical history in the “magic city”.
‘Thank you WWE and thank you Cody for the love and the house (dream & soulman). Roman, there’s only one head of the table. I’ll see you in Vegas…Uso.’