At WrestleMania 39, wrestling fans were left with a bitter taste in their mouths when Roman Reigns scored the dirty victory over Cody Rhodes in the final main-event of the weekend. Despite the hype machine building ‘The American Nightmare’ to be the one to dethrone the dominant ‘Tribal Chief’, Roman left with both championships draped over his shoulders and The Bloodline remains on top.
There has been a plethora of different criticisms thrown WWE’s way following this result, with many frustrated by WWE’s constant desire to put Reigns over every potential challenger and missing out on yet another big crowning moment for the top babyface. WWE have booked this same ending for many of Roman’s feuds: Sami Zayn, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and now Cody Rhodes, everybody falls to the Spear by hook or by crook.
The match was structured like any other underdog vs monster bout, with much interference and plenty of ref bumps to keep the drama high. The Bloodline were even temporarily thwarted by fellow rivals, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, leading many to believe that the end was near for Roman’s reign. Cody managed to hit two of three of his finishers before then being spiked by the banned Solo Sikoa. The collective gasp of despair could be heard across the globe.
The following night on RAW, Cody Rhodes emerged vexed and fired-up, as did the WWE Universe. However by the end of the night, Cody was left battered and beaten by Brock Lesnar, leaving Rhodes’ chances of a rematch anytime soon looking bleak. Roman walks into the sunset without any strong challenger and his tumultuous reign continues.
So the question remains, were WWE right in booking this? In my humble opinion, yes.
I do not agree with the inherent Vince-ness of what happened on RAW, the constant rewrites and the main-event swerve were awful, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it would have been much better with Cody Rhodes as champion.
The opening segment with Roman Reigns being a total villain was perfectly done and echoed the similar post-Mania promo that he delivered after defeating The Undertaker. It was the biggest and best reaction he’s had as a heel champion, with every fan booing him out of the building for the first time since before his return. WWE have struggled giving him that kind of aura since officially turning him heel, as he’s managed to win over even the strongest of haters with his amazing character-work, so for him to become the biggest heel in the company again required something major like this.
Not only that, Cody was indeed one of the biggest babyfaces heading into WrestleMania, but how long do you think he would have stayed as that after beating Roman Reigns? Cast your minds back to AEW and how quickly the world turned on Rhodes as the top champion/challenger. Do you think a prolonged Cody-run would do him many favours? Even a vocal minority could have slowly turned the tides of his momentum. Whereas now he has the whole fanbase thoroughly behind him. His WrestleMania loss was emotionally devastating and, from a storyline perspective, it now lends itself to be one of the greatest wrestling stories ever told.
Playing the long game here and building both wrestlers up as the best possible versions of their archetypes could make for one of the biggest championship main-events in history. Roman himself stated in the WrestleMania press-conference that they are in the process of making something incredible, and these sort of storylines take time and patience. Cody Rhodes could spend the entire year jumping hurdles, working his way back up to facing an even-more dominant Reigns at next year’s WrestleMania.
In any good tale, even the most valiant of heroes need to look weak to the villain on one occasion. Darth Vader left Luke Skywalker bloodied and beaten in Empire before Luke’s comeback in Jedi, Roman Reigns has just done the same, albeit with the assistance of his cousins. If Cody was to overcome Roman in his first attempt, it would have been sweet, but could have done a lot more damage to both wrestlers than good. Cody will now refine himself, beef up his winning record, defeat monsters like Brock Lesnar and come back to Roman Reigns as an entirely new competitor.
Just wait everyone, the moment is coming. All Rhodes lead to glory.
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