Powell’s Blog: Cody Rhodes or The Rock?


By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Most of you are not going to like this blog. That’s fine. You can kick, you can scream, you can hate my guts, and you can threaten to never watch WWE again, but someone needs to state the obvious.

It’s not all about you.

WWE has you. In most cases, they know that no matter what you say or threaten now, you’ll be glued to your seat during WrestleMania XL and beyond.

It’s been a while since WWE did something to remind online fans that they strive to reach a bigger audience. Paul Levesque has talked at press conferences about trying to please the audience. He stopped short of saying that Vince McMahon’s booking became all about fighting the fans in recent years, but the message was there.

And then came the Smackdown angle that saw Cody Rhodes step aside to set up The Rock facing Roman Reigns to determine the true Tribal Chief and Head of the Table. It’s a showdown match for the ages that should produce a ton of extra attention to WrestleMania.

Granted, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as good as the in-ring classic that Reigns and Rhodes produced at WrestleMania 39. But if there’s one lesson that every pro wrestling fans should have learned over the last five years it’s that it’s not all about match quality.

It’s more than fair to feel bad for Cody. And I am not saying you that you are wrong if you would prefer to see Cody finish the story at WrestleMania XL. But it’s the right move for TKO officials to go with the biggest match they have up their sleeve, especially given the circumstances.

This is bigger than Cody’s story. This is about the image of the company. It won’t be easy, but TKO needs to do everything in its power to make the average person who hears the letters WWE think about a Hollywood megastar rather than the disgraced pervert who previously owned the company.

Cody Rhodes is going to be more than fine. Sure, they added another chapter or two before he gets to finish his story, but there’s no reason to think that he won’t do it and soon. Cody is the future of WWE. If they do this right, he will be an even bigger star through his association with Rock.

In the meantime, the best thing Cody can do is to avoid feeding the online fan frustration. He has every reason to be disappointed, but this is a chance to show that he is a true company man by putting on a happy face and endorsing the move in a believable manner at every turn.

The biggest mistake Cody could make would be to feed into the negativity of his frustrated fanbase and make an enemy out of a powerful TKO board member who knows how the game is played and will never forget if he feels his final in-ring moment is sabotaged.

Cody’s focus should be on stealing WrestleMania weekend by tearing the house down with Seth Rollins, and then go on to finish the story and become the new face of WWE. It’s all there for him, even if the story takes a little longer to unfold.


Readers Comments (32)

  1. It is a huge disservice to Cody. And I’m sick of all the people that are assuming that he’s going to get to finish his story that he’s going to eventually get the title and be the face of the franchise.
    The more it gets pushed back the more likely he’s going to get screwed.
    And everyone knows it.

    • Original Jabroni February 3, 2024 @ 4:19 pm

      Well, not everyone knows it. Powell and me, for example.

      • Original Jabroni February 3, 2024 @ 4:23 pm

        I posted something almost exactly like this editorial in the very angry comments section of the WWE’s YouTube clip of Cody stepping aside. For life-long fans like myself who dislike AEW because of their obsession with pleasing fans that will watch no matter what, I completely agree with the move. Also, I’m quite interested to see what the potential angle looks like with Cody/Roman/Rock coming out of all this.

    • It’s because we do think he will eventually finish the story and ideally it will mean more when he does. And I really hope he does. At the same time, he’s cashing seven-figure checks, he headlined WM last year and will likely close night one this year. If that’s being screwed, sign me up for some screwing!

  2. Sounds like you’re choosing to focus on the positives.

  3. Cody should get the spot, period. Rock is as cold in Hollywood as possible and his XFL was a huge failure. He’s also been outed as a complete fraud with his Maui relief stuff.

    Cody is the only option. Rock won’t sell a single extra ticket and I doubt he makes any real difference in PLE viewership. Cody vs Roman at Wrestlemania, with Cody winning, and then Rock vs Roman for Head of the Table at SummerSlam.

    Unfortunately, we’re seeing HHH slowly but surely bringing back his pet projects that got obliterated by AEW when they were the faces of NXT and now he seems to be moving away from the obvious right moves with the guys who are legitimate on the main roster.

    • What are we talking about today? Cody and Rock, not Vince McMahon for a change. Cody vs. Roman brings in the WWE fans they already have. Rock’s involvement means a lot of WWE fans bitch (and still watch), yet gives them a chance to bring in more casual fans. Regardless, it will get them way more mainstream attention at a time when they need the mainstream media focused on anything other than Vince. This is bigger than who deserves the spot.

      • Rock won’t add anything to WrestleMania, and since it’s in Philly there’s a 99.9% chance the fans hijack the match and chant for Cody. Casual fans know that the Rock was in the biggest box office failure of all the DC movies, that he’s been the face of the latest failed version of the XFL, and that he was the face (with Oprah) of one of the worst disaster relief funding snafus in recent memory back in October.

        Rock’s public perception has never been lower. I would be most casual fans see an old, fake, attention seeking bald asshole as much as anything else.

        • So why do the television ratings and social media numbers soar through the roof when Rock appears on WWE television? You’re right in saying that his career is not at its peak by any means, but he’s still a massive difference maker and a true mega star. The Philly fans could highjack the match. That would be embarrassing for Rock. But there’s a lot of time between now and then for Rock and Reigns to sell people on their match. It’s going to be a fun and interesting ride.

      • Rock couldn’t go 11 years ago. He was blown up and injured after less than 10 minutes at WM29. These days he’s blown up after his entrance.

        They probably told Cody what they told him last year … next year Cody. CM Punk … hold my water.

        They’re obsessed with the attitude era. If Austin or undertaker or hbk so much as looked at that ring this year they’d be all over them too.

        I Hope the crowd crap all over Rock and reigns which doesn’t need a belt … could just be a ‘head of the table’ match. Reigns should have dropped it but they’re obsessed with him going past hogan.

        As for Cody …when in Aew he called them out for this kind of thing. Don’t be a hypocrite … don’t stroke dwaynes balls because he’s played his pensioner card. I respect Cody but if he doesn’t tell it like it is then he’s a hypocrite . He believes it’s his time. It’s not johnsons time anymore. Just say it. Because it’s right.

  4. People like you live for this. To finger wag at the people who read your website, pay for your memberships. You have the same contempt for your base as WWE does theirs.

    Fun fact, guy. WWE’s business doing well doesn’t do anything for you. TKO stock going up or down is something nobody beyond shareholders care about. What has rehabilitated this company to give them the chance at Netflix and at packed stadium shows and record merch has been a better TV product. It’s not rocket science.

    And they reverted and brought back Dwayne. Great, he popped Birmingham Alabama. Somewhere nobody of any significance bothers to visit. They would’ve popped for Al Snow.

    The moment was crap. Roman buried Seth and the title. Cody has beaten Seth three times. There’s no story. What about Drew, Sami Zayn, Gunther all of these guys thrown by the wayside for Dwayne. Everyone’s Mania plans have been tampered with. But “no,no no” Jason Powell finger wags and tells me to eat the slop and enjoy it.

    Me and my friend Mark stopped watching ten years ago and stopped listening to content you shell out. Book in spite of your audience and everyone suffers. Don’t you dare finger wag me as some wrestling blogger and tell me how to feel. Outlets that far supersede the audience of yours – Fox, USA Today, TMZ are all slamming this. It’s a mainstream story. It’s the worst decision regarding a WrestleMania since the build up to 30. Don’t be a chump. Don’t tell me to wait another year. This company’s biggest storyline jumped the shark a year ago and is burning all of their good will now.

    You geek. You high and mighty dork. I don’t even care that much about Cody Rhodes but im tired of you people telling others how to feel with your finger wagging wah wah wah it all makes sense because we should all care about TKO earnings. Their stock ain’t gonna do great when even more Vince crap leaks out anyways. Don’t be a loser like this again.

    • First off, I have no contempt for my readers. Well, maybe a few (they know who they are!), but the vast majority are great and truly appreciated. I’m not telling anyone how to feel. See these lines from my blog: “It’s more than fair to feel bad for Cody. And I am not saying you that you are wrong if you would prefer to see Cody finish the story at WrestleMania XL.”

      I shared how I saw the situation. That’s my job. I could just ignore the comment section completely like many writers do. I like to interact, especially if I feel like I can explain my takes in more detail. If that makes me a loser or a high and might dork, then so be it. Give my best to Mark!

      • Original Jabroni February 3, 2024 @ 7:08 pm

        I’m not sure who on the planet is more recognizable than Dwayne Johnson. I mean that quite literally. If it’s bad business to put him at the top of the bill, I’m not sure what good business looks like. Btw, it’s OK if you disagree. I have no venom towards you for it like some people apparently do. I’m just a 47 year old dopey dad who loves that my kids want to watch wrestling with me.

        • That’s a great attitude to have. I wish there was more of it in the world and I don’t just mean in pro wrestling discussions. It’s okay to disagree. It happens. Some people just can’t handle that, even while debating something trivial.

          • That guy was definitely overly harsh, but I agree with his general sentiment. I also think you are overestimating Rock’s popularity as it has taken quite a hit the past year or 2. What does this really accomplish? Those casual fans arent gonna sub to peacock to see the rock if they arent already watching the product for the most part, and you have really turned off your base. The Rock AND Roman will both be booed, and it will make for a terrible main event.

        • Rock is at his lowest popularity point in quite a while. Disastrous flop of a movie, disastrous flop of the XFL, and then he and Oprah got rightfully blasted for one of the worst disaster relief ideas ever. People have finally seen through the bullshit.

          He’s not positively thought of at the moment and he just blew up a few weeks ago trying to cut a promo. Putting him in with Roman does literally nothing for WM this year and damages long term storylines in the process. If HHH goes through with this then he’s still the terrible booker he was in NXT and WWE is doomed until TKO puts someone else in charge.

          • Who says this is Paul Levesque’s call? It could be, but Endeavor gave Rock his name rights and $30 million in stock to be on the board. They obviously want him back in the fold. Levesque may be totally in favor of it, but I don’t think we can rule out that the decision was dictated from someone higher on the food chain.

      • Jack Christopher Catalano February 3, 2024 @ 7:17 pm

        Why can’t they have Rock/Roman on night 1 and have Roman retain and then on night 2 faces Cody and Cody wins?

        As far as Rollins, what about him and Gunther?

      • Get your (or WWE’s point) but this will lead to the Rock most likely bein haevily booed at Mania and him gettin an even worse reputation after his failed attempt to take over the DC franchise. And i dont expect that this will raise the spirits of the talents backstage moving forward.

  5. The crowds are going to shit all over the Roman-Rock build up and certainly the Philly crowd will shit all over it. Philly has some of the best and most hardcore wrestling fans. They booed Rock/Roman once. They booed Batista when they screwed Daniel Bryan. Its going to happen again you can bet on it. Does TKO really want Rock and Roman getting booed everytime they appear on TV from now thru the WM match? segments will get hijacked. The WM match certainly will get hijacked. The reaction out there for what happened is very negative. Its not some small corner of the IWC. Over 400K dislikes for the video on Youtube. Dwayne’s tweet today got ratioed. Comments on his IG post were ugly. This is not going to go well for him. If anyone thinks fans will just get over this in a few days, shrug their shoulders and accept Rock/Roman then you are in for a rude awakening. Its going to be Daniel Bryan and the Yes movement redux. They 100% have to pivot. Get ready for alot of Rocky Sucks, Roman Sucks, We Want Cody etc. chants anytime one of or both of them are on TV. And it will be dialed up to the extreme during the WM match when Rock is winded after 2 or 3 minutes.

    • The WrestleMania crowd could definitely be an issue, but there’s a lot of time between now and then. I think the TV crowds will be tough when Rock isn’t there. Let’s see how they react when he is. It wasn’t a problem on Friday. I watched the segment back. They weren’t working themselves into a frenzy when it seemed like Cody was going to choose Roman. They were actually pretty subdued and then popped huge when Rock came out. Of course, that’s just one crowd and the fan frustration shown today could certainly snowball. I’m very curious to see how they handle it. It’s the first pushback they’ve really had to deal with since Paul Levesque took over creative. It’s going to be fascinating to see what they do in terms of promos and angles to try to win people over. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but I look forward to watching it all unfold.

      • Also looking at just the Cody-Seth part of it that match makes no sense to me. Either you have Seth lose a FOURTH time to Cody or Cody loses and really kills off all momentum he has. Or you do something really wild like have Cody win but do a Priest cash in. I really don’t see any single one of these as good options. Cody-Roman was the money match; Rock could have been involved as either a guest ref or a Tyson style special enforcer. Rock could have stopped Solo/Jimmy interference which finally leaves Roman all alone for the first time and Cody is able to beat him clean. You then build into Rock-Roman. No title involved and you can still have your match for the title of Head of the Table. That carries more intrigue to me because with no title involved that match could go either way. Title involved we know Roman is winning (unless by some small chance everyone really loses their minds and have Rock win) so it takes away any interest for me. Assuming Roman wins, he is going to hold that title for another year. Thats another reason to do Cody-Roman now. Roman as a champion I think has run its course. I know many wanted Cody to win last year but I actually understood the decision to have him lose at 39. Let him face more adversity and build him up. They made him go through Brock twice, great. Had to go thru Nakamura. Had to deal with the Judgment Day. Great. Did the Smackdown staredown tease with Roman a few months back. Great. Wins the Rumble a second time. All of this was perfectly done. And they just fumbled it all away to force a match to take place that doesnt need to happen right now. Either you are making everyone wait another full year until 41, or they have Cody win at Survivor Series or some manufactured event after Roman passes Hogan and I am sorry but it doesnt feel anywhere near as good as Cody finally being the one to dethrone Roman at WM in front of 80k. It was a hard sell for many after his loss at 39 to wait another year. I dont see many willing to be patient to wait another full year. And having it happen at a non WM event is a mistake.

  6. Rock/Roman should have the excitement of Rock/Hogan, but Cody’s about-face on his 2 year mission really let the air out of the room.

    No one other than WWE cares about beating Hogan’s 1st title reign, and, frankly, I’m not even sure why they care, when Hogan is in good graces with WWE and still selling merch. Honestly, so what about that record?

    They had Rock make the head of the table line before the McMahon lawsuit, so they must have some kind of plan.

    For instance, Cody said it wasn’t the right time, which makes me hope he’ll win the championship from Roman at Elimination Chamber, then maybe unify Seth’s title at WM, if Seth is even healthy enough to compete.

    That frees Rock/Roman to be about family.

    As for Priest? If you don’t want Cody to lose to Seth at WM, you have Priest cash in MITB against Seth during the match. It’s enough of a nod to Seth’s cash in, without being a replay of it.

  7. Ah yes, I definitely watch wrestling because I care about the board members and what they need. What a bizarre way to view something.

    Also, if you think this is making the Vince stuff go away you’re wild. That court case is coming, people are being dragged into it, The Rock turning up doesn’t change that.

    • I’m not telling you how to watch wrestling. I’m simply trying to explain why I think they made the move. Big difference. And of course it doesn’t make the Vince story go away. That wasn’t the point.

  8. My chief thought with this is that all of the problems could have been avoided if they just taken the lay-up of a booking decision last year and put the title on Cody at the last Wrestlemania. Having him lose that match made zero sense then and makes less than zero now. Of course Wrestlemania will sell out anyway, and I also agree with the general point that match quality isn’t everything, but we now have two very uninteresting main events to look forward to – one that will be a poor match and one where one guy has already beaten the other with one arm.

  9. My good lord, you dudes know this is all about money and ratings worldwide rather than the fans in the building??
    20-30 years it really would have mattered what the paying fans thought!
    In todays world, it doesn’t matter what you think.
    10-20 million people will pay money to see the rock wrestle.
    2000-3000 would have paid £10 a ticket back in the day.
    It’s a soap opera. But I do appreciate your stance, but it’s not about fans now. It’s about money, Saudi Arabia, white washing the rapists from the company. Cody’s day will come, but how much does Cody finishing his story mean to tko when it comes to taking away from a rapist and making millions of dollars from vaguely interested fans?

    • I think if TKO wanted to cash in on the Rock’s fame, they should have used a lesser PLE they could have turned into an arena show, vs WM, which was already sold out, and is the biggest weekend of the year.

      Save the Rock’s drawing power to elevate a B show to an A. Everybody makes money.

  10. I get it, the Rock is a HUGE name and will draw positive attention. But he is also over 50 and not in the same shape he once was. The match probably won’t be great and the Philly crowd (after 7 hours in the cold) may turn quickly.

    Don’t ask the viewers to deeply invest in Cody’s story and then brush it aside for a hot-shot angle, it sends the wrong message to the weekly fans.

    Side question to Jason (if this blog isnt too old) How soon before they have to clean this all up and rename WWE “TKO Wrestling”?

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