Backstage Report On How Much Cody Rhodes Knew About WWE WrestleMania 40 Plans

Cody Rhodes will challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 40. That is something that was the plan, then wasn't the plan, then was sort of the plan, and now it's the plan again. It's been a rocky road for the "American Nightmare" since winning the Royal Rumble in January, mainly because of The Rock himself, who also wanted to face Reigns at WrestleMania.


So with everything that has gone on over the past month, how clued in was Rhodes? Dave Meltzer wrote about this extensively in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and here's what he has gathered over the past few weeks. Rhodes was told he would be facing Reigns last fall, but was not subsequently told that Rock would be getting a match with Reigns as part of his deal to become a member of the TKO Board of Directors on January 3, so all the talk about Rhodes "finishing his story" prior to the Rumble was done with the knowledge that Rhodes vs. Reigns was still the plan.

It was the day of the Rumble that Rhodes found out about the plan to pit Rock against Reigns at WrestleMania, despite the fact he was still set to win the Rumble match. All of the celebrating after the Rumble match that Rhodes did, including pointing to Reigns watching on from a skybox, was done because Rhodes was told his match with Reigns was taking place later on in 2024. This change was kept a secret from most people, as Rock wanted to keep the angle for the February 2 "WWE SmackDown," where Rhodes seemingly gave Rock his blessing to take his place, a secret.


There was also a plan to injure Cody Rhodes

According to Meltzer, even fewer people than knew about the plan to stage Reigns vs. Rock knew about the proposed injury angle that would have been a way to take Rhodes out of the match so Rock could be inserted. The main reason for this being that Rock didn't want to wrestle at the Elimination Chamber event in Australia as he, and WWE, didn't want to dilute the impact of his return match by having it take place at a show that airs at 5 AM EST. Basically, Rock vs. Reigns needed to be established and rubber-stamped as soon as possible.


Meltzer noted that the backlash to the angle that did make it to air (Rhodes stepping aside) would have been the exact same or even worse if WWE chose to "injure" Rhodes the week after the Royal Rumble, despite the company believing that the angle had worked given the crowd reaction on the night it was executed. The social media reaction was enough to prompt Rock to turn heel, and the company has since gone back to the original idea of having Rhodes vs. Reigns instead.

However, the teases Rock made on the January 1 "WWE Raw" were enough of a sign that WWE still wants to book Rock vs. Reigns at some point in the near future, especially given that the idea for Rock vs. Reigns at WrestleMania was reportedly discussed heavily in December 2023, something Rhodes also didn't know about. So, there you have it. A complicated web that has been weaved over weeks of discussions on and off-screen has ultimately led WWE back to where they started, the outcome that fans all over the world have been asking for since the end of WrestleMania 39; the "American Nightmare" against "The Tribal Chief."