WWE stars unhappy with The Rock replacing Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 40

Roman Reigns will defend his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

By Web Desk
February 04, 2024
Cody Rhodes (R) stepped aside to miss the opportunity to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40. — WWE

WWE fans expressed their discontent with the company's decision to feature The Rock against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania instead of Cody Rhodes, and it seems the dissatisfaction extended to the locker room as well.

The Rock made an unexpected comeback to WWE TV on Friday's SmackDown after Cody Rhodes stepped aside, relinquishing his opportunity to challenge Reigns for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship in favour of 'The People's Champ.'

This choice sparked outrage among WWE fans, who believed it was time for Rhodes to 'conclude his storyline' and dethrone Reigns in Philadelphia - twelve months after his defeat to the champion at last year's WrestleMania.

According to a report from Fightful Select, the WrestleMania plan didn't sit well with Rhodes' fellow superstars, and the roster was not pleased with the decision.

'I've known Dwayne a long time,' a wrestler is said to have shared with Fightful.

"Not only did the look on Cody's face tell a story, the look on Dwayne's told a story. I think in that moment he knew that this decision wasn't going to work out quite the way that he imagined it.

"He was experiencing the same thing that he and Roman experienced in Philadelphia. He was being co-signed for something the vast majority didn't want."

Another source reportedly mentioned a deflated mood in the locker room, feeling that it resembled a decision from previous regimes rather than the current WWE booking team.

While the business implications of the match were understood, many felt it wasn't aligned with WWE's long-term vision.

Fans have further expressed their displeasure with the revelation that it was The Rock himself who pushed for the match. PWInsider reported that the 51-year-old lobbied to have the match to 'save WrestleMania' following the withdrawals of CM Punk and Brock Lesnar.

There is also a belief that WWE is attempting to distance itself from the negative publicity stemming from fresh allegations against former chairman Vince McMahon.

After the backlash over the match, there is hope that WWE may alter their WrestleMania plans, particularly as the YouTube video of Friday night's segment received over 300,000 dislikes – the highest for any video on WWE's channel.