Wrestling stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes did a press conference Thursday where they announced that both Rhodes and Johnson would wrestle Reigns at WrestleMania. The event peaked with Rock slapping Rhodes in the face and embracing a villainous role as he allied himself with bad guy Reigns, talking about the blood brother relationship that their families had with one another. Following the event, WWE chief content officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque posted that Reigns vs. Rhodes was officially the main event of WrestleMania.
Whether this storyline gets paid off in one match or multiple matches remained unclear, with the idea floated by commentators at the end of the show of the two-night WrestleMania including both of these matches or a tag team match. The idea of a three-way match between the stars could also be in the works, but whatever happens, we know that Johnson, Reigns and Rhodes will be at the center of it.
As is often the case with professional wrestling, the line between storytelling and reality has remained intentionally fuzzy as the feud evolved over this past month. That culminated this past weekend with Cody “The American Nightmare” Rhodes fans furious at the appearance on television that Rhodes, who had been part of a multi-year storyline dedicated to his late father Dusty Rhodes that involved him going after Reigns, wouldn’t get the opportunity to complete that quest at this year’s WrestleMania. The fan frustration led to “#WeWantCody” trending on social media, along with fans booing Johnson at live events.
Watch the main event segment of the event in the video at the top of this story.
The press conference was held in front of thousands of Las Vegas fans at the T-Mobile Arena on Thursday, just days before the Super Bowl in the city this Sunday and two months away from WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia on April 6 and 7.
The main portion of the event began with World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins coming out, followed by their other top champion, Universal Champion Roman Reigns with his storyline manager, Paul Heyman. Rollins mocked Reigns’ reputation for making limited appearances, while Reigns looked to move past Rollins and address Rhodes.
Reigns called Rhodes “Mr. Hestitation” and, declaring that Rhodes had taken too long to make up his mind about who he would face at WrestleMania, Reigns said that his choice for a match at WrestleMania was against The Rock. Johnson joined the others on stage, met at first by loud boos from the fans before others joined in with tepid cheers. As he teased who he would face, the fans began to deliver dueling chants of “We want Cody” and “Rocky sucks.”
“I introduce you to the Cody crybabies,” Johnson quipped in response to Rhodes fans turning on him.
Johnson showed a graphic of his family tree, titled “The Bloodline,” which includes Reigns and numerous other notable Samoan professional wrestlers. Johnson also asserted that there’s only one dominant family in professional wrestling, which led to boos from the fans in the subtle shot at Rhodes and his wrestling family history with father Dusty Rhodes. Johnson and Rock shook hands and embraced.
That was followed by Rhodes interrupting to call it “bulls–t.” But Rhodes told Reigns that he won the Royal Rumble and was using that right to choose Reigns to face at WrestleMania.
Reigns reacted by insulting Rhodes and his father, calling them irrelevant. Rhodes defended his father’s reputation, and Reigns and Johnson turned out to be on the same page as Johnson noted that Rhodes was insulting his bloodline by insulting the larger family. Johnson slapped Rhodes, leading to him walking off stage.
“I’ll slap the piss out of you again,” Johnson said as Rhodes left.
“Have him talk s–t about our family again,” Johnson told Paul “Triple H” Levesque backstage, ordering Levesque to “fix it.”
Following the show, Levesque made at least one of the main events official — but left Johnson’s role in question.
— Triple H (@TripleH) February 9, 2024
The event’s hosts included ESPN host and former NFL player Pat McAfee, who recently joined WWE Raw’s regular announce team, along with another of their regular commentators and injured wrestlers C.M. Punk and Big E.
McAfee interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson earlier Thursday on his ESPN show. Johnson mocked fans complaining about his insertion into this year’s WrestleMania main event scene, where he first debuted the “Cody crybabies.”
The press conference also comes after the company exiled its founder Vince McMahon as he faces a sexual assault lawsuit from Janel Grant, a woman who he previously signed a non-disclosure agreement with before both sides decided it had been broken. Other members of WWE’s past management have been implicated in the suit, including former head of talent relations John Laurinaitis, though the suit is also against the company as a whole. Whether the scandal includes anyone still with the company remains unknown, with several executives referenced in the suit not being named. Since the events detailed in the suit, WWE merged with UFC to form TKO Group Holdings.
Levesque, the former wrestler and the company’s current chief chief officer, made an appearance to the live crowd earlier in the event hyping up the history of WrestleMania. He also spoke to fans about the company’s recent successes, including its recent $5 billion deal with Netflix for future TV rights, including for flagship show “Raw.”
The company also announced a partnership with X (formerly Twitter) for a new mini-program, “WWE Speed,” which will involve matches that last five minutes or less. The show will be distributed through X.
Other guests at the event included Bianca Belair (star of WWE’s new reality series “Love and WWE: Bianca and Montez”), Rhea Ripley and Becky “The Man” Lynch.
Further developments can be expected to play out on this coming Monday’s “Raw,” “SmackDown” and at their February premium event, “Elimination Chamber” from Australia.
Watch the full event below, or the main event storyline at the top of this story.