How WWE Can Build Toward The Rock Vs. Roman Reigns At WrestleMania 39

Setting up the dream match in Hollywood could be tricky


Dec 8, 2022

For years, the WWE Universe has speculated about a potential dream match between Roman Reigns and The Rock, with WrestleMania 39 in Inglewood, Calif., being a logical stage.

What better way to capitalize on Reigns’ dominance and ever-growing mainstream appeal than a showdown with one of the biggest celebrities on the planet — not to mention his real-life cousin — under the bright lights in Hollywood?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

The biggest hurdle, as always, is Dwayne Johnson’s schedule. Being a box-office attraction obviously means an action-packed agenda, especially when coupled with other business endeavors. And it’s safe to say The Rock is one of the busiest men in show biz.

Plus, even if The Rock isn’t filming a movie immediately before, during or after WrestleMania season, the injury risk associated with taking an in-ring bump complicates matters. The Rock tore his abdominal and abductor muscles and suffered a hernia during his WrestleMania 29 match against John Cena in 2013 — The Brahma Bull’s last full-blown match with WWE — and therefore movie studios probably aren’t looking forward to the day when he steps back between the ropes.

So, this is something The Rock must want. Otherwise, the idea is dead in the water. But assuming he’s up for the challenge — which is likely given his stated love for wrestling and the obvious intrigue surrounding a possible clash with Reigns — and WWE makes it worth his while financially, we’re left with another (smaller) dilemma: How do they set up the match, from a storyline perspective?

Admittedly, that’s probably the least of Triple H’s concerns as WWE’s chief content officer. There are enough built-in touchpoints — namely, the family connection; with Reigns dubbing himself the “Tribal Chief” as part of the “Bloodline” faction that also includes their other real-life cousins, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa, plus “honorary Uce” Sami Zayn — that concocting a feud shouldn’t be too difficult.

The most seamless path involves The Rock winning the 2023 Royal Rumble in January, thereby guaranteeing him a title shot at WrestleMania 39. Reigns is the undisputed WWE universal champion, with a title reign extending over two years.

But is that really the best path?

The Royal Rumble, while usually a vehicle to set up the main event of the ensuing WrestleMania, doesn’t seem necessary in this instance. There are other, deeper ties to lean into with WWE’s storytelling. The allure of Roman Reigns vs. The Rock isn’t rooted in a belt — we all know this is a one-off match for The Rock — but rather the former’s claim he is the “Head of the Table.”

In fact, The Rock winning the Royal Rumble feels like a waste. WWE still could book that match, somehow, and use the Rumble as an opportunity to push another (full-time) superstar, resulting in two high-stakes feuds just in time for The Show of Shows. Or, if nothing else, the Rumble can be used to add a layer of unpredictability to the whole situation.

So, here’s our proposal: Sami Zayn wins the Royal Rumble — after helping Reigns retain the title against Kevin Owens earlier in the night — and thus raises a captivating question as to how he’ll approach his impending match with Reigns when he’s clearly pledged his allegiance to the champ.

Ultimately, upon facing intense internal pressure from The Bloodline, Zayn relinquishes his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, paving the way for a new challenger: The Rock.

The feud begins shortly after Reigns (again) retains his title at Elimination Chamber, this time despite Zayn showing some cracks in his reliability during and/or after the championship match. Reigns, more powerful than ever, stresses the importance of falling in line, prompting criticism from The Rock on a podcast appearance, a social media post or some other 2023 way of creating public friction that eventually culminates with an on-screen storyline.

After some back and forth, with Reigns calling out The Rock on multiple episodes of Smackdown, the latter eventually returns to WWE TV — pre-announced, because, well, ratings — and issues the WrestleMania challenge.

Meanwhile, Zayn, still battling embarrassment over cowering to Reigns and subsequent questioning of his loyalty, has his internal struggle compounded when The Rock takes aim at his apparent weakness — like only The Rock can. And that soon opens the door for The Bloodline to excommunicate Zayn from the group, after which he realigns with Owens — with a new fiery look in his eye — and begins working toward a tag team championship match against The Usos on Night 1 of WrestleMania. Reigns vs. The Rock headlines Night 2.

Got all that?

Now, the ideal scenario actually might involve Reigns somehow dropping the belts — or at least one of the Raw/Smackdown titles — to flesh out the rest of the ‘Mania card with compelling championship matches. Again, Reigns vs. The Rock is juicy enough to stand on its own with no gold involved. But accomplishing such would further complicate an already tricky situation, as it’s vital to preserve the current aura surrounding Reigns’ supremacy.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots receivers coach Ross Douglas
Previous Article

Why Patriots Players Are Buying Hype On This Coaching Prospect

NBC Sports analyst Jason Garrett
Next Article

Jason Garrett Reportedly Candidate For Stanford Head Coach Job

Picked For You