The Rock’s Cody Rhodes ultimatum lays path to most fitting Roman Reigns end at WrestleMania 40

The Post’s Joseph Staszewski brings you around the world of professional wrestling every Tuesday in his weekly column, the Post Match Angle.

WWE’s storyline for the main event of WrestleMania 40 is all about trust, and a road to the most fitting scenario may have just been unlocked. 

Let’s call it the Julius Caesar-like ending to Roman Reigns’ 1,200-plus-day reign as a world champion in WWE.

(For those who need the fast history lesson, Julius Caesar came to power in Rome with the help of two others, a general, Pompey, and a wealthy patrician, Crassus. Think Jimmy and Jey Uso. And when it was time for Rome to rid itself of Caesar there were 60 co-conspirators in the betrayal and, not one fatal blow, but 23 in the middle of he senate.)

It’s why The Rock’s counteroffer on SmackDown to Cody Rhodes is a win-win for the two-time Royal Rumble winner looking to finish his story on Night 2 of WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia on April 8 by winning the championship his father Dusty had taken out of his hands. Rhodes and Seth Rollins, who is now fully cleared medically, said they will give their answer face-to-face on SmackDown this week.

(The Rock does need to tighten up some of the promos a little bit for the benefit of the roster considering the lengths of his and Reigns’ entrances, too).

If Rhodes and Rollins defeat The Rock and Reigns on Night 1, there will be no Bloodline interference in the match for the Undisputed WWE Universal championship the next night. Perfect. If The Rock and Reigns win, then the title match is Bloodline Rules where anything goes. Perfect.

This is a lot different than Rock looking to add himself to the match. Because Reigns and the Bloodline have wronged so many wrestlers over the past four years in this story and Rhodes has earned enough people’s respect that the boys in the back should finally stand with him and help the “American Nightmare” should the Bloodline try to again get involved and try to rob him of the championship. 

That could also go for Triple H — if he wants to get involved — potentially decking The Rock, who is saying he is the boss since he sits on the TKO board of directors. WWE will need a little more buildup before I will believe that will happen. 

Even if The Bloodline does add new members on Night 1 such as Tama Tonga or Jacob Futu and looks stronger than ever, there are enough babyfaces to take them all out. Think: Jey Uso, L.A. Knight, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Randy Orton, Rollins and maybe even Drew McIntyre. The possibility of this was only driven home more by Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso costing Jey his match against McIntyre on Raw.

And all of it will be legal if it’s Bloodline rules.

The Rock and Roman Reigns WWE

I didn’t think WWE could get the magic in the crowd back of Zayn and Owens coming to help Rhodes at last year’s WrestleMania, but this could do it. 

It’s not just Rhodes standing up to Reigns, it’s the entire locker room saying enough is enough, and they can all celebrate in the ring like those in WCW did when Lex Luger and Sting finally beat “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan or Bret Hart took down Yokozuna at WrestleMania 10.

Because it didn’t take long for Reigns to grow tired of The Rock overshadowing him and showing he clearly doesn’t fully trust him. If he did, he wouldn’t have felt the need to ask his movie star cousin to acknowledge him as Tribal Chief. Which he did. Rhodes can’t really trust Rollins, who has never beaten him in a singles match and hated his guts just two years ago. A betrayal on either side remains in the cards — but more likely from Rock.    

Et tu, Brute?

Mountain to Climb

Now that Sting’s fantastic retirement match is over and Darby Allin suddenly finds himself alone for the first time since the winter of 2020, I asked the former TNT champion what’s next for him as he gets set to take two months off to climb Mount Everest after he faces Jay White at AEW: Big Business on March 13. It seems like Everest will be a soul-searching journey for him.

“Now that he’s gonna be gone, I just have to remind myself who Darby Allin is and the best way of doing this is going to climb Mount Everest,” said Allin, who did an insane Swanton Bomb off a ladder through a pane of glass at Revolution. “It’s just perfect timing for him to be sent off and later in that same month fly out to Everest and just remind myself of who the hell I am and what I’m capable of.”

Tony Schiavone believes the pairing with Sting has helped Allin tremendously as far as old fans may now identify with him, but he’s forged enough on his own to be just fine moving forward.

Darby Allin goes crashing through a pane of glass at AEW Revolution. Lee South/AEW

“He’s the craziest man I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring,” Schiavone said. “Everybody takes bumps. Sammy Guevara does crazy things. Jeff Hardy still does crazy things, but nobody does it like Darby Allin to the point where, ‘Oh, he’s dead. Oh, he’s getting back up. Oh, he won’t be able to wrestle again. Oh, he’s booked in another match on Wednesday.”

The 10 Count 

After hitting a ceiling in NXT and WWE the first time around and then kind of doing so again in AEW, Shawn Spears made a surprise return to NXT this week with a chair shot to Ridge Holland. He’s a heck of a hand, but it will be interesting to see if Spears can really break out in a big way this time around under Shawn Michaels.

Stokely Hathaway’s storyline with Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale shouldn’t get a happy ending. Hathaway should eventually realize his heel instincts aren’t meshing with them and turn on them to launch a new women’s team. Funny how they won at Revolution with Hathaway just not interjecting himself

Love that Liv Morgan is aggressively standing up for herself, both to Becky Lynch and Nia Jax. While it could soften up Lynch up for Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania or lead to a triple-threat or fatal four-way, at the very least it shows Morgan no longer wants to take a backseat to anyone.

Glad to see Mistico is getting his due. The former Sin Cara in WWE is working at the level of arguably the best luchador in the world right now, and the CMLL star was one of the highlights of MLW’s Intimidation Games from NYC as he defeated Rocky Romero for the MLW middleweight championship.

Bron Breakker got the full Goldberg treatment this week with his explosive one-spear victory. The multi-time world champion has been looking for a retirement match, is a mentor to Breakker in real life and WrestleMania is coming up. Just saying.

Zayn, Chad Gable, Richocet, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bronson Reed and JD McDonagh are set for a gauntlet match to determine Gunther’s Intercontinental championship challenger for WrestleMania. Only Zayn, Reed or Gable feel like a fitting challenge, and none of them feel like someone who need to be the one to end his reign.

Naomi is coming off a long run as Impact Knockouts world champion, and she was the first person pinned in the Elimination Chamber and did the job for rising star Tiffany Stratton — who did cheat a little bit — on SmackDown on Friday. Not exactly the start to her return fans were hoping for, even if the match time was reportedly cut down due to the long Rock-and-Reigns segment.

WWE didn’t wait to have Dakota Kai show her true colors to Bayley, who now needs a friend in this storyline. A prime candidate isn’t really clear outside of Bianca Belair, but WWE did give us our first Jade Cargill and Iyo Sky staredown. Cargill getting a babyface run would make her feel different than what we saw from her in AEW.

Love the fact that we have established on Collision that Mark Briscoe is so crazy — trying to burn Buddy Matthews with the stage pryo — that even House of Black ran away scared. 

The Bleacher Report app continues to be a below-average and unreliable way to to watch an event. And after major issues with the start of Revolution, Tony Khan really needs to push for AEW to get on Max somehow or for Bleacher Report to step up its game.

Extra: For a different type of wrestling, Word Championship Sumo is coming to The Theather at Madison Garden for the first time since 2005 on April 13 with tickets going on sale Wednesday.

Wrestler of the Week

Sting, AEW

The Icon got and gave us the type of sendoff he truly deserved after 39 years, ending his AEW run at 29-0 and tag team champions after beating the Young Bucks at Revolution. From his entrance to his sons’ participation to the craziness of the final match, the 64-year-old Sting brought it one more time for the final showtime. Thank you, Stinger.

Sting won his final match on Sunday night. Lee South

Social Media Post of the Week

Match to Watch 

Dijak vs. Joe Gacy, Asylum Match, NXT Roadblock (Tuesday, 8 p.m., USA Network)

Dijak and Gacy have already given us one of the most bizarre and entertaining feuds in NXT history. There were attacks from under the ring, Gacy being thrown off a trailer in the parking lot, getting kidnapped and put in a straightjacket. Their No Disqualification match was a ton of fun and with all they have already put into this, how can you not be intrigued to see what they pull out here?

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