Conspiracy theories are nothing new, in wrestling or otherwise. Who knew about Montreal? Was there really a mole in ECW in 1997? Did we really land on the moon?
In just a few days since Smackdown went off the air, The Rock, one of the most popular and charismatic stars in Hollywood, became vilified, with the mere mention of his name generating a chorus of jeers from the live audience on Raw last night. The segment with Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes was supposedly going to set up their WM match, but was interrupted by Drew McIntyre, who correctly pointed out the flawed logic of Cody giving away his opportunity at challenge Roman Reigns for the championship, making the Royal Rumble win completely pointless. I already penned an article about that portion of this rather odd saga last week so there’s no need to retread it, but the bottom line is, when the heel is right, it doesn’t exactly portray the baby face in the best light.
But, could this all be a reverse psychology conspiracy that will eventually see Cody win the championship from Roman at Wrestlemania? If it is, WWE management missed the mark.
The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer discussed the topic with Bryan Alvarez on the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, claiming that this was all an elaborate work that was planned before the Rumble in an effort to recreate a Daniel Bryan scenario from ten years ago. Usually, I take anything Meltzer says with a grain of salt, as that’s the nature of the rumor mill of the pro wrestling industry, but after the whirlwind of events within the business of the past two weeks, anything is possible.
When the “we want Cody” trend was acknowledged on Raw, I assumed it was a way for the company to try to avoid the audience hijacking the show and use the passionate response to the Smackdown segment as a way to emphasize Rhodes’ star power rather than the notion that he looked like a fool for giving away his WM opportunity.
As mentioned, I just don’t buy that this is some type of elaborate ruse to get the audience behind Cody, because he was already the top baby face and it was very clear that the fans expressed a demand to see him finally beat Roman based on the reaction to The Royal Rumble victory. There was a much simpler path to be taken to give Rhodes the WM win that this two-year saga is based on, why muddy the waters and make the top baby face look aloof in the process?
That’s why even if this was a planned angle, it was completely counterproductive and could actually hinder the buzz around whatever the actual WM card ends up being in April. Rhodes already gave away the biggest opportunity of his career and quite literally said on Smackdown that he wasn’t going to attempt to win the championship at WM. As I said in the prior article about The Rock’s appearence, how are the fans supposed to have faith in the top baby face that is willing to give his chance at the title away? Why should the audience be invested in Cody winning the championship if it wasn’t important enough for him to actual accept the chance to win it?
The segment already aired and Rhodes already looked foolish. The horse is out of the barn, whatever they might do from here, even if he ends up against Roman at WM, the damage is done. At the very least, Cody was presented as someone that was willing to step aside for a bigger star. Would Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, or any other top baby face from a previous generation be scripted to do that?
Furthermore, just for the sake of discussion, let’s say that Cody wins and gets the pyro to end the show in April. Should the fans be that enthusiastic to celebrate a victory for a guy that wasn’t that invested enough in the same win so he initially gave away the title shot? Again, if this is an elaborate conspiracy to make the audience believe that their rejection of The Rock actually made WWE management change their plans, was it worth making Cody look weak, and getting The Rock, the other baby face in the scenario, a hostile reaction? Isn’t it much more logic to allow The Rumble win be enough to set up the rematch with Reigns?
The whole situation has, at best, a lukewarm atmosphere to it. Cody was foolish and stepped aside, while The Rock was portrayed as the Hollywood part-timer that “took his spot.” How exactly does this get Cody more over to win the championship when he was already the top good guy in the company? Sure, if you stretch enough logic it might’ve made sense in theory, but it would be terrible in application.
As far as the possibility that this is a reverse psychology tactic to make the audience believe that their reaction was enough to make the office change original plans, does anyone honestly think the WWE writing team would attempt to do something that elaborate? Granted, they might claim that was the plan after the fact to avoid the embarrassment of originally fumbling an easy WM main event with the Cody/Roman rematch, but does anything about the nature of the WWE product, especially in the modern era provide any indication that there would be that much depth to the script? Plus, even if it was the case, it’s not an effective strategy because of the way it presents Cody and The Rock within the dynamics of the storyline.
The comparisons to Daniel Bryan a decade ago are misguided, as it’s an apples to oranges situation. The Bryan character was the scrappy underdog that the office legitimately wasn’t going to push toward the title. Cody was tailor-made to be a main event guy and already proved he was main event material when he was in the spot last year so the Bryan logic doesn’t apply to Rhodes. As I said before, it makes sense for TKO to use The Rock because of the publicity and revenue he brings to the table, but again, there were much simpler solutions than what was scripted on Raw. The Rock could’ve challenged Roman on night one and then Cody would be booked against the winner the second night. Keep in mind, Cody’s Rumble win could’ve been used to declare an opportunity against the Universal champion and then who they would be could’ve still been determined without the potentially convoluted angle the organization might be using now to get Cody involved in the title match. The segment with Cody vs. Rollins and the addition of McIntyre if Cody actual challenges Reigns is too overbooked and dilutes the effectiveness of everyone involved. This might be too harsh for the dozens of writers on the WWE payroll that work on the creative team, but the foundation of sports entertainment, especially for the main event stars, is still simple.
The most over baby face and the most over heel work the main event for the championship to draw the most money possible. Sure, the specifics dictate that Cody defeat Roman to avenge the loss from last year, but the point is, the story writes itself. This goofy detour where Rhodes gave his title shot away does absolutely nothing to add to the narrative. Obviously, The Rock’s involvement is a major deal for the WWE, but let’s keep in mind, after the XFL flopped, an incredible successful WM event will give Dwayne Johnson a level of good PR as well.
There are some rumblings that perhaps the next chapter of this storyline will unfold at the press conference on Thursday, but again, even if that’s the case, the perception of Cody Rhodes took a dent, and the crowd was booing the mention of The Rock’s name so was that worth it to get to the same destination that the Royal Rumble win set up anyway? I don’t buy the reverse psychology conspiracy theory, but after the past few weeks, anything is possible.
Was there anyone on the grassy knoll?
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Until next week
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