After the online backlash that prompted the “we want Cody” campaign on social media and speculation that the entire situation was a work from the start, the WWE wisely hosted a press conference in Las Vegas just a few days before the city would also host the Super Bowl. Prior to the event, The Rock claimed that it was going to be a press conference that people were going to be talking about for a long time, and depending on your perspective, he might’ve been right.
I tuned into the press conference not knowing what to expect, but hoping to get some sort of true clarification on the main event storyline ahead of Wrestlemania. In truth, I think that it was a mixed bag and I’m still not sure if the positives outweigh the negatives, but that may depend on how it unfolds going forward.
As I said it in an article earlier this week, even if Cody Rhodes eventually clashes with Roman Reigns, in terms of perception, the damage was done because Cody, the top baby face that the audience has invested in throughout this saga, willingly gave away the biggest opportunity of his career on Smackdown. During the segment last week, Cody went as far as to say that he would not finish the story at Wrestlemania. As I said, even if this was an to attempt to work the audience into believing that the rejection of The Rock/Roman main event actually steered the company to change their plans, it still made Cody Rhodes look foolish in the process. Quite simply, a top baby face does not just give away their opportunity , especially if it’s theoretically the biggest match of their career. Would Steve Austin do that? Would Goldberg do that? If not, it shouldn’t be something that Cody Rhodes should be scripted to do since he’s supposed to be presented as main event material. Why should the fans be invested in finishing the story if he wasn’t originally invested enough in himself to take advantage of the opportunity he earned from the Royal Rumble?
Again, even if it was a plan from the start, it did nothing more to establish Cody, and quite frankly, actually diluted the effectiveness of a story that writes itself so if there’s eventually a payoff, the path WWE brass took to get there doesn’t maximize how over Cody was with the audience to make him as big of a star as possible when he wins the championship.
In a similar fashion, while this press conference got the audience talking, it still might have an overall diminishing effect on those involved.
As we know, The Rock confronted Roman Reigns and announced that he would challenge the Tribal Chief at Wrestlemania 40. Cody Rhodes interrupted that and announced that he wanted to finish the story in April without any explanation as to why he initially handed over the opportunity to The Rock in the first place. Unless there’s a logical explanation within the next few weeks as to why he would even consider originally giving up his spot then as I said, the damage is done in terms of the baby face not being as invested in a championship victory as the audience is for this storyline.
One of the things that worked really well about the press conference is how the point of contention was presented within the segment. Roman Reigns called Dusty Rhodes, Cody‘s father, irrelevant. Roman directly insulted Dusty, but Cody‘s response was a rebuttal to Roman specifically, not an insult to the Samoan family. Cody said that the High Chief Peter Maivia would be disappointed in Roman’s actions, which makes sense because Reigns is the heel. The key was that Cody didn’t say anything negative about the High Chief, whereas Roman insulted Dusty. It’s subtle, but it’s a very smart way to set up a narrative. would be disappointed in Roman’s actions which makes sense because reigns is the heel. The key was that Cody did not say anything negative about the high chief, whereas Roman, insulted Dusty. It’s subtle, but it’s a very smart way to set up an narrative. Based on that, The Rock agreed with Roman when there wasn’t actually an insult to the family, it presents him in a heel role as well, which is something that most fans wouldn’t have expected prior to this. With a heel turn being implied, it makes you wonder how much involvement The Rock will have with the WWE brand going forward. The cameo appearances that he has done in recent years are more or less automatic baby face spots so a heel turn might be an indication of more than just short term involvement, as there would have to be depth to the angle to justify the heel turn.
That being said, at least, in my opinion, the way the angle played out, was actually another hindrance to the overall presentation of Cody Rhodes. When The Rock took offense to Rhodes mentioning the High Chief, his grandfather, Dwayne Johnson slapped Cody, and instead of punching The Rock in the face, Cody just took the slap. How is that the action of an admirable baby face? Again, would Steve Austin allow someone to slap him in the face? Would Bill Goldberg allow someone to slap him in the face? Even the PG era. would John Cena do nothing after a slap in the face?
The main event baby face doesn’t back down, but that’s essentially how Cody was presented in this scenario. He took the slap and did nothing about it. Along the same lines, Seth Rollins was made to look completely irrelevant, as he was quite literally left standing in the background without an opponent or any importance placed on his championship. Given how much of an afterthought Seth was during the press conference, it might be an indication that perhaps his knee won’t be healed up in time for WM or at least his status is unclear so management doesn’t want to make firm booking plans until he’s 100% ready to compete. Maybe an angle would be booked to essentially write him out of WM if he’s not completely healed by April? At this point, it wouldn’t truly make a difference if his belt wasn’t defended at the event since it’s value of lack thereof was completely discarded in this scenario.
While I think the presentation of the press conference was more of a negative and could’ve been done in a way that didn’t compromise Cody’s credibility, if the office has a plan within the next two months to make it a bigger scenario than it would’ve been otherwise then any criticism is moot. The problem is, at least right now, is that the original rematch narrative that writes itself still would’ve been more effective than the convoluted angle that was booked the past two weeks. Cody gave away his opportunity, but not really so The Rock is somewhat of a heel, but not exactly so the whole storyline seems like it could’ve been portrayed in a much simpler fashion.
The backstage confrontation between The Rock and Triple H was well done, as it wasn’t portrayed as a hokey worked shoot segment, but has a level of realistic tension. Granted, the whole situation stretches the limits of logic to justify the tension, but the actual segment backstage could be very effective in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think there will be anything major for this storyline on tonight’s Smackdown, but it will be interesting to see how this angle unfolds going forward, especially if it divides the audience. It might be too pessimistic, but I’m very skeptical about if any of this will add more to the payoff then there would’ve been otherwise. Either way, this press conference might be considered a new era of the company and that is an overall wise decision based on the previous management of the organization.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and Facebook.com/PWMania.
Until next week
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