WrestleMania 40: The Endgame Of Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes

One year ago. The journey to WrestleMania 39 was filled with nostalgia, betrayal, trust, and the love of the game, but most importantly, the realization that heartbreak can come in any fashion and that you cannot control the inevitable.

From an opening that cast the self-proclaimed future of the business against one of the greatest of all time to an ending that came within the snap of the man responsible for preventing the world from moving on by making everyone relive the last three years of his dominant reign that sees no end unless a possibility is there to take.

Speaking of that ending, it’s almost like we all saw it in a movie once. It’s similar to a purple alien collecting stones and eliminating half the universe, but in the eyes of our world, it’s something we’ve dealt with for an illustrious 1300+ days. Every year, the big day comes and it ends with the Tribal Chief sitting on his throne and looking at all the misery he has created, while some celebrate and acknowledge, the other side prays for the day that their dreams can be saved from the never-ending nightmare.

Everyone’s dream of making it to Hollywood is getting cast in a big motion picture and finding their way to a performance so grand that they are praised for decades and immortalized as one of the greatest to do it. That dream belongs to ‘The American Nightmare’, the guy who had to return from a torn pec just to get an opportunity like the twenty-nine other men who wanted a shot at greatness. That, however, is the kind of drive that fueled Cody Rhodes, the drive that if you could make it to the end, your story has a chance to be completed so you can prove that wrestling certainly has more than one royal family.

There was just one big problem about the story that Rhodes wanted to finish and it has to do with that purple alien I mentioned a few moments ago. The ruler in our story has a name and it’s Roman Reigns, the Tribal Chief of WWE. The same man responsible for being so dominant that he unified both world championships, conquered the beast, the rated R superstar, the modern-day underdog and so many others who all had to face the same fate as Rhodes did when he made it to his first motion picture and realized that dreams can’t come true if you are doing it all by yourself. No matter how hard you try by yourself, you’re destined to fail against the Bloodline.

This problem hasn’t only happened to Rhodes. Whether you’re a Mount Rushmore candidate, you’re an old friend or you are their blood. Reigns has no soul when that bell rings, will he embarrass you to start a flow? Yes. Will he kick out of everything, including the kitchen sink? Yes. Will he involve his family and the people that acknowledge the Tribal Chief? The answer is obvious. The more he has defended the gold, the stronger he has become to the point that most have given up hope on their being a savior to prevent another snap from happening.

Our story begins days after WrestleMania 39. The pin was heard worldwide as Rhodes’s story still needed to be finished, but there was no way of making that match happen again when he had to deal with the next three months of a feud with a beast. But while that was happening, the Tribal Chief might’ve retained, yet he was nowhere near happy with his soldiers, the Usos. In the first-ever main event featuring the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championships, Jimmy and Jey would have their reign snapped in half by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who did their absolute best to show the brothers the reality of what happens when you don’t satisfy the manipulation of the Tribal Chief. The frustrations boiled for the brothers until it was too much to take and it was time for a change, or at least we thought it was.

One of the most important rivalries of the year was reignited when Jey Uso had enough of the constant attacks he faced from Reigns. Both brothers decided to make the biggest change they possibly could and that meant leaving the Bloodline once and for all. They were forced in and they broke the door down to get themselves back to reality, away from the snap for good. Yet they knew that wasn’t enough, they knew the main thing they needed to do was take EVERYTHING away from Reigns, from his undefeated streak that stemmed for over three years to the gold he draped over his shoulders and broke every single record he could with it. Still, no matter if you have the strength of all the hatred you’ve kept inside of yourself for the enemy across the ring, just when you think you have all the answers, the questions will change and the result will stay the same.

That statement wasn’t a prediction, it was a spoiler. Reigns went on to defeat Jey in the main event of SummerSlam, but not without help from Solo Sikoa and Jimmy, showing that even his brothers will stab him in the back without hesitation if it means staying on the bright side of the dark force. And all while the middle child left to find who he is, the heart of the American Nightmare was conquering beasts and kept his focus on revenge. That journey led him to form a friendship with Jey which turned into one of WWE’s biggest surprises when they fought and defeated the Judgement Day to become the WWE Undisputed World Tag Team Champions. It’s a full-circle moment that no one could imagine happening, but that’s the power behind your focus being on assembling yourself for the inevitable battle between yourself and the one you haven’t beaten yet, even if it takes his former brothers in arms joining your side.

You can forgive, you can’t forget, but you can fight alongside your worst enemies. The only way to truly settle a rivalry once and for all is by going to war and while families enjoyed Thanksgiving with another game from the Detroit Lions, it was Cody, Jey, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and the return of Randy Orton who defeated the Judgement Day and Drew McIntyre to end the year on the highest note possible for each man before the road to WrestleMania made its way back to everyone’s lives. So the questions started to be asked, and the predictions were made as the world wondered who would be unstoppable and victorious at the Royal Rumble. But the only one who was capable of once again shocking everyone, including the man he hated the most was Cody Rhodes. See, the dream was to fight until the dream you have is accomplished and the pain you’re dealt fades away, yet what’s worse, the pain or thinking what if things were different in your unpredictable journey? 

See, you can’t prevent the snap from happening. Our eyes are one of the biggest reasons why. We had to witness year after year of domination from the Tribal Chief, no matter who showed up, no matter who had come out of nowhere, as long as he had his henchmen and his gauntlet on, trouble was certainly around the corner and had a face that no one expected to appear, that face belonging to The Rock. The Brahma Bull, The People’s Champion. A billion nicknames and one unforgettable moment that changed the entire landscape this year. Rock came back and expected to immediately be pitted into one of the biggest main events of all time, however, you can’t demand something you never earned and that is the shot at being immortalized forever in WrestleMania history. Something Rock knows all about as he spent the majority of his career being the WrestleMania rival to legends like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan, and John Cena.

2024 didn’t have a warning label, it did not let us see into the possibilities that turned into a reality that we get to witness with back-to-back nights. No one could have predicted that The Rock would come back and want to face his blood at the 40th edition of WrestleMania and no one could’ve predicted that we’d hear the slap heard all over the world when Cody put his foot down and declared that the biggest rematch of the year was going to happen whether the Bloodline and the Rock liked it or not. This feud went from a heated one-on-one affair to double duty for two of the biggest stars in the WWE today, plus backup that is coming from all corners to make sure this war is nowhere near a clean fight for either man. It’s almost like we’re officially in the Endgame.

One year ago, the snap sent us into a hopeless road, yet a year later it’s like we’re right back to where it all began, this time with some friends we’ve brought along the way with us because like I said earlier, it’s hard to create a motion picture without some help, and that help certainly is the power of brotherly love in Philadelphia. The Rock and the Tribal Chief want nothing more than to clear the path for the biggest match in the history of the WWE, but you can’t force your hand when the dream hasn’t died just yet. They had all thought Rhodes was finished, but the nightmare will not stop looking in your sleep until he proves that he’s got an opportunity to go from undesirable to absolutely undeniable by fulfilling a lifelong dream on what is the biggest stage that WrestleMania has ever been on in its forty-year history.

We dreaded being told we were not in the ninth inning yet, and we dreaded the year-long wait to get back to finishing the story, but there has never been a road to WrestleMania like this and we’ll most likely never see this happen again. Yet, the thing is, we’re not in the ninth inning, we’re in extra innings, it’s currently past midnight, and most people have work in the morning, however, we know that every step we’ve taken to make it to this moment will never be replicated again, so we sit there in the same spot we got comfortable in when the match began and we wait to either get our hearts broken or lose our voices at the sight of an underdog finishing his story. The same way we did when Bryan Danielson overcame the odds by opening and closing WrestleMania 30 as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and five years later, we got the chance to witness Kofi Kingston defeat Danielson for the WWE Championship and make sure KofiMania became a reality because that’s what dreams deserve, the reality of it coming true through hard work and so much sacrifice.

It’s now time for Cody to come up to his final at-bat appearance, he has tied this game up all year and he has clawed his way from the bottom to show life every chance he gets. Reigns is the almighty closer who can throw heat and slow you down, leaving you on the edge of a two-strike deficit before he sends you to the bench with your head down and your hopes crushed. Cody has been on the winning side of this kind of battle and he’s suffered the biggest loss of his career due to how unstoppable the damage can be. The only way to get to the bright side is by facing your fears and rising above all the disadvantages you’ll face throughout your life and in the biggest moments of your storied career. Whether it’s a clean fight or it’s the world against you, as long as you keep your Avengers close, there is no way to allow another snap from happening again.

The Tribal Chief, the Final Boss, the Wiseman, the Right Hand Man, or the Muscle. This time, Cody has got to let it all come out, he’s got to stand up and shout that he’s going to do things his way or his fate will be the highway. The sky has broken, everything has escaped, and the WWE’s version of Captain America has his final opportunity to prevent the Thanos of WWE from reigning supreme once again. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, dreams and nightmares were made out of matches like this. Now the only thing truly left to do is wait and see who walks out of Philadelphia undisputed, undeniable, and the leader of the Renaissance Era.

If you made it to the end, thank you for reading and I hope everyone enjoys both nights of WrestleMania 40. Plus, a very special thank you to Corey Brennan for the graphic made for this editorial. Hopefully, I can bring out more of this side of me soon.

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