Triple H, Rock Reveal Details in Documentary On How WWE WrestleMania XL Main Event Changed


-- WWE finally released their WrestleMania XL: Behind the Curtain documentary which detailed the road to WrestleMania 40 and the multiple changes that took place behind the scenes that finally led to Cody Rhodes facing and defeating Roman Reigns for the Undisputed Universal Title that his father Dusty Rhodes never won, thus finishing his story.

-- While that was the original plan coming out of WrestleMania 39 where Rhodes lost to Reigns, a curveball was thrown when The Rock returned to WWE in early 2024 to tease and most likely set up a match against Reigns that had been talked about for years. The Rock stated:

"I remember having my first conversation with Nick Khan about it back in December of 2021. We talked about what could WrestleMania look like? We actually even teased it on the show (Young Rock). We started looking at the roadmap to WrestleMania, this idea of Rock and Roman, the biggest main event of all-time. But the deal wasn’t quite there so we decided to shoot for WrestleMania the following year, which of course was WrestleMania 40."

"Then in September of 2023, it felt like the pieces were finally falling into place when Endeavor acquired WWE. We were coming off the high of TKO and the acquisition of WWE and it all started to converge really nice. Ari Emmanuel has been a very close business partner of mine for over 20 years. We had discussed - Ari, myself and Nick - what kind of value could I begin to bring the company. So what happened after that, Smackdown was just down the road in Denver and I showed up. All the pieces were coming together and that roadmap to WrestleMania started to become even clearer."

-- The Rock then went into his appearance at WWW Raw Day One where he tested out the waters by throwing out the "head of the table" comment. When the audience embraced that implication, it opened up more options for WWE for the WrestleMania main event. In the meantime, the Rock joined the TKO Board of Directors and he, Triple H and Khan decided to run alternate WrestleMania main event storylines - one with Reigns/Cody and the other with Reigns/Rock. By this time, the Royal Rumble had arrived and Rhodes was the not only the odds-on-favorite to win, but subsequently go onto WrestleMania to finish his story by defeating Reigns. Triple H commented on how things went down after that:

"I sat with Cody at the Royal Rumble in the afternoon and told him: it was becoming more of a reality that the match with Roman and The Rock could take place at WrestleMania. I don’t think anybody knew a thing outside of Cody. And I’m sure that was a brutal day."

-- Rhodes ended up winning the Rumble and as Triple H put it "if Cody fails here, it damages him; we gotta have him win the Rumble, we gotta see what the reaction is and then go from there" but after CM Punk's injury, it changed everything leaving both title matches up in the air. A few days later, we got the infamous Rhodes promo where he stepped down from facing Reigns at WrestleMania, opening the path for The Rock. Cameras followed Cody, showing him trying to process the change and figure out what that means for him. Triple H commented:

"Obviously his (Cody's) next question is where does that leave me. I’m like, not sure yet. So that’s on me to figure out because this is all happening in real time. We’re going to see what the reaction is."

-- As it turned out, reaction from the fans slowly went from favorable to concern and the WWE Universe started the hashtag #WeWantCody and it trended for a week and eventually revolted. The Rock said they were left with one of top options: the first being, "you just truck through it" and the second is that "you truly take in what the fans are saying." So he says they made the decision to pivot.

“I called Nick and Triple H and I called Ari. I said 'Here’s how I’m feeling. We can truck through this and we can put on this main event. And the majority of the world, many of which who don’t watch WWE who we do plan on pulling in - they’re going to love this idea of Rock and Roman and we’re going to tell this amazing story. Hopefully this will be the first chapter of a few. We could do that. However, my gut says Ari, Nick, Triple H, my gut says that I don’t like, even if its like a segment of fans, I don’t like that they’re upset.' And that really bugged the sh*t out of me. And it’s not how I’ve operated my entire career. I don’t like it. And I knew, essentially, the choice was mine."

-- Triple H added:

"And we pivot. The good thing is that everyone in this group of people, whether its the writing team, the Rock, Roman, Paul Heyman, Cody Rhodes, myself, Nick. Everyone gets together, talks about it and decides that's the way to go. And we pivot in a way that blurs the lines of fiction and reality."