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“If all of that is the plan, why do you have Cody Rhodes win the Royal Rumble?” – The Rock’s WWE Writer Brian Gewirtz

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The Rock’s WWE creative writer Brian Gewirtz revealed on Busted Open Radio that discussions about a potential WrestleMania match between The Rock and Roman Reigns gained momentum throughout the fall of 2023. By January 1st 2024, during a promo with Jinder Mahal, the prospect of this match seemed increasingly likely. A pivotal meeting took place in The Rock’s hotel room, involving The Rock, Triple H, Nick Khan, and Gewirtz, where they fleshed out the storyline details. Triple H was particularly attentive to the ongoing Cody Rhodes storyline, which was a significant topic during their discussion.

In this meeting, the idea of The Rock addressing the “Head of the Table” title came up later in the conversation. The team deliberated on how to tease this idea without making it explicit, aiming to gauge the audience’s reaction.

When The Rock subtly hinted at this during his January 1st promo after attacking Jinder Mahal, the positive reaction from both the live audience and online community solidified their direction. Following this, The Rock made the TKO announcement and visited WWE HQ, signaling his commitment. Plans for merchandise and title belts were already in place, confirming that by January, The Rock vs. Roman Reigns was set in stone for WrestleMania 40.

However, Gewirtz was confused about Cody still being booked to win the 2024 Men’s Royal Rumble match, as he thought it should’ve been CM Punk, who would then go on to challenge Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship (Punk got injured in the Royal Rumble match and wasn’t supposed to win anyway).

Here’s what Gewirtz said:

“It started, in the fall, looking more and more like a possibility. That led us to January 1st and the promo with Jinder (Mahal). At that point, it was looking very much like a possibility that Rock and Roman was going to happen. We had a meeting in Rock’s hotel room. It was me, Rock, Triple H, and Nick Khan. We talked about it all. Triple H was very aware and astute of the Cody storyline, and we brought that up and talked about it for a while. At the end of that meeting, everyone enjoyed the promo with Jinder, but what everyone was talking about was the ‘Head of the Table’. That came about super late into our meeting at the hotel.

As we were talking about Cody, it was said, ‘I hear you, maybe we should test poll the audience’. Not just the audience in San Diego, but the audience all over the world. ‘What if I tease it, but not say it directly’. We brainstormed on how do that. He did it. The place went nuts. Online went nuts. For the most part, it was overwhelmingly positive when he teased Head of the Table. At that point, ‘That gives us our answer’. He did the TKO announcement, he went to WWE HQ, I have 96 pages of merch and title belt ideas. It was pretty much locked in at that point, which begs the question, if all of that is the plan, why do you have Cody Rhodes win the Royal Rumble?

The idea of Cody winning the Rumble, I thought, was problematic. I said in San Diego, in that meeting, I thought the cleanest thing to do, if we’re booking Rock and Roman, is to have (CM) Punk win the Rumble and challenge Rollins because there is a difference, storyline-wise, of Cody wanting to finish the story and having earned the right to finish the story by winning the Royal Rumble. Once you win the Royal Rumble, that dynamic changes. It goes from something ‘we all want things,’ but now he’s got it. Why would he do anything other than focus on Roman?

That’s what he did when he pointed to him. Why wouldn’t he? That’s what the character would do. I’ll just say, with 100% certainty, the original plan is something many more people would have hated more than anything in life itself. I can’t state that any more clearly. Punk gets hurt, the dominoes start falling, things start shifting, and we get to a point where the WrestleMania press conference is coming up and we need to promote something, and now we get to the infamous Alabama promo.”

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