Brian Gewirtz Looks Back On Pivotal Cody Rhodes Moment That Changed WWE WrestleMania

Cody Rhodes and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson sent some mixed messages on the road to WrestleMania 40, as Rhodes initially bowed out of his promised match with Roman Reigns before mere days later deciding to renege and challenge the then-Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. According to Rock's creative partner Brian Gewirtz, Rhodes managed to turn the WWE crowd against Rock with just a look.


"Cody is a human being who is genuine and real and he wears his heart and emotions on his sleeve," Gewirtz told "The Masked Man Show" recently. Gewirtz compared the idea and reality of the segment where Cody Rhodes gave up his WrestleMania main event, which occurred on an episode of "SmackDown" in Alabama, to the 1960 presidential debate between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and then-Senator John F. Kennedy. "If you read the transcript, you're like 'Nixon kicked [Kennedy's] ass' but if you watch it it's like 'Oh he [Nixon] was a sweaty terrible mess."

Gewirtz says the initial idea was a gung-ho promo where Rhodes tells Rock to defeat Roman Reigns and end his title reign, but the way Rhodes delivered the promo completely changed the tone.


"He looked like someone shot his dog in the face in the parking lot," Gewirtz said. "That, I don't think helped matters...I don't blame Cody for that. He's real. He's one of the realest people I've ever met." Rhodes's grim expression and body language clued fans in on his true feelings for the segment, which left Gewirtz and Johnson with two choices.

"We could push forward like WWE has often done," Gewirtz explained, "...or we could do something pretty incredible." Gewirtz and Johnson had been itching to make Rock a heel again, and Rhodes allowed them to "pull the trigger."

Rhodes, Rock, Reigns, and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins all went to Las Vegas not long after the Alabama show, where Rhodes once again staked his claim for Reigns's title, leading to the tag match that closed Night 1 of WrestleMania 40.