Why Roman Reigns will defeat Cody Rhodes at Wrestlemania XL

Hunter Haas
Cody Rhodes is the favorite to win at Wrestlemania XL against Roman Reigns. But not so fast.

Roman Reigns’ legendary championship run has lasted more than 1,300 days. Many in the WWE Universe believe it will end at Wrestlemania XL — but not so fast.

Roman Reigns’ initial push in the WWE came as the enforcer of “The Shield,” a dominant trio of superstars that took the locker room by storm in 2012.

Reigns eventually made the leap to main event status, though the passionate WWE fanbase met the promotion with considerable backlash.

After the crowd revolted during Reigns’ 2015 Royal Rumble victory, he would witness mixed-to-negative reactions at most live events for the following five years.

However, after Reigns returned from an illness-forced hiatus in 2020, he debuted “The Tribal Chief” moniker, and nothing has been the same since.

Reigns won the Universal Championship from Bray Wyatt at the August 23, 2020, SummerSlam event before unifying the company’s most prestigious titles in a Wrestlemania 38 battle for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Championship.

That led to a feud with Cody Rhodes, a former WWE superstar who recently returned to the company after spending a few years building up the rival promotion — All Elite Wrestling.

Reigns has defeated Rhodes at nearly every turn in their two-year rivalry, including a victory against “The American Nightmare” in the Wrestlemania 39 main event.

After Rhodes won a second straight Royal Rumble match this year, he hopes to “finish the story” against Reigns and capture the title that has long eluded his family.

While that storybook ending is fitting for Hollywood, it is not how the Reigns championship run will end — and here’s why.

Hulk Hogan’s WWE record is within reach

Reigns’ 1,322-day championship run (and counting) sits mere months behind Hulk Hogan’s longest run of 1,474 days.

If the WWE ever intends to surpass the Hogan reign, this is likely the best chance it will ever have. The temptation to extend Reigns’ time as champion will be enticing for decision-makers.

The record is within reach if Reigns retains vs. Rhodes at Wrestlemania XL, as September 2024 would make it the longest reign in modern WWE history.

Purists will no doubt remember that Bruno Sammartino held the strap for 2,803 days from 1963 to 1971, but that was in a significantly different era of professional wrestling.

Reigns surpassing Hogan would mark arguably the biggest accomplishment in company history. And it would cement Reigns as one of the greatest of all time.

Rhodes’ momentum can sustain another loss

While losing a second straight Wrestlemania main event would be brutal for Rhodes and his fans, the company’s top babyface would survive. The pop he gets from live crowds would only strengthen.

The WWE has dropped some not-so-subtle hints at Rhodes finishing his story, including it being the centerpiece of the WWE2k24 video game. But it is nothing more than a misdirect to get fans off the scent.

The Rock’s looming presence

The main reason Rhodes will lose to Reigns at Wrestlemania XL is simple — according to the WWE’s initial plans, he wasn’t even supposed to be Reigns’ opponent.

When The Rock made his shocking return to WWE programming, he immediately disrupted Rhodes’ story and placed himself in the main event vs. Reigns.

While Rhodes reportedly agreed to this impromptu shift, fans didn’t. They voiced frustrations and eventually forced WWE to pivot back to Rhodes vs. Reigns.

But that willingness to remove Rhodes from the main event could indicate a loss coming his way at Wrestlemania XL.

If the actual plan was for Reigns to go over against Rock en route to surpassing Hogan’s historic reign, it wouldn’t make much sense to have Reigns lose instead.

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