Some stories have gone on for so long that they begin to take on a life of their own. It’s starting to feel like The Rock vs. Roman Reigns has reached such mythical status.
Over the last few years, the hope for a dream match featuring the two WWE superstars has reached a fever pitch.
As of today, it’s hard to remember when the suggestion for the match even originated. Nevertheless, it becomes a talking point ahead of WrestleMania just about every year. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why WWE would like to see these two generational stars face off on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
This unparalleled marquee matchup is the type of promotional tool the company used to build its biggest pay-per-view event of the year. It would undoubtedly draw millions of views and generate more ticket sales, but is it really possible at this point?
One could argue that the possibility of one last match from the most successful crossover star in pro wrestling history has become a white whale. Sure, The Rock has said he is open to it, and Reigns is the perfect opponent for this generation for several reasons. However, when do we start discussing whether that window is closing?
As the saying goes, never say never when it comes to wrestling. We’ve seen much more seemingly improbable outcomes come to fruition in 2022 alone. After all, Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestled in the main event of The Show of Shows in April following his retirement in 2003.
So, The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment could still step into the ring again to take on The Tribal Chief. Many believe it will happen at SoFi Stadium next year as WWE returns to Hollywood. For now, let's break down the timeline of this ongoing rumor and the most recent updates.
An Idea That Blossomed Into An Inevitability To Some
As far as we can tell, the fantasy book for this star-studded match tracks back to 2018 when rumors surfaced online ahead of WrestleMania 35. Supposedly, The Rock was set to return, win the Royal Rumble, and challenge Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship at the event.
In December, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter debunked this claim as an unsubstantiated rumor. According to the respected pro wrestling historian, the company planned to book the match even before Reigns went public with his leukemia diagnosis. He later confirmed that it was "not true at all” on the F4WOnline message board.
The Big Dog eventually made his triumphant return on the Feb. 25, 2019, episode of Raw and went on to wrestle Drew McIntyre at The Showcase of the Immortals. Still, the excitement around an encounter with The Brahma Bull didn’t die down. In fact, it ramped back up ahead of the next road to ‘Mania season.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to shut down, and WWE had to host its iconic event in an empty arena for the first time in the history of the company. Even more, Reigns pulled out of the show amid a build toward a clash with Goldberg at Raymond James Stadium. As a result, the Samoan star went on a five-month hiatus.
During that time, The Rock sparked interest in the dream match again. He seemed optimistic when asked about it as a part of a Q&A on Instagram Live.
"I think anything is possible," he said (h/t Kellie Haulotte of Wrestling Inc). "Sure, of course, I'm always open. That's the cool thing about professional wrestling: There is an adaptability to wrestling. You never say never in the world of pro wrestling.”
"You never say never to Vince McMahon, who has been one of my mentors in the business for a very long time. Very, very close friend and confidant. You never say 'no.' For something like that to happen, I think the venue would have to be right. The business model would have [to] be right. But I'm very close with Roman—he's family to me, so we will see."
An All-Time Great Character Change Adds Credence to Rumors
The rest–as they say–is history. Reigns came back to WWE at SummerSlam 2020 and surprisingly turned heel. The long-awaited character change turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to him. His transformation into The Tribal Chief will eventually go down as one of the best reinventions of all time.
It’s impossible to discount how much his shift into The Head of Table upped the ante for fans hoping to see him finally wrestle another famous member of the Anoa’i family. Now, this blockbuster matchup had a compelling reason for them to go head-to-head to match its hype and potential drawing power.
On Feb. 15, 2020, WWE announced that Hollywood would be the destination for The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment the following year. That seemed an ideal venue for this showdown.
According to WrestleTalk, the company hoped The Rock would return in late 2020 to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania next year. However, that would depend “on a variety of factors, including COVID and Rock’s movie schedule.”
In December of the same year, WrestlingNews.co reported that Vince McMahon didn’t think “that WrestleMania 37 would be the time for the match to happen.” Their source said the former CEO didn’t “know how many fans will be allowed to attend the show," adding: "He definitely wants fans there, and we will probably have to implement social distancing, but he would rather wait until WrestleMania 38 if Rock wants to do it, but we can’t do the show in [Los Angeles].”
On Jan. 16, 2021, The Granddaddy of Them All relocated to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fl. As a result, the event occurred at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this year and was booked for SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, for 2023.
Ultimately, the highly sought-after leading man’s busy schedule didn’t permit him to participate in the festivities. In November 2021, he told Andrew Freund there was no truth to the rumors of an upcoming match at WrestleMania 38 during an interview with Dish Nation to promote Red Notice.
That didn’t stop fans from continuing to get their hopes up as WWE promoted Survivor Series as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of The Rock's debut at the event. Nevertheless, viewers quickly became disappointed when he didn’t make an appearance at the show. Instead, we got some bizarre segments featuring a golden egg as a promotional tie-in for his aforementioned Netflix film.
In February, Meltzer reported that “the idea for next year's event at SoFi Stadium is to have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson vs. Roman Reigns and Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch as its two big showcase matches.”
The sitcom based on Johnson’s life, Young Rock, even made light of the dream match and gave fans a new tease in April. Meanwhile, Meltzer reiterated that The People’s Champ vs. The Undisputed WWE Universal Champions is “100 percent the plan.”
For now, we will have to wait and see if this highly anticipated match finally ensues as WWE hosts its first WrestleMania in Hollywood since 2005. This certainly isn’t the last time you’ll hear about it.