WWE WrestleMania Rumors: Latest on Cody Rhodes, Shane McMahon, Gable Steveson

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2022

WWE WrestleMania Rumors: Latest on Cody Rhodes, Shane McMahon, Gable Steveson

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    WrestleMania 38 kicks off Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, with the first of a two-part extravaganza, and the mystery surrounding one of the night's most anticipated bouts has the WWE rumor mill buzzing.

    Just who will emerge to face Seth Rollins as the mystery opponent hand-selected by Vince McMahon himself?

    In the last two weeks, it has been assumed by fans at large that it would be Cody Rhodes, making his return to the company that gave him his first shot at stardom in the industry.

    A new report by Dave Meltzer suggests it is not too late for those plans to change and hints at the star who could, conceivably, replace him.

    The intrigue surrounding Rollins' match headlines this collection of WrestleMania rumors, which also includes an update on NCAA wrestling champion Gable Steveson and his possible role over the weekend.

Could Cody Rhodes Back Out of WrestleMania Appearance?

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    In an interview with Denise Salcedo, Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer stated that he knows people close to Cody Rhodes who believe there is a chance he may back out of his hotly anticipated WrestleMania 38 appearance.

    Rhodes is expected to face Seth Rollins as the mystery opponent selected by Vince McMahon to square off with The Visionary.

    One would assume WWE would not get this far into the process without knowing, for a fact, that Rhodes is in. There have been hints at his impending return throughout WWE programming for weeks now, and the fans have greeted Rollins with chants of "Cody! Cody!" in arenas across the country. If Rhodes is not 100 percent in and WWE is allowing fans to think he will be present and competing at WrestleMania, the company is setting itself up for the immense backlash that will follow.

    Of course, nothing in sports entertainment is guaranteed, and there is still time for things to change on a whim. With that said, WWE would not let speculation and expectation run rampant to the degree that it has to this point without issuing some kind of statement vehemently denying Rhodes' involvement.

    Thus, expect the second-generation star, the son of a son of a plumber, to walk that aisle and deliver one of the most memorable moments of this year's extravaganza.

Update on Shane McMahon's Presence in Dallas

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    In the same interview, Meltzer reported that Shane McMahon is always in town for WrestleMania weekend because he attends the Hall of Fame ceremony. He added that, as of now, there are no creative plans for Shane to appear at the event itself.

    Longtime WWE star The Undertaker, with whom McMahon worked countless times during the Attitude Era, will be inducted Friday night, so it makes sense that Shane-O-Mac would make the trip to Dallas.

    McMahon has not been seen on WWE television since entering the Royal Rumble as a surprise. Meltzer revealed that original WrestleMania plans called for him to square off with Rollins.

    That, on top of the earlier report about Rhodes potentially backing out of his WrestleMania appearance, would understandably make any fan nervous. WWE still believes that McMahon popping up on television from time to time is a quality surprise, no matter how many times fans have seen it at this point.

    There is the old saying, "where there's smoke, there's fire," but in this case, probably not. Expect to see photos of McMahon hanging around WrestleMania weekend, visiting with friends and family, but not come showtime. There is no value in it, and such a development would only serve to irritate the 80,000-plus diehard fans given the hype that has gone into this mystery performer.

    McMahon last performed on the grand stage a year ago, losing to Braun Strowman in a steel cage match.

Gable Steveson in Town for WrestleMania

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    Might NCAA champion and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson make an appearance at WrestleMania?

    PWInsider.com's Mike Johnson reported Steveson is not only in Dallas for the event but that there is growing buzz that he may get physical on the show at some point.

    Steveson signed with WWE in September of 2021, the first major acquisition as part of the company's Next In Line program. Shortly thereafter, he was drafted to the Raw brand and has popped up in the front row from time to time.

    Now that he has accomplished his goal of winning another NCAA title, it will be interesting to see if Steveson begins his sports-entertainment career on the grandest stage of them all. It is difficult to imagine a greater debut for a competitor than to make an immediate impact on the WrestleMania stage. 

    WWE clearly sees the amateur star as the next big thing and will do whatever it takes to put him in a position to succeed. Will he go the way of Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, becoming a world champion and Hall of Famer? It is far too early to start speculating on that. Like those two industry giants, though, Steveson will be put in the best hands imaginable and programmed against talent uniquely qualified to get him over and ensure success.

    It will be up to him to show his personality and find that connection with fans to guarantee star status.