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The Three Count: Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?

Nick Simon and Teddy Ricketson analyze the controversy surrounding Cody Rhodes, The Rock, Roman Reigns, and the Wrestlemania main event.

Wrestling: WWE Royal Rumble Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to DraftKings Network’s The Three Count, a weekly column where we answer three questions about the biggest stories in professional wrestling for the week.

A lot has happened since we last convened prior to the Royal Rumble, where Cody Rhodes won the men’s match and guaranteed himself a spot in the main event of Wrestlemania. Right? RIGHT? We’ll go into all of the controversy from last weekend, as well as AEW determining a No. 1 contender for Revolution and TNA’s relationship with WWE. Let’s dive in!

What do you make of the controversy surrounding Cody Rhodes seemingly giving up his Wrestlemania spot to The Rock? Do you think they’ll actually do Rock vs. Roman? Will the WWE change course because of the backlash? Are fans overreacting?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

The entire situation is kind of baffling and even if they end up running Cody vs. Roman at ‘Mania, they made this unnecessarily complicated. You’re telling me that Cody Rhodes, who has spent the last year working his way back to this moment, just decides “Nah, I don’t want to finish the story in the main event of the biggest show of the year. Here Rock, take my spot.” What?!

Look, The Rock vs. Roman Reigns is one of the last true “dream” matches in professional wrestling right now. There is no denying that. But trying to cram this in at the expense of the current story you’re telling with your biggest babyface character is dumb. I’m sorry, I don’t care that CM Punk’s injury altered your plans. Figure it out.

But hey, they technically haven’t made anything official yet. Cody did specifically say “not at Wrestlemania” during Smackdown last week and maybe they find a way to walk it back at the Wrestlemania press conference this Thursday. But the whole situation is one giant unforced error.

Also, the losers that are sending death threats and harassing people over this should be ashamed of themselves. The Rock’s daughter and current NXT GM Ava Raine had to delete her Twitter account because it was excessive. Embarrassing.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

I figured that some changes were going to happen after the injury to CM Punk, but wasn’t expecting it to be this. I’m torn because I think Roman and The Rock are due for a clash, and that is going to be a must-see if the build-up is done right. I still think that Cody is going to have his WrestleMania moment to complete his story, I just don’t know the path to get there. The Rock taking over the match garnered so much heat that the WWE is doing something right, but having The Rock and Roman facing off as both heels likely won’t work.

Rhodes was very particular in his choice of words, as Nick pointed out, and then even came out to tell fans to trust him. This makes me think that there is more planned and we have to do the impossible and be patient. Fans were already upset when Rhodes lost last year, and it felt like an ever bigger slap in the face if Rhodes doesn’t get to face Reigns and win this year. For now, I’m holding out hope and think that any backpedaling will have been the plan all along and that the WWE just wasn’t prepared for the visceral negative reaction.

“Hangman” Adam Page will face Swerve Strickland on this week’s Dynamite and the winner will get an AEW World title shot at Revolution. Who ya got?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it feels like they have to strike with this Swerve Strickland thing at some point. Love him or despise him, he was undeniably one of the most over acts in AEW in the back half of 2023 and you have to get him a world title match at some point. AEW desperately needs more main event caliber guys that can help carry the show and they need to solidify Swerve as one of those guys. He should beat Hangman on Wednesday.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

This may be coming from a selfish place since I will be attending Revolution, but I am currently thinking that this ends in a draw. This would bump Revolution up to a Triple Threat match. You could have Swerve beat Hangman there, which then sets up another clash with Samoa Joe since he can rely on the “I wasn’t pinned” angle. If this No. 1 Contender’s Match does end clean, I agree with Nick and think Swerve needs to pick up the win.

We saw TNA Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace appear in the women’s Royal Rumble match. This week, she’ll team up with Naomi/Trinity in a tag team match on Impact (which was taped before the Rumble). Do you think we’ll see more WWE/TNA crossovers in the future?

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

I saw someone mention how WWE could develop a relationship with TNA the same way they did with ECW in the late ‘90’s and I think it makes sense. The WWE has been more open to working with other promotions in recent years (i.e. when Vince McMahon began losing power) and I can see them casually exchanging talents from time to time.

I think we’ll be seeing lower-card acts/NXT talents pop on Impact every so often and in turn, we’ll continue to see top TNA stars like Grace show up to events like the Royal Rumble.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

When Mickie James was the reigning TNA Knockouts Champ, it made sense that she was in the Royal Rumble from her past WWE ties. Grace getting asked to be in it was huge, and it was doubled down with the announcers putting her over and saying that the TNA Knockouts Champ could be headlining WrestleMania. Grace was fantastic in the Rumble and her elimination made her look legit.

I think there is a lot of potential here for a great relationship and interesting matchups. They don’t need to do something every week, but having a random surprise crossover event every so often could create intrigue and force viewers to tune in more, which helps everyone. I would dare to say it would be great to do something with AEW, too, but continuing the relationship with TNA instead of having this be a Rumble one-off would be awesome.