The Rock makes surprise appearance at WWE, stares down champion Roman Reigns amid WrestleMania speculation

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There have been rumors for a long while that WWE icon Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would be getting a title match at WrestleMania, and Friday night may have been the unofficial announcement.

Roman Reigns is currently the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, and has been for 1,252 days, or almost three-and-a-half year. Reigns is a distant cousin of The Rock.

Reigns has defended his title in three straight WrestleManias and is set to do so again this April at WrestleMania XL in Philadelphia.


The Rock at XFL game

XFL co-owner Dwayne Johnson watches the game between the D.C. Defenders and the Seattle Sea Dragons from the sideline during the second quarter at Audi Field. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week, Cody Rhodes won the Royal Rumble for the second year in a row. His prize was a title shot against Reigns at WrestleMania, which he lost last year.

But speculation of The Rock reached new heights yesterday when Rhodes himself introduced Johnson to the WWE crowd.

After Rock entered the ring, Rhodes and Johnson shared a lengthy embrace before Rhodes left.

That left Rock and Reigns in a staredown in the middle of the ring, ending Friday’s night’s “SmackDown.”

Of course, the initial crowd pop was off the charts when the legendary “Rocky” came out, but after the staredown with Reigns, the general feeling, although not formally announced, is that there will finally be a long-destined Rock vs. Reigns title match at Lincoln Financial Field.

And many aren’t happy about it.

After “SmackDown” ended, WWE posted on X, formerly Twitter, that they wanted fans’ reactions to the ending of the show, and many were negative.

Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes

Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes meet one last time on “Friday Night SmackDown” on March 31, 2023. (WWE)

“P-SSED.. Cody deserves better than to be replaced by a PART TIMER,” wrote one user.


And that was the consensus.

The WWE did announce that Rock and Reigns will face off in Las Vegas for the WrestleMania kickoff this Thursday.

WWE recognizes The Rock’s last match as a victory in a six-second bout against Erick Rowan in 2016, but that was during a return. The last time he wrestled as part of the WWE roster was when he lost to John Cena for the WWE Championship.

The Rock, 51, returned to the ring last September for the first time since 2019. It was just his third televised appearance since 2016. He has since bought the XFL, became the board of directors for the WWE’s parent company, TKO, and continues his blockbuster movie career.

The Rock in the XFL's opening week

XFL co-owners Gerry Cardinale, Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia react before the start of the game between the San Antonio Brahamas and the St. Louis Battlehawks at the Alamodome on February 19, 2023, in San Antonio, Texas.  (Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

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Johnson is one of the most decorated superstars in WWE history, winning the WWE championship eight times.

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