Roman Reigns' Reported Backup Opponent For WrestleMania 39 If The Rock Fails To Return

Multiple reports have suggested that WWE wants to have The Rock face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39. However, if The Great One doesn't return to WWE, then Cody Rhodes will likely face The Tribal Chief at The Grandest Stage of Them All next year.

The American Nightmare returned to WWE at WrestleMania this year, and he's been on a winning streak ever since. But the fan-favorite will be out of action for a few months due to a pectoral injury.

Still, Rhodes has been pushed heavily as a top babyface, so he could be a great foil for Reigns. As per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Rhodes is expected to be out of action for six months, and he'll likely return around Royal Rumble 2023.

If The Rock vs. Roman Reigns isn't cemented by then, The American Nightmare will likely be The Tribal Chief's WrestleMania opponent: ''Will likely be out about six months, which makes the Royal Rumble probably the smart time frame for a return," wrote Meltzer.

"If Dwayne Johnson doesn’t wrestle Roman Reigns, it'd make the returning Rhodes vs. Reigns as the most likely biggest of next year’s Mania.'' Cody Rhodes' performance at Hell in a Cell makes him a great challenger for Roman Reigns

Dave Meltzer noted that Rhodes didn't back out of his Hell in a Cell Match against Seth Rollins, even though he had a torn pectoral tendon. His performance has been praised tremendously, and Meltzer believes WWE needs to portray the match as a lifetime performance. He pointed out that they have an opportunity to turn it into a legendary match.

"I doubt Rhodes himself ever seriously considered not wrestling," Meltzer continued. "He was in his first WWE singles PPV main event with a sold out house. Just in performing no matter how the match was, he’d add greatly to his legacy."

"He could have done a short match and a very safe match, and you could argue maybe should have, but he did neither." Meltzer also argued that while it was a tremendous act of courage, Rhodes' adamance to compete might also set a bad precedent for other superstars' and promoters' expectations.