Tonight, WWE hosted its most consequential and anticipated event of the year. It was not a premium live event or special episode of Monday Night Raw but a live WrestleMania 40 press conference from Las Vegas. Several real-world happenings bolstered the anticipation for the event. The Rock’s return and subsequent fan backlash sparked a lot of interest.
Likewise, the allegations and lawsuits against Vince McMahon, John Laurintitis, and WWE have been building, with rumors of significant advancements in that situation building. The movement for Cody Rhodes was also going to be addressed, and the main event of WrestleMania was set to be decided by the end of the broadcast.
WWE promoted the event as free, giving them both fans and journalists to contend with. Many of WWE’s top stars were supposed to be available for questions, and there were several key takeaways from the questions asked and the answers received.
Vince McMahon and WWE Lawsuit and Allegations
What was not mentioned may be just as important as what was. Nothing was mentioned about the ongoing case against WWE and Vince McMahon on the kickoff show. WWE did dip into the HBO Succession basket for storylines.
The Rock’s being officially on the board was added in by the kickoff team. Big E from that same team even invoked WWE President Nick Khan. Despite the business elements added to the night’s event, nothing was made of the real story still lurking above the Road to WrestleMania.
Although nothing outside of the televised narratives was mentioned, the press was invited to ask some questions after the live WrestleMania press conference. Press credentials were available to fans for purchase, and more information on the lawsuit and other allegations may or may not be forthcoming. The situation surrounding McMahon, former executive John Laurinitis, and WWE is ongoing.
In Front of a Live Stadium Audience
Perhaps the most interesting piece of the presentation was the fans in attendance. It was advertised heavily all week that admission was free, but seeing a stadium full of fans for the conference was possibly surprising. Free admission for anyone to what was being described as a press conference was a strange choice, but it added to the entertainment value.
The rowdy crowd was vocal the entire time, interacting with all of the superstars, especially the main event players. The choice to have fans in attendance affected the show’s reception, too, in that it detracted greatly from the press conference feel of the event. It was much closer to a regular episode on TV than an actual press event.
Roman Reigns Versus Who?
— WWE (@WWE) February 9, 2024
The kickoff went out of its way to make the broadcast’s main event mean something. All four main characters from Raw and Smackdown shared the ring for Cody Rhodes’ decision. The crowd was a muffled mess of boos as Cody fanatics and the legions of Rock fans shouted one another down as if to change the company’s direction at the last minute.
Rock’s name was cheered more than his actual promo. Cody Rhodes had the opposite issue. His name was booed, but Cody’s promo was more positively received, though not without its detractors.
The meeting of the two was electric despite the constant drone of boos. Ultimately, The Rock essentially turned heel, with him and Reigns getting into a skirmish with Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins. However, plans still need to be clarified, with both matches declared official on the show.
— WWE (@WWE) February 9, 2024
Other Show Announcements
The WWE took time to promote some other shows at its press conference. Of course, much of that promotion, especially on the women’s side, was for this month’s Elimination Chamber event in Perth, Australia. That show has taken some major hits recently due to injury, but WWE has made a decent effort to cover that up.
They also promoted one of their new reality shows, Love & WWE. Bianca Belair gave it some time when she opened the kickoff but needed more details. The most exciting announcement was that in the spring of 2024, WWE would launch a new show, WWE Speed. Speed is meant to be short-form in-ring content exclusive to X (formerly known as Twitter).
🚨 JUST ANNOUNCED: WWE Speed is a new weekly video series showcasing up to 5-minute matches which will be distributed exclusively on X!
Beginning Spring 2024, WWE and X will deliver the new format for high-paced timed matches showcasing your favorite WWE Superstars! pic.twitter.com/QlhCKoRUrz
— WWE (@WWE) February 9, 2024
The Rest of WrestleMania
The show tonight gave some hints as to the direction of the WrestleMania card outside of the world title picture, but only a few. Becky Lynch looked to be on a collision course with Women World Champion Rhea Ripley at the event. Conspicuous by his absence was Drew McIntyre, who was previously looking like a featured player on Raw.
Also, Bayley didn’t address the crowd despite also winning the Royal Rumble Match. Bianca was the only other WWE star to appear. She informed the crowd that the Elimination Chamber match to officially determine who will face Ripley is dual-branded.
She will be facing Michin on Smackdown to find out the first performer from Friday nights to enter the match. That leaves a considerable amount of the card undecided, making sense nearly two months away from the event.
Reaction to Live WrestleMania Press Conference
The live WrestleMania press conference had a lot to accomplish and sky-high expectations. The Rock and the rest of the WWE roster spent a considerable time promoting the event. Fans looking for answers got very few on any of the major stories surrounding WWE in and out of the ring. Fans who wanted to be entertained very likely were.
The Rock and Cody now seem at odds, but Rhodes and Rollins do not. The Bloodline may have grown stronger by adding a TKO board member. That is because The Rock was not antagonistic toward Roman Reigns at all in their most recent interaction.
The well-curated and hyper-protected event had a lively crowd, solid packages outlining the story, and even the early beginnings of the key players. It was fan service at its finest, but nothing else.
WWE has officially been kicking off the Road to WrestleMania 40 for weeks now. However, the Las Vegas crowd gave this kickoff event the gravity the company was looking for and then some. The press event was really more of a stadium show, which WWE is exceptionally better at handling.
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