Ooh, it’s finally here! WrestleMania XL: Behind the Curtain! The WWE shows us the mechanics of matchmaking and interpersonal wrestling relationships!

It does, to a certain extent as would be expected, and this hour-long YouTube documentary, released on July 3, is as dry as the Gobi Desert. If only there was more Cody Rhodes, he understands the human story here as he’s right in the middle of it, the rest is business.

You’ll know the story, surely. It’s all about Finishing The Story, him winning the undisputed WWE Universal Championship at the biggest stage of them all, WrestleMania.

And that would have been that if it wasn’t for one thing;

WWE smelling what The Rock was cooking.

Yes, Dwayne Johnson, that crossover star, something the WWE longed for, became involved with the Roman Reigns story. And it’s not surprising he wants to be part of the Head Of The Table story with Roman Reigns, after all, little Roman is shown talking about wrestling in Polynesian Pro Wrestling and Dwayne has a tear in his eye when he sees a picture of his father Rocky Johnson hanging backstage.

And so, Hunter/Paul Levesque, has a decision to make; does he tell Cody that he can’t Finish The Story so that The Rock can make his WrestleMania appearance?

It’s a dilemma…

Luckily, WM has two nights, so both can be done. Phew. The Rock can headline Night 1 and do his ‘Final Boss’ shtick. A bit of mild peril at best here.

And that’s the issue here, it isn’t particularly exciting. It’s a little… corporate. Hunter/Paul knows his job very well and is at ease behind a desk and on the WM set, but this is about planning and no amount of crowd delight (and there are lots of really well filmed shots of the fans engaged in this story, more of that later) will change the dry and arid discussions which take part.

There’s the UFC merger, the news that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is now on the board, so things are easier. I don’t really care about that, I want to be engaged on a storyline, not a board meeting.

We could, and should, have had a lot more audience shots, interviews, atmosphere. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

The Rock and Cody Rhodes in 'WrestleMania XL: Behind the Curtain'

The Rock and Cody Rhodes in ‘WrestleMania XL: Behind the Curtain’


He’s the standout here. Cody feels the emotion and wants us to see that. So when he is told that he might be diverted to Seth Rollins and The Rock might be taking his spot, he discusses it, with emotion and intelligence.

He’s a fantastic team player, clearly crushed but keen to talk the possibilities up. Some of the shots of him alone in the WWE bus are lingering and worth the time, particularly when he tells us he won’t believe anything until it happens in the ring; Cody connects, so few others in this hour seem to.

We could do with more of Mr. Rhodes, he’s the emotional heart of the piece.

Lifting The Curtain

It is great to see Bruce Pritchard and Hunter watching on monitors with headsets backstage, it’s good to Hunter telling people just how wonderful the pyros will be on the WM set and some will enjoy the meetings when decisions are made.

And the twists and turns are enjoyable too, the changes which have to take place when CM Punk is injured or when The Rock seems to go into business for himself by asking in ring whether when eating after the show he should sit in a booth or at ‘the head of the table’; cut to Hunter who just says ‘OK, that changed some things…’

And kudos for the WWE for allowing us to see the reaction to the two different options — interesting that The Rock’s return is mainly shown by podcasters’ reaction, whilst the Cody community is shown as fans.

It’s disconcerting to see the wrestlers chatting and hugging backstage; yes, I know kayfabe is dead, but the decision to show all this backstage back slapping is jarring, as is the big feel of Roman and The Rock together and smaller feel of Cody.

It’s A Size Thing

And that’s the feeling I’m left with here, Cody as a junior partner to the big event. That’s clear in the second night main event, which is incredibly overbooked; seeing John Cena, The Rock, The Undertaker is a pop, of course, but what does that say about the future champ Cody when he has to dip out of his match so others far more starrier than him pop the crowd louder then he can?

His Finishing The Story must have felt a little tainted, as the comings and goings, bumping from the main event and reinstating to a main event that wasn’t really about him showed. And yet he takes from he needs to from the win, the anointing some may say, his dinner with family and friends shows the warmth within him. And of course, he’s been in WWE before, returned after having a hand in creating its current main rival and has surely seen how his father overcame polka dots and silly Sapphire storylines to become a WWF icon.

And so, despite The Rock’s pragmatism and star quality, in spite of Roman Reigns being bigged up on voice-over (he’s not in this piece as much as might be expected, but it isn’t really his story), Cody comes through as the beating heart of this piece.

And with a little more of that heart, this might have been a lot better.