May 21, 2024

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WrestleMania 40 was basically WWE's Avengers: Endgame

WrestleMania 40 was basically WWE's Avengers: Endgame

Year after year, WWE heralds Wrestlemania as the biggest wrestling event since… well, WrestleMania the year before. While recency bias may play a large role in promoting WrestleMania 40 as the greatest WrestleMania ever, what is not controversial among its fans is the culmination of the historic feud between Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns as the game-wide phenomenon Avengers: Endgame paid for . Off in spades.

Since his return to WWE in 2022, Rhodes' story has been defined by Sisypheus' struggle to become the undisputed WWE Universal Champion. At last year's WrestleMania, Rhodes failed to defeat the company's big heel, Roman Reigns, thanks to outside interference from members of Reigns' faction. Rhodes' second match on the second night of WrestleMania 40 just got scarier after The Rock and Reigns' Avengers: Infinity War-esque cliffhanger over Rhodes and Seth Rollins the night before. Rhodes' defeat, which changed the rules of the match between him and Reigns, made outside interference legal. Or as WWE commentator Michael Cole put it: “Cody is a loser.”

Just like Captain America's final showdown against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, “The American Nightmare” saw Rhodes defeat Roman Reigns and company thanks to the combined efforts of the biggest babyfaces in WWE today and yesterday: Jey Uso, John Cena, and Seth. Rollins and Undertaker. This in turn led to WWE fans flocking to compare Rhodes vs. Reigns to the blockbuster MCU match of 2019. Arguably the biggest comparison fans drew from WrestleMania 40 was Rollins' Iron Man-style sacrifice towards Cody's win. Here are some of our favorite reactions:

Although Cena and The Undertaker's Avengers: Endgame-esque appearance was a surprise to fans, their roles in Rhodes' victory – like MCU heroes – were not separate from the in-ring drama of the WrestleMania main event. In fact, the pair's interventions were wrestling ghosts of Reigns and The Rock's past.

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Back at WrestleMania 33, Reigns – who was a fan favorite struggling to get behind – shockingly defeated The Undertaker. The Undertaker, who had an undefeated WrestleMania career for decades, would also retire (albeit briefly) immediately after the match. the next day, Raw after WrestleMania erupted into a chorus of boos During the era of the popular face at the time.

Cena's appearance at WrestleMania 40 also added to the feuds he had with Reigns and The Rock at previous Wrestlemanias. Like Rhodes and Reigns, Cena and The Rock faced off in the main event of two consecutive WrestleManias, which saw the duo defeat each other. Cena also famously feuded with Reigns twice at No Mercy 2017 and Summerslam 2021. Cena's defeat at the hands of Reigns, as a face and heel, made Reigns the face of the company.

Premium live wrestling events are based on thrilling events that can either see fan-favorite wrestlers overcome an opponent or fall short of victory. Like the MCU's decade-long superhero narratives, the main event of WrestleMania 40 intertwined the storylines of countless major performers with gusto, delivering an emotionally satisfying ending for longtime fans.

This year's WrestleMania, while serving as a season finale of sorts for WWE, also doubles as an MCU-style reset of the stage. Having a new champion in Rhodes would see other wrestlers challenge for his belt as well as other storylines, such as Rollins and Reigns' unresolved fallout after The Shield disbanded. Let's just hope this new phase with Rhodes as a hero goes down better with fans than the MCU did with its jaded fanbase.

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Image credit: WWE /Getty Images

Isaiah Colbert is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow them on Twitter @ShinEyeZehUhh.