While it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that Paul “Triple H” Levesque didn’t book Dwayne Johnson to appear at the 2023 Royal Rumble, as it was reported weeks out that the first-ballot WWE Hall of Famer didn’t feel he could get in the physical shape needed to fully commit himself to the opportunity, fans still lamented his absence from the event nonetheless, as ever since WrestleMania 39 was announced for Hollywood, a showdown between The Rock and Roman Reigns reigned supreme above all others.

Drew McIntyre should have beaten Reigns at Clash at the Castle in front of 80,000 of his home country fans? Doesn’t matter, Reigns-Rock I at WrestleMania 39. A surprise KO from KO at the Royal Rumble, maybe with a little help from Sami Zayn? Again, it would have been cool, but Reigns-Rock in a winner-takes-all showdown to decide on the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship and the true head of the table.

Heck, why not go bold and allow Reigns to main event both days of WrestleMania 39, with The Rock challenging unsuccessfully for the straps on Night 1 and then the Royal Rumble winner, Cody Rhodes, securing the win on Night 2? That would give Reigns his big win and allow his reign to come to an end by the time post offices open on Monday.

Unfortunately, that dream appears to be more or less dead, as none other than Paul “Triple H” Levesque has thrown some cold water on the prospects of The Rock appearing at WrestleMania 39, either to temper expectations or to officially shut things done altogether.

Triple H shoots down The Rock’s return to WWE at WrestleMania 39.

Speaking with the assembled media after the Royal Rumble, Levesque was asked about The Rock’s availability for WrestleMania 39, and unfortunately, the answer wasn’t what fans were hoping to hear.

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“He’s incredibly busy,” Levesque said via F4w. “There’s a part of him that if he could be here for this WrestleMania in Hollywood, he would turn over every stone and walk through fire to be able to do it. I just don’t think it’s in the cards.”

That’s… less than ideal. While Levesque looked equally disappointed to be sharing the news as the reporters in attendance appeared to be hearing it, the former 14-time champion explained that, to him, it’s all about the mutual respect the duo share.

“That respect factor both ways, he wouldn’t want to do it unless he could absolutely do it, you know?” Levesque said. “There’s no way he would show up here and half-a** it, there’s no way he would show up here and not come in and put every single thing into it to make it the best it could possibly be. So unless he could do that, it won’t happen.”

“We always have conversations with him because he loves it so much, and we’d love for him to be part of it. He’s the biggest star in Hollywood, maybe the most recognizable person in the planet. This is his home. He has an open invitation. We don’t lock the door, but he’s incredibly busy,” Levesque concluded. “But he knows the door’s open, and when he has the time to walk through it he can come in and electrify everybody.”

Could this all be a work? Could The Rock show up in Hollywood like he did at Super Bowl 56 ahead of the Los Angeles Rams’ showdown against Cincinnati Bengals at the very same stadium, SoFi, even if he doesn’t ultimately wrestle a match? Or maybe there’s something bigger in mind, and The Rock actually does make good on his long-fated match against Roman Reigns? Sure, anything’s possible, but at this point, Levesque’s word should probably be taken as gospel, even if it isn’t what fans would like to hear.

After literally years of buildup to WrestleMania Goes Hollywood, what with the show being moved back a full calendar year due to the pandemic and a double-dip of shows in Tampa Bay at WrestleMania 36 and 37, a generational Bloodline bout between the “Head of the Table” and the OG “Most Electrifying Man in all of Entertainment” just doesn’t appear to be in the cards, no matter how much fans wish for it to be the case. No, in this particular scenario, the hive mind of professional wrestling fans appears to have collectively manifested a match that they were far more committed to than WWE proper, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, Vince McMahon didn’t have some grand master plan for the end of Reigns’ title reign and the company really was just jumping from show to show without a clear endpoint in mind.