Heading into WrestleMania 39, it felt like the universe had perfectly aligned for Cody Rhodes to become the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.

On paper, it all made perfect sense, Rhodes returned from his torn pec with an incredible come-from-behind Royal Rumble win, had the fans at his back, and cut the sort of promos fans have come to expect from a performer who is about to go over in a major way. Factor in his merch sales, his media appearances, and his overall commitment to doing anything WWE wanted him to do, and it felt like SoFi Stadium was about to be Ground Zero of the American Nightmare Kingdom, with a bright future for the WWE Universe following shortly behind.

And yet, when the referee hit the 1-2-3, Reigns remained on top, and Rhodes was placed in a year-long holding pattern until he eventually earned the honor a year later at WrestleMania 40, even if he wasn't as hyped as the year before.

But why? Why didn't Rhodes go over when the moment felt perfect? Well, according to Dave Meltzer, the decision was Vince McMahon's, but the entirety of WWE Creative was on board with the decision.

“Regarding the perception from the outside that it was Vince who made the call not to put Rhodes over at last year's Mania, a call which now internally has been credited for the record-setting nature of this year's show, Vince did have the final say at the time. But it was noted Levesque agreed to that as well, and it would have happened either way,” Dave Meltzer explained on Wrestling Observer Radio via WrestleTalk.

“It is true that the original plan last year was for Rhodes to win. Both McMahon and Levesque were on board with the return from pec surgery and the title win after the injury, telling a story not altogether different from the Triple H return from quad surgery and title win at the 2002 Mania.

“A lot happened behind the scenes, with the key points being argued and eventually agreed by all parties it would be stronger a year later. It was also argued that keeping Reigns as champion would open up a key storyline to make Jey Uso into a major singles star and merchandise draw as a babyface. While Vince did make the call, Levesque was on board with the call, and their were no significant issues with the decision. It was said that it was absolutely not Vince overruling Levesque and forcing the decision.”

Welp, there you go, folks; while some thought the decision to keep Reigns on top was classic Vince McMahon on-the-fly booking, it actually had plenty of thought behind it. Say what you will about how it turned out, but Jey Uso did become a huge star because of the booking calls, so in the end, it did turn out for the better.

Cody Rhodes knows The Rock will want a singles match eventually.

With three straight WrestleMania 40 main events on his resume, could Cody Rhodes go for four at WrestleMania 41? Well, in an interview with Good Morning Britain, Rhodes asserted that such a fate feels incredibly likely, as he just knows The Rock will come after him for a singles match after getting his feet wet in a tag match this year in Philadelphia.

“I didn't go to Hollywood. Hollywood has come to me in the form of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. He's got like a little obsession with me. I await his return. The last thing he did after WrestleMania, we wrestled on Saturday, Sunday was the next match. He came out on Monday on RAW; we had a little moment where I was waiting for him to come back at this point,” Cody Rhodes explained via 411 Mania. “He's looking for me, apparently. I want to say yes. I want to say yes. It will really come down to whether I can be a good champion, a great champion. Roman Reigns was a great champion. Will that be enough to entice The Rock? That's what's happened here. Rock will tell you he made wrestling cool again. Rock made wrestling cool, maybe in the first place, but this run, it's a whole new generation and locker room. Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, myself, Rhea Ripley, all these people. The more we keep this, the better we do, the more chances that it lures Rock back into the fray. I'd like to see it. We've had one tag match together. The singles match is definitely something fans look forward to seeing.”

Whether it comes at Crown Jewel later this fall or at WrestleMania 41 next year, it's safe to say Rhodes and The Rock are driving straight towards a one-on-one throwdown at some point in the future. And the best part? No matter where it happens, you just know it's gonna be good.