Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes will be main-eventing WWE WrestleMania 39 for good reason.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t WrestlingNews.co), the two stars—who are slated to headline WWE’s flagship pay-per-view in an Undisputed Universal Championship match—are currently “hot” merchandise sellers, and their popularity is expected to result in strong merchandise sales for WWE as a whole at the upcoming two-night WrestleMania event.
“I presume that it will do amazing merchandise numbers because that’s the other thing that’s going on right now is the merchandise numbers are really strong. A lot of the big characters are very, over when it comes to selling merchandise right now,” said Meltzer. “Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, I’m sure Sami Zayn. They’re hot. That’s the deal. Things look good for them going into WrestleMania season.”
Being the king of WWE’s merchandise empire is nothing new for Reigns.
It was in 2018 that Reigns, in the midst of a seemingly never-ending babyface push, finally replaced John Cena as WWE’s No. 1 merchandise seller, achieving a goal WWE had long had for the generational superstar when it was clear that he was being groomed as the heir apparent to Cena. By 2021, Reigns, by this point a heel, was even rivaling Cena’s peak merchandise sales numbers, an impressive feat for a star who was and still is being portrayed as WWE’s biggest villain.
Other names who’ve been atop WWE merchandise sales over the past several years are Becky Lynch and Bray Wyatt, two former world champions who are among the company’s most popular stars. There’s a reason why Wyatt, despite being released by WWE in a cost-cutting move, was brought back by WWE last year even though his supernatural character has been notoriously difficult to book well.
Wyatt, simply put, sells for a company whose arena merchandise sales more than doubled in 2022 in comparison to the previous year.
It was just a few months ago that Wyatt, fresh off his return to WWE, surpassed Reigns’ The Bloodline stable, to cement himself as WWE’s top merchandise seller. Even though Wyatt’s gimmick has posed major booking problems for WWE and has resulted in subpar matches for much of his career, he is someone who clicks with the WWE Universe even after nearly a decade of on-and-off booking and more than a year away from the company.
Reigns and Wyatt have been joined atop WWE’s merchandise ranks by Rhodes, who has “outstanding” merchandise sales, according to Fightful Select (h/t 411Mania). While Rhodes and Wyatt couldn’t be more different as characters, one thing they do have in common is that they are both fresh off major returns and have been positioned as strong babyfaces on their respective brands.
Rhodes’ Royal Rumble win has him set up nicely as Raw’s top fan favorite while Wyatt is reportedly slotted in as SmackDown’s top protagonist even above uber-popular stars like Sheamus and Drew McIntyre. Perhaps this is why Wyatt has been given so much TV time on SmackDown despite very limited in-ring action. It’s his enthralling character that—despite having its fair of detractors—has become a must-see attraction for fans who enjoy the more cinematic elements of pro wrestling.
It’s no coincident that Reigns, Rhodes and Wyatts are all involved in some of WWE’s best or most captivating storylines, and as a result, are building up strong fan bases that are supporting them with stellar merchandise sales.
When stories are done right, fans care. When fans care, they spend money. When they spend money, the characters who are generating that revenue are going to be rewarded with a sizable push and significant TV time—which is exactly how it should be.