9 Apr 2024

Football round-up: What the Wellington Phoenix can learn from Wrestlemania

12:14 pm on 9 April 2024
Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns face off (L), Jacob Farrell of the Mariners competes for possession with Bozhidar Kraev of the Phoenix (R)

Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns face off (L), Jacob Farrell of the Mariners competes for possession with Bozhidar Kraev of the Phoenix (R) Photo: Getty

The weekend saw Wrestlemania, a two-night professional wrestling extravaganza, held in Philadelphia in front of 145,000 fans and watched by millions around the world. Meanwhile, a much smaller audience tuned in to the Wellington Phoenix's own pinnacle event, albeit with the same intrinsic importance.

But despite the difference in spectacle, the two bore similarities in what could still prove to be a fruitful weekend for the 'Nix.

Sure, they lost, but so did Cody Rhodes, the headline act from WWE's flagship pay-per-view. Much like the 'Nix, the 'American Nightmare' was himself hunting a long-elusive championship. However, on night one, he was pinned by The Rock - AKA Dwayne Johnson, probably pushed back into the wrestling ring after the rotten tomato that was Black Adam. In the semi-scripted world of professional wrestling, that meant Cody's task the next night against Roman Reigns, the Rock's cousin and the 1316-day champ was even harder with a set of stipulations in favour of Reigns.

But against all odds Cody won on Sunday - with a little help from legends John Cena and The Undertaker.

This wrestling chat might be over the heads of many so let's put it in football language. This weekend, Central Coast Mariners snatched a late 2-1 win over the 'Nix and in doing so went top of the table. The reigning A-League champions now have a favourable run-in and the 'Nix look set to miss out on a table-topping campaign.

Cody Rhodes celebrates during Night Two of WrestleMania 40 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Cody Rhodes celebrates during Night Two of WrestleMania 40 at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo: WWE

However, in the grand scheme of things, who cares?

Cody Rhodes lost the match which set up his title clash and was still paraded around Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field the following night as the champion. In wrestling's code of honour world of kayfabe, I doubt he cared about that previous loss.

Which is how the 'Nix will feel if they go on to win the A-League, regardless of their status as Premier champions or not.

Just ask their main rivals the Mariners. It's doubtful they think much about falling short of Melbourne City in the league last season, considering they pasted them 6-1 in the subsequent Grand Final.

Much like Rhodes, the 'Nix also had the benefit of some babyfaces running interference over the weekend. Instead of The Undertaker they had the Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Western United who all defeated close rivals in the play-off hunt. Those results leave the 'Nix with a golden chance to effectively secure a top-two spot against Melbourne Victory next weekend.

They will then have another chance to get the better of their own 'Final Boss', the Mariners, much like Rhodes did at Wrestlemania over the weekend. Cody's dad, the 'American Dream' Dusty Rhodes once famously spoke of 'hard times' and the Phoenix have experienced plenty of those in their barren quest for silverware.

If missing out on the Premiership is followed by a Grand Final triumph, those hard times will have been worth it.

  • The Football Ferns were back in action on home soil for the first time since last year's bittersweet home World Cup and did not disappoint in Christchurch. Katie Kitching scored twice as the Ferns swept aside Thailand 4-0. It takes their winning run to six, scoring 36 goals in the process. Of course, that half-dozen fixtures have come against teams ranked from 47th-122nd in the world - but it will still be a big confidence boost for Jitka Klimkova's team.
  • Katie Kitching (29) celebrates her penalty.

    Katie Kitching (29) celebrates her penalty. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2024 www.photosport.nz

  • Kitching's emergence couldn't have come at a better time, with the experienced Ria Percival announcing her retirement from international football. The 34-year-old, who made her debut back in 2006 and has played 161 times for her nation.
  • Chris Wood had a topsy-turvy weekend. He can't stop scoring at the moment and netted against Tottenham Hotspur to take his tally to four goals in as many games. However, he also missed a sitter, smashing a close-range effort against the woodwork as his Nottingham Forest side went on to lose 3-1 and plunging them further into relegation battle.
  • Staying in the Premier League and finally someone has blinked in the title race. While Arsenal and Manchester City swept to victory, Liverpool were dealt a blow with a wasteful 2-2 display against rivals Manchester United. The game was illuminated by two stunning efforts from United midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo - the former being an exquisite first-time strike from inside the centre-circle. It was the departing Jurgen Klopp's final competitive clash with United and it could be a costly one in the race for the title.