Rock! Punk! Shield! Heyman! Sneak Attacks! Match Restarts! Your NEW! WWE Champion!
Last night (Jan. 27), The Rock made good on his promise. He survived an impressive offensive attack from CM Punk, a Spanish announce table that decided it has had enough abuse, and a mysterious run in from unknown attackers -- read: The Shield -- but in the end he stayed true to his word.
Finally, The Rock is WWE Champion once again.
Yes, the man who left to become a big time Hollywood star has ended Punk's championship run at 434 days. It was a match not without controversy, though, and there is sure to be serious repercussions tonight. Rock had Punk down on the mat, ready to hit The People's Elbow, when the arena suddenly went dark.
Although fans could not see what was happening, Michael Cole informed the audience that The Shield had rushed the ring. They would deliver their patented triple powerbomb, leaving The Rock seemingly broken. Punk would celebrate his apparent win, and it looked like the longest reign in 29 years would continue at least one more night.
That is until Vince McMahon came out to strip Punk of his title.
At least that was the plan until The Rock would grab a mic and demand an immediate rematch. Vince obliged, and the bell would ring once again. Punk looked to have an insurmountable advantage. Rock had suffered too much abuse over the past week, haven eaten a triple powerbomb on Monday's (Jan. 21) Monday Night Raw and again last night. Not to mention the assault Punk had laid on him throughout the first match. Punk seemed to have the match won.
But it was not to be for the supposed "Best in the World."
"The Brahma Bull" powered through the pain and injures. He planted Punk smack down in the middle of the ring with his signature spinebuster. The energy of the entire WWE Universe flowed through his veins. He ran to the rope, hopped over Punk on his way to the second, stood above the fallen champion, and dropped the most electrifying elbow in all of sports entertainment.
One. Two. Three. The Rock is the new WWE Champion.
Every fan across the globe has an opinion on last night's match. Punk should have retained. There should have been more interference. There should have been less. How can Punk be pinned by a simple elbow? Fans are entitled to their opinions, of course, and the beauty of pro wrestling is the subjective nature of what is enjoyable to watch.
But to paraphrase a very smart Cagesider that I owe my career to; every great championship reign needs an equally great ending.
Last night was a great ending.
Everything came together into one moment. Punk and Rock put on an instant classic. Maybe it wasn't a five star spectacle, but it was at least a great start to the pay-per-view (PPV) year. The Shield did their best to interfere, despite Punk warning them to butt out on last Thursday's (Jan. 24) SmackDown. The Rock, arguably the biggest star in the history of the promotion, was able to overcome adversity and drop his finisher -- and yes, The People's Elbow has long been established as a respected finisher -- to pin Punk clean in the ring.
The Rock will now be carrying the bling'd out championship -- although I would not mind if he changed the design -- with him on the media circuit. He will bring back eyeballs who have long ago tuned out. He will continue to do amazing work on the mic, once again getting fans excited to watch the product. Rocky is booked straight through to WrestleMania 29.
For the next two months and change, he is a full time worker. So there is no need for the "part timer" jokes this time around.
I have no problem with Punk dropping the strap. You look around the roster, and there really is no one fit to take it off of him. If the promotion wasn't going to put it on John Cena this summer, there is no reason they should have him go over now. There is some great talent on the roster, but it is still young and green. Give it another year and we can see Ryback, Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow, and the members of The Shield fighting for the company's top title.
Right now, though, it needs to be on the best man available. The fan favorite, the guy who can get people excited with his promos, the dude who can entertain in the ring. It should be someone with experience and passion, and a wrestler with enough clout who would not be crushed by Punk's year and change reign. I contend that man is The Rock.
So tonight we will start to see the fall out over what transpired. The Shield has been in a holding pattern since their debut, which has worked so far. But now is the time to start advancing the angle. Are they working for Punk? For Heyman?
Or perhaps there is an unknown third party in charge?
Punk will demand a rematch, and we will find out if it will occur on Raw, at Elimination Chamber, or, as some theories suggest, at WrestleMania 29. He will continue to be an amazing heel, and I want to see how the character evolves without being able to rely on the title.
Finally, The Rock will hold the belt high above his head with pride. He has taken the burden of Punk's marathon reign and injected a new life into it. He will spit is silly catchphrases and possibly say things that make us groan. But his passion for the business has bled through with every promo. Rocky has made the belt special because it is obvious on how much it means to him.
Maybe you weren't a fan of how Royal Rumble ended. That's fine. I will do my best to never tell a fan that they are wrong for their beliefs. What I can say is this;
Things are exciting in WWE once again. I don't know how long it will last, but I am going to do my best to enjoy every moment.
Cena! Royal Rumble Winner! A! Few! Brief! Words!
As loyal readers of the Precap know, my track record with predictions are spotty at best. I tend to read far more into perceived storylines then what is actually present. With that being said, though, I feel confident when I say this;
John Cena will challenge The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29.
Right now everything is in place for it to happen. Cena won last night's Royal Rumble match, tossing Ryback over the top rope and earning the right to point at the big WrestleMania sign hanging in the arena. The Rock is WWE Champion, and it is unlikely -- but again, not impossible, that he will be having an extremely short run with it. These factors mean that these two men are on a collision course to meet at "The Granddaddy of Them All."
And I'm not sure how I feel about it.
It is tough to write about Cena without my bias bleeding through. The man can put on a great match. He can also deliver a great promo when pushed. The problems arise when he does stupid, goofy crap like what he pulled on Monday's go-home show. I want to like Cena. I think he can do great things when he puts his mind to it.
But how will he hold up with a two month build?
Can he keep his focus long enough to keep fans energized. Can he match Rock and Punk's intensity? Can he do something interesting that doesn't involved sophomoric humor and unnecessary shouting?
Can John Cena make a feud with Rock special when the uniqueness has warn off?
This looks like the direction WWE is heading in, and I truly want it to be good. I enjoy being entertained by the product far more than I enjoy hating on it. I know Cena has the ability to be the best in the business when he puts his mind to it.
I pray that this will be one of those times.
Hopefully this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Please leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join the entire CSS Monday night gang in the live blog TONIGHT!