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Rock vs. CM Punk leaves John Cena with big shoes to fill

If The Rock and CM Punk can spend the next three weeks building on what was an amazing start to their feud last night on Monday Night RAW, then having "The Brahma Bull" switch gears and move on to battle Cena (again) will get as much heat as a Divas match pee-break in between marquee pay-per-view bouts.

Michael N. Todaro

Finally, "The Rock" has come back to WWE.

I'm not a fan of putting a belt on the "Brahma Bull" now that he's returned to a steady schedule because let's face it, he's gold without it. Any doubt about his ability to instantly transform a program he's attached to (whenever Commissioner McMahon lights up the Miami skyline with the Bat Rock-signal) was instantly erased on Monday Night RAW.

To be fair, CM Punk deserves 50-percent of the credit.

In addition to reaffirming what we already knew about the magic of a good promo, it only took one exchange to put Rock vs. Punk head and shoulders above last year's angle between Rock vs. John Cena. That's not a swipe at the "Doctor of Thuganomics," either, because he's the biggest star in WWE (whether we like it or not).

Ever hear the mixed martial arts (MMA) expression, "styles make fights?"

It makes WWE matches, too. At its core, professional wrestling is theater. This business was built on the same foundation laid below every form of theater preceding it, all the way back to the Greeks, who wore masks with easily-identifiable emotions for the audience.

At the end of the day, WWE tells stories of good versus evil.

Rock and Cena, heading into last year's WrestleMania, were able to move the needle on their names alone, but trying to get the WWE "Universe" to draw a line in the sand was a daunting task. Sure, the cool kids were booing Cena, but the snot-nosed brats were cheering him.

Nobody's cheering CM Punk.

He's the ultimate villain. "The Straight-Edge Superstar" continues to do what every good heel should and that's make the audience loathe him. Whether he's hogging the stick to whine about his personal injustices, shooting on the audience or having his friends help him go over on the faces, he's doing his job.

And now Dwayne Johnson can do his.

I've heard a lot of debate about the simplicity of Rock's promos and his subsequent pandering to the crowd and how it's not on par with Punk's razor-sharp critique of everything that's wrong with WWE. Thank God! If they wanted a 15 minute segment to go an hour, then Triple H would be out there, not Rock.

They're polar opposites.

Sure, Rock is more of a cartoon character than he was in the old days, but we don't have time to dick around with fleshing out anything more intricate than "Cookie Puss" and "Popeye." We know Rock is the good guy and he's taken a stand against the bad guy. That's enough to get started.

Now it's time for Act II.

Rock recently warned CM Punk that he had 20 days before time was up. That's when they meet at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship. And if this thing plays out the way we've been led to believe over the past several months, then Punk won't be the only one lying awake at night, staring at the calendar.

John Cena, you've got some pretty big shoes to fill.

For more on The Rock's return to WWE, his program opposite CM Punk and the ensuing fallout, click here, here and here.

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