Last night’s edition of WWE Raw didn’t emanate from Miami, but the heat was definitely in the building as Rock and C.M. Punk kicked off the build to their Royal Rumble encounter. That’s right. On Sunday, January 27, Punk will defend his WWE Championship against Rock in match that should be among the biggest, and best, of the year.
It’s been a long time since there was a Royal Rumble with this level of interest. Similar to last year’s Rock vs. John Cena match, Rock vs. Punk is a dream match with an entirely different dynamic.
With Rock vs. Cena, there was a large portion of the audience that wanted to see Rock emerge victorious. In their minds Rock represented the glory days of WWE while Cena embodied the current kid-friendly product. There is a significant segment of fans that respect Punk, even if they don’t necessarily like him. Punk overcame prejudices and the glass ceiling of company politics to emerge as the longest reigning champion of the last 25 years. Rock is a movie star who drops in a few times per year, whereas Punk is the guy on the road carrying the company every night. For them it would be a great disservice for Rock to take the title from the guy who has done more than anyone to make it important.
As many of you have probably read all over the web, there are differing opinions of last night’s closing segment. Some criticized Rock for his lack of seriousness and not making a strong enough argument as to why he wants to be champion. Others felt Punk did a bit too much rambling. This is what I love about wrestling. There is no other form of entertainment where fans are so passionately divided.
I felt it was a great segment that was epic in scope. I was glad they gave Punk time to talk before Rock. Even if he went a bit too long and lost some of his edge, it was still the best promo he cut in a long time. It may have been his best work since his original “pipe bombs” in 2011. In many ways, much of what Punk said was the truth. WWE has always been a company that favors a certain type of individual and there is an abundance of great talent not properly underutilized.
Rock was excellent, but I wish he would’ve toned down the comedy. He’s a legend and can always get away with it, but there comes a time when you have to switch things up. However, the final minutes were spectacular as both let loose before Punk received a vicious rock bottom.
Like Rock vs. Cena, there is something very tangible about this feud that makes it seem bigger than anything else happening in wrestling. Regardless of the outcome, it’s crucial for Punk to emerge on an even playing field with the “most electrifying man in all of entertainment.”