WrestleMania 28: Why Both John Cena and CM Punk Must Win

Graham GreenleeCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2012

The most-heated WWE fan rivalry of 2011 was between younger John Cena fans and older CM Punk supporters, where the infamous "Cena sucks" chant was not only an affirmation of Punk's popularity but also a rallying cry for fans tired of the status quo.

It seems unlikely that the fanbases for both Cena and Punk would have anything to agree on (besides a mutual love of professional wrestling), but heading into WrestleMania, both men represent the same side in a struggle between the old guard trying to recapture their glory and the new "reality-era" superstars who are trying to carve out their own place in WWE history.

This year's WrestleMania card is heavily weighted with veteran wrestlers, and while the presence of stars like The Rock and Chris Jericho may help convince casual fans to buy the pay-per-view, week-to-week viewers are left scratching their heads as to what the WWE has planned after April 1.

With so many talented full-time Superstars being swept under the rug in terms of promotion and screen time on the current weekly shows, Cena and Punk are the only true representatives of the current WWE roster amongst the participants of the three main-event matches at WrestleMania XXVIII.

Cena has been with the WWE since 2002 and has been used as the face of the company for most of his tenure, garnering a rabid fan base of families and young children.

Punk has his roots in the independent scene and despite being misused by the WWE for years, he has managed to claw his way to being the top dog on the roster, gathering an enormous fan base along the way.

Both men represent very different elements of the current state of the WWE, a struggle between wholesome family entertainment and hardcore wrestling, but despite their differences, they both represent the current WWE era and all of the superstars and divas on the active roster.

Although Rock and Jericho have tremendous histories with the company and bring a legion of fans back to WWE programming, both wrestlers are due to leave the active roster not long after WrestleMania and the WWE is almost certain to lose a sizable portion of the audience that they bring.

If the WWE were wise, they would use their veteran superstars to help bring eyes back to the product and use them to help win over Cena and Punk to a new group of fans.

If Rock or Jericho win in their respective matches, it would do nothing but show a lack of confidence in the current WWE roster and only hurt the chances of their current slate from getting mainstream attention.

To that end, Cena and Punk must both be booked to win at WrestleMania in order to protect the current brand and become potential ambassadors for new/returning fans to the weekly shows, which will be sorely under-represented.

Many week-to-week WWE viewers may be thrilled to see these Attitude-era stars return on occasion, but any long-term investment by the WWE in their own product must see these veterans lose at WrestleMania.

Anyone who wants to see Monday Night Raw or SmackDown return to their former, hugely popular, glory, should be rooting for both Cena and Punk this April 1.