At the last three pay-per-view events, John Cena, despite not competing for a championship, has monopolized the main event.
He refused to embrace hate in an Ambulance Match against Kane at Elimination Chamber—a match which took precedence over two Elimination Chamber matches with title implications.
He lost a "Once in a Lifetime" clash of titans against The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII, while World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan was relegated to a mere 18 seconds of ring time before unceremoniously losing his title in the opening bout.
Last Sunday, Cena gutted out a brutal Extreme Rules match against a returning Brock Lesnar at the eponymous event—all after Daniel Bryan and Sheamus put on a clinic in a two-out-of-three falls match, and hometown hero CM Punk took Chris Jericho to task in a Chicago Street Fight.
At all three pay-per-views from February through April 2011, guess who was also in the main event? You guessed it—John Cena.
The story reads the same for almost every pay-per-view from February to April all the way back to 2005. John Cena in the main event, probably competing for a top-tier championship.
That's the key here. Cena was in the main event, but he was in the main event competing for the championship.
Triple H said recently that no one was bigger than WWE. By having John Cena consistently overshadow higher-quality championship matches and taking away the main-event slot, it appears that Cena is, in fact, bigger than the WWE title he spent so much time holding or questing after for the last seven years.
At Over the Limit, John Cena finds himself out of the title picture for the seventh consecutive pay-per-view. This time, Cena faces Raw and SmackDown general manager John Laurinaitis, his fourth different PPV opponent in the last three months, in a less exciting re-hash of the great Austin vs. McMahon feud that formed the cornerstone of the Attitude era.
What Cena had going for him at 'Mania and Extreme Rules was that, despite not competing for the belt, he was competing in matches of the very highest profile. It doesn't get much bigger than The Rock—WWE legend and Hollywood superstar. It doesn't get more intriguing than Brock Lesnar—former WWE powerhouse and Ultimate Fighting Champion.
At least he had that going. That, if nothing else, served to justify his position at the top of the card. But all that is done with. It's back to business as usual. No more Hollywood. No more UFC. Just Cena vs. Mr. Excitement Johnny Laurinaitis.
Meanwhile, two of the best pound-for-pound pure wrestlers in WWE square off in a match that has people excited without any build whatsoever.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have yet to cut a single promo or throw a single punch. There are no expected gimmicks like the ones Cena has so heavily relied on in the past. It's just two guys in their trunks and knee pads, putting it all on the line for the richest prize in the game.
The tension is already building for what even casual fans know has all the potential in the world to be an absolute blockbuster of a match.
There's really nothing else that needs to be said. The facts speak for themselves.
It would be a crime, an absolute travesty of justice, if the match for the once illustrious WWE championship was forced to play second fiddle to a half-baked grudge match between John Cena and another special-attraction performer.
Punk and Bryan have had the chance to build themselves into solid all-around performers whom fans can get behind. In a stroke of pure genius, meaning WWE had absolutely nothing to do with it, the crowd support for both men could go either way.
Sure, Punk is the face, and Bryan is the heel, but in a match like this, those are just details. At its heart, the match is capable of transcending petty labels. It's about competition first and foremost.
This match is everything WWE should have been about for the last seven years. The two best all-around performers in the business having a wrestling match for the company's highest honor.
This is not Cena punching and kicking Kane for a half hour before shoving him in an ambulance. This is not Cena being outclassed in the ring by a guy who hasn't competed full-time for a dog year. This is not Cena getting the hell beaten out of him by a hulked up prima donna before securing a miraculous comeback.
This is wrestling.
This is competition.
This is the main event.