WWE Champion CM Punk and John Cena have been battling each other on and off for well over a year now, but the company is finally ready to wrap up the long-term program and send these combatants their separate ways.
According to F4WOnline (via Wrestling Inc.), the end is near for the longtime main-event feud:
We haven't seen the end of the feud between John Cena and CM Punk yet. Apparently WWE officials are working on something that will end the rivalry before Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season arrives.
As much as the majority of the WWE Universe has enjoyed the battles between these two, Cena has given Punk all the rub he possibly could, and there are now better options for both men.
The purpose of this extended battle was to put Punk over as one of the company’s biggest stars while building to WrestleMania 29, and that mission has been accomplished.
After losing to Punk one more time—likely at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV—it’s on to making another megastar for the face of the WWE, John Cena. Punk, on the other hand, is heading toward a WWE title match with The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
How This Helps WWE
Over the last several months, it has become blatantly clear that the WWE has built CM Punk as a top star in the same vein as John Cena. While Punk’s mainstream appeal isn’t on the same level as Cena’s, there is no doubting that the current WWE champion is the second-biggest superstar in the company.
Instead of letting the duo continue to feud—especially since the WWE is starting to realize how truly valuable Punk is as a main-event heel—the company will start using the two stars in other capacities.
As we saw with the build to Hell in a Cell, the WWE will use both Punk and Cena to put over the younger stars—Ryback went from midcard to main-event caliber in a month—instead of having the duo continue its feud into 2013. With other midcard talents getting the main-event rub from Punk and Cena, the WWE as a company will be building for the future.
The WWE is a business first and foremost, so now that Punk is a viable top star, the company’s best bet is to spread the wealth around and continue creating new superstars with the help of the powerful twosome.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Will CM Punk drop the title to The Rock?
There are roughly three months before the Royal Rumble, and the only thing certain at this point is that The Rock will return to the company at that event and challenge for the WWE title, just like he announced on the 1,000th episode of Raw.
With the next month being dedicated to the Survivor Series PPV and the already announced 5-on-5 match featuring Punk, the WWE has just one month to fill before The Rock would presumably come back.
The Rock must return on a few episodes of Raw before the Royal Rumble if he is fighting for the title, and even more so if he will walk away with the WWE Championship.
While the WWE could always put the belt on Cena at the TLC PPV—making the Royal Rumble WWE title match a three-way bout—the last year with Punk as champion has all been building to his showcase with The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
As much as the WWE Universe will have mixed emotions, Punk will drop the title at the Rumble, and the part-time employee, The Rock, will become champion. For that to come to fruition, though, the WWE must move Cena away from Punk as soon as possible.
Merit Meter: 5 out of 5 yearlong storylines
The WWE didn’t come out this year and announce that it would be doing CM Punk versus The Rock at the Royal Rumble like it did for John Cena and The Rock’s WrestleMania 28 match, but that doesn’t mean this hasn’t always been the plan.
The company is often criticized for its lack of long-term booking, but that simply isn’t the case.
With all of the WWE’s changed philosophies over the last two years about building toward the future, it has become clear that Punk’s extended run as the WWE champion was planned from the start.
Vince McMahon and company knew all along about The Rock making his return for the WWE title, because they had to clear it with the movie star well in advance to ensure his schedule would be clear.
The company also knew that WrestleMania 29 would feature the second installment of The Rock versus John Cena—with the caveat that it was for the WWE title this time—so building Punk as the heel champion that Rock would defeat has been the plan all along.
Why not spend the year building up to this epic WrestleMania 29 main event by building another megastar, like the WWE just did with Punk?
It has been booked to perfection.
While most fans can agree that some of the week-to-week booking has been awful, the long-term planning for the company is the right move for the WWE. Now, it must improve the Raw and SmackDown secondary storylines to make these amazing payoffs even more special.
As much as John Cena’s battles with CM Punk over the last year have been great, the fact that the WWE is moving these two men away from each other proves the company is getting serious about the next several months.
WrestleMania 29 may still be five months away, but the groundwork for the event will be laid at Survivor Series, TLC and during the build to the Royal Rumble.
There is little doubt that Cena and Punk will meet one last time—likely at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV—but that will be the last time we see that feud for at least the next five months.
While the fans should be excited for the new possibilities and storylines when the WWE pushes these two stars in different directions, the real lesson learned is that the company is starting to get ready for the road to WrestleMania 29.
There is no doubt that the WWE has done a poor job at times building to its marquee event in the last few years, but the subtle way of long-term booking instead of announcing the company's intentions a year ahead of time proves the WWE learned from its mistakes.
No matter what the final card looks like, the WWE is going all in on the product over the next several months, and the fans will reap the rewards.
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