WWE Royal Rumble 2013: Why CM Punk vs. Rock Is Bigger Than Rock vs. John Cena

Travis TaylorFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

Photo by WWE.com
Photo by WWE.com

When CM Punk wrestles The Rock at the Royal Rumble, more than a title will be on the line: It will be about who is the greatest.

And the match will be bigger than the one between John Cena and The Rock at WrestleMania 28.

Here's CM Punk's take, via his exclusive interview in WWE '13:

I think it's a big match, everyone's going to watch it, and I'm going to prove why I'm the best in the world. And it's a high-pressure situation—I love that, it's great. I just hope he's ready.

The clash between two of the WWE’s all-time best will truly be history in the making. This is the first time they’ve been in a match together, and the implications of a win for either man are staggering.

It’s true that Cena and The Rock had also never wrestled before WrestleMania 28. But the moment was spoiled because the two had teamed at Survivor Series 2011 to defeat R-Truth and The Miz.

The first time Punk had physical contact with The Rock was at the 1,000th episode of Raw, soon after The Rock announced his forthcoming title shot.

This makes the match a rare item: something new and epic in a WWE ring.

In addition, the match with Punk is The Rock’s first title match since his losing effort against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2002 (via Profightdb.com).

But this is about more than titles.

With Cena, it was about who was better than whom. With Punk, it has become about greatness.

Punk is the sixth-longest-reigning WWE champion of all time. He’s the longest-reigning champion of the past 25 years.

Punk has eclipsed Cena, Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Bret Hart, among others (via WWE.com). It’s a laundry list of WWE greats.

If The Rock beats Punk for the title, he can lay claim to having beaten one of the all-time best. And as Ric Flair is fond of saying, “To be the man, you have to beat the man.”

Right now Punk is the man.

If The Rock wins, it can be said he beat the man no one else actively wrestling has been able to beat.

But this works on the flip side for Punk as well. He claims to be the best in the world. A win over the seven-time WWE champion would solidify this. 

With his having not been an active wrestler in nearly 10 years, The Rock’s title shot at the Royal Rumble is sudden. It signals a ratings ploy, and a new championship run by The People’s Champ may be inevitable.

But in the WWE, things can change.

The last time these two were in the ring together, that meeting ended with Punk’s knee making contact with The Great One’s face, leaving The Rock on his back.

Whoever leaves with the belt at the Royal Rumble will truly be the best in the world.