All signs point to a WWE Championship bout between CM Punk and The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble. In fact, the match is just about official pending a successful Punk title defense against Ryback at an upcoming Raw.
And even though this is a match many of us have been eagerly anticipating, should it take place at the upcoming pay-per-view? Would it be better served at a later time?
You can certainly mark me down as one of those fans that can't wait to see this matchup. I do, however, believe this feud should be saved as the main event for WrestleMania 29.
Here's why and how I would have booked it:
For one, this Punk-Ryback feud still has some legs to it given the WWE Champion's recent knee injury.
Neither superstar has yet to pick up a clean one-on-one victory over the other at a PPV. A storyline between the two is still relatively untapped and can take us all the way into the Rumble. There, I would have had Punk and Ryback fight for the strap in their blowout match to end the feud.
I'd give Punk a hard-fought and clean victory in his title defense. Again, the knee surgery underwent by Punk makes this very possible.
But of course, how could the WWE have known about Punk's speed bump months ago when they had The Rock announce his title shot at Raw 1000?
Honestly, I wouldn't even have made The Great One announce his chance at the WWE Championship then. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even have mentioned his name leading up to the Rumble.
I know the company was looking after pay-per-view buys in this case.
Booking The Rock at the event would and will obviously bring more people around to drop the $50 bucks to watch. But by assuring a title shot for him all the way back in July just tied up creative in my mind. Making such an announcement so far ahead of time put the WWE in a tough spot in terms of storyline flexibility.
If I were a part of creative back in July, I would have taken the planned push of Ryback into account. Just as they already have, Ryback and Punk would have feuded through Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and TLC. I would then allow the two to have their final encounter at the Royal Rumble.
Since Ryback is now a legitimate contender, a feud where Punk would come out as the victor could have served as a very entertaining one. It would have also increased Punk's credibility as champion.
Instead of giving The Rock his shot at the Rumble, I would give it to him at WrestleMania. And just how would he earn that opportunity? He would do so as a surprise entrant in the traditional 30-man Royal Rumble match.
Imagine it. John Cena is standing alone in the middle of the ring, tiredly awaiting the 30th and final participant in the match. The anticipation of who will come through those curtains would be tantalizing alone.
Just as the crowd counts the clock down to zero, the famous "If ya smell..." tagline hits to what would be perhaps the most thunderous pop in recent memory.
Being that I wouldn't have had the company even mention The Rock's name leading up to the PPV, his surprise entry would come as a complete shock to the enjoyment of the crowd.
Which scenario do you prefer?
After a five minute back and forth between the two rivals, The Rock would finally eliminate Cena to win his second career Royal Rumble match. (This, by the way, could also serve as a precursor to a potential Rock-Cena II match somewhere down the line.)
Anyway, The Rock would appear on Raw the very next night to declare his WWE Title aspirations for WrestleMania 29. Punk, fresh off a momentous victory over the monster Ryback, would then stroll out and engage in a starting point to the 'Mania feud.
To even further Punk's viability and stock, I would then proceed to have him successfully defend his title at Elimination Chamber. Coming out victorious in the Chamber against the likes of Cena, Ryback, Miz and others would only continue to justify his ability to face Rocky at the main event at 'Mania.
By then, he would have beaten all the top dogs of the company and have held the WWE Championship for just over 500 days.
So there we have it. Rock and Punk, in a match we've never seen before, on the grandest stage of them all.
To me, a Punk-Rock match as the 'Mania main event would be the optimal choice. It would have more box office appeal than Undertaker-Punk, it wouldn't be a farfetched idea of Punk-Austin and it wouldn't be Rock-Cena for the second year in a row. (I also believe a Punk-Rock II at WrestleMania wouldn't be nearly as exciting, seeing as the two would have already squared off two months earlier.)
As of now, I refuse to reveal the winner of this WrestleMania 29 main event. Although intriguing, it doesn't actually serve the purposes of this article. We as fans, however, would be the true winners of such a storyline.
We'd lay witness to the surprise return of a legend, the solidification of a star and a big time match to top it all off.
So what do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts and personal preferences on the matter below.