There’s one major key to the WWE Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 29, and his name is The Rock.
While it’s usually difficult to say that one man controls the future of an entire company, this is a rare case in which that’s actually true.
Whatever happens with The Rock at the Royal Rumble later this month isn’t just going to affect The Rock and his opponent, CM Punk. It’s going to have a domino effect on all of the WWE’s major storylines going forward.
The widespread expectation going into the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble is that The Rock will end Punk’s 400-plus day title reign and then go on to defend the title against John Cena at WrestleMania 29.
If that’s true, then the WWE is going to have to find a way to get to Cena vs. Rock II at WrestleMania, which most likely means that Cena would win the Royal Rumble.
But then the WWE is put in the unfortunate situation of having a part-timer as the holder of its top title and having no WWE Championship defenses on house shows for more than two months.
That, of course, creates a bit of a predicament for the WWE that could lead company officials to doing something else with The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
There’s the seemingly unlikely scenario that The Rock loses the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble in shady fashion and thus, gets himself a rematch against Punk at WrestleMania 29, either in singles action or a Triple Threat match that also involves Cena.
Yet, there’s also another possibility that not many seem to be considering: The Rock losing to Punk and going on to face someone else at Mania.
That could lead to a non-WWE title match against Cena or perhaps a bout against someone like The Undertaker or even Brock Lesnar.
No matter what the scenario is, though, there’s always one common ingredient here: The Rock.
While he may technically be a part-time superstar, he is the most important piece of the WWE at its most pivotal time of the year. Like it or not, he holds the immediate and long-term futures of the WWE in the palm of his hand.
According to F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com), “The Rock has been under the impression for some time that he would be the one to end Punk’s reign at the Royal Rumble.”
That, of course, leads us to believe that The Rock is destined to win the WWE title on that night. No matter what.
But this is about more than just The Rock. This is about Cena, Punk and the WWE as a whole.
Whatever the WWE decides to do with The Rock in just a few weeks at The Royal Rumble is going to turn out to be one of the WWE’s biggest decisions in recent memory.
It’s not just going to determine the immediate and long-term futures of The Rock and Punk.
It’s going to determine who wins the 2013 Royal Rumble later that night, it’s going to determine who faces whom at WrestleMania 29 and it’s going to determine the immediate future of the WWE Championship, which has been around the waist of the same man for more than 400 days.
That’s why when fans call this match one of the biggest in WWE history, they’re 100 percent right about that.
Not even The Rock vs. Cena had as big of an effect on the WWE’s booking as The Rock vs. Punk will.
In fact, what happens with The Rock at the Royal Rumble will quite literally determine the futures of everyone from Cena to Punk to Ryback to Lesnar to Undertaker to Daniel Bryan.
When one domino falls, so does another, then another and then another.
The Rock is that first domino. Which way will he go?
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!