On the first live Raw episode of the new year, CM Punk, the reigning WWE Champion, defeated Ryback in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, thanks in part to help from none other than deadly trio known as The Shield.
The matchup originally was scheduled to have aired back on pay-per view in December, but an injury to Punk's knee postponed the match-up until WWE medically cleared Punk.
Following the win, Punk dropped another classic "pipe bomb," lashing out at the WWE universe for being blind and falling for cheap gimmicks and popularity rather than approving of good wrestling.
Punk mentioned Tyson Kidd and Brodus Clay as a couple of those wrestlers who are often passed over as good wrestlers in favor of colorful antics and gimmicks instead.
It was a great speech by CM Punk, easily one of his best. CM Punk without any argument, has the best mic skills in the WWE today.
The pipe bomb led into digs about the Rock and his gimmicks and finally, when the Rock could take no more, he entered the ring and dropped some classic trash talk, both funny, cheesy, and perfect for the WWE universe.
Now we've got on our hands, the WWE title on the line at Royal Rumble on January 27 in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Rock vs. CM Punk.
Already rumors and stories have circulated that WWE is thinking of CM Punk dropping the title belt to the Rock at Royal Rumble, only to have the Rock lose the belt to John Cena at WrestleMania 29 in April.
Here's my problem with that:
For one, The Rock hasn't wrestled since WrestleMania 28, and that was back in April 2012. He's a "part-time" wrestler, if your definition of part time wrestler means wrestling once a year.
Prior to Monday's Raw episode, the last time the Rock was on WWE was on the 1,000th episode, and that was back in July 2012.
How can CM Punk, who has been champion for over 400-plus days drop the belt to a part-timer, only to see that belt end up back in the hands of John Cena?
It makes no sense to the hardcore wrestling fans.
Yes, Cena is going to end up a champion at some point this year, WWE already has made that push clear after Cena lost just about every major pay-per view event last year, but like this?
It feels cheapened for Cena to win back the WWE title belt (much to the chagrin of some WWE fans) from a part-time wrestler. And whatever happened to "Once in a lifetime," the tagline used to promote last year's battle between Cena and The Rock at WrestleMania?
On the other hand, if Punk were to beat The Rock at Royal Rumble, fair and clean, he could extend his reign to almost 500 days before WrestleMania 29.
Punk's title reign has already been amazing. He's been one of the great champions overall and a great heel, calling out the WWE universe and sneaking through with the help of the Shield, so why end his reign to The Rock just because the Rock decided to come back after a six month hiatus?
It makes no sense, no sense at all.
Hopefully the WWE can come up with some grand plan to keep the title belt on CM Punk at least through WrestleMania or longer. The last time the WWE had a champ hold the title belt for at least 1,000 days was Hulk Hogan back in 1984. Why not CM Punk? Why not the best in the world?
Bottom line, when CM Punk has to give up the title belt, it cannot be to a part-time wrestler, no matter how great he is.