CM Punk has had some big matches in his career, both in and out of WWE. His feud with John Cena over the past year comes to mind, and so does his feud with Jeff Hardy and even his feud with Chris Jericho. But the best matches from those feuds pale in comparison to his upcoming match at the Royal Rumble against The Rock.
CM Punk fired the opening shots in his nascent war with The Rock. His promo on Monday's Raw, while rambling at times, was overall one of the best promos in recent memory. Aside from some minor silliness with the "Cookiepuss" chant and the Popeye references, it was one of the most intense face-to-face meetings in WWE in a long time. It didn't feel forced, scripted or disingenuous.
Because of this promo, an already big match has become the biggest match in CM Punk's long and illustrious career. Not only is his WWE Championship on the line, but after referring to himself as "God," he's set this match up as a war with the concept of WWE as we know it.
And as The Rock listened backstage, CM Punk gave us insight into the mind of one of the best wrestlers of our time. CM Punk does not wrestle for the fans. Never has. And he isn't lying, either. CM Punk is one of the few wrestlers to keep his name and gimmick across companies. But his persona is not a gimmick. He really is straight edge. He really is railing against what he perceives as injustice.
With Paul Heyman at his side, CM Punk has become the premier Superstar in WWE. Whether you are a fan or not, he has managed to do what only five men in the entire history of the WWE have done: hold the WWE Championship for 418 consecutive days. His matches have become must-watch.
After The Rock had heard enough, he came and did what The Rock does best: electrify. The live audience clearly did not appreciate being denigrated for 10 minutes and could not wait for The Rock to destroy CM Punk. But the Rock, ever the entertainer, mixed humor with seriousness. In the end, he hit CM Punk with a Rock Bottom.
This segment alone, ignoring all the past history between the two, cemented this match as the first must-see match of the year. WWE may not yet know it, but these two men look as if they were born to work with each other.
And the "boxing with God" reference conjures up a very specific man: Ric Flair. And rumor has it, Flair will confront CM Punk on the 20th anniversary Raw. Houston will be the place where two gods collide.
The fact that Ric Flair, 16-time World champion and two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee, is having a high-profile confrontation with CM Punk only solidifies CM Punk as someone worthy of Flair's time. And The Rock, one of the best wrestlers in WWE history, wants to face him. This match, and the lead-up to it, has become one of the most important storylines in WWE in quite some time.
WWE will be hard-pressed to find another wrestler capable of sustaining a WWE title run of the caliber of CM Punk's. CM Punk, if he can hold on to his title, will have beaten everyone there has been for him to beat. This match is the biggest match of CM Punk's career. Will he attain legendary status? Or will he fall, as Cena did before him, to the "most electrifying man in all of entertainment"? We will find out on January 27.