The Rock vs. CM Punk: A Loss at Royal Rumble Would Solidify Rock's Legacy

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson attends a press conference to announce that MetLife Stadium will host WWE Wrestlemania 29 in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

The Rock's legacy would only grow should he lose at the 2013 Royal Rumble.

That seems a bit of a contrary point. How could The Rock's WWE career become even greater if he comes back and jobs to CM Punk? Really, though, what difference would another title reign make?

The Rock is already considered one of the greatest superstars in WWE history. His mic skills are among the best ever, and while he wasn't a technical master, his in-ring ability was very good.

A loss wouldn't damage any of that. No fan would look at The Rock's accomplishments during the Attitude Era with a grain of salt because he lost to CM Punk at the Royal Rumble.

Shawn Michaels is the perfect example of how a veteran wrestler can embolden his legacy by jobbing out to the newer generation of superstars.

Michaels, while one of the best in-ring competitors of all time, was almost universally regarded as a jerk during his time in the WWF from the late '80s to his first retirement in 1998.

Then he came back in 2002 and was a completely different person. As a result, Michaels did a complete 180 in terms of his backstage presence.

Michaels remained in the title picture, but after winning the World Heavyweight Title at Survivor Series 2002, he never held it again.

The majority of Michaels' biggest matches after his return ended in losses, whether it was Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21, against The Undertaker at WrestleManias XXV and XXVI, or during his feud with Chris Jericho in 2008.

Jericho is another good example with his most recent return. He put Punk over at WrestleMania XXVIII and then Dolph Ziggler when his exit was imminent.

This is the blueprint The Rock should follow. He could give the fans the thrill of seeing The Rock again and in the meantime help put over some of the younger wrestlers in the company.

It's not in the long-term interest of the company to have a guy who hasn't wrestled in nine months to beat the WWE champion, who hasn't lost the title in 400-plus days.

It will bring attention and notoriety in the short term, without a doubt. Where will WWE be when he leaves, though? The company will be stuck in exactly the same situation it finds itself in right now.

WWE has failed in creating new stars. It relies so heavily on John Cena and nostalgia acts like The Rock and Jericho to get it through the present. WWE has lost sight of a long-term plan.

On the other hand, The Rock could help set up Punk as one of the biggest stars in the era. Then, he could give the rub to a guy like Ryback or The Shield at WrestleMania.

Is this going to happen? Probably not. That doesn't mean that it wouldn't be a step in the right direction for the company.

Fans could look at The Rock as somebody who put the business ahead of himself.