The Rock will be defending the WWE Championship at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view when he faces off with the man he defeated for the gold, CM Punk. Punk will be attempting to regain the prize that he held longer than any WWE Superstar of the modern era. The question is, will he defeat The People’s Champion this Sunday?
No. He won’t.
Don’t say it, I know you’re already thinking it. “What, Tom, think you know it all, huh? Just because Rocky is favored to win on Sunday doesn’t mean that Punk has no chance.”
No, you’re wrong. Stop it.
Before you start sending any hate mail my way, let me assure you that I am not anti-Punk. The fact is, I am a fan of the guy’s work and have been for a good while, long before he became the main event Superstar that we see today.
And I am not what you would call a Rock supporter. Though I felt confident that he would be the man to end Punk’s historic WWE title reign, that does not mean I necessarily wanted it to happen.
So, why be so adamant about the upcoming WWE title match? Simple. Because a Rock victory makes the most sense.
This is after all, WrestleMania season, the best time of year to be a WWE fan. This is the midpoint between The Royal Rumble and of course The Elimination Chamber, when speculation begins and slowly but surely we begin to see potential Mania matches taking shape before our eyes.
This is the biggest time of year for WWE. The entire calendar year leads to this, and all of the planning, publicity and press that goes into the Granddaddy of Them All will now begin at a rapid pace, ending at a fever pitch on April 7th in New Jersey.
And for that kind of public exposure, you need a top name. And that top name is The Rock.
Rock’s face will absolutely dominate every piece of WrestleMania promotional material from now until the opening pyro begins firing on that night. He is—as he has been in the past—the marquee guy, the one whom so many fans want to see live and who will likely break records once again with pay-per-view buys.
This is the man now known throughout the world as a big-time action star. He is the best crossover talent that the business has ever seen, and his notoriety outside of WWE is firmly established.
He is Hollywood famous.
Then there’s CM Punk. He is pro wrestling famous.
As genuine as Punk is and as over as the guy gets with everyone outside WWE that encounters him in the entertainment business, the fact is that he is looked at as a WWE Superstar. He’s a guy who doesn’t look like the typical pro wrestler, but who is very real and very committed to his craft, and that has led him to the top of his chosen profession.
And Punk very likely is totally fine with that.
But no amount of professionalism, dedication or realism that CM Punk has can bring the overwhelming number of casual fans, former fans and new fans that The Rock can. Rocky made his name in Hollywood and he is now bringing that national exposure with him back to the company that made him a star to begin with.
Whom else would you promote to make that big of a splash at WrestleMania?
The truth is that CM Punk carried the banner of WWE for 400-plus days and worked very hard to make that run be the best that it possibly could be. But when it came time for Vince McMahon to sell an outrageous number of tickets and make some extremely serious coin, he went with the guy who has practically become a household name. He went with the guy that Hulk Hogan used to be, only with the volume turned up as loud as it can go.
So loud, it’s deafening.
For the purposes of WrestleMania, CM Punk may be the steak, but The Rock is the sizzle. He will electrify, entertain and put a lot of butts in the seats. He will bring the crossover success that only he can.
And that is why he will defeat Punk this Sunday at Elimination Chamber. Rocky versus John Cena at Mania happened last year. For it to mean something this time, for it to mean more than last time, the WWE Championship has to be at stake.
The rematch then becomes bigger and much more important than it ever could have been without it. One WWE icon versus another, with the richest prize in pro wrestling hanging in the balance. It only makes sense.