Despite the writing being on the wall for the past year with regards to The Rock vs. John Cena II at WrestleMania XXIX, some fans continue to hold out hope that something will change. The only potential saving grace at this point is CM Punk's involvement making it a triple threat, but the evidence pointing toward it is little more than a red herring.
Punk felt as though he got screwed when his 434-day WWE Championship reign ended at the hands of The Rock at the Royal Rumble. The Shield's interference allowed Punk to pin The Rock, but Vince McMahon restarted the match, resulting in The Rock hitting a People's Elbow for the victory. Punk thought he had The Rock beaten at Elimination Chamber as well, but the referee was incapacitated. The Rock eventually gained the upper hand and won that match too.
Those two losses have left Punk disgruntled to the say the least. He interrupted Cena's promo to open Raw on Monday night and dared Cena to give up his title shot at WrestleMania. Cena gave in to some degree, as he challenged Punk to a match next week with his WWE Championship match against The Rock on the line. Punk accepted, and that has a lot of fans believing that a triple threat at 'Mania is a foregone conclusion.
It's obviously a possibility that can't be ruled out with 100 percent confidence, as a dirty finish could occur in next week's match that results in both men getting a shot at The Rock at MetLife Stadium. At the same time, it almost feels as though that is precisely what the WWE wants its fans to believe. I don't doubt that The Rock vs. Cena vs. Punk would be a great match and interesting feud, but I can't see Punk being used as a third wheel.
The Rock beat Cena fair and square in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania XXVIII, and WrestleMania XXIX will be all about Cena getting redemption, beating The Rock and taking back the WWE Championship for the first time in a year and a half. The only manner in which Punk would factor in is if he takes the fall, and I can't imagine that anyone wants to see Punk utilized in that manner.
A more feasible explanation for the current storyline between Punk and Cena is that Punk just held the WWE Championship for 434 days and he isn't ready to let go. There are too many times in professional wrestling when a guy loses his title, loses the rematch and then forgets about it. In actuality, a superstar should continue to pursue the title no matter what. That is what the WWE is doing with Punk, and it makes perfect sense.
The ideal scenario that could play out on the next edition of Raw would involve Cena and Punk main-eventing the show with a fantastic, 20-minute match. After several near falls and false finishes, Cena will prevail and retain his title shot. This will inevitably send Punk into a fit of rage as his final chance at a title shot will have slipped through his fingers. As Punk is complaining, the lights will go out.
It's likely that the first thought in the minds of many will be that The Shield is coming out to serve Cena with a beating. Instead, when the lights come back on, Punk will be standing face to face with The Undertaker. Punk vs. Taker is a rumor that has persisted for the past few months, and I feel very strongly that it will come to fruition.
Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of panic among WWE fans when it comes to The Undertaker's WrestleMania status. This is something that we have dealt with for the past couple years, and it comes with the territory when you're talking about a guy who appears for no more than two months per year. Everyone seems to have an excuse for why The Undertaker won't compete at WrestleMania this year.
The biggest perpetrators are obviously the dirt sheets, which enjoy whipping wrestling fans into a frenzy. It's hard to blame them since so many people take their unsubstantiated reports as gospel. There are never any sources named, and I never even get an inkling that the reports are based in fact. It's really easy to say that health is a concern for Taker because he's getting up there in age, and a breakdown in contract negotiations is simple to fabricate as well.
Unlike many of these so-called wrestling news sites, I won't pretend to know what The Undertaker's status is. What I do know, however, is that The Undertaker is the personification of WrestleMania. I'm sure he understands how important he is to the event, and there is no question that the WWE brass recognizes it. Because of that, I have little doubt that the sides already have come to some sort of agreement or will come to one in short order.
Who will CM Punk face at WrestleMania XXIX?
Even if The Phenom is dealing with nagging injuries, I'm confident that he'll fight through them. The Undertaker is only asked to wrestle one match per year, and if he passes up his chance to do so this year, then that takes one year in which he is still in decent physical condition out of the equation. Taker will never be able to get this year back, and with a marquee match against a meteorically rising star like Punk on the table, I can't fathom him turning it down and skipping WrestleMania.
Because so many fans don't think The Undertaker will wrestle, though, the WWE is in a very advantageous position. There is a degree of unpredictability involved with the Punk vs. Cena match on Raw, and the WWE knows that there are several possible directions. I would argue that the majority of fans are now expecting a triple threat, so the WWE is in prime position to pull a swerve by having Taker return.
As good as a triple threat between The Rock, Cena and Punk could be, it would badly damage the depth of the WrestleMania XXIX card. Brock Lesnar and Triple H would then slot in as the No. 2 match on the card, and there are a lot of fans who are lukewarm on that potential bout to begin with. The WWE needs at least two headliners, and that is exactly what it would have with The Rock vs. Cena and Punk vs. Taker.
Even though the signs seem to be pointing toward a triple threat at this point, that is all by design. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, Punk will not earn another WWE Championship shot, and The Deadman will return to teach Punk about respect by putting his 20-0 WrestleMania streak on the line.