WWE champ The Rock faced off against John Cena on Monday's Raw in a masterful performance by both men, which perfectly set up their WrestleMania match.
Their battle for WWE’s ultimate prize on the company's ultimate stage was the expected matchup. It was the rematch fans saw coming.
To maximize WrestleMania profits, WWE has to spend the next five weeks generating interest in this main event. The verbal showdown between Rock and Cena on Monday's Raw was a phenomenal start.
Star power will carry the match plenty, but a strong narrative is needed to elevate it. Cena and Rock did just that on Monday.
Rock brought his usual overstock of charisma, and Cena was at his focused, intense best.
Cena talked about how he has accomplished every goal WWE has to offer, but he has yet to defeat The Great One.
The Buffalo crowd tried to detract from the vocal tussle in the ring by chanting, "Cena sucks!" But neither Cena nor Rock would be derailed—they had a fantastic segment to put on.
Cena told The Rock, "You were responsible for my collapse, but through failure I've become stronger."
This was already a match about redemption, but Cena's impassioned speech helped sharpen that story. He talked about how he disappointed his fans by losing at WrestleMania XXVIII, about how much that loss tore him up.
Cena's speech sets up The Rock as his final roadblock. It helps build toward the inevitable climax.
He quoted Mike Tyson in saying, "In order to be the greatest that ever lived, you have to beat everyone living."
It will be a match that is about far more than the WWE title. Cena did well in setting up the WrestleMania 29 main event as a legacy-defining bout.
The Rock responded by saying he liked Cena's passion and his heart. He seemed genuinely happy to have a worthy challenger.
He told Cena, "That desire, that fire, you have no idea how happy I am to see that."
Rock glared into Cena's eyes. He circled his foe, championship title draped across his shoulders. He built up Cena as his equal, revealing that he was rooting for Cena to beat out CM Punk on last week's Raw.
As much respect as Rock showed for his challenger, he also made it clear that he wasn't going to lose.
"No one has your will to be great," he said to Cena, "except The Rock."
On a Raw that will have many fans talking about CM Punk being chosen to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania, Rock and Cena delivered an enthralling, memorable performance.
Here were WWE's two megastars, dripping with passion, cranking up the intensity already.
Begin the WrestleMania countdown. It's time to get excited.
Rock and Cena certainly did their job in pumping fans up for their huge showdown on April 7 in East Rutherford.
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