WrestleMania 28 Results: The Rock Beats John Cena and What It Means

Graham Greenlee@dickiegreenleeCorrespondent IApril 2, 2012

(Photo courtesy of WWE.com)
(Photo courtesy of WWE.com)

After a year of hype and anticipation, The Rock finally entered the ring and squared off against John Cena at Sun Life Stadium in Miami in front of nearly 80,000 fans in attendance and millions more worldwide. A little over 30 minutes later, The Rock emerged victorious.

One of the biggest debates amongst fans and critics going into WrestleMania was what a victory would mean for either wrestler and the WWE as a whole. Those theories were the basis for predicting which superstar would win the bout.

So what do we know now that it's over? 

First of all, it seems pretty clear that Rock has been protected since day one. Instead of being used to build Cena or draw attention to the current WWE roster, Rock likely came to a mutual agreement that he should walk out of WrestleMania as an even bigger wrestling legend than when he walked in.

In the short term, Rock's victory will re-energize his career and assist in drawing attention to his film projects this year. It's also more than likely that his participation has ensured that WrestleMania28 broke the WWE's record for pay-per-view buy rates.

While the WWE may be content with a large buy, Rock's nostalgia tour leaves the WWE scrambling for a way to hold on to whatever audience Rock has brought in. It's unknown how many weeks Rock will still be on WWE television, but it can't be too many before he's shooting another film and promoting G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

It would be mutually beneficial if The Rock can be utilized in helping to sell the WWE roster and other current storylines before he disappears again. 

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The Rock's WrestleMania opponent seems to be at a bit of a career crossroads now as well.

Cena has been the biggest superstar in the WWE over the last four years and, though his days as the top face seem numbered, a win at WrestleMania was expected by many fans.

Cena's defeat shouldn't be looked at as a burial, if only because he is the WWE's top "ambassador" and the best company man they've ever had. Cena will continue to represent the WWE to the mainstream media regardless of his WrestleMania performance.

Because it's assured that Cena won't be going away (unless he's earned a vacation), his story will be allowed to make some interesting turns. Where does Cena go from here? Should he be competing for the WWE title again? Or should this defeat at WresleMania start a losing streak that will ultimately be used to get the support of the WWE's fans who have turned on him? 

It's likely that another wrestler, who didn't even participate in this match, will have the most to gain from The Rock's victory. Although Cena will always be an asset to the WWE, it's unquestionable that CM Punk is now the number one face in the company in terms of momentum and popularity. 

Punk's own victory at WrestleMania has allowed him to keep his WWE title and momentum, and with nemesis John Laurinaitis now at the helm of both Raw and SmackDown, it can be expected that Punk will continue to carry the belt throughout the year as a fighting champion in a reign that could mirror Stone Cold Steve Austin's or even Cena's from just a few years back.

It seems unlikely that the WWE would sacrifice Cena and build Punk, a self-made man who could walk away from the WWE and lose nothing, but the WWE has never shied away from a money-making opportunity, and giving Punk the big post-Mania push would be the best thing the WWE could do to maintain momentum.

Less than a day after his historic victory, The Rock is one of the biggest stars in the world once again. But he leaves WrestleMania with the WWE in a bit of an identity crisis.

The Rock is contracted to appear at WrestleMania29, but by the time he comes back, it's very likely that the WWE will look substantially different than when he left it.

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