Note to reader: If you don't like "fantasy booking" or "fan fiction," you won't like this article. You can skip to the end and simply read the "Quick Notes" version to get the gist.
Barring some unexpected injury or other life-altering event, I think we all know what WWE plans to do with CM Punk, The Rock and John Cena from now until WrestleMania.
CM Punk will be the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble, where he will drop the title to The Rock.
Cena will win either the Royal Rumble match or the Elimination Chamber, get a rematch against The Rock at WrestleMania 29 and finally regain the WWE Championship.
It's not the worst booking idea I've ever come across. But that line of thinking is missing one of the most important booking tools that WWE has at their disposal: the swerve. I have a booking scenario with a swerve or two that I think would be much more entertaining than all of that.
Plus, it includes plans not only for CM Punk, The Rock and John Cena, but also Brock Lesnar, Dolph Ziggler, The Undertaker and the World Heavyweight Championship.
As CM Punk has been saying, I believe his current title reign will indeed be an integral part of the legacy he leaves behind. If he were to hold the title until the Royal Rumble, that would put him ahead of John Cena's longest title reign, the sixth-longest of all time (and to be fair, given that Pedro Morales is fifth at 1027 days, you can't realistically hope to climb any higher than sixth as a modern professional wrestler).
I do like the idea of Punk surpassing Cena's longest reign. He'll never reach Cena's mainstream familiarity or break any merchandising records, but if anyone in the company deserves a title reign of that length, I think it's Punk, hands down.
So at Night of Champions, Punk manages to escape with the title. Maybe Heyman gives an assist, maybe Punk actually gets a clean victory. It doesn't really matter—much like Y2J still brags about the fact that he beat The Rock and Stone Cold in the same night (even though neither victory was clean). Punk will always be able to say he defeated Cena—in a title match—in Cena's hometown.
Fast-forward to January. CM Punk is still the WWE Champion, and he's been talking trash about The Rock in a way only CM Punk can truly do. Punk is still a "Paul Heyman guy," and everyone is expecting The Rock to overcome the Heyman distraction and take Punk's title to WrestleMania for a rematch with John Cena.
Leading up to the PPV, Heyman assists Punk in a few Raw matches. In one of The Rock's rare appearances leading up to the Rumble, he calls out Punk on the issue. The Rock continues to claim that Punk will use Heyman in an attempt to cheat The Rock out of his title at the Royal Rumble.
On the last episode of Raw before the Rumble, Punk makes a promise: Paul Heyman will not be involved in the match. Punk could go so far as to say that if Heyman interferes, Punk will forfeit the title.
As Punk and The Rock put on a match that absolutely steals the show, after The Rock kicks out of the GTS and Punk kicks out of the Rock Bottom, The Rock has Punk set up for the Sharpshooter. It feels like the end of the match. You can feel the title slipping through Punk's finger.
Then Lesnar's music hits.
Whether the referee is knocked out or not, the match stipulations allow for an interference, or whatever other scenario you want to imagine. Lesnar (who, up to this point, has shown no affiliation with Punk, despite the Heyman connection) lays out The Rock, allowing Punk to keep the title.
But that's not the only surprise of the night. As it should be, the Royal Rumble match is the main event of the PPV. Punk having retained the championship, everyone will be expecting Cena to win the Rumble. That way, he gets his revenge against Punk at WrestleMania.
Cena enters the Rumble relatively early. He gives an Austin-like performance, having a seemingly easy time to begin with, eliminating a rather large number of opponents on his own. Around entrant 15-18, you bring in one of the other odds-on favorites—maybe The Big Show, Randy Orton or Triple H.
Not long after the real challenge enters, we are down to Cena and Orton (or whoever you like to imagine in this scenario). They absolutely destroy each other, and easily eliminate the other entrants that enter over the next few minutes.
After going toe-to-toe for six minutes and eliminating three other competitors with ease, after we've seen at least one RKO and one AA—while both men are wiped out on the ground, the buzzer goes off—and so do the lights.
It's The Undertaker. As he meanders down to the ring, Cena and Orton get to their feet just in time to realize Taker has joined the match. Taker eliminates both men, and lasts the rest of the match to win the Rumble.
So where does that leave us?
Rather than a rematch with Cena, The Rock is now going into WrestleMania without a championship belt. In a rematch from one of the greatest SummerSlam main events of all time, former UFC and WWE Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar faces The Rock at WrestleMania 29.
Punk is now at the highest point in his career. He has the longest WWE Championship reign of any current superstar. He's defeated Cena in Cena's hometown, and he beat the Rock at the Royal Rumble. He's unstoppable.
He's so unstoppable, in fact, that he doesn't even flinch when the Undertaker announces that he'll be challenging for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Assuming Punk can survive the Elimination Chamber (which, of course, he is completely confident that he will), he'll go on to be the first man to ever defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania.
At the Elimination Chamber, Punk retains his WWE Championship. Cena wins the SmackDown chamber (clearly, there would need to be a story explaining Cena's move to the SmackDown brand) to earn a WHC match at WrestleMania 29.
For the purposes of this booking, it really isn't important who the champion is, but it should be someone who could benefit from a WrestleMania match with Cena. I'm going to give it to Daniel Bryan in my fantasy world, because he's been screwed the last two WrestleManias.
And now you have a solid triple main event for WrestleMania 29.
First, you have John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship. Bryan gets a boost simply by facing someone the likes of Cena on the biggest stage in the industry. He puts on a great match, but Super Cena wins in the end.
As Cena and Bryan embrace after a classic match, Ziggler hops into the ring, coming out of the audience rather than the ramp. He clocks a tired Cena with the MITB briefcase and proceeds to cash in, giving Ziggler the benefit of taking the World Heavyweight Championship from Cena at WrestleMania.
Putting The Rock against Brock Lesnar will give the WWE all of the media hype they always whore themselves out for during WrestleMania season. I assume The Rock would win this match, but I'd really be okay either way. Two mainstream names making a rare return to the ring to face off in a long-awaited grudge rematch.
And finally, CM Punk defending the WWE Championship against The Undertaker's streak. This satisfies all of the old-school wrestling fans, like you and me. I think it would be quite the exclamation point for Punk's legacy that it took the Undertaker's streak to end his title reign.
Quick Notes version: Punk holds the title until Royal Rumble. With an assist from Brock Lesnar, he defeats The Rock and takes the title to WrestleMania, where he faces the Undertaker—Title vs. Streak. The Rock faces Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Cena wins an Elimination Chamber match, defeats Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania for the title and Ziggler then makes his way to the ring to cash in MITB. Ziggler successfully takes the title from Cena at the biggest pay-per-view of the year.