Straight-edge superstar CM Punk has thrown down the gauntlet to returning legend The Rock ahead of their prospective match-up on January 27, 2013 at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event in Phoenix's US Airways Center, Arizona. "I hope he's ready," Punk said in a veiled taunt during a recent Q&A session for WWE Games.
The Brahma Bull's challenge for the WWE championship in the Royal Rumble main event was confirmed on the 1000th episode of Raw in July but, as of yet, who he dukes it out with remains a question mark.
However, the likely scenario is that CM Punk's current reign of 376 days as champion continues beyond the daunting prospect of taking on monster-face Ryback for a third time next month (with a tables, ladders and chairs stipulation) and into the New Year.
"[I think it's a ] hell of an opportunity for myself," commented Punk, whose heel-turn began on the same night The Rock announced his 2013 title-shot.
Punk's run as heel has been accompanied with a demand for respect and a self-made moniker of 'best in the world'. He said: "I think it's a big match, everyone's gonna watch it, and I'm going to prove why I'm the best in the world."
Punk's dominance over his challengers has been punctuated with victories over Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan in singles matches, Del Rio and The Miz and John Cena and The Big Show in triple threat showdowns and, most recently, a brace of controversial main events with Ryback.
A duel with Rock would no doubt represent Punk's most significant examination to date, but the Chicago street fighter is not flustered.
He stated that he relishes the "high pressure situation" and turned the tables on Rock by remarking that he hopes his opponent is ready. For Punk's sake, he should hope Ryback doesn't destroy his dream Royal Rumble ruckus by putting him through one.