CM Punk and The Rock took center stage on the same night as the BCS national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame.
They stole the show.
CM Punk dropped another pipe bomb. It was a brilliant show of his disgruntled champion character, baiting the audience with "internet pops."
The Rock's advertised return Monday in Tampa drew a legit sellout.
CM Punk magnificently borrowed a line from a 37-year old Broadway play in one of his many highlights on the mic.
The Rock's advertised return drew the highest Raw rating since August, BCS title game be damned.
CM Punk stood in the ring with arguably the greatest WWE superstar of all time, and an A-list actor to boot. He didn't flinch.
Hours later, the main event between CM Punk and The Rock sparked a sellout at WWE Royal Rumble.
Many wrestling fanatics seem to have failed to understand the dynamic between CM Punk and The Rock. Per usual, PWTorch reader feedback defined ignorance. Many of those fans tried to dissect which individual WWE superstar won the verbal battle while failing to notice that the two were working together to sell a match.
From a storyline standpoint, this was CM Punk vs. The Rock. But from a business standpoint, this was CM Punk featuring The Rock, the same way a pop music star brings in a big name for a blockbuster single. Both standpoints were effective.
Contrasting CM Punk's promo with The Rock's is as unfair as it is unnecessary. A role of a great villain has always been so much more provocative and less boring than the role of a hero. Analyzing whose promo was better would be judging this feud for something it is not trying to be. This was not a competition, it was a collaboration.
Most humans are taught to make the world a better place. The select few contrarians who refuse such advice command attention, if nothing else, so they can be stopped. And like most great feuds, CM Punk vs. The Rock is a study in good vs. evil.
The villain—CM Punk—emphasized his unique, against-the-grain motivation for why he despised the WWE Universe. Said Punk Monday night:
"I have never, ever done this for any of you. There's superstars and there's nobodies [sic]. I am a superstar, you are all nobodies. And I'm a real superstar. Those real superstars, hell, if they're your friends why don't they come out here and give you the millions and millions of dollars they earn? Why don't they line your pockets? Because that's—that's not your position on earth."
Wearing a white hat, the hero—The Rock—countered the villain with familiar sentiments of why he loved the people.
With Punk's outstanding performance, his villainous intentions became the focus of Monday's showdown, since CM Punk was the only man in Tampa, Florida who hated Tampa, Florida.
The back-and-forth included moments of intensity from both men. It was a refreshing divergence from the irreverence that has been shown by top babyfaces like John Cena and Sheamus.
This was an entertaining yet serious segment, designed to suck the viewer into the sport of professional wrestling, where wins and losses are valued. The Rock was brought in to sell the tickets. CM Punk served as a foil to the protagonist.
Judging by recent ratings and ticket sales, the formula is working.