CM Punk defends his WWE title against The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013 in what could be the best match fans see all year and even more than that, a classic that becomes a momentous part of WWE history.
Big matches at WrestleMania are often overshadowed by other equally big matches, while Rock vs. Punk at Royal Rumble will have more of the stage to itself.
Yes, there is the Royal Rumble match that will draw its fair share of hype, but it's comparatively faceless to this personal clash over championship and destiny. Punk vs. Rock will largely be the focus of the event.
The WWE Championship match at Royal Rumble is bolstered by the juxtaposition of two very different men.
CM Punk is a wrestling purist's wrestler, a heel that still gets cheered, a workhorse champion whose less than ideal build is counterbalanced by a dedication to the sport.
The Rock is a movie star blessed with jaw-dropping athleticism.
He represents a bridge from the Attitude Era to today. His prime coincided with WWE's prime. When fans bemoan WWE's new PG direction and how the product is just not as absorbing as it once was, it's often The Rock those fans pine for.
With the rarity of Rock's matches these days, each one's significance is exponentially elevated. Every one of them is to be savored.
He now faces a man that may very well represent an as yet unreached and unnamed era.
Punk is the prototype for the new breed of wrestler. He is not the hulking behemoth wrestler of yesteryear but instead a hybrid athlete. Punk is equal parts pro wrestler, MMA fighter and Tyler Durden.
Both men's resumes bear out their ability to make matches feel dramatic through their grasp of in-ring psychology and their penchant for making the most of every move either giving or receiving.
When these two face off, the stakes will be high.
Championship matches happen regularly, but this is more than that. It's a crossroads; it's a gift of timing and fate.
Neither result for the Royal Rumble WWE title match seems feasible.
Either a part-timer will be asked to hold the most important of WWE's championships or Punk's historic reign continues to even more unfathomable length.
Could WWE really allow Punk to be champion even longer than he already has been? A win against The Rock for the current champ means Punk's reign will keep climbing, 420-plus days and counting.
The Rock's sporadic appearance schedule hardly seems fitting for the WWE champion. Will a Rock victory mean a more full-time schedule, at least until WrestleMania 29, or will WWE allow Rock to pull a Roger Clemens and pick and choose the days he works?
This uncertainty will add to the suspense, but this title bout will be more about Punk's career trajectory.
The former independent star has risen to top of the WWE ladder, at least in terms of his championship. The fact that a titleless John Cena has been so often asked to main event pay-per-views is proof positive that WWE is hesitant to fully buy into Punk.
His battle with Rock is a chance to prove his worth beyond all doubts.
WWE will no doubt keep a close eye on how much a Punk/Rock title match has fans reaching for their credit cards.
The potency of the magic those two superstars generate in the ring will either have Punk slide up the rankings of the greatest ever or sink down to a lower position.
There has never been a bigger stage for Punk.
A multitude of eager eyes will watch to see how Punk functions under these burning lights, how he performs in a war with an immortal.
With every near fall, with every attempted Rock Bottom or Go To Sleep, millions of fans will slide toward the edge of their seats.
The adrenaline buzz has already begun and 2013 will soon have its first classic.
This is why fans watch, for matches that sculpt legacies, for showdowns we will never forget.
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