Just about everyone expected The Rock to beat CM Punk to win the WWE Championship at The Royal Rumble, and that’s exactly what happened Sunday night.
After some odd occurrences that included a table breaking prematurely and the match being restarted by Vince McMahon, The Rock was able to end Punk’s historic 434-day title reign with a People’s Elbow.
Of course, that wasn’t the only huge victory on the pay-per-view.
Earlier in the night, John Cena outlasted 29 other superstars and eliminated Ryback last to win the Royal Rumble for the second time in his career.
The monumental victories for The Rock and Cena were two separate happenings, but in reality, we all know that the WWE’s top two babyfaces both won for the very same reason: so they could face each other at WrestleMania again.
Ever since The Rock beat Cena at WrestleMania 28 last year, there was talk that “Once in a Lifetime” would actually happen twice in a one-year span.
As we drew closer and closer to The Royal Rumble pay-per-view, it was becoming crystal clear what the WWE was going to do.
The Rock beats Punk to win the WWE Championship, Cena wins the Royal Rumble, and the two meet one on one for a second straight year at WrestleMania 29.
Some fans (myself included) thought that Punk might escape Sunday night’s PPV with the title and drop it to The Rock at Elimination Chamber, but in the end, the WWE went the predictable route and had The Rock end Punk’s reign.
Now, the obvious is about to happen. It’ll be The Rock vs. Cena: The Rematch at WrestleMania this year.
In essence, we learned what most of us have known for a year now—Rock beating Cena clean at WrestleMania 28 ensured that they would face off again at WrestleMania 29.
It’s predictable, sure. But it’s also a booking decision that—like it or not—is going to make the WWE a lot of money.
WWE officials saw all that Rock vs. Cena did for the company last year, and they simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it again one year later.
The WWE has clearly been planning on having The Rock face Cena at ‘Mania for the second year in a row for a while now, but it needed to up the ante a bit at this year’s pay-per-view.
Simply having Cena go over The Rock at WrestleMania 29 wouldn’t be enough. But having him do so and win the WWE title in the process would be.
That’s why Punk, despite having the longest WWE Championship reign in modern history, became nothing more than a pawn in a game that was always meant to lead to The Rock vs. Cena.
We found out what we’ve long known: The feud between The Rock and Cena will be rekindled, and Cena will now embark on his journey back to the top of the WWE.
That’s what The Rock’s big win was about, after all. It was all about Cena.
The Rock didn’t win the WWE title because he’s going to have a lengthy reign and stick around full time for the next year. He won it so he could eventually drop it to “The Champ.”
While The Rock’s win certainly taught us that we’re going to get Rock/Cena again, it, perhaps more importantly, also showed us that 2013 is going to be a much better year for Cena than 2012 was.
Cena has started off his year by winning the Royal Rumble Sunday, and because The Rock also won the WWE Championship the same night, Cena’s ascension to the top of the WWE has now begun.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!