At Sunday’s Royal Rumble, The Rock defeated CM Punk to win the WWE Championship for the first time in 11 years. Many wondered what type of performance “the Great One” would turn in, considering he had not competed in a match of any kind since last April’s WrestleMania main event against John Cena.
The Rock was sharper than he was at WrestleMania, clearly having worked harder to improve his cardiovascular training for his first title bout since his return in 2011. While he was considerably larger Sunday night than he was a year ago, he was faster and more physically fit, and it helped with the quality of the match as well as The Rock’s overall performance.
At WrestleMania, The Rock and John Cena were presented as equals. Neither man would control the bout much longer than the other. During the WWE Championship match, however, Rock went out of his way to hand control of the contest over to CM Punk. He sold Punk’s attack on his previous internal injuries and made the longest-reigning WWE champion of the last 25 years look like a million bucks.
Most important, however, was the fact that The Rock was a far more complete performer Sunday night than he was at last year’s WrestleMania. Then, he looked like a wrestler turned Hollywood star returning to the ring for the first time in nearly a decade. At the Royal Rumble, he looked like a professional wrestler returning from a short hiatus.
With that said, there is reason to be even more optimistic about the 2013 version of Rock-Cena than there was in 2012. With what one can presume will be more ring time under his belt, The Rock will be in better ring shape and more prepared for this go-round.
Add to that a promo style that has taken a more serious tone as of late, and you have potential for everything surrounding this year’s rematch to improve upon The Rock and John Cena’s work from a year ago.
Until those two men step foot inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, fans can be encouraged by the fact that The Rock improved upon his already impressive Wrestlemania 28 performance with his WWE Championship victory at the Royal Rumble and should only get better as the biggest event in sports entertainment approaches.