The 2013 Royal Rumble pay-per-view saw CM Punk’s 434-day reign as WWE champion come to an end. The Rock pinned Punk to become the new WWE champion. All things considered, the match certainly lived up to the hype.
The match was exciting from the get-go. Punk and Rock meshed nicely with a distinct difference in their styles that physically represented the stark dissimilarities between the two.
Punk dipped into his submission repertoire more so than usual. "The Straightedge Superstar” specifically focused on Rock’s midsection during the first half of the match—using an array of submission moves and martial arts strikes to wear down the damage done by The Shield on the Jan. 21 episode of Raw.
Rock eventually answered by targeting Punk’s surgically repaired knee. Punk landed on his knee hard performing a dropkick and, soon after, a diving elbow. This opened up the door for “The Great One” to shift the momentum.
The match’s momentum continued to swing back and forth as Punk and Rock went hold for hold. Rock was able to reverse Punk’s attempt to hit the GTS, and Punk was able to do the same when Rock went for the Rock Bottom.
One of the match’s most memorable moments was the Spanish announcing table prematurely collapsing when Rock tried to Rock Bottom Punk through it. Fortunately, the two bounced back quickly, and Rock connected with the move on the ground outside the ring.
Rock rolled Punk back in the ring and covered him for a pin. Unfortunately, this was the only time the fans were really on edge for a near fall. That’s the one area this match was clearly lacking in.
Punk kicked out, but not a fan in Phoenix was sitting as Rock stripped himself of his elbow pad and signaled for the People’s Elbow.
The Shield made their presence known right then and there. The lights went out for a while and, when they came back on, Rock had been put through the announcer’s table.
Once Punk brought Rock back into the ring and pinned him, Vince McMahon entered and told Punk he was being stripped of the title. Instead, Rock asked that the match be restarted.
After a few more minutes, Rock pinned Punk following a People’s Elbow.
Was The Shield’s involvement overbooked? Sure. Was the outcome predictable? Of course.
Predictable isn’t terrible in this case. They continued the angle between The Shield and Punk as well as The Shield and The Rock. They even managed to swerve Punk fans by making them think he retained the title.
The match itself was everything a fan could have hoped for. The drama between Punk and Rock manifested itself, especially in the last 10 minutes of the match. Whether or not the finish was overbooked or predictable, fans were on the edge of their seats.
For being such an infrequent wrestler, Rock kept up with Punk. It wasn’t a technical showdown, but who expected that from a part-time Rock? The action in the ring was entertaining and told a great story.
What more can you ask for in professional wrestling? Rock and Punk gave fans great action and a compelling story.
I’d say that alone is worth the hype surrounding CM Punk vs. The Rock.