Improved chemistry plus added history plus a better ending could be the formula for Punk vs. Rock the sequel to surpass the original.
CM Punk invoked his rematch clause, setting up a second meeting between Rock and Punk. The champion and challenger roles are now reversed.
Chemistry Builds Over Time
For some of WWE's greatest rivalries, it wasn't until the two stars went at it a number of times before they maximized their matches together.
That was certainly true with The Rock vs. Steve Austin. As they worked more frequently together, their physical rhythms seemed to meld and their matches just kept getting better.
The same goes for Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.
Their two WrestleMania matches will always be remembered as two of the best WWE matches ever. Those bouts wouldn't have been as fantastic, though, without their 1997 Hell in a Cell battle.
Unfortunately for fans, Rock and Punk aren't likely to hook up as often as those previously mentioned rivals. They won't get a chance to build their chemistry to a Rock and Austin level, but they're now more familiar with each other and should build on that.
The second round of their personal war should see improvement in the ring.
At a few points in the first match, Punk could be seen whispering instructions to Rock.
This of course happens in WWE matches all the time, but the more familiar opponents are with each other, the less they have to talk to each other.
A bit more established rhythm together should help their rematch be a step up.
The Narrative Evolves
Punk and Rock's story is now more complicated.
Punk is livid over suffering the end of his historic WWE title reign. The Shield has been outed as Heyman's hired thugs. These additions to their personal history can only add to the intrigue of their upcoming match.
Punk will be fueled by a hunger for vengeance.
He will do anything and everything to pry that title from Rock's waist. A desperate, perhaps deranged Punk makes for a more compelling match.
As a bonus, the announce table is likely not going to collapse prematurely under them like it did at the Royal Rumble.
With WrestleMania 29 approaching, the WWE title becomes even more coveted. It allows the wearer the glories of the ultimate spotlight.
That means the already high stakes are higher.
Where will Paul Heyman and The Shield fit into the plot? What role will Brock Lesnar play?
The way these questions are answered will be the difference between just another match with two stars and an all-time classic.
WWE has the components for one heck of a story in its palms.
Rock vs. Punk is a multi-layered story with prominent figures. The two wrestlers can up their games athletically, but it's going to be the WWE's writing team that ultimately decides the greatness of this match.
That goes double for the ending.
How many fans saw The Rock win coming? When an out-of-breath Rock told Vince McMahon to restart the match, there was certainly some collective eye-rolling happening.
Beyond the predictability of the victory, the climax itself didn't satisfy.
The Rock's People's Elbow has always been a hard move to swallow.
In this case, it was a pop of fireworks when the story called for a massive explosion.
After 434 days, after defeating John Cena, Kane, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Chris Jericho and others, it felt unfulfilling to see it all end with that elbow.
When Undertaker beat Kane at WrestleMania XV, he beat his brother with a chokeslam and three Tombstone piledrivers. When Rock beat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8, he hit two Rock Bottoms before hitting the People's Elbow to earn the win.
Those endings were boosted by how difficult it was to put away the eventual loser. Punk's loss felt like it had something missing.
For Punk not to kick out of the People's Elbow there or to escape a sure loss because his foot was on the rope was a case of WWE missing out on a chance to elevate the match. Delaying the climax and letting it build further until it steamed up and boiled over would have made the match so entertaining it wouldn't have mattered who won.
The magnitude of the match demanded a bigger ending.
Elimination Chamber is WWE's chance for a redo, to truly milk the magic of Punk and Rock. It won't be the story of Punk’s long reign coming to an end, but there's a fantastic story to tell that night.
Punk and Rock will likely perform more fluidly together at Elimination Chamber, but they are also going to need help from WWE in order to give 2013 its first classic.
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