NOTE: This article was originally published by me on TheWebsiteOfDOOM.com
This might turn into a bit of a rant so bear with me. Obviously if you haven't seen the Rumble yet don't read an article about it.
Last night saw the most predictable WWE Pay-Per-View in recent memory. This current story-line setting up the "twice in a lifetime" Cena/Rock confrontation at Wrestlemania was sign-posted months ago and the inevitability of it all is tough to take.
Looking at it objectively it's not a bad story. The company boy Cena lost his must-win match to The Rock at Wrestlemania last year and now he has a chance to redeem himself, and for the title no less. But the problem is this story requires the belt to be in the hands of a part-timer and there are some real issues with that for most fans like myself. It all boils down to respect.
Going back to Wrestlemania last year, The Rock's win over Cena was a shock. John Cena was the WWE's star. They placed the company on his shoulders completely and weren't shy about doing so. While The Rock was in a similar position himself ten years ago, he was now a Hollywood actor and would make an appearance in the WWE once every year or two. To the outsider, for the actor to win would be ridiculous. To let the actor beat their star man would make him look weak and bury him as a legitimate top wrestler. But the WWE didn't seem to think that way. So The Rock is still seen as the bigger star or they thought Cena was so over that they couldn't hurt him. Either way it seemed bizarre at the time.
At that very same Pay-Per-View, CM Punk was in the early stages of what would eventually be the longest WWE Title reign in over 25 years. The longest title reign in my lifetime. And his whole reign was about "respect" and how the title was more important than anything else. He brought legitimacy to the belt which was previously being handed around like a parcel at a kids party. He did this, for 434 days, despite being habitually given bad time slots and little air-time. And for the WWE fans who had become disillusioned with the current WWE product, he was a rallying point. He was what the company could be and in many ways what it needs to become if it's to stay alive.
Punk's loss to Rock wasn't a shock like it was with Cena as we could all see it coming, especially the moment that Cena won the Rumble. You could see the cogs moving in Vince McMahon's brain from miles away. But despite it's obviousness it was nevertheless still galling to see the belt being handed to a part-time wrestler. To a man who won't be showing up to house-shows on tour and to a man who won't be wrestling again until the next Pay-Per-View. He'll only defend his belt once until he eventually loses to Cena at Wrestlemania.
At the end of the day, wrestling is a business and this a money driven decision. As far as Vince is concerned this was a no-brainer. But sometimes I think you need to worry about the image you're presenting and the legacy of your business' top prize. The Rumble was predictable but it doesn't mean it was right.