“It’s important because I made it important. It’s prestigious because I made it prestigious.”
-C.M. Punk talking about WWE title (RAW 1/21/2013)
With the Wrestlemania main-event rematch between The Rock and John Cena now official (even though it really was a while ago), I want to ask a very simple, but important question: does this rematch need to be for The WWE title?
Because pro wrestling is predetermined, the value of its titles are solely based on two things: how the titles themselves are booked (who wins them) and the quality of the matches for a title.
Outside of C.M. Punk‘s participation in the WWE Title chase, that title hasn’t exactly been that prestigious over the last three and a half years. There was the Cena/Randy Orton feud that got old quicker than it should have back in 2009, the beginning of Sheamus‘ push that produced garbage in the ring, and The Miz‘s push that ended up being a big disappointment in every way. Then came The E’s version of The Summer of Punk.
With The Summer of Punk and then his 400+ day title reign, Punk did restore not only legitimacy, but interest in the WWE Title itself. First it was because of Punk’s contract situation and promos, but then it became more about wondering how long he was going to hold the title, especially when he turned heel.
The fact that Punk ended up getting the longest title reign since Hulk Hogan‘s in the mid-1980s, to me, seemed like karma blessing Punk after his pushes in 2008 and 2009 were unjustly derailed.
But now The Rock has the belt and is expected to lose it to Cena at Wrestlemania XXIX in the biggest rematch in pro wrestling history outside of the Hogan/Andre the Giant match in February 1988 where Andre won the title.
I would like to emphasize how big this Rock/Cena rematch is: it’s the two biggest stars of their respective eras (though Steve Austin was a bigger star than The Rock at the time), the most charismatic wrestler in WWE history against one of the biggest merchandise sellers in the promotion’s history, and a match between two of the biggest names in wrestling one year after their “Once in a Lifetime” match at last year’s Wrestlemania.
But hey, I guess this needed to be a title match so people would want to see it right?
This is my problem: Vince McMahon made this a title match when it didn’t need to be one. It really didn’t. Does it being a title match make people want to see it more? If so, then there isn’t enough anticipation to warrant the rematch taking place anyway. Not to mention that giving the title to a guy who hasn’t even wrestled ten singles matches in the last ten years does devalue the title in my opinion, no matter who that wrestler may be.
And I know that Punk can take the hit of losing all these major matches (twice to Rock, to Cena on Monday, and likely to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania) because he’s now insulated as a full-time main-eventer for The E, but it still doesn’t seem right. Here you have a new face, the first new face in years that has not become watered down when The E has attempted to water him down, and you’re just jobbing him out? I know they can simply rebuild him throughout the year to the point where Punk will likely have the belt again long before SummerSlam, but it just screams to me that The E is once again shooting themselves in the foot.
I understand the business aspect to pro wrestling. I understand that Rock/Cena is the money match, but that’s also why I think it doesn’t need to be for a belt and that The E could continue to build Punk as their ace in the ring, which he is. If Rock/Cena is going to draw huge money no matter what, it doesn’t need to be a title match. And if it wasn’t for a title, The E would have the room to do something with that title that doesn’t involve two people who don’t need the title to draw money.
Yeah, Punk hasn’t been the best for business. The way I look at it is that The E’s audience didn’t buy Punk because of the PG-nature of the product. If this were the Attitude Era days or even the year in between that era and this PG era The E is currently in, he would have become a draw because that audience would’ve been drawn to him more. He’s been the best wrestler on the planet on the microphone for the better part of the last five years and has been among the top-five workers on the planet in the ring for the same amount of time.
I am a Punk fan. I’m also a Rock fan. And I’m a fan of the wrestling business as well. This means I will always cheer for someone who is there full-time over someone who comes back once every six months and goes over everyone. It doesn’t matter how big of a star that wrestler that comes back every six months is or if I am a fan of them. The fact is one guy is busting ass all year and one guy is coming back to bask in his former glory over and over again. That’s why how this whole thing has been handled should bother more people than it has.