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Contender’s Match

LAFAYETTE, La. — We’ll say this much for CM Punk: He does not go down without a fight. Like the proverbial bad penny, The Straight Edge Superstar just keeps coming back when the WWE Universe thinks he’s gone for good. This week, his machinations have ostensibly inserted him back into the WWE Title picture he was removed from just 24 hours earlier when The Rock retained his championship at Elimination Chamber. Punk’s latest scheme, however, was not targeted at The People’s Champion but instead at his old foil John Cena.

Cena, who declared his intention to challenge for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 29 several weeks prior, had barely begun to address the Cajundome crowd when Punk cut the Cenation leader off and attempted to provoke the proverbial bear, recalling Cena’s defeat at Rock’s hands at WrestleMania XXVIII and his numerous losses to Punk himself.

“The Rock beat me fair and square last night … and he beat you fair and square last year at WrestleMania,” Punk said. “But when we’re talking about wins and losses, you have never beat me. You have something that doesn’t belong to you.”

But Cena would not be quite so easily goaded. However, he did concede two points: He had never beaten Punk and he had never beaten The Rock. Cena had just the solution in mind to silence The Straight Edge Superstar as well as his critics, though.

“A match,” Cena said. “The big one. John Cena vs. CM Punk. If I win, you shut your mouth, crawl back in the hole you came from and go away.

“If you win, then you’re right. I don’t deserve to be in the main event of WrestleMania. If you beat me, you deserve it. My word, if you beat me in a match right here, right now, I will give you my WrestleMania title shot.”

Never one to welcome such a challenge on anyone’s terms but his own, The Straight Edge Superstar accepted the offer, with the caveat that it would happen next week.

“You just made the stupidest decision of your life,” Punk said after Cena had laid down the challenge. In one week’s time, the WWE Universe will know whether the onetime “Voice of the Voiceless” spoke the truth.

The Rock unveiled the new WWE Championship

Pour one out for the WWE Championship as we have known it for the past eight years, because even though The Rock is going to WrestleMania with the title in hand, well, let’s just say he’s switching up his style as champion in the process. The Great One officially turned the page in the annals of WWE history, revealing a brand-new WWE Championship to the Cajundome crowd and ushering in a new standard for all future champions to bear.

Let the record show, though, that The Rock gave the “spinner” WWE Title a gentle eulogy in its final moments, handing it off to a WWE official and requesting it be placed into the WWE Hall of Fame. Before turning to a velvet bag The Great One had set up on a pedestal in the middle of the ring. But let the record also show that the new WWE Title he unveiled was quite amazing. As the Cajundome crowd roared its approval, The Great One shouldered his new prize and turned his attention toward WrestleMania and his potential opponent.

“Between those two, there is one man who brings out the very best in The Rock. For professional reasons, for personal reasons, that man is …”

The revelation would have to wait, however, as John Cena picked that moment to crash The Brahma Bull’s party. Before the two old rivals could mix it up, though, CM Punk stormed out from the locker room area and felled Cena with a shot from the old WWE Championship. With Cena face-down on the ramp, Punk tossed the now-defunct design on its prone originator and hungrily eyed The Brahma Bull’s new championship

“I want that one,” he sneered. And knowing Punk, there’s nothing he won’t do to make that statement a reality.

Debbie Wiseman Feb 19, 2013