Originally Posted by Evil Peter
I can't pretend to know what's going on backstage but Punk doesn't have to be the champ in order for Rock to become champ, Rocky can beat anyone if WWE wanted someone else as champ. From what I've read The Rock wants to wrestle Punk though, and he's set up to face the champ at RR, so that is obviously a factor in that Punk will go into RR as the champ. They could have taken it off him previously during the year and have him gotten it back though, but they chose to give him a record breaking run. I don't think you do that with someone you don't have confidence in, regardless of opponent at RR.
That would weaken the title match. They probably considered taking it off several times but since the Rock wanted the title, and considering the plan for Mania seems to be Rock vs Cena II they let him hold it through till Rumble.