Less than a month after winning the Royal Rumble Match and announcing his intention of challenging for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 29, John Cena found out who his championship opposition will be on The Grandest Stage of Them All: The Rock.
The Great One upended CM Punk at Elimination Chamber, the last pay-per-view before The Show of Shows, to retain the cherished WWE Championship and solidify his place in WrestleMania’s main event.
In The Brahma Bull, Cena will be facing a foe who helped set in motion the tailspin of a year that was 2012.
A 10-time former WWE Champion, the Cenation leader has not held the title since October 2011, and the disappointment of his drought was exacerbated last year by his high-profile loss to The Great One at WrestleMania XXVIII. The devastating loss bookended one of Cena’s toughest calendar years, to date. A series of distractions, from dealing with former General Manager John Laurinaitis to falling into an ill-fated romance with AJ Lee, kept Cena away from the WWE Title picture for much of the year. And even once he found himself in title contention, he was unable to pry the WWE Title from Punk, making 2012 a largely unproductive year for one of the most decorated competitors in WWE history.
Fortunately for the Cenation leader, 2013 appears to be off to a markedly better start, thanks to his huge win at Royal Rumble. The larger question facing Cena is whether he will be able to keep the momentum going all the way to April 7, when he faces the Superstar who dealt him one of the biggest losses of his career.
The Rock has shown no signs of ring rust since returning to WWE and winning the WWE Title in January. In fact, The Great One overcame great obstacles — including The Shield and The Second City Saint’s underhanded tactics — en route to dethroning Punk and subsequently turning back his challenge in a rematch.
With The Rock and Cena informed by their epic encounter last year in Miami, both competitors will assuredly come to MetLife Stadium with a more sharpened focus than ever before. Cena is out to avenge last year’s WrestleMania loss to The Great One. The Rock, on the other hand, appears intent on keeping the championship he waited more than a decade to reclaim — the title that represents the sport that not only propelled him to success on the silver screen, but also captured his heart and mind at a young age.
Now, all that separates The Rock and John Cena is time. On April 7, under the brightest lights that sports-entertainment has to offer, who will leave will the top prize: The Rock or John Cena?
WWE champion The Rock outlined the long-term plans working with John Cena in an interview with Matt Fowler of IGN.com discussing his TV shoot for "The Hero."
"You have to understand that my return back into the WWE was years in the making. And since I've been back, it's been a three year-long journey that started at WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta," Rock said. "So, John has always been my first choice (to work with)."
Rock added that when he decided to return to WWE, he surveyed the roster and wanted to work with the full-time wrestler he could do the most business with.
"Here's the thing," Rock said. "The question was that if I was going to go back in the WWE, how could I go back and make the most impact? With who can I headline WrestleMania in that company and make the most impact? And the bottom line is that it continues to be John Cena. Just in terms of, and we'll use a Hollywood term here, box office appeal. Universal appeal. Athletic pairing. So there are a lot of reasons."
Rock also acknowledged that part of his mission returning to WWE is to elevate Cena, which results in strengthening WWE by having its top full-time star in a stronger position. But, he said he looks forward to helping bring massive attention to WWE, Cena, and WrestleMania in the New York market.
"What I'm talking about is being able to go back to the WWE and give back to the business, which is in my blood and has allowed me a platform to perform which then, 12 years ago, allowed me to make he transition to Hollywood," Rock said. "So the scenario I've dreamed of is that I'm able to go back, become WWE champion, go into the what is considered the biggest marketplace in the world, which is the New York City area, at MetLife Stadium and headline WrestleMania as champion and give back to the business, the fans, the company, and their number one hero. So I couldn't have asked for a better scenario and we're going to have a blast."
What about match quality working with Cena in the WM29 main event? Rock said, "I think we're going to have a great match and my hope is that it's going to be a classic."