It had more to do with the fact that a cashin was happening as opposed to Rollins winning it. First of all that entire finish was lame. Just because you interrupt a match and try to cash in does not make it an automatic triple threat where you can also pin the other challenger to win the title. It was horse sh** writing just because Vince did not want Lesnar pinned.
Triple HGH got one pop in Jan 2002 and suddenly this myth of him being a superstar occurred. He was overshadowed by Hogan (as well as most of the upper card), and if his title win was so great, why did he lose it in the next PPV?
You're changing subjects with HHH. You asked who deserved to get crowed at mania and who didn't. HHH - deserved it. His return pop was great, demand for him was there, fans were behind him, there was even a potential great story to tell with Steph and Jericho to HHH.
It doesn't mean his reign was great - but was he deserving of winning at mania? Yes.
Rollins - of course the cash in it self helped. But you have to give credit to the guy getting the pop. Clearly it was MASSIVELY over with the mania crowd (and the wwe 'universe' in general). Rollins was the one to do it and so he gets the credit/merit. It was a great moment.
Also - I disagree with you and The Rock in the OP. It's not that he didn't deserve to be crowed champion at mania - it's more about the fact that i don't think it takes anything away from his career. The Rock may have the most/biggest mania moments out of anyone - you barely even stop to think that he didn't actually win the title at mania. I don't think it matters all that much. He had the title before mania 2000, and after, and it doesn't bug me that he didn't win it at mania.
CM Punk getting crowned at mania - the timing was always off. He was in the midst or his long reign when he fought Jericho - was he supposed to lose ahead of time just so he could win at mania? And at WM29 - i would have been fine doing Punk/Cena/Rock in a triple threat - but I also don't think Punk should have won the title. He either walks in as champ and defends it (win or lose) - or he goes in as a challenger (rematch clause after Rock beats him) in a triple threat - and have Cena win (to get his win back). CM Punk is missing an actual mania main event - but 'winning the title' isn't really an issue.
I think in WWE history the biggest "must win" title moments at mania they generally did right:
- Daniel Bryan WM30. Very well done (took them a while to get there - but the end result, amazing)
- Becky Lynch this past year was well done
- Austin won at WM14, great way
- HBK boyhood dream WM12
- Bret Hart WM10
- Cena & Batista at WM21
- Warrior @ WM6
- Hogan at WM5 (this one is less important, a bit like I was saying with The Rock, as he's already a multiple time champion, but he did 'win' one here)