It's funny how things work out – CM Punk has spent, not only his entire career, but his entire life as the underdog. Time-after-time, the Chicago born star has broken the glass ceiling – going against the mainstream, against what was popular. How apt that the guy who has made a living as the anti-hero will compete in quite possibly the biggest match of his career against 'The Peoples' Champion'?
I recently watched CM Punk's Best in the World DVD – it was amazing to say the least (seriously, if you haven't already, watch it). What you learn about Punk is that from day one he was an outcast, always fighting against the odds. Punk revealed in the DVD that he hadn't a very good relationship with his family, seeing his father continually drunk/hung over, not having a particularly close relationship with his mother and that he hasn't spoken to his brother in 12-years.
What you also learn is that this isn't just a schoolboy dream come true through being in the right place at the right time – nothing was handed to him, he had to work for it. From forming the LWF (Lunatic Wrestling Federation) with some friends and a DIY dangerous as anything ring, attracting a near 1,000 paying crowd and busting his ass off in various independent shows to fighting for his spot in the WWE – you realise this means the world to CM Punk.
Sure, you can say the same about many other wrestlers that they made sacrifice after sacrifice to get to where they are today, and kudos to them. But Punk had nothing else, wrestling is CM Punk and, more importantly, CM Punk is Phil Brooks.
Why am I giving you a brief life story? Well here's why, the Royal Rumble represents the struggle of CM Punk's life, fighting against what society says he should be, when he faces The Rock who is the ideological 'sports entertainer'.
The Rock or, as he likes to be known in more recent years, Dwayne Johnson, was born from a wrestling family. He grew up with wrestling all around him and with 'the look' that the sports entertainment industry has based its very foundation.
Rock: a former college football player with (quite literally) Hollywood looks – exactly what Vince McMahon looks for in any new talent and trained by some of the best the business has ever seen.
Punk: slender and never been one for being bulky, not what you would conventionally call 'poster boy material', self-trained and perfected his craft on the independent circuit.
The Rock represents everything that CM Punk has had to overcome; you couldn't throw together two guys at further ends of the spectrum (no matter what John Cena said for a year). What you'll see at the Royal Rumble isn't just a wrestling match, it's CM Punk's life.
So, what happens? Does CM Punk carry on defying the odds and come away from the Royal Rumble as WWE Champion (clean or otherwise), or does The Rock get his way? Does 'Rocky' come back at the biggest time of the year (the road to Wrestlemania) and play the leading role?
I can tell you what should happen; CM Punk should win, and win fairly. Why have The Rock come back and defeat your two biggest stars (including Cena last year)? How is that good for business?
Just how would he carry the title up until Wrestlemania? Not forgetting Elimination Chamber in between – surely he wouldn't be used in such a risky match? Unless he was to enter the chamber last and take a quick win (but then surely you're crapping all over the last PPV before the big one?).
There's also the political side of it, much of the locker room isn't overly keen on having Rock come in and take the spotlight once again, and who can blame them? I know I wouldn't be overly keen on working a near 24/7 schedule only for someone who only turns up on the odd night to get the big pay check.
A win for Punk is a win for wrestling, wrestlers and fans alike. Let's just hope WWE does the sensible thing.
You can follow the author on Twitter @ABGratton24.
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