SPOILERS ABOUND BELOW.  I AM ASSUMING YOU HAVE WATCHED OR READ ABOUT THE ENTIRE EVENT.

Last night at the Royal Rumble, the road to WrestleMania 29 took a few curves but ultimately stayed on the course most expected.  Here is what we know:

  • John Cena will be in the main event at WrestleMania 29.
  • CM Punk’s epic 434-day reign is over.
  • The Rock is your new WWE Champion.

What does all of this mean?

On the surface, none of it is surprising.  CM Punk, despite his tirelessly great performances and unyielding reverence by die-hard fans, is not seen as a box office draw in the class of John Cena and the Rock.  As such, no one should be shocked that the WWE appears to be gunning for Cena-Rock II at their most anticipated yearly event.  But if there’s anything we should have learned from the WWE lately, it’s that things may not be that simple.

Just as the Punk-Rock match contained controversy, the aftermath has plenty of potential for continued controversy.  The most obvious avenues for the continuation of this feud are Punk’s right to a rematch and claims by the Punk camp that restarting the match was invalid.

A rematch simply has to take place and is unlikely to occur on RAW given the gravity of the situation, so that leaves us with the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view or WrestleMania 29.  This means there is a significant possibility Cena-Rock II is not a forgone conclusion.  CM Punk actually holds a trump card to prevent what many are viewing as inevitable.  How will he use it?

On the other hand, the show appeared to be over when the Shield allegedly powerbombed the Rock through the main announce table, leaving Punk free to drag the challenger to the ring for the three count.  Allegedly is the key word here.  Despite modern technology enabling us to grab this incriminating screenshot…

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In the kayfabe world of WWE it’s very possible they claim there is insufficient evidence to confirm interference by the Shield, leaving Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s decision to restart the match in question.

Continuing to assume we can only work with what occurred while the lights were on, there is an interesting inconsistency in Punk’s positioning in the ring.  Before the interruption, his head was ‘south’ toward the main camera:

before

When the lights came back on a mere 33 seconds later, his head was ‘north’ away from the main camera:

after

There is little chance this was an accident.  Punk moved for some reason, whether it was to knock out the ref or to enable his camp to claim he was attacked by the Shield as well.

I think it is likely the WWE treats this 33-second period of darkness like the Zapruder film, analyzing it from all possible angles.  In the end, the rematch stipulation and Shield controversy mean one very important thing: Punk’s involvement in the WWE Title picture is far from over.

There are legitimate gripes to be made about the way things unfolded, with Punk being pinned after a mere Spinebuster followed by The People’s Elbow. As usual, we would be wise to consider the larger picture: The world’s longest running episodic television show will surely find a way to flesh this story out further than anyone thought last night.

Screencaps courtesy elMaven and jahpo