CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho — WWE WrestleMania 28 Preview
While the Rock vs. John Cena is clearly the true main event of ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ in certain circles the most talked about contest will without a be CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho. The two have a lot in common: Neither boast the humongous physique typically favored by WWE, both honed their abilities for years before arriving at the big show, both are perennial favorites of so-called “smart marks” and both typically do their best work as heels, which prevents them from rising to the level of WWE’s largest stars. In a lot of ways, when Jericho took a break from WWE in 2010, Punk was his heir apparent, a heel with phenomenal mic skills and the in-ring storytelling ability to back it all up.
Punk, like Jericho before him (and Daniel Bryan before that in Ring of Honor), even started referring to himself as the “Best in the World,” and ostensibly, that’s where this particular feud began, with Jericho angry at Punk and a host of other wrestlers he’s since forgotten about, for biting off his shtick. Since then, the actual thrust of the rivalry has gotten somewhat muddied, with it being kind-of-about the very serious issue of gimmick infringement, kind-of-about the WWE Title and, most recently, kind-of-about Punk’s substance abusing family members and whether he’s genetically predisposed to alcoholism (it played a lot cooler than it sounds, actually).
Further confusing things, WWE hasn’t been shy about letting Punk and Jericho interact with one another physically. Unlike the Rock and Cena, who have been largely separated from one another since ‘WrestleMania XXVII,’ Punk and Jericho have actually had several matches together. Typically, this would be booking suicide, as fans have already seen both champ and challenger with their hands raised in victory – where’s the suspense for the actual match? However, it’s a testament to both the abilities of Punk and Jericho, as well as the type of following they command, that this is still on people’s radar as one of ‘WrestleMania XXVIII’s’ most anticipated matches.
All of the talk about gimmick infringement, title belts and alcoholism is just ornamentation compared to what this match is really about: The internet’s two favorite wrestlers on the grandest stage of them all. In much the same way as Rock/Cena is about yesterday’s biggest star taking on today’s, Jericho/Punk is about the former internet darling taking on the current. Best of all, it doesn’t even matter who wins, because Jericho and Punk are two of the best pure storytellers in WWE, and have no problem with putting other wrestlers over, so you can be sure that both men will leave Miami looking better than they did when they went in. It’s easy to take issue with how this feud has been built, but in a way, it’s a match that sells itself even better than Rock/Cena, because fans know exactly what they’re going to get out of it: A wrestling clinic.