So I was thinking of CM Punk the other day and how hot he was coming after his first "pipe bomb," winning the WWE strap off Cena in Chicago, then re-signing with the WWE. In particular, I was thinking about his little feud with Nash and their first square-off on the mic. I remember how Punk pretty much owned Nash on the mic and how surprising that was considering how skilled Nash is on the stick. Then I remembered an interview with Nash that I either read or watched close to a year after that little feud. I remember Nash saying that he was asked to hold back on Punk and pretty much let Punk go over him on the mic. He said that he in fact did hold back, but that he did throw in one unscripted shot, that being the Waffle House short order cook line.
So this got me thinking about the Rock/Cena buildup to their Mania match. That buildup, which was completely done on the mic, was strange because Rock wasn't bringing it on the mic. The year prior during the buildup to him hosting Mania he was scorching on the mic. And of course throughout his career he was always brilliant on the mic. There are so many reasons he is considered the most charismatic performer in wrestling history. But despite always delivering prior to the Mania XXVIII buildup, during that buildup he seemed off and quite frankly seemed to be holding back. It always seemed like he was stopping short.
At the time many fans, Rock fans especially, were baffled; some even speculated that he had been asked to hold back so Cena could gain some momentum, level the playing field, and win some fans, who were overwhelmingly in favor of The Rock. Something had to explain Rock's sudden lack of firepower on the mic. However, many dismissed such speculation as conspiracy theory and wrote it off as Rock simply being off his game or no longer having it. I never knew which way to go, but did think that it was strange that Rock was so off his game when the year before he was killing it as he always had. But after learning about Nash being instructed to hold back on the mic against Punk, I can't help but think that Rock may have been asked to do the same against Cena.