Wrestlemania Greatest Matches #20: Undertaker vs. CM Punk


The Build: CM Punk claimed to be the Best in the World, and throughout 2012 he was. He held the WWE Championship every single day of 2012. He held the title for 434 days. And then it turned out 2013 wasn’t his year. He lost the title to The Rock at the Royal Rumble and couldn’t win it back in a rematch at Elimination Chamber. And then he lost to John Cena on Raw in a match for Cena’s Wrestlemania title shot. So after suffering a series of losses, the next logical thing to do was challenge The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak. Punk won a Fatal Fourway match also involving Sheamus, The Big Show, and Randy Orton to earn his match.

And then things got extraordinarily personal. Paul Bearer, Undertaker’s longtime manager, passed away. And Punk used the opportunity to play mind games with Undertaker, mocking Bearer at every turn. This storyline really pushed the boundaries of good taste, but it also added a lot of intensity to this storyline.
The Match
Dueling awesome entrances here. First, Punk is played to the ring live by Living Colour. And then Undertaker comes to the ring in front of a graphic that makes it look like zombie arms are reaching from the ground for him. Heyman has Undertaker’s urn because Punk jacked it from Taker on Raw. And gave himself a bath of ashes in it.
Crowd is buzzing at the start, this was probably the match they were hottest for at this Wrestlemania. Punk slaps Taker. Love that he’s just messing with him. He’d gladly take a disqualification or count out win. Taker follows Punk to the floor and messes him up, including slamming Punk back-first into the post. Apron Leg Drop, then they go back in the ring for Old School, but Punk counters.
Taker misses a kick and spills to the floor, Punk follows with an Ax Handle. Shades of Randy Savage. Punk throws Taker back into the ring, would have liked a count out tease there. Punk steals Old School from Taker but gets crotched. They tease the Undertaker Plancha, but Heyman gets on the top rope and gets choked out. That allows Punk to come flying in with a Clothesline from the top rope.
Punk hits the Flying Elbow from the top rope for a close two count. Taker comes back with a monster Chokeslam. They go to the floor, where Punk lays Taker out on the announce table. Punk goes for the Flying Elbow and comes up short, slamming his knee on the edge of the table. I think he already had a bad knee, and that definitely made it worse. Taker just barely beats the count back in.
Punk goes to cover and gets caught in Hell’s Gate. Punk rolls that into a pin and that locks on the Anaconda Vice. Taker sits up! Awesome spot. Punk slips out of a Chokeslam and hits the GTS, but Taker bounces off the ropes into a Tombstone. Punk somehow kicks out.
Punk hits his signature corner knee, but hesitates too long and goes up for the Last Ride. But Heyman gets Punk the urn and Punk KOs Taker with it. Punk does the R.I.P. pin to a big pop but can only get two. Punk does the throat slash and sets up for the GTS, but Taker slips out. A series of counters ends with Taker hitting the Tombstone for the win.
Rating: ****1/4. They packed a ton of action in there. Could have been even better if Punk hadn’t messed up his knee, you could see it was hurting him toward the end of the match. They played it up like Punk was Taker’s absolute equal, he countered everything Taker threw at him, kicked out of the Tombstone. Even in a loss here he came out looking strong.
The Aftermath: This was the final match of Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak and CM Punk’s final Wrestlemania match to date.

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