When CM Punk’s historic WWE Championship reign ended at the hands of The Rock at the Royal Rumble, his immediate future became a little cloudier.
While it’s widely understood that Punk will continue to be a major player in the WWE as we approach WrestleMania 29, it’s less clear what his exact role before and at the pay-per-view will be.
Since it’s essentially a lock that it’ll be The Rock vs. John Cena for the WWE title at ‘Mania, the creative team is going to have to find a major match for Punk that is one of the highlights of the WrestleMania card.
It’s expected by most that Punk will attempt to end The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak this year, and though a recent report suggests that Taker might not be at ‘Mania at all, I ultimately expect him to be there.
But still, is Punk the one who tries to end “The Streak,” or does he go a different route for the biggest PPV of the year?
Here’s how I’d fantasy book Punk’s career through WrestleMania 29:
Now that it’s been revealed that Paul Heyman is the one who hired both The Shield and Brad Maddox to help Punk retain his title, tension should be teased between Heyman and Punk.
With it appearing that Punk wasn’t “in the know” about The Shield and Maddox, he can use that to continue to go crazy about unjustly losing the WWE title to The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
Like he did on Raw this week, he could continue to complain about the title loss, only to lose his rematch to The Rock at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. However, Punk would still feel like he’s been screwed because he was never knowingly in cahoots with Maddox or The Shield.
He will continue to lose his mind following his second straight loss to The Rock, and because it was essentially Heyman’s fault that he lost his title in the first place, he will “dump” Heyman on the post-Elimination Chamber episode of Raw.
Punk will part ways with Heyman, which would free Heyman up to be paried with the recently returning Brock Lesnar, who he managed before he was ever associated with Punk on screen.
While seeing Punk’s tension with Heyman result in a Lesnar/Punk feud would be fantastic, it doesn’t seem likely because Punk would probably have to turn face. Plus, it’s almost a certainty that we’ll see Lesnar vs. Triple H: The Rematch at WrestleMania 29 anyway.
Therefore, Punk dumping Heyman will be the WWE’s way of teasing a face turn for Punk, but ultimately, Punk will just claim that Heyman was “dead weight” and that he couldn’t earn the respect that he deserves with Heyman by his side.
He will then go crazy once again and loudly proclaim that he was the longest-reigning WWE champion in the modern era and that that makes him the greatest WWE superstar of all-time: “Everyone needs to show me respect because I’m the greatest WWE superstar in history, and my WWE title was unfairly taken from me. I’m going to make you people respect me because respect is what I deserve!”
Then, that familiar going hits, and out comes The Undertaker to a thunderous ovation.
Undertaker doesn’t say anything. Rather, he makes his way to the ring, stares Punk dead in the eye and looks up at the WrestleMania sign as Monday Night Raw goes off the air.
The following week, the main-event segment of the show features a faceoff between Punk and the Undertaker, this time with Punk cutting a promo on Taker and calling him out before The Undertaker comes out and cuts a promo on Punk—one that’s all about “respect” and Punk’s claims that he is the best wrestler ever.
Undertaker will then challenge Punk to prove that that’s the case by doing what no man has ever man able to do—beat him at WrestleMania and end “The Streak.”
Being the heel that he is, Punk will refuse to face Undertaker because “he’s already beat him” (a reference to their feud back in 2009), and that’s how that week’s Raw episode will end.
The following week, however, Vickie Guerrero will give Punk an ultimatum: Either face The Undertaker at WrestleMania 29 or be left off the pay-per-view card altogether.
This will goad Punk into accepting the match, and he will go on to ‘Mania to challenge The Undertaker’s undefeated streak in a match that’s all about “respect” and Punk’s claims that he is the best wrestler both in the world today and in the history of the WWE.
Punk will face Undertaker in a fantastic match at WrestleMania 29 and appear to end “The Streak” when he hits Undertaker with the GTS twice, only for Taker to kick out and finish off Punk with a couple of Tombstones to keep his streak intact.
Is this a predictable and simple story? Yes, but sometimes keeping it simple is good.
The bottom line is that Punk has had such a fantastic run over the last two years that he deserves to be in a monumental match at WrestleMania 29. But if he isn’t going to challenge for the WWE title, then there’s only one other match that will rival The Rock vs. Cena—and that’s Punk vs. The Undertaker.
No other match possibility would mean near as much for Punk as a match with Undertaker would mean, and just because he’d likely lose the match, that doesn’t mean that he won’t emerge from it a bigger star than ever.
Punk vs. The Undertaker is a money match, and barring “Stone Cold” Steve Austin coming back, it’s going to generate more interest than any other match that Punk might participate in.
That is, unless you think that Punk vs. Sheamus is a better option.
No? Didn’t think so.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!