The Undertaker has reached a point in his career where he has seen and done just about everything. He is 20-0 at WrestleMania and has faced most of the WWE's biggest stars on the grandest stage of them all, but CM Punk is one of a small handful of opponents who will ensure that things remain interesting.
Taker's WrestleMania matches have seemingly gotten better as he has gotten older. His past four 'Mania bouts in particular have been absolutely fantastic as he has faced Shawn Michaels twice and Triple H twice. As entertaining as those matches were, most fans knew going in that neither Michaels nor Triple H would end the streak as their respective careers were winding down.
Is CM Punk the right opponent for The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX?
There were absolutely moments during those matches where it seemed like The Phenom's streak was in jeopardy, but most fans realized that it wouldn't have been logical for The Undertaker to lose those contests. Taker is obviously still the odds-on favorite to win at WrestleMania XXIX, but the fact that he is facing perhaps the best in the business and a guy who is on top of his game in Punk certainly creates some doubt.
Punk is coming off a remarkable 434-day run as WWE champion as well as a feud against The Rock. He is also arguably the best talker and in-ring worker in all of professional wrestling, so his stock has never been higher. At 34 years of age, Punk is no spring chicken, but he's young enough that he has a lot of good years left in the WWE and could certainly benefit from beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
I'm one of many fans who believe that the streak should never come to an end, but if it does it needs to make sense for the guy who breaks it. I'm possibly the biggest HBK fan out there, and while I was rooting for him to beat The Undertaker during their two 'Mania encounters, I was fully aware of the fact that it wouldn't have been a good business move on the WWE's part since Michaels' legacy was already firmly established.
The same was true of Triple H the past two years. I've always liked Triple H and it would have been cool to see The Game end the streak, but there was simply no logical reason for it to happen. It can be argued that Punk's place in WWE history is already evident, but he has always played second fiddle to John Cena. Beating The Undertaker probably wouldn't allow him to surpass Cena, but maybe it would put them on equal footing for the first time ever.
With all of that in mind, Punk is the first true threat to break Taker's streak since Edge at WrestleMania XXIV. Edge was in a very similar situation to Punk at that time as he was still fairly young and was among the WWE's top stars, but he had never been "the guy" in WWE. Beating The Undertaker might have changed that, and although The Rated-R Superstar fell short, his performance will always be remembered.
Additionally, Punk and The Undertaker already have some history together, so that is something the WWE can draw upon. Their original feud began in 2009 over the World Heavyweight Championship and dominated SmackDown, but it received mixed reviews. Their matches were hit-and-miss in terms of quality and the rivalry itself didn't have a strong base, but most believe that Punk and The Undertaker can overcome that.
Both Punk and Taker are at very different points in their careers than they were back in 2009. This is especially true of Punk. While Punk is still straight edge, it is no longer integral to his character. He simply wants to be known as the best in the world and aims to accomplish that by doing something that nobody has ever done before, and that is ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak.
Some fans will maintain that their past failures together will lead to a poor WrestleMania match, but I simply can't see that happening. The Undertaker puts on an unbelievable show on the big stage no matter how old he is or how long he has been away from the ring. He somehow finds a way to reach a level that few others ever have, so The Undertaker is essentially incapable of having a bad 'Mania match at this point.
Punk has grown a lot over the past few years and is a lot like Taker in terms of his penchant for coming up big in important moments. Punk has had so many fantastic matches in recently months and years that it's impossible to name them all. He is particularly good when he faces a superstar who is comparable to him from a wrestling standpoint. There aren't many guys out there who qualify, but The Undertaker does, particularly on the WrestleMania stage.
The match promises to be great, but the build over the next month could be equally entertaining. Punk is always on point in his promos and he has the ability to take this feud to the next level. There are some fans out there complaining about there being no point to the rivalry, but Punk is sure to change that. He has already said that he wants to accomplish something that nobody else has, and he's sure to hammer that point home in the coming weeks.
When push comes to shove, The Undertaker is possibly the greatest performer of all time, and Punk is arguably the best currently. It isn't often that the fans are able to witness a clash between two superstars of the highest caliber, but that is exactly what will happen at WrestleMania. Even if most of us expect Taker to win, there is at least a hint of doubt involved, and when you couple that with a great match in general, it's a recipe for success.