CM Punk won a Fatal 4-Way match last week and sealed his fate as Undertaker’s 21st WrestleMania opponent.
This wasn’t a surprise to many after he lost the WWE Championship to The Rock and John Cena won the Royal Rumble match.
There was plenty of speculation as to who Undertaker would face if and when he returned. Some of the names tossed out there were Sting, Triple H and Brock Lesnar. Now that the dust is settled, Punk is not the best choice to face Undertaker at this year’s WrestleMania.
Punk hasn’t had the best of luck in 2013. He lost the WWE title at the Royal Rumble. He failed to recapture it at Elimination Chamber. Cena then put his title shot on the line against Punk in a Match of the Year contender on the Feb. 25 edition of Raw, but was unsuccessful.
He won his first match in the Fatal 4-Way, but Punk has lost a lot of momentum from late 2011 to 2012. Added to that is the fact Punk lost at the first two pay-per-view matches of this year. It seems unlikely that he will win at WrestleMania, making it three pay-per-view losses in a row. It will take a lot to get Punk back to where he was just a year ago.
Punk is arguably better now than he was back in 2009 when these two were feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship. Undertaker returned at the end of SummerSlam after Punk defeated Jeff Hardy for the title. They then went on to face off at Breaking Point, Hell in a Cell and Bragging Rights. Undertaker defeated Punk at Hell in a Cell to win the title. Punk had his rematch at Bragging Rights in a Fatal 4-Way also featuring Rey Mysterio and Batista, but failed.
Fast forward two-and-a-half years later and Punk is one of the best in business. He’s great on the mic, known for his patented “pipe bombs.” The character of The Undertaker limits him on the mic. This is a feud that won’t have a lot of verbal interaction, something Punk excels at. Punk may be able to sell the feud with his talking, but Undertaker will need to refute whatever Punk’s claims are over the next three-and-a-half weeks.
Punk should be able to build up the feud with his words, but what does he gain from this? There is currently no backbone to this feud. There's obviously no title on the line, but there's been no mention of the word "respect," Punk becoming a legend with a win or anything along those lines. Punk just cut a promo last week stating that he's going to beat The Undertaker to end the streak. This led to three other Superstars coming out and roughly saying the same thing. Punk needs to say why he wants to end the streak, what it will mean to him and his career.
Back in 2009, Punk was champion, but he wasn’t the caliber of Superstar he is now. He’s proved himself with his 400-plus-day reign as WWE champion. Undertaker’s last two opponents, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, had much success and wanted to put one more feather in their caps.
Punk is already an established star. He doesn’t have much to gain from putting up a good fight and losing like a younger star like a Ryback or Sheamus would. Those two still have a lot of their careers left to be able to brush away the loss. Punk’s character could suffer a lot from another pay-per-view loss.
On the other side, Undertaker could also be using whatever gas he has left in the tank to face a part-time Superstar like The Rock or Chris Jericho, two men he has feuded with but not at the biggest event of the year, for a dream match.
This feud also begs the question—where does CM Punk after WrestleMania? Most likely, he will fail to give Undertaker his first loss. After the match, Undertaker will once again take a lengthy hiatus. There will be no opportunity for Punk to avenge his loss, unless he challenges him again next year, assuming Undertaker will be healthy. Will CM Punk reignite his feud with Ryback? He can’t feud with John Cena as he could still be feuding with The Rock, who is advertised for Extreme Rules (h/t WrestlingInc.com).
Regardless, this should be a great match only if Undertaker can keep up with Punk. Punk refuses to work down to the level of his opponents, but wants his opponents to match his fast pace; just ask The Rock or John Cena. Their matches in 2009 were good, mostly because Undertaker was in much better shape.
In the end, Undertaker will remain undefeated. The lights will go out and a big “21-0” will display on the big screen and CM Punk will be just another victim to "The Streak."