The Undertaker is 20-0 at WrestleMania, and by the time WrestleMania XXIX has come and gone, he will likely be 21-0. Despite that, the past couple of weeks have proven that CM Punk is Taker's greatest threat from a storyline perspective.
There is no doubt that The Undertaker is among the most menacing and intimidating superstars of all time. Taker has used his size and his mysterious persona to strike fear in his opponents many times over the years, and that is a huge part of his character. Although Taker's gimmick is still somewhat supernatural, he has become mortal over the past couple of years as he ages.
Triple H nearly defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania two years ago, as it took a desperation Hell's Gate from The Deadman to turn away The Game. Triple H very nearly beat Taker again last year as well in a Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. It was clear that The Undertaker wasn't the same as he used to be, but he still put on an incredible match and came away victorious.
Many fans questioned whether or not The Undertaker would compete at WrestleMania XXIX due to mounting injuries and advancing age, but he showed up at a house show in Waco, Texas, several weeks ago and officially returned on the old school edition of Raw. Punk beat Big Show, Sheamus and Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way match on that same episode to earn the right to face Taker at WrestleMania.
Punk and The Undertaker have had a couple of encounters since, but they haven't been physical and they haven't really cut promos on each other, as Punk has done the bulk of the talking. Even so, the rivalry has heated up in a major way, and that has absolutely everything to do with the unfortunate passing of legendary manager Paul Bearer.
Bearer was not only The Undertaker's manager for many years, but he was also close friends with The Phenom. Bearer's death has to be taking a toll on Taker from a personal perspective, and the WWE has integrated it into the angle seamlessly as well. Some fans aren't particularly happy about the involvement of Bearer's passing, but there is no question that it has added some fuel to the feud.
It all started last week when Punk interrupted The Undertaker's tribute to Bearer. Punk didn't say anything about Bearer, but it came across as disrespectful, and Punk ultimately had to answer the bell as Kane took offense. Punk lost to Kane as The Undertaker's gong sounded during the match, but Punk ultimately got the last laugh by attacking Kane with the urn and running off with it.
Punk was still in possession of the urn this week, and he took things to another level. The Undertaker cut a brief promo and demanded that Punk return the urn. Suddenly a voice resembling Bearer's could be heard, but it turned out to be Punk on the big screen. While mimicking the late manager's voice, he could also be seen lifting up the lid of the urn as if Bearer was actually speaking to The Undertaker from inside the urn itself.
Some fans found it to be despicable, but I thought it was hilarious, and it definitely furthered Punk both as a hated heel and as a threat to The Undertaker's streak. Punk's following promo was also excellent, as he told Taker that he is "a higher power" and spoke about how he would end the streak. While doing this, he continued to toss the urn in the air as if it were a meaningless prop.
Punk even dropped it, which was the ultimate sign of disrespect to Taker and Bearer. The main thing I took away from Punk's promo, though, was how laid-back and relaxed he was. Most of The Undertaker's opponents heading into WrestleMania are nervous, uneasy and on edge, but Punk just seems like a guy who is going to be competing in a random match at WrestleMania.
There is a contingent of fans out there that seems to believe the reason behind that stems from Punk being uninterested with the feud. Perhaps there is a sliver of truth to that, as it is no secret that Punk's main goal is to main event WrestleMania. At the same time, his attitude appears to be a calculated tactic on his part in order to make himself look like a threat.
Realistically speaking, Punk doesn't really have much of a chance to beat Taker. If he does beat The Deadman at WrestleMania, then it will pretty much have to be The Undertaker's final match. I suppose that is a possibility because The Undertaker is no spring chicken, but common sense dictates that he'll wrestle at a milestone show like WrestleMania XXX against someone such as John Cena.
When it comes to the storyline surrounding Taker vs. Punk, though, Taker is more vulnerable than ever as he continues to age and is now distracted by the loss of Bearer. Punk, on the other hand, has no fear and is coming off of a 434-day WWE Championship reign. If not for the real-life circumstances surrounding this situation, I'm sure many more fans would expect Punk to win.
With that said, some of the fringe fans may view Punk as a threat, and that alone could generate some interest. Even if Punk falls short at WrestleMania as most expect, he still looks like The Undertaker's greatest challenge due to the way their feud has been booked thus far.