When CM Punk targets Undertaker's undefeated streak and The Deadman pursues vengeance at WrestleMania 29, injuries won't get in the way of the two men creating a masterwork.
Undertaker is 48 years old and worn down by a long career in the torture device that is the WWE schedule. CM Punk is coming off knee surgery in December and is banged up in general. No matter, fans can be confident that those stars will give a memorable performance.
They have both proved that they can work through injuries and the drama and spectacle of the WrestleMania match will elevate the physical portion of it.
WWE responded by lessening his schedule.
Wrestling Observer (via CagesideSeats.org) reported that Punk was pulled from "all house shows until WrestleMania for a variety of reasons including being physically banged up." Fans shouldn't let this worry them though. Punk has proved his toughness and ability to work through pain before.
A History of Working Hurt
A pro wrestler, like an NFL player, likely spends every day at the office in pain.
As much punishment as WWE stars endure, who knows how many sprained joints, contusions and pulled ligaments they have to work through. Many times, fans have no idea that their favorites in the ring are hurt. Take Punk's recent knee injury for example
Punk had knee surgery in December and, as Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com writes, "Punk had been working on a bad knee but was trying to tough it out since he had taken the responsibility of carrying WWE as their champion to heart."
Was Punk injured when he wrestled Ryback at Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series? Was he less than 100 percent when he put that fantastic match against John Cena at Night of Champions?
If he was, the quality of his performances wasn't affected.
Undertaker has proved to be equally difficult to slow down.
At Elimination Chamber 2010, Undertaker competed despite being burned in a pyrotechnic accident. As Jason Powell of ProWrestling.net writes, "Undertaker has been working through a severely injured shoulder in recent years." In March of 2011, Wrestling Observer (via Examiner.com) wrote that Taker's injured shoulder was not "expected to fully recover and could be the catalyst for his eventual retirement."
Despite those concerns, Undertaker and Triple H put on a match worthy of Match of the Year award consideration.
One has to credit Undertaker's toughness and dedication to the business for continuing to return and to perform when he has nothing left to prove. He has defended and extended a streak that has become the highlight of WrestleMania.
A Narrative Beyond Their Bodies
The dramatic power of Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak will help him and Punk create something magical in spite of their ailing bodies.
During his last two matches with Triple H, Undertaker spent much of the action on his back. At WrestleMania 28, it felt as if Triple H was pounding a prone Undertaker with a steel chair forever. It fit perfectly into the story. Despite Triple H's most vicious offerings, the Deadman continued to rise.
As painful as it must have been to take that many chair shots, Undertaker's shoulder had to do zero work during that stretch.
That match, much like the previous one, featured a far slower tempo than some of Undertaker's earlier work. These were not X-Division matches or cruiserweight athletic demonstrations. Undertaker's recent WrestleMania matches have been soaked in grit, powered further by his pain, both real and storyline.
Undertaker has looked, at times, vulnerable and human. Yet, in the end, he manages to claim victory each time out.
Punk's match with Undertaker can borrow from those bouts with Triple H. The two can slow the action down, grind it out and use Undertaker's ailing body as a narrative tool.
In an interview with Mark Madden on 105.9 the X, Punk said of his upcoming clash with Undertaker, "This isn't one of those 'workrate matches.'" He talked of playing up the storyline anger between the two. He said, "Hopefully it's going to be emotional and psychological."
With Punk stealing the Undertaker's urn, interrupting the Paul Bearer tribute, with his constant disrespect, every blow Undertaker lands on him will be more emotionally powerful. Thanks to the streak, every near fall means far more than it would in any other match.
Punk and Undertaker don't have to take as many bumps or deliver as many big spots to win us over; though their history tells us they will anyway. The richness of the story allows them to rein everything in and still deliver a classic.
Injuries be damned, WrestleMania 29 will serve as the grand stage for two of WWE's finest performers.