When CM Punk attempts to end Undertaker's undefeated streak at Sunday's WrestleMania 29, he must hope that their previous history doesn't repeat itself.
Punk and Undertaker's past matches together have shown Undertaker's dominance overcome Punk's shrewdness. Punk's only win came courtesy of a Montreal Screwjob-like turn of events. Otherwise, Undertaker has pile-driven Punk's head to the canvas and snatched his world title from him.
Looking at their submission match at Breaking Point 2009, their battle at Hell in a Cell 2009, and their clash at SmackDown reveal that the two have good, but not great, chemistry.
Perhaps the grandness of the moment that is WrestleMania will help in that department, perhaps Punk's added experience will improve their chemistry, but their past matches have not been as fluid or natural as they have been against each man's archenemy.
Daniel Bryan or John Cena against CM Punk has been magic. Undertaker seems to have an almost telepathic connection with Shawn Michaels. This isn't the case for Undertaker and Punk.
They've produced quality matches in the past, but nothing worthy of classic status.
They will get another crack at greatness come April 7. What will their match look like? What strategies will the two men employ?
Breaking Point 2009
At Breaking Point, Punk began the match in stick-and-move mode, using his speed to avoid Undertaker's powerful strikes. He looked much like Shawn Michaels in the opening moments of WrestleMania 25.
It makes sense for Punk to return to this strategy.
He maintains a sizable speed advantage on The Deadman. It's only logical for Punk to attempt to stay just out of striking range as often as he can, moving in only to swipe at Undertaker with roundhouse kicks. Their submission match at times came down to a battle of kicks versus punches.
With Undertaker billed as "the best pure striker in the game" and Punk such a kick artist, we'll likely see a return to that dynamic.
Hell in a Cell 2009
On an even field, Undertaker dominates Punk.
The Phenom is bigger and stronger, and being on the show where he has yet to be beaten won't help Punk. Punk gained the upper hand in their Hell in a Cell match by way of his craftiness. He dropkicked the ring steps into Undertaker's knees, for example.
This is the kind of ingenuity Punk will utilize in his attempt to knock off Undertaker.
Punk will have to take advantage of Undertaker's mistakes, awaiting openings when he can pounce. This is even truer on Sunday because he will be without the benefit of a no-disqualification stipulation. An unconscious referee opens the door for illegality, but for the most part, Punk is going to have to win sans steel chairs and the like.
Punk went at Undertaker's knees throughout the Hell in a Cell match.
He did his best to knock the big man off his feet and keep him there. This is a line of attack that is easy for fans to buy into. It should remain one of Punk's best options at WrestleMania.
Punk fans will be glad to see that WWE is willing to let him kick out of a Last Ride. That ability will help him extend the match.
By the time Punk faced Undertaker in their 2010 match on SmackDown, it was clear that The Best in the World had his opponent well-scouted.
After Undertaker nailed Punk with Snake Eyes, the big man came charging in for the big boot. Punk saw it coming and rocked Undertaker with a kick. This is the kind of action that will make Punk look wise and as if he has prepared heavily for their match.
Expect Punk to have counters ready for Old School and for the legdrop on the ring apron.
WWE has built up Punk as a wrestler who has succeeded on grit and on timely escapes. That should continue at WrestleMania 29 as those elements of Punk's game afford him the best chance to win.
This SmackDown match shows that Punk is capable of getting Undertaker's large frame up for a GTS. It's the move the followed that one though that may be Punk's undoing.
Undertaker clamped on Hell's Gate, and Punk tapped on the mat to signal his surrender only seconds later. Punk may not be strong enough to powerbomb Undertaker out of that move.
The exaggerated pain on his face that he showed as he suffered Undertaker's submission could be the last image we see of Punk before he becomes victim No. 21.