One of WrestleMania 29's most anticipated matches is the one between the Phenom, The Undertaker, and CM Punk.
Every year, fans find themselves excited over the Dead Man's undefeated streak and the notion that maybe, just maybe, a Superstar will come along that can end it. This year, the favorite of Internet wrestling fans around the globe and the longest reigning WWE champion of the last 20-plus years, CM Punk will get his shot at doing what no one else has done.
What do fans need to know heading into this monumental showdown that has a very good chance of stealing the show?
Here are five things to get you started.
Both The Undertaker and CM Punk enter MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for WrestleMania 29 beaten up. The former has a history of hip problems, the latest of which was aggravated during last year's Hell in a Cell match against Triple H.
The latter's body has been wrecked from a non-stop schedule as one of the top stars in the industry and a mysterious injury that has been kept somewhat under wraps.
With both Superstars far from 100 percent, do not expect a catch-as-catch-can wrestling classic. After all, The Undertaker's latest WrestleMania matches have been built on spectacle and grandeur and the prestige that surrounds the streak.
German and belly-to-belly suplexes may be at a minimum, but entertainment will not be.
Expect an exhibition in sports entertainment between two of the elite performers in the business.
There is no category of WWE Superstars more prone to falling in defeat to The Undertaker at WrestleMania than former WWE or World Heavyweight champions. In fact, of the 17 different Superstars to have been defeated by the Phenom at WrestleMania events, 11 have been former champions.
They include Hall of Famers Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Edge. Five of them appear on this year's WrestleMania card (Triple H, Kane, Big Show, Mark Henry and Randy Orton). The other former champions are either out of the business or are considered future Hall of Fame inductees (Diesel, Sid and Batista).
CM Punk, as well documented, was the longest-reigning WWE champion of this generation. He defeated every Superstar put into his path before tripping up and losing the title to The Rock. During his reign, he found a number of ways to escape tricky situations with the gold still intact but come Sunday night, there may very well be no way out for the Second City Saint.
WWE does not simply give a spot in a WrestleMania match against The Undertaker to anyone on its roster. It carefully hand-picks those Superstars due to the pressure and high expectations that fans have for that match each and every year.
The fact that Vince McMahon and company have chosen CM Punk to square off against the Dead Man at this year's show indicates two things: Punk has earned McMahon's trust and, more importantly, the company finally sees him as one of its top stars.
For years, Punk has worked to become the absolutely best, period. He has demanded respect and, although he was given the lengthy reign as champion, he is only now reaping its rewards.
The match against The Undertaker on Sunday, a marquee bout on the biggest show of the year, not only cements him as one of the top stars of today, but also enforces his legacy as one of the biggest stars of this era.
Since 2009, The Undertaker and CM Punk have had six televised matches with one another. Those matches took place between 2009 and 2010 and were mostly centered around the rivalry they had over the World Heavyweight Championship in the fall of 2009. Here are the results:
- CM Punk def. The Undertaker (Breaking Point 2009)
- CM Punk def. The Undertaker (SmackDown, Sept. 25, 2009)
- The Undertaker def. CM Punk (Hell in a Cell 2009)
- The Undertaker def. CM Punk (SmackDown, Oct. 23, 2009)
- The Undertaker def. CM Punk (SmackDown, Sept. 10, 2010)
- The Undertaker def. CM Punk (SmackDown, Oct. 1, 2010)
As one can see, The Undertaker clearly has the edge in terms of the win-loss record from previous matches.
But CM Punk was not the performer then that he is now. Two-and-a-half years have passed since those matches took place and Punk has been on top of WWE, full-time, during much of that time. He has mixed it up with the very best the industry has to offer and has created a legacy for himself that is matched by few on today's full-time roster.
The man The Undertaker stands across the ring from on Sunday night will not be intimidated by the spotlight or the moment.
And for Punk, that lack of intimidation and that plethora of main event experience is in his favor.
Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the match at WrestleMania against The Undertaker is the biggest of CM Punk's career.
Yes, the WWE title match at Money in the Bank in 2011 in front of his friends and family was at one time. Yes, there was plenty of pressure on him at last year's WrestleMania when he entered as WWE champion, defending against Chris Jericho.
But nothing compares to squaring off with the man most associated with the WrestleMania extravaganza. The Undertaker comes out of semi-retirement every year for one match and fans eagerly anticipate that match more than any other on the card. Expectations are high, pressure is at its max and the amount of eyes on a single match are higher than any other time of the year.
Shawn Michaels, Edge, Triple H and Batista have all experienced what it feels like to have a Match of the Year candidate on that stage, with that opponent.
Punk has his chance on Sunday. It will likely be his only chance.