WrestleMania's Instant Classic: CM Punk Becomes the 1 in the Undertaker's 21-0

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WrestleMania's Instant Classic: CM Punk Becomes the 1 in the Undertaker's 21-0
All photos originally courtesy of WWE.com.

Like each WrestleMania of the past, WrestleMania 29 featured a match that stood above the rest. It stood alone as the show stealer, the heart stopper. The match that no matter how much time passes, will always be synonymous with WrestleMania 29. It will always be synonymous with greatness. 

That match wasn’t Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H, or even the main event of The Rock vs. John Cena.

No, the one match that was considered the best at the end of the night was CM Punk vs. The Undertaker.

CM Punk had been attempting to get inside Undertaker’s head for weeks, by disrespecting the late Paul Bearer, who played a crucial role in The Undertaker’s career as his longtime manager.

He would toss around Bearer’s urn dismissively, claiming that he did so in hopes that Undertaker would get himself disqualified at WrestleMania; because if he did so, the legendary undefeated streak would come to an end after remaining unblemished for two decades.

Therefore, CM Punk would forever be known as the man who ended the streak, and likely Undertaker’s Hall of Fame career.

Did Punk’s strategy work, or would he just be another man to fall at the hands of the Undertaker at the Showcase of the Immortals?

On Sunday April 7, 2013 inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, one ring contained CM Punk and the Undertaker.

The bell sounded. This was the moment many fans had been anticipating for weeks.

The Undertaker was the aggressor, looking to take Punk down with a series of strikes. However, Punk was the one who would have the first offense of the match by slapping Undertaker in the face then scurrying from the ring.

 

Undertaker would step outside the ring, only for Punk to come back in. Punk was looking for any possible advantage he could get. He wanted to infuriate the Undertaker, and hopefully get him off his game.

Punk trapped "The Deadman" in the corner and hit him with a series of vicious elbows to the face.

Undertaker would respond by attempting an early chokeslam, but to no avail as Punk would land a roundhouse kick to his temple.

Punk landed another kick to the gut then bounced off the ropes, only to meet a big boot from the Undertaker.

Next, Undertaker tossed Punk to the floor then unloaded on him with two strikes directly to the face. He whipped him into and over the protective barricade.

On this night, at this WrestleMania, The Undertaker wasn’t concerned with "The Streak."

He was concerned with maiming CM Punk.

He rammed Punk’s head into the announce table before removing the lid and monitors. He’d lift Punk up and send him spine first into the cold and remorseless steel ring post.

He lined Punk up on the apron, and took a couple shots at his head to make sure he was out. Then, he scaled the apron and dropped his leg across the throat of the man who claimed to be the best in the world.

Punk crawled around the ring and gasped for air, a 300-pound man had just come careening down on his throat.

Meanwhile, concern began to overcome Punk’s associate Paul Heyman at ringside. Heyman had a long history with the Undertaker, meaning he knew how much damage he could cause.

He knew how much pain "The Demon from Death Valley" could inflict.

 

Undertaker’s steady and methodical dissection of CM Punk continued. This was a man who shortened careers of Superstars he had no personal issues with; and this was a personal issue with Punk.

Punk had carried the WWE Championship for 434 consecutive days, yet felt he wasn’t given the respect he had earned. What he didn’t understand was, respect was a two-way street.

And on this night, the Undertaker was attempting to teach Punk that very lesson.

Undertaker now climbed up onto the top rope for Old School but Punk countered with a deep arm drag that sent Undertaker crashing to the canvas.

Suddenly, the devious CM Punk was in control. And unlike the Undertaker, he walked the top rope and nailed Old School, then laughed hysterically.

He continued with a Side Russian Leg Sweep and went for the cover; one, two, no!

“One second away! One second away!” Paul Heyman screamed encouragingly to Punk.

Punk grounded the Undertaker with a submission placed on his arm and asked him “Where’s Paul Bearer now?”

Undertaker would fight out and back Punk up into the corner. The best pure striker in the history of the WWE unleashed a series of strikes.

The Deadman launched Punk across the ring, going for a big boot to his head. However, Punk moved out of harm’s way just in the nick of time. Undertaker’s leg would get caught in the top rope, giving Punk a de-facto bull’s-eye in the process.

He grimaced in pain while holding the knee, when Punk slide-kicked him out of the ring.

 

Not allowing Undertaker to catch his breath, Punk elevated to the top rope and came crashing down on The Deadman. Just like that, in the matter of mere second, CM Punk was in full control of this match.

Now glowing with confidence, Punk dragged Undertaker back into the ring. Neckbreaker! One, two, kickout by the Undertaker.

Logically, Punk knew he wasn’t getting the three count off of a neckbreaker. However, the more energy The Undertaker used to kick out, the less he would have in the final stages of this crucial match.

Punk keyed in on Undertaker’s shoulder, but Undertaker would respond with more shots to Punk’s head.

Punk would duck a shot, though, and hit a swinging neckbreaker; one, two, no!

“You’re a half second away! You’re a half a second away from ending the streak! It’s momentum, each time you get closer and closer!” Paul Heyman screamed out in encouragement.

Punk wrenched in a headlock on Undertaker. He knew that getting him off his vertical base, his power source, was the best way to defeat him.

Undertaker, though, would battle to his feet and hit a suplex on Punk to regain control.

Undertaker rushed into the corner for a clothesline, but ate a boot from Punk. Punk twisted his arm and again climbed to the top rope for the Undertaker’s own Old School move.

This time, he payed for it. Undertaker would reverse and send Punk crotch-first into the rope. To finish, Undertaker struck Punk in the face and sent him crashing to the floor.

 

“What happened? What happened?” Paul Heyman asked Punk.

“You gotta get up!” He demanded.

Undertaker readied for a Suicide Dive, but Heyman jumped up on the apron in protest. The Deadman would prepare Heyman for a Chokeslam, but turned around when he realized Punk was within striking distance.

Punk came flying off the top rope with a clothesline to ground Undertaker.

Pinfall; one, two, no!

Undertaker backed up into the corner, making himself an easy victim of Punk’s high knee, followed up by a bulldog. He scaled the top rope for his "Macho Man Elbow Drop," driving his elbow into the chest of the Undertaker—and hopefully for him—the final dagger into the streak. Cover; one, two, no!

Punk called for the Go To Sleep, but instead ended up on the receiving end of a chokeslam. Somehow, Punk would manage to kick out of the ensuing cover. He kicked out of the Tombstone! 

The Undertaker’s attack now focused on his lethal striking game. Though Punk showed no fear in striking back, no man could match The Undertaker blow-for-blow. Not even the longest reigning WWE Champion of the Modern Era.

Undertaker now was building up a head of steam; clothesline, snake eyes and nearly a big boot, but Punk opted to hit a dropkick instead; one, two, no!

 

Punk clotheslined Undertaker to the outside once he got back to his feet. He readied the table for a move, but walked into a headbutt.

Undertaker positioned Punk for the Last Ride through the table, but Punk fought out and countered with roundhouse kick to the skull.

Punk leaped onto the top turnbuckle and hit his Elbow Drop onto The Undertaker! The reinforced table didn’t move an inch; causing Punk’s knee to slam against the edge of the table, injuring it in the process.

Nonetheless, Undertaker was the one still outside the ring as Mike Chioda’s count climaxed.

Four, five! Chioda counted, with the Undertaker still lifeless on the floor.

Six, seven! The Undertaker stirred and slowly began crawling towards the ring but he was running out of time.

Eight! He stood up momentarily before collapsing to the floor and stumbling forward.

Nine! He threw himself onto the apron, just making it with no time to spare!

CM Punk held his head in disbelief, on the verge of tears. What did he have to do to put an end to this streak?

What did he have to do to solidify his spot in the WWE Hall of Fame?

“Do anything you have to do!” Heyman told Punk, which was advice Punk had obviously no problem taking over the past couple months.

 

“This is awesome!” the crowd chanted.

Punk crawled to the cover, but was surprised by the Hell’s Gate submission maneuver. Punk squirmed in desperation. He screamed in agony, but somehow, he flipped himself over into a pinning position; one, two, no!

Punk locked in his signature Anaconda Vise with Undertaker’s shoulders on the mat; one, two, no!

Undertaker powered up.

Undertaker arose, and stared into the soul of CM Punk. Punk couldn’t believe that he had locked in his best submission hold, yet it barely even fazed The Deadman on the Grandest Stage of Them All.

He grasped the throat of Punk for a chokeslam, but he somehow leaped out. Now, Punk went for the GTS but Undertaker landed on his feet and rebounded off the ropes.

Tombstone! One, two, no!

Undertaker couldn’t believe it. Paul Heyman couldn’t believe it. The 80,000 fans in attendance couldn’t believe it, nor could the millions watching around the world.

The two battled to their feet with dueling strikes. Undertaker won the exchange and whipped Punk off the ropes for a back body drop. However, Punk countered with a kick.

Punk looked into Undertaker’s eyes and into his dark soul. He suddenly felt a cold grip engulf his neck.

He hit the referee, enabling Paul Heyman to distract The Undertaker.

Punk kicked Undertaker in the gut, then collapsed to the mat thanks to the injury he’d sustained on that very leg earlier in the match. Running knee!

 

Undertaker answered by lifting Punk up for the last ride. In an act of desperation, Heyman handed Punk the sacred urn, and Punk nailed The Deadman in the back of the head with it to force him to let go. And that he did.

Will the urn be the death of the streak? One, two, no!

A resurrection at WrestleMania kept the streak alive!

CM Punk was beside himself in astonishment.

Punk stalked his prey. He mocked The Undertaker with his throat slashing taunt, calling for the Go To Sleep. Undertaker would fight his way out, somehow, and reversed into The Tombstone. But even that failed, and Punk positioned ‘Taker for the GTS once more.

On any other night, Punk may have hit his finishing maneuver and defeated the Undertaker. But this wasn’t just any other night.

This was WrestleMania.

The Undertaker finished the sequence of reversals by finally hitting The Tombstone; one, two, three!

Year after year, opponent after opponent, decade after decade, the Undertaker has always found a way to come out the victor on The Grandest Stage in Sports Entertainment.

The Undertaker was now 21-0 at WrestleMania!

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