WWE Classic of the Week: Remembering Undertaker vs. CM Punk at Hell in a Cell
This week's WWE classic took place four years ago on October 4, 2009 and featured CM Punk defending the World Heavyweight Championship against The Undertaker. This was not a WrestleMania match of course, so Taker's undefeated streak was not on the line. However, that did not stop Punk from bringing all he had to the match.
The background of the match began back on the August 28, 2009 edition of Friday Night SmackDown. Punk defended his newly won championship against former titleholder Jeff Hardy. The winner of the bout had the unenviable task of trying to best The Undertaker at the upcoming Breaking Point pay-per-view.
Punk walked away with the win and the belt that night. So, the Breaking Point main event was set. And what happened that night was pure controversy.
Taker had the match won. He had cinched in his Hell's Gate submission move on Punk and the Straight Edge Superstar was forced to tap out. However, SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long suddenly appeared on the ramp and reminded The Undertaker that his hold had been banned.
The match restarted and Punk managed to trap Taker in his Anaconda Vice maneuver. While the crowd waited to see if Undertaker would actually give up, referee Scott Armstrong suddenly called for the bell and signaled that Punk had won the match.
In what appeared to be nothing but a poor attempt of recreating the infamous Shawn Michaels versus Bret Hart match from 1997's Survivor Series, Punk escaped with the belt and Taker was left in shock. And so were the fans that likely expected a much better finish than what they saw.
But Punk had the title and what could be considered a psychological advantage over The Phenom. However, after Undertaker supposedly kidnapped Teddy Long, his Hell's Gate submission move was reinstated. Punk would be forced to defend the World title in a rematch with Undertaker, and he would be at the mercy of The Deadman's full arsenal.
The rematch was booked for Hell in a Cell, and that is where we begin.
From the opening moments of the match, before the bell ever rang, Jim Ross was really putting over the fact that Punk looked very confident. The man who would later come to be known as The Best in the World did not flinch at the sight of The Undertaker. Punk was not afraid, and this was stressed by WWE's Hall of Fame announcer.
Taker gave fans the entrance that they had come to expect. The smoke, the flames, the aura of The Phenom was in full effect at Hell in a Cell. The crowd was definitely primed and ready for this one.
Undertaker came out swinging, causing the champ to immediately take a step back. Taker took advantage of his environment very early on, using the Cell as the weapon that it was intended to be. Punk was in trouble from the opening bell and did a great job of selling the challenger's attack.
After slamming the steps into Taker's knee, Punk gained his first offensive flurry of the contest. It was at this point that the crowd began to chant for both men. This was a definite sign of things to come for The Second City Saint, as he eventually became one of WWE's most popular Superstars.
This match was absolutely not a classic in terms of technical prowess on the part of either man. Hell in a Cell was never meant to be that kind of event. It was designed to house a fight, an all-out war between two men who were vying for one hunk of championship gold.
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This was illustrated very well during the course of the match, as the upper hand was traded back and forth. Taker continued using the Cell against his opponent, and Punk consistently targeted Taker's knee. A steel chair was brought into the mix, but it could not keep The Deadman down, as he nailed CM Punk with The Last Ride.
But Punk kicked out at two, demonstrating his toughness and will to win. Again, this was put over by both Jim Ross and Todd Grisham.
Suddenly, the World champion was in the driver's seat, and it looked as though perhaps he could pull off the win.
But after taking a chairshot himself, Punk was caught in a chokelsam. This led to The Tombstone piledriver and the end of the match.
Your winner and new World heavyweight champion is The Undertaker.
Again, this was not a technical masterpiece by any means. In fact, I would argue that their match at WrestleMania 29 was much better. And at just over 10.5 minutes, it was obviously not meant to be the main event. In fact, it was the first match on the card.
But this match did set the tone for the rest of the night. Taker and Punk gave fans just a taste of the viciousness that Hell in a Cell is all about. I believe the match also helped cement Punk as the main event star that so many fans believed he could be.
He went toe-to-toe with arguably the most respected performer of WWE's modern era, and he made it look good. Punk carried his weight and was very believable in every moment of the match. Punk matched up better than most fans likely thought he would, and I believe that he gained quite a bit due to the rub he got from Taker.
This match may not have been an instant classic, but it was still very important. And it was entertaining. At the end of the day, that's all any fan can ask for.
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