411’s Top 30 WrestleMania Matches of All Time: #25 - CM Punk vs. The Undertaker (WM 29)
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.12.2014
411 continues its look at the top 30 matches in the history of WrestleMania with CM Punk vs. The Undertaker from WrestleMania 29!
Welcome back to 411Mania, and welcome to 411's official countdown to WrestleMania 30! Every year, the 411 staff comes together in some way to bring you, the fine readers of our site, a special countdown to WrestleMania. In past years we have done special countdown columns, ranking the shows, rating them overall, discussing special aspects of the big event, and even columns that have served as odes to the matches and moments that are etched into our minds.
To some fans, WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, and the way that WWE has transformed the event into a near weeklong party, it may as well be a holiday to the fans that love our special brand of entertainment. Call it sport or call it a specially designed male soap opera, we love it and we love to talk about what makes things special. WrestleMania is an institution, and this year, as the WWE gets prepared to put on their 30th WrestleMania event, we decided to go big. Starting on March 7th, and running all the way to April 5th, 411 will present the top 30 matches in WrestleMania history.
Each writer on the 411 staff was given the opportunity to nominate 30 matches of their choosing. #1 on their list received 30 points, #2 received 29 points, and so on and so forth. Writers were asked to base their lists on both match quality and historical significance to create their nominations. The final list was created, and there was a ton of competition for the top spot. In fact, the voting was so tight that the top FOUR matches were separated by a mere 16-points.
Each day we will present a match from the list, which will include a full recap of the match from the 411 archives (from Scott Slimmer, JD Dunn, and Robert Leighty Jr.) as well as thoughts from the writers. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you enjoy our presentation…
#25. From WrestleMania 29 – CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
Living Colour is live on stage to play Cult of Personality. Unfortunately, that probably won't help Punk's chances in this match. The Undertaker rises to the stage with the demons of Hell grabbing at his ankles, trying to pull him back to the realm below. Okay, that's was a pretty amazing visual.
Taker heads right for Punk, but Punk ducks a shot and slaps Taker right across the face. That just can't be smart. Punk traps taker in the corner and works him over with a volley of elbow shots to the face. Punk lands another slap to the face and follows up with a kick to the gut. Punk hits the ropes and charges at Taker, but Taker levels Punk with a Big Boot. Taker whips Punk to the outside and follows him out of the ring. Taker whips Punk chest-first into the barrier, and Punk tumbles into the timekeeper's area. Taker slams Punk's face into the Spanish announce table, and Taker clears the table. Taker rams Punk back-first into the ring post and rolls him onto the ring apron. We've got dueling "Undertaker! CM Punk! Undertaker! CM Punk!" chants from the crowd. Taker hits his patented ring apron leg drop and heads back into the ring. Taker drives his shoulder into Punk's shoulder, heads up top, and goes for Old School, but Punk counters into a deep arm drag that sends Taker all the way across the ring. Punk grabs Taker's arm, heads up top, and PUNK HITS OLD SCHOOL! Punk follows up with a side Russian leg sweep for a two count. Punk locks in some sort of wrist lock, but Taker gets back to his feet and traps Punk in the corner. Taker whips Punk to the opposite corner, but Punk's head collides with the top of the ring post. Taker goes for a Big Boot in the corner, but Punk slides out of the way, and Taker wrenches his knee between the ring posts. Taker tumbles out of the ring, and Punk heads up top. Punk flies and levels Taker with a double ax handle. Punk rolls Taker back into the ring and follows up with a neck breaker for another two count. Punk continues to work over Taker's shoulder, but Taker fights back with a volley of punches to the head. Punk counters into a swinging neck breaker for yet another two count. Punk locks in a rear chin lock, but Taker breaks the hold with a knee to the gut. Taker snap suplexes Punk, but Punk goes for Old School a second time. Punk walks the rope, but this time he loses his balance and crotches himself on the top rope. Taker knocks Punk off the ring apron and down to the arena floor. Taker hits the ropes and sets up for a dive, but Paul Heyman jumps up to the ring apron to block Taker and save Punk. Taker puts on the brakes, and that give Punk enough time to level Taker with his patented springboard diving clothesline. Punk heads up top and connects with the Macho Man Diving Elbow Drop for a LOOONG two count. Punk calls for the Go To Sleep, but Taker floats over and counters into a chock slam for a two count of his own. Taker and Punk both get back to their feet and slug it out in the middle of the ring. Taker traps Punk in the corner and beats him senseless. Taker whips Punk to the opposite corner and hits a running clothesline. Taker delivers Snake Eyes and goes for the Big Boot, but Punk counters with a back heel kick to the jaw. Punk clothesline Taker over the top rope, and Taker lands right in front of the Spanish announce table. Punk finishes clearing off the table, but Taker gets back to his feet. TAKER TRIES TO GIVE PUNK THE LAST RIDE THROUGH THE SPANISH ANNOUNCE TABLE… but Punk floats over and connects with a kick to the head. Taker lands on the announce table… Punk heads all the way up top… PUNK HITS THE MACHO MAN DIVING ELBOW DROP FROM THE TOP TO THE ANNOUNCE TABLE, AND THE TABLE DOESN'T BREAK! Seriously, this company needs to start buying cheaper announce tables. Punk makes it back into the ring, but Taker is moving much more slowly. Taker just manages to slide back into the ring the count of about 9.95. Punk crawls toward Taker, but Taker catches Punk in Hell's Gate. Punk flips forward into a modified jackknife pin, but Taker releases the hold to break the pin. Punk locks in the Anaconda Vice and gets a two count. Taker fights back to his feet and counters into an attempted choke slam, but Punk counters into the Go To Sleep, but Taker lands on his feet, hits the ropes, and hits the Tombstone Piledriver. One… Two… PUNK KICKS OUT OF THE TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! Taker and Punk slug it out on their knees and fight their way up to their feet. Taker whips Punk to the ropes, but Punk kicks Taker in the chest. Taker goes for the choke slam, but Heyman distracts Taker. Punk kicks Taker in the knee and follows up with his patented running knee in the corner. Punk goes for the running bulldog, but Taker catches Punk. Taker goes for the Last Ride, but Heyman tosses the Urn to Punk, and Punk smashes the Urn into the back of Taker's head. Punk hits Taker's patented cover but only gets a two count. Punk goes for another Go To Sleep, but Taker counters into an attempted Tombstone Piledriver, but Punk counters into another attempted Go To Sleep, but Taker counters back into the Tombstone Piledriver for the three count.
- By Scott slimmer
Justin Watry: What a difference one year makes.
In early 2013, the landscape was fairly easy to sort out. Brock Lesnar was heading towards a rematch with Triple H at WrestleMania 29. The Rock and John Cena were about to finish their multi-year layered story with a WWE Championship main event clash. Then CM Punk (arguably the top heel at the time) was set to challenge The Undertaker (arguably the most beloved face at the time) for his undefeated WM Streak. All things had been lined up perfectly.
If I told you in early 2013 that in 12 months, one of those two men would possibly be gone from WWE, how many of you would have believed me that it was Punk currently on the outside looking in?
Amazing. What a difference one year makes. Rewind back to the actual feud and match, it really was a tale of two halves. A slow start but a very strong finish! Whoever came up with the idea of having Punk defeat Randy Orton, Big Show, and Sheamus on Raw to face Taker at Mania should have been...well, we all know what happened to that guy. A simple promo could have done the trick. After that, fate played a role with the unfortunate death of Paul Bearer. From there, the entire mood shifted.
It was no longer about Punk trying to end The Streak because that was never going to happen anyways. It was about Taker getting revenge on Punk for his comments about Bearer and his mistreatment of the urn. While that was not your typical way to build up a major WrestleMania match, it had to be done. With the help from the usual great production team and Cult of Personality being played live, the fans were jacked for ‘go time!' Thankfully, both men are great inside that ring and would not accept anything less than great once the bell rang. With Paul Heyman at ringside, Punk gave Taker everything he had.
In the end, the battle ended just as every other Undertaker match ended in the past and will in the future - with the right man winning and keeping his undefeated streak. What made this special was the use of the urn for Taker getting it back and an emotional moment for the fans at home and in the arena watching. This match was for Paul Bearer. A touching tribute to one of the best managers in wrestling history, brought to you by CM Punk and The Undertaker.
Chad Nevett: There's always at least one of these on every list like this: the brand new slotted amongst a roster of old, time-proven favorites. I usually roll my eyes at inclusions like this on lists. I'm a big believer in sticking with things that have proven their worth over time. The albums that I still listen to ten years later with the same excitement as when I first heard it. The movies I never tire of. The books I reread for the seventh time despite a pile of unread stuff accumulating. But, whenever a list like this is made, there's always at least one thing from the very recent past that hasn't had a chance to prove its worth. We haven't even hit the WrestleMania XXX yet and here's a match from WrestleMania XXIX. Wow. Less than a year and it's made the top WrestleMania matches of all time. My first reaction to seeing this on the list was my usual eye roll.
Then, I rewatched the match. It belongs on this list.
It may not be my favorite Undertaker WrestleMania match (I got to write about that already) or the best Undertaker WrestleMania match, but it is a testament to the skills of both CM Punk and the Undertaker. The Undertaker arrives once a year to deliver a Match of the Year candidate, almost like a more limited Shawn Michaels. You would expect a year between matches to make his in-ring performance rusty and lacking, when it's the opposite. Punk, on the other hand, just came off his monster WWE Championship run that saw him go from face to the biggest heel in the company. His feud with the Undertaker was him stepping into that heel role like never before, moving past the arrogant jerk who bragged about being the longest reigning WWE Champion in decades and into the realm of the cartoonishly evil heel that does thing that no one would ever do. The death of Paul Bearer was made a part of the build and managed to do something that I didn't think possible after the previous four years: make it personal for the Undertaker. After his matches with Michaels and Triple H, the rumored match with Punk seemed more like an attempt to ensure that the Dead Man could keep his recent streak of amazing matches going. It would be great to watch, but maybe a little soulless. That was an erroneous assumption. Punk did everything to make it personal by attacking the memory of the Undertaker's legendary manager – and it made it personal for both the Undertaker and the fans. People talked about Punk and the WWE going too far, turning even the smarkiest of CM Punk supporters into people who would boo him when he came out. That alone is damn impressive.
Undertaker matches at this point are strange beasts. Each one seems like it could be his last and, in each one, we know who will win. That's both an advantage and a disadvantage. By this possibly being the last one, everyone goes into it hoping it will be great – the best yet even, to act as the capstone on his amazing Streak and career. But, with the finish already known, how do you deliver a compelling match that isn't coasting on good wishes and fond feelings? Punk and ‘Taker did it by going all out. Just throwing everything they can into the mix and making you forget for a split second here and there that the Streak would continue. They also did it by making Punk such a heel. It was a very classic approach: you knew the face would win and you tuned in so you could see the face win. It's part of the WrestleMania tradition and one that the Undertaker had flirted with over the years (and, arguably, went against at times) and, here, he had a chance to continue that tradition with one of the best wrestlers in the world. It satisfied both the desire for spectacle and the desire for an incredible workrate. Looking at this match and this list, I have a feeling that, come ten years from now, this match will rank even higher than it has here.