CM Punk can soothe the pain of losing his WWE title to The Rock at the Royal Rumble with the knowledge that his greatest match is yet to come.
Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker have both shown just how much age and experience improves a wrestler's performance over time.
At age 34, Punk likely has another decade worth of high-level ring work left to entertain WWE fans. With as high-profile as he is now and as close to the top of the card as he'll likely remain, Punk is almost certain to produce a number of classic matches.
That could perhaps include his opus.
The evolution of Punk's ring skills has seen him grow from an energetic, passionate kid to a master of his craft.
Compare Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk's work at Ring of Honor together to their classic at Over the Limit.
Both men have clearly sharpened their performance skills. Both men better understand how to work the crowd.
Punk milks the power of his moves more now. Even the way he pins Bryan, his body flopped over Bryan's is more dramatic, more compelling.
On top of that, Punk and Bryan's profile has grown tremendously in the years separating those matches.
A large part of what makes the greatest matches great is the star power involved. Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 26 wouldn't have been anywhere as powerful had those guys been replaced with lesser stars.
Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel could put on the most fantastically-worked match with everything done perfectly and it simply would not have the impact it would if those guys were bigger names.
CM Punk vs. The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013 meant so much more than it would have three years ago. Punk is more famous and fans are more invested in whether he wins or loses.
Cut to several years from now. Punk will be better known and will have accomplished much more. Punk's big matches can only possess more meaning in the future.
Punk will not leave WWE in the heart of his prime for the NFL a la Brock Lesnar. Chances are he won't bolt for Hollywood, either.
Should Punk stick with this violent, dramatic art, fans will witness another five-star match of his.
Perhaps one of the recent NXT transfers will challenge him at a future WrestleMania. Perhaps a future date with Wade Barrett or Dolph Ziggler will feature high stakes, a horde of eager eyes and the canvas for Punk to paint his finest masterpiece.
Some of Shawn Michaels' finest matches were from his final WWE years. He rattled off Match of the Year awards in his late 30s and early 40s. When that time comes for Punk, when his career winds down, expect Punk to then have his greatest match.
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