CM Punk entered WrestleMania 29 on a losing streak. Given Undertaker was on a 20-match winning streak, there didn't appear to be much hope for the 34-year-old.
But, while Punk didn't ultimately end Undertaker's streak, boy, did he put it to the test.
Coming into the monumental clash, Punk had lost three straight backbreakers. He lost the WWE Championship to The Rock, fell again to The Rock at Elimination Chamber and then lost to John Cena at Raw. This was after being the longest-reigning WWE champion of the modern era, holding the title for 434 days.
But Sunday's match against Undertaker at WrestleMania 29 was one for the ages.
Punk was just the kind of heel you would want against Undertaker. He taunted Undertaker with the urn before the match, slapped him with an open palm to get him going and then went back and forth with the legend from then on.
Undertaker responded to Punk's antics with fury from the start, sending him through a barricade and executing a big leg drop to stun him. Punk was noticeably off center, but showed the heart of a champion, nailing a deep armdrag to counter Undertaker's "Old School." And, in a great wrinkle, he executed "Old School" himself.
Punk actually had control for a brief period of time, but lost control after a failed "Old-School" attempt. Undertaker roared back with a big choke slam and almost had Punk down for the count before Punk popped back up.
With Heyman distracting Undertaker, Punk exploded with a Springboard Clothesline. But it was yet another near-fall. After executing "Snake Eyes," Undertaker could smell blood, going for his signature Big Boot.
Of course, Punk was there to challenge, responding with a jumping heel kick.
As the action spilled out onto a table outside the ring, Punk was able to land a kick to Undertaker's head. His ensuing elbow drop was executed beautifully from top rope. In fact, it was all the more damaging given the table didn't break.
But Undertaker was miraculously able to roll back into the ring before the count to 10.
After a reversal to a pin count following a trip to Hell's Gate, Punk almost had Undertaker. But Undertaker was able to get free, setting Punk up for the Tombstone in the process.
However, once again, Punk released.
After a variety of moves, Undertaker, once again, appeared to have Punk. But Punk slammed the urn into his back at the last second, then went into his cross-arm pin.
After a throat-slashing taunt from Punk, Undertaker anticipated the Go-to-Sleep attempts and reversed into a Tombstone Piledriver.
One, two, three, it was finally over.
Sunday's action not only highlighted a true great in Undertaker, it highlighted a great in CM Punk. Although it ultimately goes down as another loss for Punk, what he did against Undertaker will be remembered for a long time. He single-handedly proved that he belonged with the giants.
The WWE has received its fair share of criticism throughout the years, but the showdown between CM Punk and Undertaker was a brilliant display.
The face will get the credit, but the heel did his job to perfection.
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