|By Jesse Collings | March 11, 2013 | Comments|
In case you missed it, Punk won the opportunity to face 'Taker and Wrestlemania by defeating the Big Show, Sheamus and Randy Orton in a fatal four-way on Raw. This was a nice touch by the WWE, especially compared to how the last two Undertaker matches at Wrestlemania were created.
Two years ago, the Undertaker appeared for the first time in almost a year. His appearance was quickly followed up by HHH also making his long-awaited return to WWE television. They both just gazed at the sign that read "Wrestlemania 27" on it and then walked away. Kind of underwhelming right? Last year had a little more teeth to it, but it was still built on the Undertaker vs HHH in a rematch because HHH "had got the best" of Undertaker at the previous Wrestlemania.
CM Punk started off the program fairly well by badgering the Undertaker and his streak, only to be challenged by three other top competitors. This was a good representation of the importance of facing the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. It is something to be earned through conquest, not just something that one person (HHH) can demand.
As for the match itself, the physical condition of the Undertaker is in question, as it has been for the last decade or so. He is reported to be overweight and nursing a litany of injuries. At this stage in his career, I think it is unfair to judge the Undertaker's physical capabilities in the ring before we actually see them. This is a man who has wrestled with nagging injuries his entire career and has rarely failed to deliver a quality match when the bright lights come on. He wrestled Mankind in the infamous Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring 1998 with a broken ankle. Last year Undertaker was banged up pretty bad too, yet he worked through and delivered a generally well-received match. It's obvious to the careful observer that the Undertaker has lost a step or two in the ring, but it is still safe to say that expectations for his match at Wrestlemania will be very high.
Although there are a lot of questions still looming about Wrestlemania, one that definitely isn't is that if CM Punk can put on a good show. His 400+ day championship reign may not have been as financially successful as others have been, but you would be hard pressed to find a better collection of in-ring work from a champion. CM Punk routinely carried limited workers such as John Cena to stellar matches, filled with a great balance of technical excellence and acute drama. If Punk can get a five-star match out of John Cena, he is very capable of doing the same with a banged up Undertaker.
Undertaker also seems to work better with smaller competitors as well. Shawn Michaels is of course the prime example of this, but Undertaker has also worked sensational matches with guys like Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio. Punk fits right into that mold, and as stated before, he has the history to back it up.
The result of an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania should never really be in question. However, the quality of the match usually depends on there being moments where for a split second, it appears that the Undertaker could actually lose. Take last year's match into account, the moment when I personally believed that the streak was in jeopardy was when Shawn Michaels superkicked Undertaker right into the arms of HHH who delivered the Pedigree. For the five or so seconds that followed, I actually thought that the Undertaker was going to lose and the streak would be history. The matches that capture that special moment are the ones that we will always remember, and the matches that don't (vs Mark Henry, vs Big Show and A-Train) are the ones we would like to forget.
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