Reviews

TJR WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk @ WrestleMania 29

wwe wrestlemania 29 cm-punk-undertaker

The undefeated streak of The Undertaker was on the line at WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey as he battled the former long-time WWE Champion CM Punk.

wwe wrestlemania 29 the undertaker cm punk

Who: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk @ WrestleMania 29

When: April 7, 2013

Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Build

CM Punk was the WWE Champion for 434 days from late 2011, through all of 2012 and up until the 2013 Royal Rumble when he lost the title to The Rock. That title change was obvious from the moment The Rock announced he’d challenge for the title during the previous summer, but it did not sit well with a lot of fans. Punk was the best performer in WWE for a couple of years leading up to that, at least in my opinion and I’m sure a lot of you would agree as well. It could be argued that he should have been in the main event of WrestleMania 29. However, WWE chose to go in another direction as part timer The Rock dropped the WWE Title to John Cena in a rematch of their WrestleMania 28 match one year earlier.

There was a Fatal Fourway match on the March 4 episode of Raw between Randy Orton, Big Show, Sheamus and CM Punk. The winner of that match got to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania 29. Punk got the win there, which was pretty obvious because he was the biggest name of the three and there was nothing else planned for him that we knew of.

The Undertaker was a part-timer at this point in his career that had the famous undefeated streak at WrestleMania. He was 20-0 at WrestleMania heading into this match.

For the storyline, they used Paul Bearer’s real life March 2013 death to make Punk more of a villain. There was a famous scene where Paul Heyman, Punk’s advocate, even dressed up like The Undertaker. Later, Punk had an urn in his hands and dumped it all over The Undertaker as a sign that he was dumping the ashes of Bearer onto his friend, The Undertaker.

The interesting thing about a story like that is some fans hate it when WWE uses reality for a storyline. I can see why people hated it since Bearer’s death was so fresh in our minds and there was no way of knowing if he would be okay with it. Others thought that it was smart of WWE to do it since everybody watching knew about it, so ignoring it would have been foolish. There’s the right or wrong way to go about something like that, but that’s what WWE did.

 

What I Thought Back Then

I was excited about the match because CM Punk was the best wrestler in the company. I figured he would have been angry about not being in the main event of the show and we

He had a feud with The Undertaker a few years earlier, but Punk was a better performer at this point and I felt like his match with Taker would be better this time. I feel like I was on point in thinking that way because they ended up having their best match together.

What we didn’t know at the time was that this was the last WrestleMania match for CM Punk. Could he come back in the future to have another one? Perhaps, but he didn’t stick around for the WrestleMania after this and it’s possible he may never return. As of this writing, this was his last WrestleMania. I hope that changes one day because I’m a fan of CM Punk.

I didn’t mind that they used the death of Paul Bearer in the storyline because nothing in pro wrestling ever really offends me. It wasn’t disrespectful to Bearer to have an evil television character like Punk to rip on him. It was a way to tell the story to get heat on Punk. If they just did the match without a story people would complain about a lack of story. Something is better than nothing in that case.

Here’s my full review of the match plus the analysis, which was written in 2013.

The video package aired for the feud between The Undertaker and CM Punk because that match is up next.

As CM Punk and Paul Heyman made their entrance, Living Colour played their song “Cult of Personality” to a big reaction from the crowd. That was pretty cool. Heyman had the urn with him. I’m guessing Living Colour has not performed in front of big crowds very often in the last twenty years. It must be really cool for them to be there. It’s a great song, so I’m glad they were given this big platform.

The entrance for The Undertaker was pretty awesome as usual. As he emerged from the shadows there were hands of fans that were close to touching him, but none of them got that close. The entrance took about four minutes. Punk was looking like a maniac during all of it.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (w/Paul Heyman)

Punk slapped him in the face early on. Undertaker came back with a boot to the face. Punk had a bandage on his right elbow. Punk hasn’t wrestled in about a month because of the elbow injury. Undertaker threw Punk into the security wall outside the ring. Undertaker threw Punk ‘s head into the announce table as Undertaker threw the monitors off the Spanish table. Undertaker threw Punk into the ring post. Dueling chants from the crowd with some chanting “Undertaker” and some chanting “CM Punk.” Great atmosphere! Undertaker hit a leg drop on the apron right on the throat of Punk. Undertaker kept on intimidating ref Mike Chioda whenever he would warn him. Undertaker went to the top for the clothesline, but Punk took him down with an arm drag to huge heat. Punk went to the top rope and hit the Old School Clothesline move with his left arm. Loud “CM Punk” chants. Punk avoided an attack as Undertaker went knee first into the top turnbuckle. Dropkick knocked Undertaker to the floor. Punk hit a double axehandle off the top to the floor followed by a neckbreaker in the ring to get a two count. Undertaker looks to be in pretty good shape, by the way. Undertaker tried to use punches to fight back, but then Punk got a swinging neckbreaker for two. Heyman encouraged Punk saying that Punk was getting closer with every pinfall attempt. Undertaker countered a headlock with a suplex. A corner charge didn’t work, so Punk went for the top rope Old School clothesline again, but this time Punk slipped and got crotched on the top rope. Undertaker punched Punk in the face to knock him outside the ring. Undertaker ran the ropes and he wanted to hit a dive. Instead, Paul Heyman jumped on the apron. That distraction allowed Punk to attack with a top rope clothesline. That was a good tease of that famous Undertaker dive.

Punk hit the running knee in the corner followed by a clothesline. Punk hit the Flying Elbow off the top rope for two. Undertaker slipped out of a GTS and hit a huge Chokeslam that earned him a two count. Good nearfall. Undertaker came back with some signature spot including a corner attack and the snake eyes. Punk countered Undertaker again with a jumping side kick for two. Punk gave Undertaker a clothesline over the top to the floor. They were brawling by the table as Heyman distracted the ref to keep him from counting. Undertaker wanted the Last Ride Powerbomb through the table, but Punk slipped out and kicked Undertaker in the head. With Undertaker on the table, Punk went to the top rope and hit the Flying Elbow. The table didn’t break. That’s the Spanish Announce Table seeking revenge after all these years. Undertaker crawled into the ring right before the ten count. Undertaker applied the Hell’s Gate submission, but Punk countered it into a two count. Punk applied the Anaconda Vice submission move on the shoulder of Undertaker. Great spot as Undertaker got back up to his face and made an evil face right into the eyes of Punk. Punk avoided a Chokeslam and hit an awkward GTS. Undertaker bounced off the ropes and he gave Punk a Tombstone! Punk kicked out! What an incredible nearfall that was. The crowd is really into this match, as they should be. They started brawling. Undertaker went for a choke, so Punk hit the ref in the face “accidentally” on purpose. Punk hit his running knee in the corner. Undertaker was going for the Last Ride as Heyman gave Punk the urn. Punk hit Undertaker in the head with it. He covered by folding Undertaker’s arms on his chest. One…two…no! Another awesome nearfall. Punk did the Undertaker’s famous throat slash. GTS didn’t work. Undertaker countered, got to his feet, hit the Tombstone, folded Punk’s arms on his chest and covered for the win at 22:07. That’s 21-0 for Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Winner by the pinfall: The Undertaker

The crowd was cheering wildly as The Undertaker did a pose in front of the urn in tribute to his late friend Paul Bearer. Undertaker left with the urn in his hand as the “21-0” graphic appeared. He looked back at the crowd that showed their appreciation for him.

Analysis: ****1/2 What an incredible match that was. The formula for these Undertaker matches has been pretty simple with his opponent hitting everything, Undertaker kicking out and having the opponent kick out of stuff too. Guess what? it works. The crowd absolutely loves it. The Undertaker has great matches year after year on the biggest stage there is and he proves just how legendary he is. As for Punk, what can I say? He was incredible from start to finish. His mannerisms were perfect the whole way. He really did a great job of reacting to everything when he came close to winning and fell short. The crowd showed him respect. He delivered his second classic match of the year (the other being on Raw in February). I’m looking forward to watching it again because it was masterfully done in terms of the time it was given, the execution by both performers and the reaction of the fans. They were so loud when Undertaker won. It’s just a shame that the damn Spanish Announce Table didn’t break! It wasn’t just about kicking out finishers. They built up the story well, the crowd became heavily involved in the action, the drama was there for everything they did and it was a near perfect match. Amazing job by both guys.

 

What They Said

CM Punk commented on the match in 2021 on My Mom’s Basement podcast (I don’t name these things) with thanks to WrestlingInc for the transcript:

“The last one I did, 29 against Undertaker, just given the circumstances leading up to that and everything that happened after it, to me, that’s the most defining punk rock moment of my entire career. I didn’t care about anything. I was a man f**king possessed, and I simultaneously didn’t give a f**k and cared way too much at the same time.”

“And I went out there, and I absolutely destroyed it. They couldn’t follow me no matter what they said. People still to this day will be like, ‘Oh, you never main evented WrestleMania,’ and I say, ‘Yes I did’ because it’s that one. You should have just packed it up and f**king went home after that.”

CM Punk also talked about it at the Starrcast panel in 2019 with thanks to ComicBook for the transcript:

“The WrestleMania main event, I look back at it now, it was like a mechanism in my head. Like, it doesn’t f—ing exist. To me, that last WrestleMania I worked, it was evident that I was never going to get that last match. And at that point I didn’t care, I just wanted to be paid the most. And that to some people was even ridiculous. But given the top of the card and where I was, I was like, ‘No, pay me. Give me what I want or pay me’ And that’s kind of where I was. So now I look at it like, ‘I should’ve just been asking for more money the whole time.'”

Punk added that there was no truth to the rumor that Punk was mad he was wrestling Undertaker.

“I don’t remember being mad that I was wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania, because I think if you look at it, the whole streak thing was like a big thing. I think I was probably mad about the way it was presented. I was just like, if I’m involved [I want it] to be the best it possibly can be. And if you’re just another guy wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania, it feels like that’s exactly what you are. Like, ‘Oh, The Undertaker needs to beat somebody at WrestleMania. Here you are!'”

“I had ideas to actually build it up and make it look like a threat. And I never felt I was. I was disappointed in that but I was never mad I was wrestling The Undertaker. I thought it was a good match.”

Here’s CM Punk talking about how he didn’t give a f**k about working against The Undertaker. He felt like he should have been in the main event and wanted to be paid more money.

 

What I Think Now

I think CM Punk was the best performer in WWE from 2009 to 2013 meaning five years in a row. People can argue with me on that and that’s fine. The only one that was that close to him was Daniel Bryan and he wasn’t yet a main eventer in those years. He worked his ass off during that five-year run. Sure, I wish he got even more in terms of main events, but I’m glad he was able to do what he did because he accomplished a lot.

As for The Undertaker, this was the last outstanding match during a stretch of six straight WrestleManias where he had a match that was over four stars (out of five) and usually well above that mark too. From WrestleManias 24 through this match at WM29 he put on a classic performance every team. It’s incredible considering he was in his 40s during that entire stretch too.

What stood out to me the most when watching the match again was how well they built up the nearfalls with Punk coming so close to winning multiple times. There were times when guys faced The Undertaker at WrestleMania where there weren’t enough moments where it looked like Taker might lose. In this case, they had as many believable nearfalls as any Undertaker match and that’s what made it so dramatic when Taker finally put him away with the Tombstone.

The most shocking part of the match? When CM Punk did that top rope elbow onto Taker on the table and the table didn’t break! That’s pretty rare. Those tables usually break for a spot like that.

 

What Happened Next

This was Punk’s last match as a heel in WWE. Punk was off for two months following WrestleMania. He had dealt with a lot of injuries and needed some time off. He returned in June 2013 at the Payback PPV in his hometown of Chicago and received a hero’s welcome when he came back. He feuded with former manager Paul Heyman along with wrestlers like Curtis Axel and Ryback.

At the 2014 Royal Rumble, Punk was eliminated by Kane on behalf of Triple H. It was done to set up Punk vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 30. One day later, prior to Raw, Punk walked out on WWE because he was unhappy. A few months later, on the day of his wedding to AJ Lee, he was officially fired by WWE. Quit or fired, however you want to call it, all we knew is that Punk was gone.

The Undertaker worked a Raw and Smackdown taping in late April in England. He teamed Daniel Bryan and Kane to put over The Shield in a six man tag. He also beat Dean Ambrose in a singles match. That was his last match until WrestleMania 30, which is when his famous undefeated streak at Wrestlemania ended at the hands of Brock Lesnar.

 

Final Thoughts

The crowd was so loud during the entire match. It was an example of what happens when you have two characters that are over in their own way. Punk was over as a heel that was also cheered by some fans while The Undertaker was the living legend that still loved performing for us. There were other big matches on this card, but clearly the fans were there for The Undertaker more than anybody. Just listen to them and you can hear it for yourself.

It’s an outstanding match that had a lot of hype going into it and they lived up to it.

That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport