The Undertaker def. CM Punk BY Ryan Murphy
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — CM Punk came to WrestleMania to prove to the world that The Undertaker was not a Demon from Death Valley, that his mythical urn was nothing but a tin jar full of a dirt, that The Deadman’s storied Streak was just another record waiting to be broken.
On The Grandest Stage of Them All, Punk faced the same reality as 20 other Superstars before him — the legend of The Phenom is not just “hocus pocus.”
In what was perhaps the most personal of The Deadman’s 21 WrestleMania matches, Undertaker successfully defended his flawless Show of Shows record against a Superstar flagrant enough to publically desecrate the memory of Undertaker’s close friend and former manager, Paul Bearer. Last seen pouring the contents of Bearer’s hallowed urn on top of The Phenom’s fallen body, Punk was black-hearted in his pursuit to get inside The Deadman’s head, but he did not consider what it would be like to deal with the devils that dwell inside.
Entering Met Life Stadium to the bombast of a live Living Colour performance of his “Cult of Personality” theme, Punk walked fearlessly onto a battlefield where icons like Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Ric Flair had fallen before him. Was it confidence? Arrogance? It may have been both, but the wicked iconoclast from unforgiving Chicago streets did not lose his will when The Deadman approached him through bolts of lightning and plumes of fire in an entrance that has been intimidating challengers since the days when Hulk Hogan was WWE Champion.
WrestleMania is an event designed around spectacle, but once crew members have lugged the drum riser from the stage and the smoke machines have been turned off, what’s left are two gladiators with raw nerves, heavy hands and a willingness to do what is necessary to put the other man down. From the opening bell, this match was a fight — the ugly kind usually witnessed in parking lots of seedy bars on bad nights and not in front of more than 80,000 people.
The Phenom has never believed in remorse. He’s put innocent men in body bags for no other reason than to prove a point. What he would do to the person who desecrated the memory of his close friend, Bearer, was a question some WWE fans were afraid to hear the answer to. It took seconds for The Deadman to drive his fist into Punk’s face, minutes before The Straight Edge Superstar was introduced to the people in the first row.
Punk, to his credit, would not play victim. Underneath a blackened New Jersey sky, the former WWE Champion mocked The Deadman the entire way, aping The Phenom’s patented Old School maneuver and barking insults about Bearer. In those perfect moments where Undertaker had Punk right where he wanted them, the slimy Paul Heyman would inevitably insert himself into the action. With Bearer’s urn in his slippery tentacles, Heyman appeared so slimy and vile that comparisons to Jabba the Hutt would seem like a compliment.
Oddly, The Straight Edge Superstar was his most dangerous when he played by the rules. Countering the best The Deadman threw at him on multiple occasions, Punk made it clear that he had been studying The Phenom’s playbook since he was in middle school. By the time the Chicago native splayed The Undertaker across a ringside table and blasted him with an elbow drop from the turnbuckle, it became apparent that The Streak was very much in danger.
Willed to the ring by what can only be described as supernatural force, The Deadman avoided a count-out loss by nanoseconds. From there, the one-upmanship between the two warriors was off the charts. When The Undertaker locked in Hell’s Gate, Punk countered with a creative pin attempt. When The Straight Edge Superstar connected with the Go to Sleep, The Phenom bounced back with a Tombstone. How Punk was able to kick out of that will be questioned for years to come.
The final moment nearly came when The Deadman went for the Last Ride and Punk responded by smashing him in the head with the urn. Crossing Undertaker’s arms upon his chest and sticking his tongue out at the WWE Universe, the unapologetic menace came closer than maybe anyone to pinning The Phenom on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
The Voice of the Voiceless had mocked The Undertaker’s fallen friend. He embarrassed him. He threw kicks at his knees and dangerous elbows to his head. He laughed at more than two decades of The Deadman’s legacy, thumbed his nose at the things that meant the most to The Phenom. But this match still ended the way these matches always end — with a devastating Tombstone from The Undertaker.
The Straight Edge Superstar is a man who puts weight in numbers. As the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the modern era, Punk recited the digits of his 434-days title reign like a personal mantra. It was a numerical accomplishment that mathematically proved that he was better than the rest. In WWE, though, the only numbers that matter are 21-0.
At WrestleMania, CM Punk entered as a dangerous skeptic with the hubris necessary to break sports-entertainment’s most vital Streak. He left as a victim, another soul claimed and, most importantly, a believer.
Undertaker 7 April 2013 – The Undertake vs. CM Punk: Photos
And yes, I was wearing one ‘Taker rosary, and holding the other – that’s my WrestleMania tradition. (The story of the ‘Taker rosaries is mysteriously missing from the comm archives, possibly because the person who posted about them – and made them! – deleted her LJ account. She made beautiful jewelry and come up with these – one is black and purple Swarovski crystals, the other is dark grey and deep blue Swarovski pearls. And yes, I wear them every year at ‘Mania, and to work for the week following!)
“CM Punk comes to WrestleMania to prove that The Undertaker’s mythical urn is nothing but a tin jar full of dirt, that The Deadman’s storied Streak is just another record waiting to be broken.”
It was cool, but weird, that they had Living Color play Punk out live. Mostly because it would limit what they could do for ‘Taker’s entrance. But I do really love Cult of Personality, and the bad was cool!
“Undertaker meets Punk in possibly the most personal of all his WrestleMania matches, as The Second City Saint publically desecrated the memory of Undertaker’s close friend and former manager, Paul Bearer.”
The gong at WrestleMania always takes my breath away.
‘Taker’s entrance through the sea of reaching hands (lost souls, perhaps? the dead?) was eerie, and just . . . perfect.
“There is perhaps no entrance as spectacular and haunting in WWE history as that of The Deadman.
‘Taker has a new coat – shares his baby brother’s penchant for new costuming for ‘Mania, perhaps? ;-)
I like this one – it harkens back to the Ministry days more strongly. And it feels like an homage to Paul Bearer too.
This man literally holds 80,000 people in the palm of his hand during his walk to the ring.
And he set off top of stadium pyros that must have had Kane green with envy! ;-)
This is WrestleMania.
“Can CM Punk succeed where icons like Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Ric Flair had fallen before him?”
Hmpf. As if.
He’s back to the faux-hawk, but damn him, he pulls it off. And he looks good!
“As many expected, a brutal and personal match unfolds between the Superstars.”
Starting with Punk slapping ‘Taker’s face – and ‘Taker exploded!
This is when I notice the changed details on his tights. He’s got his ‘T” symbol on his right leg, in bronze, rather than white or black. And something different on his left leg.
These two just went at it – well, mostly, it was ‘Taker opening a can of whoop-ass on Punk!
“The action spills to ringside and it appears that The Streak might well be in serious jeopardy.”
Pfft! For all the talk about disqualification, there wasn’t a single instance of counting while ‘Taker was tossing Punk around outside the ring.
But yes, finally ‘Taker did get around to tossing Punk back in the ring, and he’s setting him up for this leg drop. And Mike Chioda finally starts to get around to reminded ‘Taker about the rules.
“Come on, ‘Taker. ‘Taker, I’m warning you, I’ll disqualify you!”
All the while, ‘Taker’s just getting Punk in position, giving him an elbow to the skull and such, but then he looks up and gives Mike a glare and Mike wisely backs off!
And then yes, leg drop! Glee!
Little bit later, ‘Taker’s got Punk in the corner, just whalin’ on him, and Mike tries to give him the five count – ‘Taker turns to Mike and takes a step, and Mike almost falls over himself backing away!
Those who thought ‘Taker wasn’t gonna be fit? Bullshit! He looked great, including taking a dive off the top rope rather than getting to go Old School.
“Punk mocks The Phenom’s patented Old School maneuver.”
And got atomic heat for it!
Punk also drew first blood, near ‘Taker’s hairline.
Now, the digitals are once again sparse, so it’s recap time!
‘Taker might have sold some spots where he was hurting, but when he hung himself up on the ropes, he was pretty damned athletic!
Heyman outside the ring was brilliant! Channelling Paul Bearer, but rather lovingly, I thought.
Punk tried to go Old School a second time, and crotched himself instead. ‘Taker looked at him for a long moment, then hauled off and slugged him, sending him off the top rope to the floor.
And then ‘Taker frightened the shit out of me – he looks over at Punk, then across the ring, and then he’s running the ropes, setting up for a suicide dive and I did, I screamed at my TV, ” ‘Taker, no!”
Paul Heyman fortunately interposed himself and prevented the suicide dive (which seriously, scares me witless since that time ‘Taker did it and knocked himself loopy cos the stupid cameraman wasn’t in the right spot). ‘Taker was about to chokeslam Paul to the floor when Punk catches ‘Taker from the top rope, and then drops a Macho Man elbow, but ‘Taker kicks out of the pin.
Punk goes for the Go To Sleep, ‘Taker counters with this chokeslam, and Punk kicks out. First of a series of chokeslams that have to have rattled Punk’s brain but good!
Punk then unwisely gets into a slugfest with ‘Taker, and then gets body splashed in the corner.
‘Taker hits Snake Eyes, but Punk deflects the big boot with a dropkick.
“The Chicago native splays The Undertaker across a ringside table and blasts him with a searing elbow drop from the turnbuckle.”
‘Taker was the first to presage the demise of the Spanish announce table – ‘Taker went for a Last Ride on Punk, but Punk fought out and gets a kick in that sends ‘Taker sprawled out there like an advertisement for an all you can eat manflesh buffet!
Punk kinda screwed up the elbow drop – he caught the worst of it on his hip, ‘Taker slid off the announce table and it didn’t collapse. Oops?
This actually caused the first count out, with ‘Taker making it back into the ring just before 10.
Yep, ‘Taker got some seriously good shots in!
And this photo shows more of the design on ‘Taker’s left leg – which had me in tears once I realised what it was.
It’s the urn, surrounded by ‘Taker’s rosary, and it says “RIP PB”.
After making it back into the ring at 9 3/4, ‘Taker’s laid out, and Heyman’s at ringside, telling Punk, “Do anything you have to do!”
‘Taker goes for Hell’s Gate, Punk counters by pressing ‘Taker’s shoulders to the mat and he has to break it before getting a three count.
Punk then gets the Anaconda Vice locked in, gets ‘Taker’s shoulders down for a two count, and ‘Taker sits up with this look in his eyes:
You know, that look that says someone is gonna get hurt real bad!
‘Taker goes for a chokeslam, Punk counters into a GTS, ‘Takr staggers back into the ropes and then comes off them and grabs Punk for a Tombstone Piledriver . . . and Punk kicks out!
‘Taker’s now bleeding from his forehead – but obviously New Jersey don’t care nothing about blood! ;-)
Then it’s another slugfest and ‘Taker’s got his second wind.
Chioda’s down, ‘Taker’s back on the ropes and Punk hits him with a high knee. ‘Taker grabs him for a Last Ride, and suddenly Heyman’s there, up on the apron, giving Punk the urn. Punk clocks ‘Taker with it.
‘Taker’s out, Punk grabs Chioda to make the count while he does ‘Taker’s usual Tombstone pose . . . and ‘Taker kicks out!
“Punk continues to mock Undertaker and his legacy, but like so many that came before him, finds himself on the painful end of a devastating, punctuating Tombstone Piledrive.”
(Tombstone Piledrivers are the grammar nazis of finishing moves – little know fact. -facepalm-)
What actually happened was Punk did this very disrespectful thing, that got Shawn Michaels retired, and went for the GTS.
‘Taker fought out, so Punk went for it again.
‘Taker fought out, and then pulled Punk up in reverse (serious strength required!) for the Tombstone Piledriver!
And it was over.
‘Taker pulled up real well after the match, moving well. He gets down out of the ring, and Heyman’s left the urn sitting on the steel steps. And ‘Taker just reaches out and puts his hand on it.
“21-0. The Undertaker’s iconic Streak is intact.”
During the match recap, ‘Taker gets back in the ring, and when we come back, the urn is there, and ‘Taker is at the ropes opposite it, his back to it.
He turns, and there’s a close up of his face, and I swear, he’s near to tears. It has to be finally for Paul – letting go of that emotion honestly instead of having to “act” if for a storyline.
He gives the urn this iconic pose, that will forever be remembered with Paul Bearer, as the pyro hits.
He then strips down his singlet before picking up the urn and leaving the ring with it, carrying it out with him in a final act of respect.
Part of me hoped that Kane might come out at the top of the ramp.
But instead, ‘Taker looked at the urn, then back at the ring over his shoulder, and raised his arm in salute.
And I was in tears.
Vale, Paul Bearer – William Moody. You are well loved, and well remembered.
No match video of course, but there is this from WWE.com: WWE Official Mike Chioda talks about his experience refereeing the match
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