By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on WrestleMania Recall, I will be ranking my top 31 favorite matches in WWE WrestleMania history. A new installment will be posted every day in the month of March, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Thursday, March 31st, mere days before WrestleMania 32. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
You won't be surprised when I tell you that this is the only match from WrestleMania 29 you'll find on this list, but I'd be dammed if it wasn't terrific and if it didn't deserve to be placed so high up. That whole WrestleMania felt like a four hour episode of Raw to me, and once it ended, it left me feeling like nothing had changed. "Wait, that's it?" was what I said to myself when the screen faded to black. If there was one match that saved that show from being a total disaster, it was The Undertaker vs. CM Punk.
The match had been rumored dating back to December 2012 when it was made clear that Punk wouldn't be a part of the WrestleMania main event, and I was excited at the idea of it. I held out hope that Punk would somehow retain the WWE Championship against The Rock at the Royal Rumble and go on to defend against 'Taker in a Streak vs. Title match at 'Mania, but no such luck. They went on to have a hell of a match regardless of there not being any gold up for grabs.
On March 4, The Undertaker made his long awaited return to Raw on the Old School-themed episode. A Fatal 4-Way match was held that same evening between Punk, Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus with the winner advancing to WrestleMania 29 as Undertaker's opponent, and following a hard-fought bout, Punk emerged victorious. Thus, the match was made official, but no more than 24 hours later did news break that Paul Bearer, Undertaker's storyline father, legitimately passed away.
It's anyone's guess what WWE had in mind for the feud had Paul Bearer not died, but I can't imagine it would have been much better. It certainly felt like WWE crossed the line at times by having Punk drop that damn urn (which always seems to resurface every few years for an Undertaker feud) and pour its ashes all over himself. To me, Undertaker should have retired at 20-0 following his awe-inspiring outing at WrestleMania 28, but I couldn't complain about getting a great match between him and Punk.
As noted, I liked very little about WrestleMania 29. The opening six-man tag team match with The Shield reigning supreme was decent, but Big Show's heel turn was a waste. Fandango's win over Chris Jericho was a total afterthought, Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger was an absolute bore, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar felt overbooked beyond belief, and John Cena vs. The Rock was just plain awful. Punk was determined to deliver a performance of a lifetime with Undertaker and he ultimately succeeded in doing just that.
The self-professed best wrestler in the world was willing to stop at nothing in order to emerge victorious, going so far as to mock the mannerisms of The Deadman by doing the cut-throat gesture at various points throughout the matchup. In addition to wanting to pay tribute to his fallen father and extend his storied streak to 21-0, Undertaker was on a mission to beat respect into Punk. From taking two Go to Sleeps and a flying elbow on the commentary table, it was going to be harder than he originally thought.
Easily my favorite moment of the match came when Punk hit the GTS on 'Taker only for 'Taker to bounce off the ropes, come back and deliver a Tombstone Piledriver on Punk almost immediately. Punk valiantly kicked out, but the second Tombstone of the contest was too much for him to endure. If you end up watching WrestleMania 29, you'd be doing yourself a massive favor by tuning in for solely this match and turning it off as soon as it's over. You'll thank me later for sparing you four hours of worthless garbage.
SEE ALSO: "WrestleMania Recall, Match #15: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, WrestleMania 28"