When The Rock defeated CM Punk to win the WWE championship at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) this past Jan. 27, 2013, in Phoenix, Arizona, to set up his WrestleMania 29 main event match against John Cena on April 7 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, there were some who felt like it was a bit of a slap in the face to "The Straight Edge Superstar."
After all, his historic 434-day title reign, the longest of the modern era and a streak that likely won't be matched for a long time to come, if at all, seemed to be cast aside simply so Rock, a part time star, could lose it to Cena on the biggest stage possible.
Did that cheapen Punk's reign? Some would argue it did but there's another argument to be made here and one that more fans should think of subscribing to: Punk's reign legitimized him in a way that nothing else could. He was already a made man, yes, but at this point, you have to be damn near a legend to battle Undertaker at WrestleMania.
More than anything, that's what Punk's 434-day title reign did. It made him a worthy opponent for "The Deadman."
Initially, there were questions regarding whether or not the demon from Death Valley would even work this year's show. He's not getting any younger, after all, and his health is failing him. A bum hip and a busted shoulder augment a terribly banged up body that can only handle so much more damage.
That's why the build up to the match has been so, shall we say, psychological. It's not because that's the proper way to play it but because it's a necessary evil. Even when 'Taker was tasked with running in to save his brother Kane at one point, he could barely make it down the ramp without appearing as though he was going to fall over.
We'll see how that affects the match itself. We know both men are not only capable of working hurt but can do so at an extremely high level. Can they repeat that here?
We do know they're hoping to use a high level of emotion to make up for some of their physical shortcomings. The central storyline was so-so at first but Paul Bearer's death one week into the program provided all the fodder they couldn't possibly have hoped to conjure out of thin air. Whatever discomfort it may bring up in fans will be used to drive their want to cheer for Undertaker to get revenge on Punk for disparaging Bearer's good name.
Or so WWE hopes.
Either way, Undertaker performing at WrestleMania is always special and we'll get to see it one more time on Sun., April 7, 2013, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.