The Undertaker vs. CM Punk
20 - 0.
Undertaker's WrestleMania record is unimpeachable. The Streak is so legendary a feat, both in the scripted world of WWE and the backstage politics of the pro wrestling business, that matching it is a feat no one even bothers to discuss.
But ending it?
That might just be within the realm of possibility. Especially for a Superstar who has been on an unparalleled hot streak since dropping a pipe bomb on the WWE Universe in the summer of 2011.
The Road to WrestleMania 29
On March 4, the Dead Man returned to WWE television for the first time in almost a year. And he stated his intentions in the simplest and most effective way imaginable:
Later that same night, Punk would emerge victorious from a Fatal Fourway with Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show, three other former champions who also wanted a shot at The Streak:
The longest reigning WWE Champion of the last twenty years, going after WrestleMania's great white whale, the Dead Man's 20 - 0 winning streak at the Showcase of the Immortals. As the saying goes, simple booking is simple.
But then the real world interjected:
In professional wrestling, almost anything personal that can be used in a story to amp up the tension will be. And when the performer we lost was such a fan that he made sure his family knew it was okay to use his death in kayfabe, and one of the wrestlers involved is doing some of the best heel work the form has ever seen...
Later that night, the Straight Edge Savior would go beyond taunts when he used the urn that Undertaker and Kane were honoring their "father" with to assault the Big Red Monster before making off it while Taker looked on in rage.
Punk would continue to use the urn as the symbolic centerpiece of his psychological warfare against the Phenom:
Most of us assumed that the 48 year old American Bad Ass would save any physicality until the bell rang in MetLife Stadium. But Punk's disrespect proved to be more than he could bear:
And that was even before he his infamous actions of the night of April 1st:
Has the Second City Saint pushed too far, and inspired an aging legend who might have otherwise just been playing out The Streak? Or have his psychological games positioned him to be the one in 20 - 1?
What's at Stake?
Undertaker is already one of the biggest stars that wrestling will ever produce. The Streak is one of the most noteworthy accomplishments in the history of the business.
Should it be carried into next year's 30th anniversary WrestleMania? How much further can the Phenom take it? Or could he give even more back to pro wrestling by letting the right man break it?
It's hard to imagine anyone experiencing a more meteoric rise through WWE by a more unconventional path than CM Punk. The irreverent former champ has become a mainstay of the main event despite his background in independent wrestling and without the bodybuilder physique usually favored by Vince McMahon.
A victory over Taker at the Granddaddy of Them All would propel him though the last remnants of the glass ceiling he so often rants about.
Could a great performance in a losing effort do the same thing?
For the Attitude Era star, fans will be impressed with another classic, based on his age and reports about his physical condition. But wrestling buffs already have high expectations for everything the Punk does - would creating a four star classic with the Deadman really do much for his reputation?
And what are we to make of how much William "Paul Bearer" Moody's death has been woven into this story?
Some love it (and, according to those who knew him best, Moody himself would have been among them), some think it tawdry and others find it to be lazy booking. Is it just a way to make the inevitable continuation of The Streak dramatic, or is it prelude to its end?