CM Punk never wrestled in the main event of WrestleMania. The main event is the final match of the night. Punk essentially had four chances at it during his final years in WWE, but Vince McMahon instead opted to go with John Cena vs. The Miz in 2011, John Cena vs. The Rock in 2012 & 2013, and Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan in 2014.
But it would appear that Punk sees things differently. Appearing on on Barstool Sports’ My Mom’s Basement podcast to talk about Jakob’s Wife, his new movie releasing on Apr. 16, Punk said that he actually did main event WrestleMania 29 against Undertaker in 2013. Here’s his explanation for why that’s his favorite WrestleMania match:
“I think the last one I did, was it [WrestleMania] 29? Against Undertaker. Just given all the circumstances leading up to that and everything that happened after it. You know, to me that’s the most defining punk rock moment of my entire career...I was a man fucking possessed, and I somehow simultaneously didn’t give a fuck and cared way too much at the same time. And I went out there and I fucking absolutely destroyed it. And 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. Yes I did. Because it’s that one. You should’ve just packed it up and fucking went home after that, you know?”
As someone who attended WrestleMania 29, I can say without a doubt that Punk’s match made that show worth the price of admission and saved the event from being a disappointment. Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio was never going to be what WWE hoped for, Fandango vs. Chris Jericho was a misuse of Jericho’s talents, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar was a plodding affair, and Cena vs. The Rock was largely uninspired finisher spam. Punk vs. Undertaker definitely stood out from the pack as the best damn thing on that show by a gigantic margin.
However, that doesn’t mean Punk’s show-stealing match was the main event of WrestleMania 29. I don’t even have to explain why that is. Just listen to Punk explain it himself back in 2014 during his tell-all podcast on why he left WWE. He talked about how he just wanted to be added to the Cena/Rock match for a quick five minute elimination simply because that would validate his career work with a WrestleMania main event:
“I was trying to politic my way into the main event but it wasn’t like ‘let me beat everybody’ it was ‘hey, let’s do a three way, it will be elimination. Have somebody pin me in fucking five minutes, I don’t care. And then I’ll be able to be like ‘ha, I did the main event at WrestleMania’ and I’ll be able to move on. Fuck it, you know? It won’t be such a hang up for me anymore, it won’t be such a mind fuck.’”
In that same interview from 2014, he also talked about it being an insult to his intelligence to classify his match with Undertaker as the main event:
“So Hunter goes ‘you know, Punk, you were in the best match at WrestleMania last year and that was the main event.’ And I was like ‘I’m not fucking stupid. The main event is the last match. You can push it to people who buy the PPV there’s four main events; there’s one main event. There’s always been one main event, and I deserved it. I still deserve it. And now Daniel Bryan deserves it. And you think you’re just going to give it to Batista and Randy?’”
Punk knew that he failed at his goal to main event WrestleMania:
“I failed at my goal of the main event of WrestleMania. Even though I’ve come to terms with it and I look back on it like that fucking match with ‘Taker was better than anything on the show and I had everybody from old Kevin Dunn to Vince being like ‘oh, that was the best match and it should have went on last’ and I was just like ‘yeah, I know.’”
The phrase “main event” pops up a total of 28 times in that full transcript. It was clearly a powerful motivating factor for Punk; he describes how he worked his ass off for the rest of 2013 so that WWE wouldn’t be able to deny him the main event once again in 2014 at WrestleMania 30.
CM Punk in 2021 clearly disagrees with CM Punk from 2014 about what constitutes the main event match. It seems that Punk has changed his perspective and now agrees with Triple H about his match at WrestleMania 29 being the main event, and doesn’t see that claim as an insult to one’s intelligence.
My reaction to all of this is that Punk really wasn’t kidding in 2014 when he called his lack of a WrestleMania main event a “mind fuck.” CM Punk was arguably the best wrestler in WWE from 2010 through 2013. There’s nothing wrong with accepting that his lack of a WrestleMania main event during that time isn’t a knock on his talents or star power, but is instead an acknowledgment that WWE frequently makes decisions that defy the principles of logic. If Punk was truly at peace with that situation, I don’t think he would pretend today that his match with Undertaker was the main event at WrestleMania 29.