AR’s Breakthrough: Randy Orton vs. Chris Benoit at SummerSlam ’04

SummerSlam04I am a die-hard wrestling fan and I like to go back watching old, classic matches of wrestling. From now on these columns will go back and relive some of these matches. The first edition is for the World Heavyweight Championship from SummerSlam of 2004 involving the Champion in Chris Benoit and the challenger Randy Orton.

Before I get into this, I just want to say don’t let the horrific Chris Benoit tragedy influence this column. He is a sick man for what he did but go back in time and think about the night of this match. Onto the following contest:

I recently sat down and watched this match, when I say it for the first time I thought it was a good but not great match. Almost ten years later it was a great match and here is why.

First you have the champion in Chris Benoit who won the title at WrestleMania 20 against Triple H and Shawn Michaels. A rematch at “Backlash” PPV with the same results of Benoit retaining, Skip to August of 2004 and it was time for the “Crippler” to end his reign.

On the other hand you have the up and coming star that had been “Legend Killer” for a year and taking out Legends like Mick Foley, Harley Race, Jerry “The King” Lawler and Shawn Michaels. Later he becomes the viper. Orton who was only 24 years of age became the youngest champion in WWE history at the time. Randy Orton had been pushed to the moon up to this point; he had won the intercontinental title and had a big match alongside his evolution members in Batista and Ric Flair defeating The Rock in Sock connection (The Rock and Mick Foley) at WrestleMania 20.

With backstage talk at the time he was the golden boy of the company and even at 24 years of age he was the future of the company.  If you’re a fan of technical wrestling than you will love this match, if not then skip the first 5-7 minutes of this match. The match breaks down into a really physical back and forth action match half way through. It showcased that Orton could take punishment but also mat based wrestling. Orton’s style was unique and so different then, that it balanced out with Chris Benoit very well.

The finish came when Benoit attempted to perform a “Crippler Crossface” on Orton but Orton was able to escape and perform a sick RKO for the win.

Orton goes on to lose the title to Triple H but this win at SummerSlam put him in the “top Guy” status of WWE.

Let me know what you think in the comment area below.

— Andy

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