Chris Benoit: From High To Low
August 1, 2005 by Jack Malone
Before I start, I would like to personally thank OWW for giving me the opportunity to continue as an Official Columnist on the site. As some of you may have noticed, I'm not the most positive writer around. Of course, I will make such comments where necessary, but in general I lean towards constructive criticism. That's the style I like to use and therefore, that's the style I'll mostly be sticking to. This column examines WWE's current use of Chris Benoit.
Think back two years. It was around this time that Benoit was chasing the US Title. He battled his way through the tournament, before losing to Eddie Guerrero in the tournament final. From here, Benoit branched off into mini-feud with Rhyno and A-Train. It looked as if he was going nowhere. However, it was at this point that Benoit started to have his talent recognized once again. He feuded with Brock Lesnar over the WWE Title, even gaining a submission over him at Survivor Series. Meanwhile, he was made to look strong in a battle royal and also against the likes of Angle and Cena.
Things were looking up for Benoit.
It came as no surprise, following recent events, when he won the royal rumble. Personally, I did not agree with WWE's choice to have him enter at #1, but it was promising to see him get the win nonetheless. The next night, he appeared on RAW, claiming to have jumped through a legal loophole and signed with RAW, to challenge Triple H for the world title at WrestleMania. Of course, this feud became a three way with the involvement of Shawn Michaels, but the emphasis was still very much on Benoit. At WrestleMania XX, Benoit made Triple H tap to gain the title he had deserved for so long. He went on to win a re-match at Backlash, retaining the strap. Yet it was from here that things started to go downhill for the veteran...
Benoit progressed as the World Champion, but sadly, his title run was left in the shadows, while Triple H stepped up as the focus of RAW once again. Benoit barely had any time on the mic to speak his mind, WWE made it quite clear he was there for wrestling and nothing else. His feud with Kane received barely any build-up, compared to the Triple H/HBK program, which seemed to demand all the attention. Following Bad Blood, Triple H was brought back into the title picture. However, the feud was never Triple H vs. Chris Benoit. It was all about Triple H and Eugene. Benoit - the World Heavyweight Champion - was being used as a prop in this feud, retaining the title with help from Eugene twice.
Although Benoit was never given a chance to further develop his gimmick and character, he was at least made to look very strong in the ring. A five-month reign was longer than anyone but Triple H had received on RAW. At SummerSlam, Benoit dropped the title to Randy Orton, losing clean. This didn't really hurt Benoit at all though; he still came across as a legitimate threat. WWE's booking of him from here is what slowly killed off his credibility.
For the next month, Benoit was led into a small program with the other two members of Evolution - Batista and Ric Flair. A submission victory over Flair was a very positive sign that WWE would continue to make use of his abilities in a main event position. However, the attention Benoit was receiving quickly died out. He was phased into the background to make room for Randy Orton. As a result, Benoit remained in the title picture, but lost the buzz that had been created for him. It was obvious that he and Jericho were mere props in the HHH/Orton/Batista battles. Benoit competed along with Jericho in both the survivor series elimination match and the elimination chamber. Benoit was eliminated first and second respectively, hardly the way to make him look like a future contender.
At WrestleMania XXI, Benoit was shoved into the same match as the other five fringe main eventers - the Money In The Bank ladder match. Benoit was made to look strong in a ladder environment, coming the closest to grabbing the briefcase other than Edge - the ultimate winner. Things were looking up for him, or so it seemed. A feud with Edge was triggered and came to a head at Backlash, in a last man standing match. Benoit did the job here, something which although it helped Edge, didn't do him too many favours.
For the next two months, Benoit failed to make any impact on RAW, before finally being traded to SmackDown! This was a very questionable move, since Benoit had only been part of the RAW brand for just over year. His move back to SmackDown didn't seem like such a good thing for him, especially with Batista on the same show, playing a similar character but with the more dominant attitude. The writers clearly didn't know how to use Benoit and so placed him immediately in the United States title hunt, becoming fodder for Orlando Jordan at the Great American Bash.
Is this any way to treat a man like Chris Benoit" He has amazing wrestling talent, with the ability to carry just about anyone to a good match. Just under one year ago, he was world champion. So why does WWE see the need to demote him once again" Was his title reign purely a way of keeping the internet and his fans happy" They clearly have no plans for him and no idea what to do with him in general. A man like this deserves better than lying down for a much less established secondary champion.
It's not just Benoit that is affected; it's the world title. What does it say about a belt which someone can hold for almost five months, be fighting at a lower level in less than a year. WWE needs to apply a sense of levelling, so that we know who the top guys and the next guys down are. There's no point having someone flit between the two tiers, WWE will never make any firm stars that way. Benoit is obviously a main eventer, so he needs to remain in that position. I'm sure creative can think of something better for him to do than this - a heel turn perhaps" He's been face for almost three years now. Whatever happens, Benoit deserves more respect than he's getting. Hopefully, WWE will realize the talent they're wasting and make sure that former world champions never have to sink this low.
by Jack Malone --- [View Jack Malone's Column Index]..
Jacob Morgan wrote:
Dear Jack Malone. What you have wrote is the exact way I feel. You are a good columnist. Like usual WWE destroys a former big star by letting him job to a second class no one. Jordan hasn't had a single in your face promo..ever! He has been a horrible champion. Smackdown and Raw are always dominated by Triple H or JBL. It would have been nice to see Benoit continue his feud with JBL after The draft. Batista should have defended the title against someone else. Benoit would be great to add to the World Title picture. I have a feeling Jordan will defend the title against Benoit, Booker T and Christian in a 4 Way preety soon. Jordan will of course win. I bet anyone that if Jordan ever loses the title he wont still be with the company a year later. You can blame WWE or any writer. I blame two people. Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon. Iam almost fed up with WWE. Its getting very repetitive and old. Like I said you write good columns. Keep up the good work.
Scott Williams wrote:
Good article, Jack. I would have to agree with just about everything you said. Benoit should be used as a serious contender for the world title, and while I don't particularly see him as a heel (he has this sort of ultimate do-gooder thing about him, I think, that inspires people to cheer for him,) I would certainly be for anything to freshen up his character. If that means a turn, so be it. He could probably pull a decent match outta Batista.
I was in Toronto the night he dropped the strap to Randy Orton. At the time it seemed like a perfectly good move; the match was great and the idea of Orton as champ was riddled with possibilities. In retrospect, however, we see that not only the the bookers drop the ball on Orton, in doing so they dropped the ball on Benoit as well. The two have become such afterthoughts since then, it's sad. Moreso for Benoit, however, due to Orton's injury.
For now, with him in the US title race (such as it is,) I think this is an ideal opportunity to a) build him back up and b) build up Christian. A feud between those two should generate interest and maybe within a few months, one of them will be where they both belong - looking at the World Title.
Tony Bruce wrote:
This was a well written article and undeniably true. When Chris Benoit and Eddie were both champions it was as if WWE was beginning to look up once again. but now they've ruined both of them. no offence to rey but a former world heavyweight champion shouldnt be jobbing to a cruiserweight in EVERY match they've had in a series. Chris benoit should NOT be jobbing to orlando jordan! It looked as if Chris Benoit wouldnt be completely left out in the cold when he won the tag belts single handedly against la resistance, that made him look good. its just shortly after he jobbed to edge, they could have made that last man standing match look a little bit less one sided. i mean sure edge used a brick, but it was everytime benoit got up edge knocked him down as if he owned him. wwe should use him properly on smackdown, have him win the us title to elevate him, then have him get the title, n he can feud with guerrero on a main event level for the first time. they should do that once atleast before they both retire.
Ryan Ward wrote:
Holy crap, I litterally agree with every thing your saying, there's not one thing i disagreed with and to be honest, I tell my friends that exact thing all the time. Screw Randy Orton and Batista (I like them both), they haven't payed their dues. Benoit has been working in the buisness for 18 freaking years and hes had a whoping one title reign. I think I speak for Benoit fans when I say ,"Lets go smack the writers around." It's obsurd, the WWE sure knows how to waste talent (Billy Kidman who was fired and Chris Masters with his Master Lock challenge, put him in some god damn matches). Chris Benoit is another victim to the whole "Crowd Pleasing Wrestler Storylines". I'll use Randy Orton as an example. He turned face two weeks after defeating Chris Benoit at Summerslam and one week after stealing a re-match with him. The fans like Randy Orton as champion because he appealed to the fans. Benoit loves the fans, but he doesn't come out every night and talk about how he's fighting for the fans. It's because it's not just about the fans to him, it's kinda about himself and why wouldn't it be. So just because he doesn't, doesn't mean he shouldn't be champion. I think there should be a new belt called the "World Mic Belt" or something like that. This belt would be awarded to the wrestler who has good mic skills. With this belt, you wouldn't see Triple H or JBL as WWE Champion or World Heavyweight Champion anymore, we shouldn't, they wrestle once every two months, you would see people like Chris Benoit or Rey Mysterio or Shawn Michaels as champs because they work their asses off every night to please the crowd, and thats how it should be. I remember watching Wrestlemania XX at Colussus with my buddies and the rest of the people in there which would be about 70 (it was a fullhouse), I was one of the 70 people in there who were on the edge of their seat as Chris Benoit, Triple H and Shawn Michaels put on a Wrestlemania classic and which in my mind was the greatest match I've ever seen and in the top 5 of the greatest Wrestlemania matches ever. As soon as Triple H started to pound the canvas with his hand signalling that he had given up, the theatre gave him a standing ovation, I was one of them. He had a triple threat re-match with those two (making Shawn Michaels tap out this time to the sharp-shooter) and all of a sudden that was it. He didn't have storylines, in fact, the triple threat story line was the only one he had. Chris Benoit isn't boring as some people think, the writers have shit for brains and don't know how to make proper storylines. I also don't get why he's back to a mid-carder again, it pisses the hell out of me. Benoit is getting treated like shit and I would actually like to see him go heel, if that happened, thanks for coming Batista, I hope you liked your title reign.
Every now and again Chris Benoit's career goes in the pattern you mentioned. One night he's the WWE champion next he's fighting oj for the U.S title. Eddie Guerrero's career took this same path and now his feud with Rey mysterio is expected to sell pay-per views. Who knows maybe Benoit will turn heel and his career with take off too. But even if it doesn't I'll still ruit for the crippler. He's the only wrestler with lighting in a bottle (yes that was a bad joke). But something tells me Benoit will be in the spot light soon.
Gel Thornley wrote:
Chris Benoit showed he was a great Champion in WWE, he dosen't deserve to lose to one hit wonders i.e. Orlando Jordan G.A.B. He should have been at least a 3 time WWF(E) before he won the World Title instead of jobbing to top guys. I would of thought he would been U.S. Champion going into SummerSlam & defending against Christian or Booker T but Stephanie and Vince screw him over and over. Benoit should go to TNA win the NWA title and fued with A.J. Styles
Gel Thornley wrote:
Chris Benoit is the best wrestler in this wwe era, no one can touch him apart from Kurt Angle, yet has one World title and should have at least 2 wwf(e) title reigns as well as jobbing to one hit wonder who has no business holding the U.S. title in Orlando Jordan. Benoit seems to get shafted out of titles, so hes the only one who can save his illustrious career, make wwe take notice or go to TNA & make history by capturing your 1st NWA heavyweight championship
I agree with your argument. I feel that what the WWE is doing to Chris Benoit is a blatent show of disrepect for a man who has been a pro wrestler for 18 long years. How is it that a man whose in ring ability is second to none be pushed into a mid card jobber" Is makes me think sometimes that talent scares the WWE writers. I hate to go on a tangent, but take a look at John Cena. What has he done to earn the WWE heavyweight title" He has been in the WWE for all of three years. He has virtually no in ring abilities (I've watched some of his matches and can count on one hand the number of moves he does, including the craptastic F-U). The only reason why he is champ is because the WWE is hoping to make him into a household name in the same vein as Stone Cold or The Rock. However, that is a disscusion for another collumn. I think that Chris Benoit should take some time off, look in the mirror, and ask himself is this company that I wrestle for now worth wasting my talents on. It is sad to see a great talent like Benoit be used this way. He deserves better. Perhaps in this time of TNA coming up rapidly in the wrestling world, Benoit could give his carrer a much needed boost from what the WWE has degraded it to and be the fodder for the cannon that TNA will become. It would benifit both Benoit and TNA to do so and in the process give the WWE, TNA , and the fans of pro wrestling as a whole the competition they want and need as we welcome the return of the Monday Night Wars that made wrestling so entertaining back in the late 90's.
Laura-Jade (UK) wrote:
What has happened to Chris Benoit" there was a time when every week I waited
for him comig out, listened for his theme music coz I knew it was gunna be
an exciting match. Crippler crossface/ its the rabid wolverine, now he's
almost forgotten about til his music starts up & you think oh yeah Chris
Benoit..who's he going to lose to tonight" its not fair, the best Wrestle
mania ever in my opinion was when he and Eddie Guerrero held the World
titles and now he's lost it. If someone finds him, let me know please.
Jack Bark wrote:
Chris Benoit has worked his *** off every night for 18 years, for the fans. He doesn't need to blab his mouth off about how great he is like Shawn Michaels. He doesn't need to cut promos about him getting his makeup done and about his lifelong story, like Shawn Michaels. Benoit cares about his fans, and always has, without needing to say more then a few words. He and Eddie Guerrero have two of the greatest stories in Pro. Wrestling history. Benoit, a guy who grew up in a poor Canadian family, wasn't very smart, and simply had one hobby: football. Then, he saw the Dynamyte Kid wrestle. Ever since that moment, he knew he wanted to be a wrestler. He's devoted his life to wrestling, learned every trick of the trade, and move in the book.
Wrestling is his passion, and he can do anything in that ring... Tarantula, Shooting Star Press, Powerbomb, Neckbreaker, Moonsault, Double Wrist Suplex Pin, Derallier, and anything else. Watch his matches in ECW, Japan, WCW, among poor federations he wrestled in. Benoit has overcome the odds, and yet... we see him with the United States Championship, fueding with JBL.
Benoit deserves better. His best friend has just died, and yet Rey Mysterio (Who had hardly known Eddie since 1992) is getting a push off of Eddie's death. Benoit has one or two nice tributes in a match, Rey drags it out. Benoit is a superb wrestler, and my favorite.
It's about time that Benoit gets in a major fued for the World Heavyweight Championship. Or he can just break the McMahons, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, and Batista's necks. That'll make me satisfied.
Benoit deserves a hellva lot better, and I agree with everything everyone here has said. Jack Malone, you are a good writer, because this article is so true.
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