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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Chris Benoit: The Best There Is
July 11, 2005 by Matt Kopp


Every time that I visit obsessedwithwresling.com, I always read articles about, Who's the Best" When I think of the best, I think of a legend. Before I can think of any, I have to ask myself, what defines a legend" Is it the tireless effort he puts into his matches, never willing to stop until his body can't go on" Or is it the charisma, his ability to draw thousands of fans with a simple wave, wink or smile" Or is it the sheer power that runs through every vein, driving gallons of adrenaline through the human body, pumping up the body and sharpening the senses" I look at these qualities and I think of many wrestlers who exemplify these qualities. Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, The Undertaker, Lex Luger, Sabu, The Rock, Stone Cold, Owen Hart, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. However, I don't think all of these men can match up to the man I think should be acknowledged as the best. The man I think deserves the title of Best in the Business is currently busting his ass in a SmackDown ring today. This man is Chris Benoit.

Chris Benoit was born in Montreal, Quebec, on May 21st, 1967. As a child growing up, he lived in Montreal, until he was 12, when he moved to Edmonton Alberta. He was a well-behaved kid, with an extreme interest in sports, mainly football. Wrestling never crossed Chris Benoit's mind until he went to a wrestling live event in Calgary, where he saw the famous Dynamite Kid wrestle. From that point on, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to become a professional wrestler.

After graduating from high school in 1985, Chris trained in the most famous place in Calgary. Stu Hart's Dungeon. Chris Benoit would work all week, then get in his car and drive 185 miles to the Hart House in Calgary. There he would train 12 hours a day. After 6 months of gruelling training, Benoit debuted in Stampede Wrestling. Benoit was immensely successful in Stampede, capturing their International Tag Team Titles four times, and their British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title four times. In a terrifying ordeal, the magical career of Chris Benoit was nearly ended before it started when Davey Boy Smith, Jasper the Terrible, and himself were injured in a car accident in Alberta. Thankfully for Chris, he only sustained an injured right knee, and his career was salvaged.

Chris Benoit began competing in Japan, where he was known as The Pegasus Kid. He would perform a lot of the Dynamite Kid's moves, including his famous Diving Headbutt. As they would say, he was pure dynamite. In 1994, the Pegasus Kid defeated The Great Sasuke in the finals of the Super J Cup Tournament. In a mask vs. mask match, Chris Benoit would finally lose his mask, but with it came a sense of insecurity. Chris Benoit began competing as The Wild Pegasus. He also competed in ECW, where he adopted a famous name, The Crippler. Benoit got this name in a now famous match where he dropped his opponent, Sabu, on his head and broke his neck. That name stuck to him to this day.

In 1996, Chris Benoit and his good friend Eddie Guererro joined WCW. Benoit immediately began turning heads, and in the same year as his debut, he was recruited as a member of the Four Horsemen. While in the Four Horsemen, Benoit began a HUGE feud with Kevin Sullivan. The feud even took place outside of the ring, when Kevin Sullivan's wife, Nancy Dauss (better known as Woman in WCW) divorced Kevin, and married Chris! This resulted in a BRUTAL falls count anywhere match, where Benoit emerged the victor. Benoit then began a feud with Booker T, over the WCW Television Title. Benoit won the title twice in a pair of house shows. Then Benoit became a successful Tag-Team champion with Perry Saturn and Dean Molenko, fellow members of the Radicalz. Benoit then worked on his singles career, defeating David flair for the WCW United States Title on August 9, 1999. He enjoyed a one-month reign until he lost the title to Sid vicious. Never a quitter though, the day after he lost his WCW U.S Title, he won the WCW Television Championship for a third time, this time from Rick Steiner. Again, he enjoyed about a month-long reign. Two months after losing his Television Championship, Benoit struck gold again when he was awarded the WCW U.S Championship by forfeit. The next night however, Jeff Jarret took the WCW U.S Title from Benoit in a thrilling Ladder match. At this point in his career, relationships with WCW were rough for Chris, and he wasn't happy with his job in WCW. In an attempt to bring Benoit back to WCW, Eric Bischoff put him in a match for the vacated WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Although Benoit won the match, and was the WCW World champion, his mind was made up, and he was leaving the WCW. Although his career in the WCW was over, he made a huge impact on the company and put a big list of accomplishments on his resume. In just 4 years with WCW, he had won the WCW Tag Titles 3 times, the WCW Television Championship 4 times, the WCW U.S Championship 3 times, and the WCW World Title once. He was given all these titles for a reason. He was a big money player. He hadn't just risen to the top, he'd gone slowly, and earned his lumps in WCW the hard way.

Benoit was headed to the WWF, along with Eddie Guererro and Perry Saturn. On his first night, he made a splash, aligning himself with Mick Foley. Two months after his debut, he was competing in Wrestlemania, and not only competing, but winning a title! Chris Benoit defeated Kurt Angle and /Chris Jericho in a Triple threat Match to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Benoit kept this first WWF title with him for 2 months, defeating Chris Jericho at Backlash and at Judgment Day in a submission Match. Now, he's only been in the WWF about 3 months, and he's already competed in 3 big money-making pay per views, one of which was Wrestlemania. Benoit would eventually lose the WWF IC Title to Rikishi in June. Two days later, he main evented his first pay per view, Fully Loaded, in a WWF Title loss to the Rock. A main event in 5 months. Sounds just like Brock Lesnar. After his WWF Title match, he competed in Summerslam, Unforgiven, No Mercy, Survivor Series, Rebellion, and Armageddon, (where he defeated Billy Gunn for his 2nd IC Title). In his 1st year with the WWF, he'd competed in every single pay per view on the card. I know it's not as great as Kurt Angle's rookie year, but I think it still deserves a lot of respect. In addition, after his Intercontinental victory over Billy Gunn, Chris and Nancy Benoit gave birth to their first child. After losing his Intercontinental title to Chris Jericho at the Royal Rumble, Chris Benoit began a big feud with Kurt Angle, over who was the master of submission holds. This lead to a match at Wrestlemainia X-7. At the end of the match, Chris Benoit had Kurt locked in the Crippler Crossface, and the Olympic hero was tapping like crazy. However, the referee was out cold and did not see Kurt tapping. As Benoit revived the ref, Angle hit a low blow and rolled up Benoit, pulling the tights. The ref counted 3, and Angle was declared the winner. An angry Benoit got his revenge at Backlash when he defeated Kurt in a 30-Minute Submission Match. Angle then defeated Benoit in a best 2 out of 3 falls match at Judgement Day. Then, after an AWESOME triple threat match for the WWF Title, Chris has surgery to a nagging neck injury under Dr. Youngblood.

Like his debut in 2001, his return in 2002 was shocking. Benoit seemed to be having problems with his friend Eddie Guererro. They seemed to be close to coming to blows, until in a complete shocker; Chris Benoit aligned himself with Guerrero and attacked Stone Cold Steve Austin! From there, he developed a feud with Rob Van Dam, where he took Van Dam's IC Title away on a July edition of RAW, and ran to SD! This lead to... in my opinion, a Match of the Year Nominee with RVD at Summerslam 2002. Not long after, another Match of the Year nominee took place for Benoit at Unforgiven 2002, where he defeated Kurt Angle. In a surprise, Chris was forced to team up with Kurt after Unforgiven. Together, they won a tournament with Angle to become the original WWE Tag Team Champions. However, the team would eventually self-destruct. Just four days after Unforgiven, trouble stirred between the two, when Kurt attacked Chris after losing a match to him, with the reward being a broken trophy. Then, at on a Halloween Edition of RAW, they brawled with each other and knocked each other out. When they lost the WWE Tag Team Titles, Kurt and Benoit broke apart and began another brutal feud. After their tag team broke up, Benoit focused on his singles career. He earned a WWE Undisputed title shot at the 2003 Royal Rumble. In yet ANOTHER match of the year candidate, Angle defeated Benoit with the Ankle Lock.

Benoit's career was moving slow since his WWE title shot in 2003, and his career was mainly being spent jobbing to Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. This all changed however, at the 2004 Royal Rumble. Chris Benoit had all the odds stacked against him, not only because he was going to enter no.1, but also because nobody thought he could win the big one. Even with all these obstacles in his way, he still lasted 1 hour and dumped 6 guys over the ropes to finally WIN the Royal Rumble. Even though it was a shock that Benoit even won the Royal Rumble, it was an even bigger shock what he did with his contract for Wrestlemania. Benoit used a legal loophole in his contract to move to RAW. This set the main event for Wrestlemania XX. The main event for Wrestlemania was Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Shawn Michaels got busted open early on in the match when Chris catapulted him into the turnbuckle. Then, when Benoit had a bloodied Michaels in a Crippler Crossface, and just as Michaels was about to tap, Triple H grabbed his hand and stopped him. Another time, Michaels almost took Benoit's head off with some Sweet Chin Music. Finally, in a "show stopping end" Benoit reversed some Sweet Chin Music into an Electric Chair Drop, and locked a bloodied Triple H in a Crippler Crossface. After about the 10-second mark, Triple H was leaking blood like a damn faucet! 33 seconds later, Benoit's "18-year odyssey" had become a reality. Chris Benoit celebrated in the ring with his best friend, Eddie Guererro, his wife Nancy, and his two children. In the 5-month reign that he had the World Heavyweight Title, ratings skyrocketed. Why, you may ask" For 3 main reasons:

1. Whenever Chris wrestled, he wrestled with a very noticeable respect for the sport of wrestling. Fans could watch and say, "Man, that's what a champion should be. A respectful man who doesn't have blonde hair and a goatee and is married to Stephanie McMahon."

2. Every time there was a World Title match, Chris would deliver a great performance. I can't think of one match with Chris Benoit in it for the World Title that wasn't a great match. Even when the WWE made the biggest mistake ever and forced Chris to job to Randy Orton at Summerslam, it was still a great match.

3. The World Title wasn't being held by a certain blonde wrestler with a goatee who is married to Stephanie McMahon. After the WWE made the biggest mistake in the last 8 years, (the biggest was screwing Bret in Montreal) and took the World Title from Chris Benoit and tossed it to Randy Orton, Benoit single handedly defeated La Resistance for the World Tag Team Titles. I've only seen one person single handedly win or defend the World Tag Team Titles, and that's Kane. After 6 months of jobbing to Triple H, Batista and Edge, Chris Benoit got a big break and jumped to SmackDown, where he turned into a star.

Today, it's off to the Great American Bash to face Orlando Jordan for the United States Title. Good luck Chris!!

P.S. Kirsty, I loved your article on Bret Hart. I was phenomenal, and I am currently using that article as the measuring stick for all of my articles. Also, this is my first article, and I'm only 14, so go easy on me people.

by Matt Kopp..


jimmy huseman wrote:
I totally agree with your comments, your right, when beniot is in a world title match he puts out some of the best performances ever seen, for instance when he went thorough being screwed by hbk and hhh, he went in and had a hell of a world title match, he locked in the crossface numerous times he locked in the sharpshooter numerous times, every time these moves were hit the fans would go into an uproar. Having finishers that are pulled of easy like chris beniots are defintly a plus. After taging with hbk mick foley and shelton benjamin the week before backlash beniot was set to face hbk and hhh in a rematch for the world title, this was a hell of a match with beniot making hbk tap this time. Beniot would go on to beat kane twice, once at bad blood, and once on raw where he could only win by submission, beniot made kane tap to the cripplercrossface, beniot defeated hbk to retain the world title, hhh was defeated by chris beniot nearly every week to retain the world heavy weight championship, including a grueling 60 minute iron man match which had beniot win by the count of 4 falls to 3. When Randy Orton won the battle royal to become the number one contender, we all felt Beniot was going to reatain, he had embarrsed orton by making him tap out to the crossface, the absolute worst thing that they could have done was made beniot drop the world heavy weight championship to orton in canada, after what had happened with bret hart, this should have never happened, beniot should have had a longer regin then jbl, he always performs great in clutch situations. Good luck to the crippler in his match for the US title, but i really think that instead of muhhamed hassan should not be in this match beniot should. Hopefully we will see chris beniot win the world title soon, and not have jbl hold the title for 10 months like he did before. I am 15 and i like ur article i think its great.
Steven Pettigrew wrote:
I am a wrestling fan for years and I really like this article because its exactly how true WWE fans should feel about wrestling. Benoit is one of my all time favorite wrestlers but my favorite is Chris Jericho and I think that Angle is the best today but benoit is right behind him.

I think that champions should always be that kind of wrestler, one who is noticed for his wrestling mind and skills. Not like the current champs. I am hating them two right now because every body knows that cena is the champ cause the fans love him and it makes money but he is the worst champ I have ever seen. He is'nt respected by the fans like the way Benoit or Eddie Guerroro is. He is loved because he never stops talking about the fans and his little chane gang and how they are his homeys or watever. Because he talks so much and is always shouting and calling people gay fans dont even think of him as a wrestler but a rapper. He really does not deserve the title at all. The real champs are the likes of Benoit, Eddie, Y2J and Angle. They are champs because of their talent in the ring and not on the mic. Right now i am interested to see what happens between Benoit and Orlando Jordan. If Benoit wins I dont know what the point in that is. I can only see this starting a boring title reign. Benoit should be fighting Jbl or if he returns Brock Lesnar and Batista. I hate the way Batista is champ also. He is rubbish. People know him for his body not his talent. The sooner Cena and Batista loose their belts the better. ....Hey, im not telling what you already know!

At the end of the day though everybody knows that Benoit is a ledgend and it doesnt matter how much you hate his attitude or the way he wrestles you have to addmit he is one of the best their will ever be.
michael nader wrote:
Great article. GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I always knew i wasn't the only one that felt that way. Even though i felt Benoit has been screwed a lot by the wwe, I feel he was probably the best champion ever. Anyone who ever challenged him for the title at a payperview has tapped out to him (yes i know it's staged) and everytime he did it i always felt proud of benoit. As for what you said about hhh, much to the chagrin of the hhh fans i gotta agree and disagree. I still say there's no proof hhh got where he is by marrying the bosses daughter BUT THATS NOT F***ING POINT the point was people were glad to see a champion that wasn't hhh. It was the first time i ever took the world title seriously as it was just handed to hhh's sticky hands. Now he has returned to his true home on smackdown!, a legend for what he has done. MATT KOPP HAS SPOKEN THE TRUTH
M.Roach wrote:
I disagree. I would agree with you if this was maybe, 1995-2000 when Benoit was actually good. To me, currently, Benoit is overrated and mediocre, and he doesn't really deserve a title of being the best. As soon as he came back from his major neck injury he became boring
Erkka Järvinen wrote:
Its gotten a ridiculous the amount of Triple H bashing that's going on around the net. While benoit was spending his last days on RAW, the only one who Benoit was jobbing to was EDGE. On the other hand, HHH was jobbing to BENOIT if you dont remember. Also, taking shots at hunter didnt make your column any better.
Krane4ever4k43 wrote:
I agree 100 percent,chris benoit is a wrestling god.
Tyler Pratt wrote:
Matt I agree with all your views on Chris Benoit and I believe that he will win the U.S. tilte at the bash.
Ryan Ward wrote:
Buddy, I couldn't agree more with you. Benoit is the best and is for sure a legend. Why do I have so much respect for him" Well because he's Canadian for one, but also because I love his intensity, no one has that much. I don't care who you say might have just as much, whether it be Triple H or Kurt Angle etc., whenever Benoit gets in to the ring, you can expect some intense, fast-paced, no-nonsense wrestling that I enjoy. Another thing I like about Benoit is the fact that he's all walk and no talk. You don't hear him bitching on the mic for 20 minutes because "he's the best" or "he got screwed", he goes out there and does something about it. And I'd also have to agree with you, it is excellent that he went to SmackDown! because RAW really was screwing him. Benoit has been on the show for like 4 weeks and already hes got an United States Championship match which he should win, I can't really see him losing to Orlando Jordan. Plus, SmackDown! was missing intensity on their show so now with Benoit on it, they've gotten a whole lot of that.
weepinwillow smith wrote:
I totally agree with this article. and as for HHH, I find myself watching his matches with total indiference. The only excitement I get from them is that my brother is an HHH fan. Not saying he has never been great, but I just don't see it right now. total Yawn fest If you ask me.
Brodie Pullar wrote:
I agree full hartedly on all of the statements that this article made except the fact that there are no cruizerweights that you mentioned. there never give up attitude and infanate skill are a testament to wrestling. Such greats as Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Ultimo dragon, Rey Mysterio, Tajiri, Funaki and Super Crazy who even battle it out with super heavyweights.
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