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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Repressed Wolverine
January 26, 2006 by Matt Vinsko


Flash back to the 2004 Royal Rumble. A lone man entered at number one into a match where, as the catch phrase goes, anything can happen. He wasn't the favorite, being the number one entrant after all. Only main-eventers, such as Shawn Michaels, could accomplish such a feat, not lowly mid-carders.

But Chris Benoit prevailed in the Royal Rumble, proving many critics wrong. He showed persistence and a passion that had not been seen before. He showed that he could win the big one that had haunted him his entire career. Triple H didn't have to wait 18 years to wear that illustrious gold. Neither did Shawn Michaels nor Hulk Hogan. But Chris Benoit shocked the world at the Rumble, then went on to WrestleMania XX and had possibly one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time, making 'The Game' tap out and gaining a championship that could not have gone to a more deserving individual.

Chris Benoit went on to become one of the greatest World Heavyweight Champions of the past decade with his win at WrestleMania. Sure, he may lack the microphone skills that top stars like Triple H or Shawn Michaels had, but he had something that no one had: an unwillingness to rise above his critics and do something no one thought he was capable of. People all through his life told Chris Benoit that he could not be a World Champion. He was too small. He lacked the charisma. But Benoit shut them all up with his impressive wins over Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Kane, among others, before his premature loss to up-and-comer Randy Orton at Summerslam.

Whether or not Chris Benoit deserved the loss is up to debate. Being one of the most popular champions in the past decade says that Benoit can put people in seats with his technical masterpieces, despite the lack of charisma. But the fact that his loss was to create a feud with Triple H and Randy Orton that never panned out makes most fans cringe whenever they think about it.

But it was all OK. We all figured that Benoit would hold the World Championship again soon. I mean, how could a man who was such a successful World Champion be held out of the title picture for long"

But alas, that is the fate that has fallen upon Chris Benoit. After losing the title to Randy Orton, Benoit spent the latter part of the year fighting Triple H and his Evolution buddies. Yes, he headlined a few PPV's, but no one gave him a chance to win these big matches because of who he was pitted against. Batista" He was ready to receive the push of a life time. Edge" Every time a superstar makes a heel/face turn, they rack up the wins to build character. Triple H" He already jobbed to Benoit earlier in the year, and I doubt he was willing to do that once he regained 'his' World Heavyweight Championship. On RAW, Benoit seemed doomed to mid-card mediocrity. He was occasionally put in big matches, but his win-loss record tells you what the bookers thought of him, despite the success he attained earlier in the year.

But then came the welcome trade to Smackdown!, which gave Chris Benoit another chance to shine. As soon as he was drafted, Chris Benoit was thrown into a feud with John 'Bradshaw' Layfield, a former WWE Champion. Again, Chris Benoit was on the verge of greatness, even participating in numerous matches to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. He subsequently lost these matches, and was forced down to mid-card status yet again.

But hey, at least he was put in the hunt for a title, right" The United States Championship was relatively worthless at this point, having been held last by John Cena and Orlando Jordan. But with a superstar like Chris Benoit in the hunt, the U.S. Championship seemed on the verge of regaining its past glory. Benoit proved his dominance by forcing the U.S. Champion, Orlando Jordan, to submit in mere seconds at Summerslam. But this win didn't exactly do much for Benoit's career. Winning a title should be a career highlight, but Benoit was once again forced to compete in mid-card matches with wrestlers, such as Booker T and Christian. Not to say that either man isn't a worthy opponent for Chris Benoit, but the U.S. division was given so little time and effort that Benoit would have had the same career year without winning the U.S. Championship. Despite all of this, Chris Benoit was a proud champ, determined to have the best matches he could, before finally dropping the title to Booker T amidst controversy.

The controversy that ensued caused Smackdown! General Manager Teddy Long to create a best of seven series to crown the undisputed United States Champion. Booker and Benoit had some memorable matches in their best of seven series back in WCW, but they weren't given the time that both men deserved this time around. Sure, these matches were some of the best the WWE has had in recent memory, but with all the hype surrounding the World title, their matches seemed rather pointless. Yes, the United States Championship was a prestigious title at one point, but not even the combined skills of Chris Benoit or Booker T could bring it back to the stature it once held.

Chris Benoit came to lose this best of seven series to Booker's replacement, Randy Orton. So what is to become of Benoit now" Being one of the most technically sound wrestlers in the world, the obvious choice would be to push Benoit back to the main event scene against another technical marvel, Kurt Angle. But Kurt Angle is set to face Mark Henry, before being rumored to feud with the Undertaker. Ok, so how about the U.S. Championship" Doesn't seem to be, as Randy Orton looks to be facing the man he won the title for, Booker T. So where does all this leave Chris Benoit" Well, all I know is that Chris Benoit remains one of the best in the business, and despite the fact that he isn't rewarded for it, he proves on a day-to-day basis that he is for real. Let's just hope we don't have to wait another 18 years for the WWE to take notice.

by Matt Vinsko ..


Matt Kopp wrote:
This is one of the best article I've ever read on OWW. My friend, I agree with you 150%, no 200%. Chris Benoit is my favorite wrestler bar-none. His match with Triple H and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XX is my favorite Wrestlemania Match of all time. Why" Because Benoit realized his dream of winning the World Title. If HBK or HHH had won, that match would have lost out to the Submission Match between Stone Cold and Bret Hart at WM13. I enjoyed Chris Benoits title reign more than Brets, Rics, Undertakers, Hogans, or any other champion ever to hold the WWF/E Title. Five months to me was about right for Chris's first title reign, but that was assuming that there would be more. Had I known that the WWE would make the mistake of keeping Chris Benoit out iof the World Title picture, and never giving him his World Title rematch on PPV, five months would seem to be nowhere near enough. Every time I saw Chris Benoit in the mid-card, I was sad, because I'd already seen him at his best, and I despised Triple H from September of 2004 all the way to January of 2005. Even as a mark, I knew that something was going on backstage when Randy Orton lost the title to HHH at Unforgiven. When I first saw the result, I thought " What was the point"" I mean, Chris Benoit had just solidified Randy as a main eventer by losing the title to him with a clean pin, no Evoloution in sight. Randy had just been given all this build up, and was on a hot streak. Why then would you stop his hot streak dead in it's tracks by losing the title after holding it for just 27 days" If that was what was intended, why not then allow Chris Benoit to hold the title into Unforgiven, and lose it to HHH" If Chris Bewnoit were to to get a Wrestlemania match against Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 22 for the World Heavyweight Title, I am predicting the greatest match of all time. Maybe a 2/3 Falls Submission Match for it, or an Iron Man Match. However, on wwe.com, it sickens me the fact that Triple H is being pushed to the moon. Out of the 15 predictions for who was going to win the Royal Rumble, 12 picks are for Triple H, 1 is for Rob Van Dam, 1 is for Coach, and 1 is for the Big Show. They might as well post on the site that Triple H is going to win the Royal Rumble, but I will only be truly happy in Rob Van Dam or Benoit wins it. If Triple H does win the Rumble, I am off WWE for good. My favorite wrestler is being ridicously underused, and it damn unfair. So here's hope that Benoit gets knocked back into main event status, and that Triple H decided to take over the sport of basketball instead.
Tyrone Hunter wrote:
Okay like whats your point" Chris has been in the picture, he held the U.S. title and put some meaning back into along with Booker T. He has gotten to have some great matches against Randy Orton. I just don't understand nor do I see where you going with this. On top of that his contract is up as well. Chris Benoit is fine and is doing okay, I mean he might job to Randy Orton or maybe Booker, but at least its not Simon Dean. There is some good competition for him on the SmackDown! roster Finlay, Kenndey, and Matt Hardy if he turns heel. So I just don't see what point you are making. You made it seem like he won the title and turned around and lost it. He won the title in April and lost it in August's SummerSlam. The Rabid Wolverine isn't repressed its this "clueless" article you wrote.
FJ Parlan wrote:
To Matt Vinsko:

Good for you to notice, the fact that you gave us a good read make us notice it more. You're right, Chris Benoit has been held down from what he deserved. Contrary to another statement here, you made good points. Yeah, Chris Benoit is still a main-eventer but he still deserved more than that, I mean, the hard work and the stellar wrestling skills. Thanks for noticing.

To Tyrone Hunter:

What the heck are you saying. Well maybe Matt V. ain't got so much points but what he got is an important observation, something that you never noticed. He didn't even wrote a bad article. "Doing fine and okay" is such an unacceptable understatement, comparing him to Finlay, Hardy, and Mr. Kennedy is even worse than that. Holy cow, are you a pro wrestling fan!" Every fan out thereknows that if Chris Benoit is not the best there is, he's one of the best in-ring technical wrestlers today and ever. He has created an image that is a favorite by fans and it's very ugly to turn him heel around this time. Also, he does not deserve to job for Orton or Booker. Next time, though I still respect what you have to say, please be good on the good guys, be bad on the article if you want to, but not to Chris Benoit and his like. No offense meant.
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