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WRESTLING COLUMNS

A Matter Of Science:
Why Chris Benoit's Psychology Is Better Than Kurt Angle's
July 15, 2005 by Shane Cossey


Ever since Kurt Angle first established himself as a top player in the WWE (formerly known as the WWF), he has been compared, more often than not, to Chris Benoit.

Many people make the argument that Kurt is a better all-around wrestler than Chris Benoit, which theoretically states that since Angle uses a wider variety of moves, and has better mic skills, that this automatically puts Kurt Angle in a league above Chris Benoit.

Fistly, I happen to think that is a very shallow, ignorant statement. Secondly, a wrestler's greatness and all around worth shouldn't be determined based on the fact that he can get on a mic and talk, but on the fact that he can get in the ring and tell a story, regardless of how many moves that wrestler uses. Psychology, more than anything, is the most important part of a wrestler. And when it comes down to psychology Chris Benoit is a far superior in-ring competitor.

Some of you might be thinking "this guys nuts, he can't possibly prove this," well contrary to what you may be thinking, I can. Let's take a look at their respective move sets, and then analyze them.

Kurt Angle: Angle Slam, Ankle Lock, German Suplexes, Belly to Belly Overhead Suplexes, Body Scissors (I'm sure I'm missing others, so please bear with me).

Chris Benoit: Crippler Crossface, German Suplexes, back breaker Diving Headbutt, Snap Suplex, Sharpshooter, Shoulderbreaker(occasionally)

Let's start with Kurt Angle. If you have not figured it out yet, Angle does not have one move that sets up the ankle lock. If you've watched at least one of his matches you'd see that he never ever works on the ankle prior to locking in the ankle lock, he just goes from move to move in a poorly constructed series, then by some chance of luck gets his opponent into the ankle lock. Hell, in most of his matches, the ending consists of him locking in the ankle lock time and time again without effect, and then finally trapping the opponent, center ring, with the leg grapevined, thus forcing the opponent to tap. I'm sorry but locking in a submission time and time again without effect is the farthest thing from psychology.

Now onto Chris Benoit - if you take a look at his move set, you will see that everything goes together ... the German suplexes and the occasional shoulderbreaker both work on the shoulder/back area, which corresponds with the crippler crossface, thus making the move more effective. The snap suplex, along with the Germans, the back breaker and any other move which affects the back area, sets up for the sharpshooter. This once again makes the maneuver more effective.

"What about the diving head butt"" you may be asking. Targeting the shoulder area when executed, could be yet another setup for the crippler crossface, or the move could be used as a match closer, after wearing the opponent down to the extent where Benoit can use the head butt to finish the match. People could make this argument for Kurt Angle and his angle slam, but alas angle is more accustomed to using the ankle lock as his match closer.

So in conclusion, the fact that Chris Benoit has a superior sense of psychology in the ring, and is a better "storyteller," is what makes him a better wrestler than Kurt Angle. Angle may have more moves, as some people will mention. But in the end it's the quality of the match, and the moves used to tell the story of said match over the quantity of moves.

Authors Note: I would like to credit a good friend, who will remain anonymous, who helped me edit this article.

by Shane Cossey ..


Jesse Lee wrote:
Actually, the ankle-lock submission (first notably performed by Ken Shamrock in WWE, I think) is one of the most effective submissions. While it's not truly painful, it effect's a person's balance and walking ability. In karate, we have an ankle (relatively fairly different than the wrestling ankle lock) and it is somewhat painful, yet more effective. If held on for a long period of time, it does get really painful and would start to go numb.

As for the column, my second favorite wrestler is Chris Benoit, but I don't think you gave Kurt a fair chance. He may not use various leg submissions to set up the ankle lock, but what other submissions are out there that are visibly exciting to watch" If fans had no problem with reality ankle/leg submissions, there's no doubt that Kurt would shoot straight for the legs. After beating down his opponent's Kurt Angle would lock on the ankle-lock (his term "Angle-lock") and basically force his opponents to tap out. Rather than risking a broken foot and not being able to wrestle much at all, they tap to the very effective ankle lock. Rather than it being a pain-full based move (if you take away the selling) then ankle-lock is a psychology mind game. The victim would decide to tap and fight another day.

Again, Benoit is my second favorite wrestler (first favorite is HBK) so I'm not trying to make it sound like you're not right on him, you are. It's just that, I believe you could written this column about something other than move sets.

Speaking of HBK, I thought more people compare Angle to Shawn.
Steve (UK) wrote:
A very-well constructed piece, Shane, similar in nature to a piece I'm working on and hope to send into OWW soon. You have laid out your opinion and how you are going to prove it and then have done so. A good read.

A couple of thoughts. I, like yourself, believe in general Benoit to be the better wrestler of the two, having watched him work great stories in the ring with a variety of opponents, many of whom wrestled their best matches with him and I have also experienced the intensity live. Benoit truly makes you believe he will cripple his opponent to win the match.

Unfortunately he has not had the stand-out moments that Angle has had in his WWF/E career. He has not had the clean victories over established stars and main eventers in a singles environment on PPV that Angle has, and certainly not with his hold with the exception of taking one off Angle himself, albeit at the end of a contrived and slightly tedious submission Iron Man match. Best example, since his first at WrestleMania XVI Chris hasn't been able to have a truly great singles match at a WrestleMania. What I'm trying to say is I favour Benoit as the better of the pair, but the best of Kurt Angle's matches are hard to beat.

I think the psychology of King Kurt's hold may be that it's so vicious, and the ankle is such a delicate part of the leg, that no working it is necessary for the hold to be excrutiating. I think you are spot on with the heel hook/Ankle Lock II. Has he even made anyone submit to the standard Ankle Lock since Lesnar at SummerSlam 2003" They have ruined the Ankle Lock II as a special-occasions-only finish which it should be.
Eduver3 wrote:
good article. i personally think these two guys are two of the greatest ever. i think, and barely, that benoit is the better wrestler. when benoit was sd! i thought, benoit vs angle should happen asap but then of course angle gets drafted which was a good move as well. what amazes me is that benoit is popular as hell but...really doesn't have a gimmick, at least not in my eyes, he just goes out and wrestles to eventually get his title shot.but i love both men, i mean everybody has to know about the way they made raw look like crap when they blew raw's main event away with their match at the rumble 2003, that was a wrestling clinic put on that night.while triple h's (my personal fave along with micheals) and scott steiner's (ugh) match sucked due to steiner looking really bad doing the same moves, a botched tiger driver, and the worst title shot ever given, not even trips could carry steiner through a match cause steiner just was way over his prime.
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