Posts tagged Chris Benoit
Ruthless Aggression EP 28 - It was you, Hunter

Rob Pierce and Chris review RAW 480 and Smackdown! 155, highlighted by Triple H looking for the culprit who beat up Shawn Michaels last week, and Brock Lesnar defending his #1 contenders match for Summerslam against Hollywood Hulk Hogan! Plus Ronda Rousey shines in her Monday Night RAW debut, Lincoln Ricketts joins Pierce to preview the final three nights of the G1 Climax, and we preview what we have in store for Summerslam week! (note: it has nothing to do with Summerslam).

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Follow Linc: @MaAdLyNx

Ruthless Aggression ep 20 - HBK Returns

Pierce Rob & Chris return to talk about RAW 470 & 471, and Smackdown 145 & 146, featuring the return of Chris Benoit after a year recovery from a neck injury, and after four long years, Shawn Michaels is back in the Federation! Plus, our thoughts on the CM Punk case, NXT Takeover: Chicago, and two really poor programs happening right now on RAW.

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My Favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania XX
WWE

WWE

To me the best Wrestlemania I've ever seen and was mostheavily invested in was 31, but my favorite Wrestlemania is XX. Wrestlemania XX is where it all began again; returning to Madison Square Garden and creating major excitement within the city of New York. It was the first PPV that I saved my allowance from my parents to help order. It featured my favorite stars such as John Cena, Eddie Guerrero & Chris Benoit. I was more of a fan of Smackdown than Raw, mainly because I didn’t have cable in my room so I watched Smackdown on UPN 9 (NYC). So as I was heavily invested in the Smackdown angles, I kept in touch with RAW from time to time. Once the card started, I didn’t leave my spot watching every match like it was the best thing ever.

WWE

WWE

Leading up to the event, WM storylines were flourishing. Benoit won the Royal Rumble that year and decided to switch to RAW to wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship, entering the feud between Triple H & Shawn Michaels to make it a Triple Threat match for the title. John Cena was feuding with the U.S. Champion Big Show to capture his first title on WWE. Eddie Guerrero won the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar (With help from Goldberg). Angle challenged Guerrero, complaining that Eddie was a black spot in the WWE for holding that championship. Kane seemingly killed Undertaker’s “American Bad Ass” gimmick at the 2003 Survivor Series, but the Deadman sent an eerie challenge for a match at Wrestlemania. Let’s not forget the matchup between Goldberg & Brock Lesnar (We’ll get to that shortly). Even the Rock n Sock Connection vs. Evolution was a fun match because of the rivalry between Mick Foley & Randy Orton

An underrated factor about this card was that the right person won each match. Christian and Chris Jericho battled each other with Trish Stratus watching ringside. As a teenager, I was so shocked that Trish betrayed Jericho and helped Christian win. Evolution snuck a win from the Rock n Sock Connection.

WWE

WWE

My favorite match of the night at the time was John Cena vs. Big Show. I was such a huge fan of Cena and his gimmick at the time. I even downloaded his theme song and listened to it on the way school every morning. I always marveled at the fact that he could lift Big Show for the F-U, and once he pinned Show in the middle of the ring, I was the happiest person in the world.

Stone Cold Steve Austin refereed one of the most hated matches of Wrestlemania, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. At the time I did not know the circumstances between both wrestlers as they were leaving the company. I was wondering why the crowd was booing two of the most memorable wrestlers of that era. I didn’t care as I popped when Austin performed the Stone Cold Stunner on both wrestlers.

WWE

WWE

This Wrestlemania will always be remembered for its main event; the triple threat between Chris Benoit, Triple H & Shawn Michaels for the World Title. Once Benoit made Triple H tap in the middle of the ring, the world rejoiced. I remember watching and thinking that it was so cool to have Eddie Guerrero AND Chris Benoit as champions in the WWE. Just as I thought that, Eddie came down to the ring and hugged Chris as confetti streams down and I almost had a tear in my eye.

This was so cool to see; my favorite wrestlers won the strap in my city. I ran to school the next day talking about how Cena won the U.S. title and how Eddie & Chris was the champions of the WWE. I love Wrestlemania SZN!

My favorite 'Mania: Wrestlemania X-Seven
WWE

WWE

As Wrestlemania 34 draws near, a lot of people have been talking about how good the card looks, top to bottom. It’s hard to argue. From Ronda Rousey’s WWE debut, to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, to Charlotte and Asuka, this card has something for everyone. All 12-14 matches should be very good and entertaining and tell a great story.

Personally, the build-up has reminded me a lot of what is widely regarded as one of the best Wrestlemania's of all time, and my personal favorite: Wrestlemania X-Seven.

Wrestlemania X-Seven was a huge deal for several reasons. First, it was technically the first Wrestlemania ever in which WWF didn’t have a rival promotion to worry about, as WCW had shut down just a few weeks earlier. It also marked the first Wrestlemania in Texas, and the first Wrestlemania to take place in a football stadium since Wrestlemania VIII was in Indianapolis’ Hoosier Dome nine years earlier. So, right off the bat, X-Seven had a huge feel to it.

Did it deliver? Yeah. It did. People still talk about to this day. While I could go in-depth with every match on the card (because they’re all awesome), I’m gonna just focus on my three favorites.

Kurt Angle d. Chris Benoit

A rivalry that would stretch from Wrestlemania 2000 to Benoit’s eventual Royal Rumble win and transfer to Raw, Angle and Benoit had no shortage of classic matches in that four year stretch. This one stands out as one of the three or four best.

There wasn’t really much of a story behind this match (or their feud in general) except for they were the two best submission artists in the WWF and constantly wanted to make each other tap out. Coming off years of overbooked NWO angles and Attitude Era shenanigans, it was nice to get a match where two guys try to make each other tap for 15 minutes. It was also incredibly smart booking, as Angle tapped while the ref was knocked out and eventually made Benoit tap while the ref was looking. It made it so they could continue the feud. Benoit would get hurt shortly later, but they would pick it right back up when he returned in 2002.

TLC II: Edge and Christian d. Dudley Boyz and Hardy Boyz

It’s 2018 and TLC matches are pretty much not a special thing anymore, due to the advances in concussion research and the toning down of WWE in general. Plus, they have a pay-per-view dedicated to the match every year.

Back in 2001 though, this was still incredibly fresh and new. And while these were the only good tag teams in the company at the moment, they sure knew how to put on a show.

This TLC match has no shortage of memorable moments. From Edge spearing Jeff Hardy out of mid-air, to the super tall ladder, to everyone going through at least one table, it’s pretty amazing that all six of these guys still had careers after this match and are still in relatively good shape today.

Stone Cold d. The Rock

Look, the ending was really really stupid and unnecessary and one of the dumbest things WWF/E have ever done. I’ll be the first to agree. But damn, this match is one of Austin’s three best of all time.

I think it’s right up there with his match against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13. It checked every single box for me. Obviously, Austin had to main event the first Wrestlemania to ever be held in Texas, and the crowd loved him. Austin using the Million Dollar Dream was an amazing callback. Rock hitting a Stunner and Austin hitting a Rock Bottom was awesome.

It would have been a perfect ending to a great night if only he hadn’t sided with Vince McMahon. But, the match itself is still absolutely excellent.


Does Wrestlemania X-Seven still hold up today? Yes. Absolutely. The impact was felt throughout much of the 2000s, as it made Angle and Benoit into stars, was the start of a change from the Attitude Era to the Ruthless Aggression Era (which technically started here despite not getting named as such until 2002), and gave us another classic in the Austin/Rock rivalry. I didn’t even get into things like Undertaker vs. Triple H, or one of the most entertaining hardcore title matches in WWF history between Big Show/Kane/Raven. Simply put, this show is just as entertaining today as it was 17 years ago, and I hope Wrestlemania 34 holds up just as well.

Royal Rumble non-Rumble countdown

WrestleMania is the preeminent event for WWE, but the Royal Rumble isn’t too far off. The event is perhaps even more fun for the casual fan because of the possible surprise appearances from the past, and the overall chaos of the Royal Rumble Match.

But even though the Royal Rumble Match takes precedence, that doesn’t mean everything else is chopped liver. The undercard has had its moments in the sun too. In fact, there’ve been times where individual matches have stolen the show. So while your focus might be on who’s going to WrestleMania, there have been plenty of great matches throughout the years that have gotten us through the night, too.

And so, here is a countdown of the best non-Royal Rumble matches in history to take place at the annual event. All matches were viewed by yours truly, and weighed through my own mind. No, I’m not #DaMeltz/#BIGDAVE, so there won’t be any SIX STARS/SEVEN STARS given out here. This is just the way that I see it and how I was captivated by the psychology, storytelling, and overall entertainment of the match.

Before we get to the Top 10 though, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

The Rock vs. Mankind | I Quit Match, 1999 | Rating: ***¾

This couldn’t quite crack the Top 10, but the sheer brutality of it is just so stomach-churning. It’s a hard watch, knowing the state of things now with what we know about head trauma, and what we probably know about Mick Foley’s condition. Still, this is a match, for the right and wrong reasons, that was too memorable to be left off the HM’s.

Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan | 2014 | Rating: ***¾

Ah… the 2014 Rumble. Aka, perhaps, the most bungled Rumble ever (until 2015). At least we had this match between Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan, who of course would go on to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania anyway. It was a very solid opener with a hot crowd that was defiantly behind Bryan. I will say, it loses its luster a little on the second watch. That’s why it find itself here.

Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty | Intercontinental Championship, 1993 | Rating: ***¾

HBK and Marty Jannetty had two memorable Intercontinental Championship matches. One took place on Monday Night RAW, and the other went down at the 1993 Rumble. This one was built around Sensational Sherri, who made her return after being off TV for quite some time. There were questions as to whose side she was on, and in this match, it appeared she was on the side of Jannetty. However, her misstep in striking Marty with her heel allowed for HBK to hit him with Sweet Chin Music and retain his IC Title. Fun match with some good storytelling.

The Rockers vs. The Orient Express | 1991 | Rating: ****

The best tag team match in Royal Rumble history took place all the way back in 1991. The Rockers faced off with The Orient Express in Miami, and the two teams put on an absolute clinic to start the night. 27 years later, this match still holds up EXCELLENTLY. There’s drama, great tag spots, and a very fun finish too.

Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens | Universal Championship, 2017 | Rating: ****¼

Last year’s Universal Championship match just misses the cut for the Top 10. But don’t thumb your nose at that. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens’ collision is certainly one of the best World Title matches to ever take place at a Royal Rumble. Reigns and Owens had a physical encounter that’s best remembered for Braun Strowman’s run-in, which ultimately led to KO retaining the title. And also ultimately led to the great Braun-Roman feud. Oh, and Jericho was in a shark cage above the ring. That was a thing.
 

And now… The Top 10 non-Royal Rumble Matches in history.
 

10. Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens | Intercontinental Championship Last Man Standing Match, 2016 | Rating: ****¼

The 2016 Royal Rumble is remembered for many things. AJ Styles made his VERY FIRST appearance in WWE. Becky Lynch and Charlotte had a pretty stirring Divas Championship match. But the best match of the night was the one that went on first.

Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens fought over the Intercontinental Championship in a rather incredible Last Man Standing Match. There are several violent spots in the match-up, many of which involving chairs. Ambrose late in the match nearly won the match after an elbow drop through the table, but it wasn’t enough at the time. Owens thought he sealed it up late with a Sidewinder Suplex through the table, but Dean the madman got up from that, too. The match came to a bitter conclusion after Owens was pushed into a stacked set of tables on the outside, finishing off one brutal encounter.

9. Diesel vs. Bret Hart | WWF Championship, 1995 | Rating: ****¼

The 1995 Rumble is notable for two reasons. Shawn Michaels went coast to coast, and Diesel and Bret Hart had an amazing WWF Title Match.

What sets this match apart is the psychology in it. The Hitman did everything in his power to try and cut Big Daddy Cool and his legs down. And by that, I mean EVERYTHING. Attacks on the leg and knee. Knee drops. Slamming them against the ringpost. Using the Figure Four on the ringpost. There’s even a spot where Hitman RIPS OFF HIS WRIST TAPE, TIES IT AROUND DIESEL’S ANKLES, and goes back in the ring to attack him while he’s trapped around the ringpost.

Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart make cameos in a match that didn’t have a finish, but it left an impact. That’s for sure.

8. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock | WWF Undisputed Championship, 2002 | Rating: ****½

Chris Jericho’s run as Undisputed Champion is something he’ll never let you forget. It unfortunately lasted only 3 months, but Jericho worked with the big names and had stirring performances.

Especially so against The Great One at the 2002 Rumble. Y2J’s heel work shined from the get go, as he stole Rocky’s taunt, putting his hand out in front of his face. The Brahma Bull gave it his best shot, but thanks to the handiwork of Lance Storm and Christian, Jericho was able to get out of Atlanta as Undisputed Champion.

7. CM Punk vs. The Rock | WWE Championship, 2013 | Rating: ****½

Sometimes, a match can be great, and also be aided by its atmosphere. CM Punk vs. The Rock in 2013 is one of those cases. Punk, who walked in as Champion, while carrying a streak of 434 days with the championship, squared off with The People’s Champion in a high-stakes encounter. The “big fight” feel that the crowd in Phoenix gave off in this match was absolutely electric.

It helped that Punk and Rock were both at a very high caliber in this matchup. Punk especially, as the man was on a run for the ages at the time. 434 came to an end after The People’s Elbow, and we know the rest from there. The electricity around this match helped it shine, though.

6. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho | Ladder Match, 2001 | Rating: ****¾

Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had their fair share of classics. One that will never be forgotten occurred at the 2001 Rumble in New Orleans. The two fought over the Intercontinental Championship in an absolutely ridiculous Ladder Match.

The thing that I REALLY love about this match? They had a match INSIDE a Ladder Match. A lot of times, you see the match built around the chase for the title. These two didn’t do that though. They fought and kicked and scrapped. They used the ladder as a weapon. Jericho used the ladder to apply the Walls of Jericho on Benoit in a memorable spot. This is one of the greatest Intercontinental Championship Matches in general, and surely the best ever in Royal Rumble history.

5. AJ Styles vs. John Cena | WWE Championship, 2017 | Rating: ****¾

AJ Styles and John Cena had one hell of a rivalry in 2016. Cena and Styles had a classic the first time they faced each other at Money in the Bank. Then, they had another at SummerSlam. Five months later at the Royal Rumble, they would fight again. But this time, with a lot more on the line.

Styles’ WWE Championship was up for grabs, and Cena’s shot at the elusive 16th Championship reign. And man, did they ever deliver. In what was one of 2017’s Matches of the Year, the two icons did what they did best in San Antonio. Cena ended the match emphatically with an AA-rollthrough-AA combo to win the title for the 16th time.

4. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins | WWE Championship Triple Threat Match, 2015 | Rating: ****¾

The 2015 Rumble was… okay, anyways, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins stole the damn show in Philadelphia on this night.

This match wasn’t your typical WWE triple threat match. It was chaotic. It was hectic. It was like watching wildfire in wrestling form. EVERYONE found a way to make an impact. Seth Rollins got his breakthrough opportunity here, and boy, oh boy, did he make the most of it. Rollins’ Phoenix Splash is one of the more memorable spots of this matchup. He wouldn’t win the title that night, as Brock would retain, but he would get the last laugh a few months later...

3. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit | WWE Championship, 2003 | Rating: *****

SmackDown’s epic run in 2002 was largely aided by the SmackDown Six, and Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were at the forefront. The Rabid Wolverine had spent much of his time in the WWF as a heel, besides for a run in 2001 against… you guessed it: Kurt Angle, but the tide was turning in his favor late in 2002. He would earn the right to be #1 contender going into the 2003 Rumble, and on that night in Boston, he faced off against his rival.

What would happen next was one of the greatest WWE Title Matches EVER. Point blank period. Not just the Rumble. EVER. Angle and Benoit put on a wrestling clinic for nearly 20 minutes, with the story focusing in on Benoit’s quest to become WWE Champion for the first time ever. Angle would retain the championship that night, but the booking in this match was Hall of Fame-grade. This is the best pure wrestling match in the history of the Royal Rumble. And it likely won’t EVER be topped. 

2. John Cena vs. Umaga | WWE Championship Last Man Standing, 2007 | Rating: *****

The 2007 Royal Rumble in San Antonio is one of the best Rumbles ever. Largely because of the main event, but also because of the Last Man Standing Match that happened that night. John Cena and Umaga had what is regarded as the greatest LMS Match in history that night, and any run through the match can show you why.

#SuperCena booking be damned here, because The Samoan Bulldozer was hardly hurt at all. This is one of the last REALLY brutal matches in WWE before the turn to PG in 2008, so there’s blood and violence galore. Plenty of usages of the steel steps were used, and Cena won the match after passing ‘Mags out with the unlatched ring ropes.

1. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack | WWF Championship Street Fight, 2000 | Rating: *****

The greatest non-Royal Rumble Match ever took place on January 23, 2000. Sure enough, it happened in the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, at the start of what was the World Wrestling Federation’s greatest year ever.

Cactus Jack and Triple H, no stranger to each other, fought over the World Wrestling Federation Title in a Street Fight. Jack’s dream of becoming WWF Champion, spliced in with his love for violence, makes the story in the match so easily captivating. Barbed wire, tables, thumbtacks and chairs all make cameos in this memorable encounter. Hunter’s Pedigree onto the thumbtacks is how this one ends, and it ended in such brilliant fashion. Both men looked like absolute warriors, with Foley still gaining plenty of sympathy from the crowd in the process of the loss.

It will always be remembered as one of the greatest championship matches in the company’s history. It’s also remembered as the greatest non-Royal Rumble Match in history.

(All photos courtesy of WWE)