WWE Home Video 2-disc DVD set
An 80-minute documentary, chronicling Benoit’s career. It’s divided up into the following chapters:
The Early Years
Royal Rumble 2003
Royal Rumble 2004
Benoit started out in Canada, idolizing The Dynamite Kid. He went to Japan, where he wrestled first as the masked “Pegasus Kid,” and later went topless as “Wild Pegasus.” From there, he took a wrong turn and wound up in a Bingo Hall.
In Heyman’s defense, however, he believed in Benoit like no other U.S. promoter before. When Benoit was in the quagmire that was 1997 WCW, Heyman wheeled and dealed in hopes of getting Benoit to make a surprise appearance at the November To Remember 97 PPV. At one point, it was a done deal…then it became undone.
They touched on Benoit’s relationship with Kevin Sullivan, as Sully hopscotched in and out of power as WCW booker. They totally buried the Taskmaster. Ordinarily, I’d complain about Vince gloating while violating WCW’s corpse yet again. But considering all the guys Sullivan held down, I’d file this one under “poetic justice.”
Benoit also cryptically said he didn’t want to go into detail about his “relationship” with Nancy because he had kids from a previous marriage and he wants to wait until they are old enough to hear the poop from him, rather than have them hear about how he scored Nancy on the rebound from a DVD. *** SPOILER ALERT: If your dad is Chris Benoit, you shouldn’t have read this paragraph. ***
Now for a surreality check. I never thought I would EVER see this on a WWE DVD, but they showed the clip from Over The Edge 99 where Jim Ross informed the world that Owen Hart had died. Benoit lamented his loss, and this led to the famous “Owen tribute match” between Bret Hart and Benoit on Nitro later that year.
The Owen stuff was touching, surprising, and just plain ballsy. Good show from all involved. Though it does raise one obvious question: Was Brian Pillman chopped liver? (Well, yeah, I suppose the years of substance abuse probably DID chop up his liver something fierce, but that’s not the point). I can’t tell you that Benoit was closer to Brian than he was to Owen, but in the eyes of the casual fan, Benoit/Pillman were more closely associated than Benoit/Owen. After Pillman died in 1997, Benoit even wore Pillman’s “Loose Cannon Rogue Horseman” symbol on his tights for months.
Next was a fun little bit of retcon spin-doctoring where they glossed over Benoit’s WCW World Title win at Souled Out 2000. Benoit said he was so miserable in WCW by that point, he didn’t even want the strap. The funny thing was that this statement was voiced-over the clip of Kevin Nash taunting Benoit after his big win. (Earlier in the PPV, Nash booked himself to beat Terry Funk for the WCW Commissionership. Nash vowed to make Benoit’s life “a living hell.”) I defy anyone to come up with any clip that better illustrates everything that was wrong with WCW. The next night, Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn showed up in the front row for Raw, and as far as I’m concerned, the Monday Night War ended then and there. Anyway, the story here was that the WCW World Title win “didn’t count,” so as to make his WMXX victory seem more special. Given the state of WCW at that point, it’s pretty hard to argue with that.
By contrast, Benoit put over how important it was to him that he won the IC Title at his first Wrestlemania (WM16, 4/2/00). Trivbit: That was the first time someone ever won the IC strap in their WM debut. Rob Van Dam duplicated the feat two years later at WM18. It was kind of funny that they cooked the books to put the emphasis on Benoit’s IC win, but completely left out the fact that it was actually a two-fall triple-threat match with Benoit and Chris Jericho both challenging for Kurt Angle’s IC Title and Euro Title. Benoit pinned Jericho for the IC belt in Fall 1, but Jericho pinned Benoit right back to claim the Euro strap. I guess they’re saving that part for Jericho’s DVD.
Benoit talked about headlining Fully Loaded 2000 against The Rock. He told a funny story about the Dusty finish of their match, where he got a bunch of voice mails from friends congratulating him on his “title win,” only to get messages from the same people minutes later saying, “Um, never mind.”
Okay, time to head for the finish line. He suffered a broken neck, came back good as new, won the 2004 Rumble, and went on to capture the World Title at WMXX.
It also bears mention that Benoit put over Too Cold Scorpio, Booker T, and Kurt Angle as guys who pushed him to up his game. Benoit is quick to share credit with other workers. The guy is the consummate pro and every potential wrestler really needs to sit down and learn from this DVD.
So, did the guy ever get his damn work visa?
1) Pegasus Kid b Jushin Liger for the IWGP Jr. Hvt Title at 15:02 [NJPW, 8/19/90]. Benoit’s Japanese matches had three choices of commentary. The original Japanese commentary, Michael Cole & Tazz, or Benoit himself & Dean Malenko & Tard Grisham. Notably, they picked the Smackdown announce crew despite the fact that Benoit was on the Raw roster when this was released. It was absolutely the right decision, but the interesting thing is that it shows management’s lack of faith in the eroding collective talent of Raw geezers Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. Anyway, the real story is that Tard Grisham is the worst fucking announcer in the history of play-by-play. The guy doesn’t know a damn thing about wrestling. He mispronounced “Jushin,” and asked if New Japan style was “Kinda like a lucha libre style, isn’t it?” After a pause, both Chris and Dean said “No.” Their disgust could not be hidden. On the other hand, Cole and Tazz solidified their rep as the best announcing team of the day. Tazz even identified referee Tiger Hatori, as well as Hiroshi Hase, who accompanied Liger to the ring. Anyway, this match was cutting edge then and it still holds up to this day. There was a great false finish tease as the gaudily-clad timekeeper guy menacingly raised his ring bell hammer for every two-count. This bout had everything you’d expect from a high-impact juniors match. Suplexes, powerbombs, and lots of high-flying, all pulled off without a hitch by two of the best to ever step inside a wrestling ring. Liger hit the world’s greatest flip senton for a nearfall, followed by PK rolling up a powerbomb attempt for a nearfall of his own. PK leveled Liger with a lariat, stuck him with a tight tombstone, and finished him off with a legdrop off the top. Excellent match that had the dignified Japanese crowd marking out like stock footage from Godzilla flicks. (Kerry)
2) Too Cold Scorpio b Chris Benoit at 18:20 [WCW SuperBrawl III, 2/21/93]. Disappointingly, we didn’t get to rock out to Scorpio’s theme song. I actually tried to do a Google search for the lyrics, but it came up bupkiss. The Scorpio dance mix is too obscure even for the Goog. From disappointing to just plain bizarre, this match had long gaps of silence from the broadcast booth. For some reason, they deleted Jesse Ventura’s color commentary from the PPV broadcast. It just might have something to do with the fact that The Body sued Vince for royalties from Home Videos with his commentary. Ventura beat McMahon in a falls-count-anywhere-in-the-judicial-system match to the tune of $800,000-plus. Anyway, Scorp and Benoit clicked like legos, and this was a fast-paced high-impact match where everything looked fantastic. Great creative finish, too. Ring announcer Gary Michael Capetta did that “countdown to time-limit” that he did better than anyone in the history of the biz. With one second left on the clock (according to the storyline of the match, anyway), Scorp rolled up Benoit for three. HELL of a good match. (Kerry)
3) Wild Pegasus b Black Tiger in the Super J Cup semifinal at 10:24 [NJPW, 4/16/94]. More fun from Tard Grisham, who I swear was coming on to Benoit at this point. He said “You’re a handsome man, Chris,” and marveled at the fact that between then and now, Chris has “more muscle mass.” Uncomfortable silence followed. Oh yeah, and Malenko had to actually EXPLAIN the concept of a “semifinal” match to Tard. You know how the winners of semifinal matches meet in the finals? Well, Tard didn’t. Cole and Tazz were tons better, though Cole’s attention deficit disorder did kick in, causing him to wax poetic about the winged horsey airbrushed on Benoit’s tights. Not to be outdone, Tazz screwed the pooch by saying “(Benoit and Guerrero) went to ECW together.” Actually, Benoit had already won and lost the ECW Tag Title before Eddie showed up in Philly. Now before you bombard me with hate mail for ripping on a commentator who made an honest mistake, I remind you that the team Benoit & Malenko beat for the ECW straps was Sabu & Tazz. Anyway, this was a good match, but not on the level of the other two Japanese matches. (David)
4) Wild Pegasus b Great Sasuke to win the Super J Cup tournament at 18:48 [NJPW, 4/16/94]. I fucking hate Tard Grisham. You should, too. So should your family and friends. Here’s the latest from the Tard Grisham quotebook:
“Was there a rivalry between you guys (New Japan) and sumos?”
“(If it isn’t broke), don’t break it.”
”Does the Super J Cup have a heavyweight division?” (“J” stands for junior, by the way.)
Tard also mispronounced “Sasuke” several times, despite the fact that both Benoit and Malenko kept saying it correctly.
On the other side of the studio, Tazz and Cole did this match proud. Tazz was both insightful and funny, saying he didn’t like Sasuke because when they wrestled, Sasuke split Tazz’s lip. Cole got off the line of his career. Upon observing the NJ roster kneeling at ringside (as is customary for big matches), Cole quipped, “I think the rest are kneeling, but Malenko is standing up.” Anyway, this was a damn good match. A great showcase of Sasuke highspots like the handspring hilo, inside-out suplex, and missle dropkick. Sasuke was the star, which was good because he looked strong despite the fact that the other guy was going over. WP wound up winning after a SWEET gut-wrench superplex off the top. The ringside wrestlers filled the ring in celebration, further getting over the magnitude of the win. (Kerry)
5) Chris Benoit NC Sabu at 1:32 [ECW November To Remember 94, 11/5/94]. This was the famous match where Sabu suffered a broken neck, kicking off the “Crippler” persona for Benoit. I don’t know what was more surreal: Watching an ECW match with the little WWE logo in the lower left corner, or the fact that they actually dubbed Benoit’s first WWWFE theme music in as he walked to the ring. The hell? Anyway, back by popular demand, here comes the The Complete And Total List Of Every Move In This Match:
1. Knee to the midsection
2. Front-suplex throw onto the top rope (Someone really needs to name that damn thing)
3. Single-leg lift into a throw
Disappointingly, they didn’t show the full thing as it played out at the ECW Arena. Too Cold Scorpio was brought in as a spur-of-the-moment substitute. Benoit-Scorp tore it up in wrestling to a double-countout. (Waldo)
6) Chris Benoit b Al Snow at 14:36 [ECW Double Tables, 2/4/95]. One of wrestling’s buried treasures, and easily the best match of Snow’s perennially underrated career. This match was a top-three finalist in the Lariat’s “Match Of The Year” voting for 1995. Even referee John Finnegan sold Benoit’s chops, which was one of those little inspired touches that made ECW so much fun to watch. Snow got himself over with the pro-Benoit Bingo Hall by hitting a deadeye Ohtani-style springboard dropkick to the back of Benoit’s head. Joey Styles fired off one of his first quotable one-liners by saying this match had “more wrestling in five minutes than on any PPV of the past five years.” If I want to be a prick, I’ll suggest that between Flair, Steamboat, Austin, Pillman, Liger, Bret, HBK, and Savage, that statement is a half-truth. Still though, the point was made and the Kool-Aid went down easy. Snow kicked out of the diving headbutt for a nail-biting nearfall. Snow hit a wheelbarrow suplex for a nearfall of his own, which Styles called a “Snowplex.” Benoit finally put Snow away with a picture-perfect Dragon suplex. After the bell, Benoit planted Snow with a NICE powerbomb. Snow was stretchered out, furthering his “Crippler” persona. A must-see. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD set. (FRITZ)
7) Chris Benoit b Eddie Guerrero in the 8:35 that aired (no opening bell) [WCW Nitro, 10/16/95]. This was the best Nitro match of 1995, so assbag announcers Eric Bischoff and Steve McMichael talked about the WCW hotline, the Braves going to the World Series, and one of the worst PPVs ever, Halloween Havoc 95 (the one where Giant fell off the roof of Cobo Hall). Anyway, this match had a solid storyline that saw Benoit work over Eddie’s right arm with a series of creative hammerlock spots. Eddie had a brief hope spot with a second-rope springboard into a tornado DDT. Benoit got his knees up to block the frog splash and drilled Eddie with the SICKEST powerbomb you’ll ever see in your life. Finish saw Eddie throw a right hand with his bad arm, allowing Benoit to hit the Dragon suplex for the pin. Very good match, with very bad commentary. Not Tard Grisham bad, but bad nonetheless. (Kerry)
8) Chris Benoit b “Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan in a FCA match at 9:58 [WCW GAB 96, 6/16/96]. WCW tried many times to imitate ECW’s popular brand of violence, but this was the first time they got it right. Benoit and Sullivan had a great brawl in the mens room. Color man Dusty Rhodes excitedly squealed in delight upon seeing that a woman followed them into the mens room. Play-by-play assbag Tony Schiavone snuck in a shot at Brian Pillman (“Pillman put his tail between his legs”), who actually worked Bischoff into firing him and wound up signing with the WWF. RIP, Brian. You were a king among men. Anyway, a good brawl ended when Benoit set up a table on the top rope and superplexed Sullivan off of it for the pin. Afterward, Arn Anderson stormed the ring. In the weeks leading up to this match, Arn and Sullivan formed an “Alliance To End Hulkamania,” with hints that Arn backed Sully in his feud against Benoit, even though Benoit was a fellow Horseman. Arn teased attacking Benoit, but instead helped Benoit lay in the boots to Sully. The crowd went apeshit for a classic Horsemen mugging. Good match, good angle. (David)
9) Booker T b Chris Benoit in the finals of a best-of-seven series to decide #1C to the WCW TV Title at 16:20 [6/14/98]. This was actually their EIGHTH match, as the first “Match #7” ended when Bret Hart screwed Booker, but Benoit refused the tainted win. WCW’s, um, important-suit-guy-who-had-some-title-of-power-that-I-can’t-seem-to-remember-at-the-moment J.J. Dillon ordered that match be thrown out, and booked the decider for this PPV. B vs. B was the best-wrestled feud of the big two in all of 1998. I still think it’s kind of ironic that the prize for winning this clinic was a shot at the third-most-prestigious singles championship in WCW. Anyhoo, this was another fast-paced back-and-forth gem, even though the announcers pretty much gave away the end by beating to death the fact that Benoit could have already won the series if not for his honour (Canadian spelling). Finish saw Book hit the world’s greatest missile dropkick for the pin. Bobby Heenan capped off the replay by hilariously stating, “I knew it would go eight.” Just in case you wondering, Book went on to beat Fit Finlay for the TV Title later in the show. (Kerry)
10) Bret Hart b WCW TV champion Chris Benoit in a non-title match in the 23:03 that aired (there were two commercial breaks that chopped up the match) [Owen Tribute Match, WCW Nitro, 10/4/99]. Why in the HELL was this not a TV Title match?? What, did Bret not win his own best-of-seven series to earn a shot? Ah, don’t listen to me. Harley Race (one of the last people to ever talk to Owen) was guest ring announcer and the heat and emotion was simply off the charts. This just has to be seen to be believed. Benoit ultimately tapped to the sharpshooter to end one of the most emotional matches you’ll ever see. It’s more than a couple “bests,” too.
* Best match ever on Nitro
* Best match of Bret’s WCW career
* Best match of Benoit’s WCW career
* Best TV match of 1999
A must-see. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD set. (FRITZ)
11) Chris Benoit b Sid Vicious by tapout to win the vacant WCW World Title at 14:50. Arn Anderson was special referee. [WCW Souled Out 2000, 1/16/00]. Screw the match, I’m gonna do a write-up on the story behind the booking of this main event. Okay, it was originally supposed to be a rematch from Starrcade 99, with heel World champion Bret Hart defending against Bill Goldberg. There was an angle on a live Thunder where Goldberg was supposed to bust out the window’s of the NWO's limo. Goldy had a small pipe in his hand which did the damage. However, Goldberg sucked at that, too. The pipe flew out of his hand and into the front seat upon at first smash. Even Goldberg’s walnut brain realized that he couldn’t exactly stop to open the door and retrieve his pipe, so he thunk up the bright idea of using his own hand to break the rest of the glass. The result? Dipshit shredded a tendon in his arm and sat out on the shelf for half a year. So then the new Souled Out main event was set up as Bret vs. Sid for the World Title, with the undercard largely consisting of Benoit vs. Jeff Jarrett in a one-night best-of-three series for Jarrett’s U.S. Title. Sadly, it was then discovered that Greenberg had ended Bret’s career with a concussion-inducing superkick at SC99. Okay, NEW new main event for the World Title: Sid vs. No One. As part of the build to the U.S. Title match, douchebooker Vince Russo booked Jarrett to wrestle three matches on a single Nitro against various “legends” (read: has-beens). Jarrett faced Tito Santana, George Steele, and Jimmy Snuka. Via circumstances far too convoluted to accurately recount, Snuka hit the Superfly splash off the top of the cage, giving JJ a legit concussion. So in the days before the PPV, they had no World champion or U.S. champion. Does that mean that the TV champion was then top dog by default? Ladies and gentlemen, the new #1 man in the company, Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He found the TV Title in a trash can and was then automatically declared champion by way of “finders keepers,” but I’ll save that story for Duggan’s DVD. Anyway, they somehow ended up booking Benoit vs. Sid for the vacant WCW World Title. Oh yeah, and in the weeks before this match, Benoit and Sid were actually allies against the new new NEW NWO of Bret, Jarrett, Hall, and Nash. To emphasize the importance of this match, the locker room emptied out into the aisle to watch the proceedings. Such luminaries as David Flair, Tank Abbott, Asya, and The Mamalukes gave this title bout the rub it so desperately needed. This was Benoit’s final WCW match, and a year later at WCW’s 1/01 PPV, Sid hit a career best when he brutally broke his leg during a match. Okay, time to talk about the match. Benoit won with the Crossface. (David)
12) Chris Benoit b William Regal at 12:48 [Brian Pillman Memorial Show 2000, 5/25/00]. Strange commentary from Michael Cole and Dr. Tom Prichard. Prichard talked about how he showed this match to all his students because “there are no wasted movements; everything means something.” Cole and DTP toed the kayfabe line, alternating between analyzing how the match was put together, and calling it like a “real” match. It was weird, but in a good way. Awesome, awesome match. Regal bled hardway from a Benoit headbutt, which upped the drama quotient to perfection. Only knock against this match was that Regal tapped too quick to the Crossface, but that’s just IMO. Dave Meltzer pointed out that this was “the match that saved Regal’s job.” After months of battling a substance abuse problem, Vince was ready to throw in the towel on Regal. But this match showed that when he was in there with someone who understood him, His Lordship could rock the house. Best match of Regal’s career, easy. I daresay it belongs in Benoit’s top 20, too. A must-see. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD set. (FRITZ)
13) Kurt Angle b Tag champion Chris Benoit in a cage match by escaping the cage at 14:30 [WWF Raw, 6/11/01]. Heel World champion Steve Austin 2001 was on color. Benoit & Chris Jericho had defeated Austin & HHH for the Tag straps a few weeks prior to this, which started the build to the Austin vs. Benoit vs. Jericho triple-threat at KOTR01. Even though the WWF’s decision to turn Austin heel single-handedly kicked off their business nosedive that continues to this day, dammit if Stone Cold wasn’t still entertaining as hell in the role. Anyway, this match totally rules you, bitch. Unforgettable spot saw Angle miss the most beautiful moonsault you’ll ever see in your life, from off the top of the cage. Benoit dished out six German suplexes, let Angle run into the cage, then gave him three more. Austin jumped off headset and cut off Benoit’s attempted escape through the door. This led to one of the most edge-of-your-seat spots you’ll ever see, when Benoit did a diving headbutt off the top of the goddamn cage. Benoit would later point to this moment as the smoking gun that sent him off on the Year-Long-Broken-Neck-Vacation. Seriously, I picture this Club Med type place where all these wrestlers with broken necks stayed at for their off-years. Rhyno partied there. So did Lita. Austin has his own suite. Now it’s Test’s turn. Anyway, Benoit finally kicked the door into Austin’s face and tried to escape again, but Angle snagged him in an ankle lock. Benoit hit a SWEET enziguiri, but Austin managed to go Gordy on Benoit, allowing Angle to escape the cage. Best cage match ever on free TV, and better than 99% of PPV matches in 2001. A must-see. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD set. (FRITZ)
14) WWE champion Kurt Angle b Chris Benoit to retain the title at 19:48 [WWE Royal Rumble 03, 1/19/04]. The most competitive title match you’ll ever see ended when Benoit tapped to a tenacious-as-hell ankle lock. This was one of the five best PPV matches ever, and I’d even go as far as to say it was thus far, THE BEST MATCH OF EITHER GUY’S CAREER. Now think about the ground covered by that statement. A must-must-MUST-see. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD set. (FRITZ)
The Neck Injury. A short piece that showed Chris and Nancy visiting with the sawbones who un-crippled the Crippler. The doc took a piece of Benoit’s pelvis and put it in his neck. Does that make him a dickhead? HAW HAW HAW!
“The Crossface Collection” [Confidential, 1/24/04]. A short feature on the Crippler Crossface. Nice piece, with emphasis on the fact that Benoit could slap it on either side from anywhere at anytime.
“Raw Magazine Cover Shoot” [Confidential, 4/3/04]. They stuck the poor guy in a freezer and spritzed him with water. Sadistic bastards! Kind of interesting to see Benoit away from his usual surroundings, but nothing earth-shattering.
EASTER EGG: On Disc 2, page 2, highlight the tooth in the lower right corner of your screen and click. A brief, funny soundbite airs of Chris Benoit’s dad revealing the true story of how Chris lost the tooth.
Overall over-analysis: Simply freakin’ awesome. For all the shots I take at the current WWE, they put DVDs together better than anyone in the whole damn entertainment industry. There are enough great Benoit matches for another SET of box sets, and I was marginally disappointed that they didn’t include his Edmonton homecoming for Backlash this year, but then it dawned on me that that would be one hell of a place to kick off Benoit II. Nothing left to say, other than to empty out my clipboard one last time: A must-see. (Pick something) alone is worth the price of the DVD set. Now add it all up and this is the biggest bargain of the year. The only question left is: Will Eddie’s DVD top it? This is a great year to be a wrestling fan with a DVD player, my friends.
This Observer’s Thumb……………..is WAY up.
THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).