Monday Night Raw – June 25, 2007 (Chris Benoit Memorial Show)

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 25, 2007
Location: American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole, Joey Styles, Tazz

At some point over the last week, Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself at his home. Their bodies were found on Monday, but the cause of death was not made clear by the time this show aired. As a result, there are no fans here and the original plans for the show, meaning Vince McMahon’s memorial service, were wiped out. Instead it’s a tribute to Benoit, as things had not yet changed for him. Let’s get to it.

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be putting in the full versions of the matches rather than the clipped editions that aired.

In Memory of Chris Benoit.

Vince McMahon is in the ring to open the show and talks about how this week was supposed to be about the demise of the Mr. McMahon character. Earlier today, the bodies of Benoit, his son Daniel and his wife Nancy were found, so all they can do is offer condolences and pay tribute to one of the best wrestlers of all time.

We open with a music video on Benoit, set to One Thing by Finger Eleven.

We get a video on Benoit wanting to be a wrestler and coming back to home hometown as the World Champion, with his family talking about how great of a kid he was. I believe most of the footage on tonight’s show will be from the Hard Knocks DVD.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are at the commentary table and talk about everything that happened before throwing us to the first match (or at least the end of it).

From Royal Rumble 2004.

Royal Rumble

JR and Tazz are on commentary, thankfully giving us a standard booth instead of the usual mess that these things have become. Tazz even has keys to victory: hide, stamina, get a high number. I’ve heard worse analysis so I’ll take what I can get. Chris Benoit is in at #1 and Randy Orton is in at #2 and we have ninety second intervals. Benoit gets aggressive to start (ignoring key to victory #2) and scores with a suplex but gets uppercutted into the corner.

Mark Henry is in at #3 and shoves Benoit down so he can choke Orton in the corner. The clock seems to get a little faster as Tajiri is in at #4 and gets suplexed down for his efforts. Henry throws Orton ribs first onto the top rope and everyone pounds away as Bradshaw is in at #5. Clotheslines abound until Benoit pulls him into the Crossface and gets him out in less than a minute. Well at least they’re keeping the ring at a manageable number. Rhyno is in at #6 and goes after Orton and Benoit as Tajiri kicks away at Henry.

Tajiri can’t get the Tarantula so Rhyno Gores Henry, eliminating Tajiri in the process. Benoit dumps Henry and we’re already down to three. They fight by the ropes and it’s Matt Hardy in at #7. There’s a Side Effect to Rhyno but Benoit knocks Matt to the apron. Matt gets back in and everyone pummels everyone until Scott Steiner is in at #8. Benoit rolls some German suplexes on Steiner as JR gives us the good stat of there being no former Rumble winners in this match.

Matt Morgan is in at #9 as the ring is starting to fill up. A helicopter bomb plants Benoit and there’s a big boot to Hardy. It’s back to the exchange of forearms around the ring with no one going for an elimination until Hurricane is in at #10. Before I can recap who is in the match, Morgan tosses Hurricane in short order, leaving us with Benoit, Orton, Rhyno, Hardy, Steiner and Morgan. Morgan throws Hardy to the apron but not out as Steiner lays on Orton in the middle of the ring.

Booker T. is in at #11 to a nice reaction but also to a really annoying song. An ax kick has Orton in trouble and Steiner is thrown out off camera (in his last match with the company) as Kane is in at #12. Benoit and Morgan both get chokeslams and the Gore and RKO are both blocked. Kane starts beating on Matt in the corner…..and a gong strikes at #13. As expected, Kane freaks out and the distraction lets Booker throw him out. It’s actually Spike Dudley in at #13 so Kane beats him up in the aisle, both for the gong and for Spike upsetting Kane on Monday. Things settle down and it’s Rikishi in at #14.

Benoit dumps Rhyno and Orton gets a Stinkface as the fans aren’t exactly interested, probably due to the gong taking some of their interest away. They’re certainly not burning up the pace for eliminations here but that’s not the worst thing in the world. Rene Dupree is in at #15 to get us to the halfway point. He dropkicks Hardy out but turns into a superkick from Rikishi to get eliminated as well.

A-Tran is in at #16 and goes after Rikishi as Benoit ducks Morgan’s charge to get rid of him. Orton dumps out Rikishi and Booker in the span of a few seconds, leaving us with Benoit, Orton and A-Train. Benoit eliminates A-Train as Shelton Benjamin is in at #17. Benjamin slugs away as JR completely missed A-Train’s elimination. How do you not notice the 6’8 350lb bald guy being gone? Orton dumps Shelton and we’re down to two again. To be fair, other than Kane and maybe Booker, none of the other entrants are worth anything so far. Lamont runs out to introduce Ernest Miller at #18 and Tazz loves the song.

Benoit tosses Lamont and Orton does the same to Miller so these two can keep slugging it out. Kurt Angle is in at #19 and now things can pick up a bit. Benoit and Angle go at it (of course) while Orton is smart enough to just chill in the corner. Angle has Benoit in trouble on the ropes but Orton makes a rather questionable save. Rico is in at #20 and goes after Orton, who dropkicks him almost immediately. A kick to the head rocks Orton though, leaving Benoit to roll some German suplexes on Angle. Orton dumps Rico with ease and it’s Test…..not in at #21.

We cut to the back where Test is unconscious. Austin sees who did it and makes that person #21 instead. In the arena, MICK FOLEY is #21 and Orton knows he’s about to die. Foley slugs him down in the corner, throws up a BANG BANG and hits the running knee in the corner. The Cactus Clothesline gives us a double elimination and it’s down to Benoit vs. Angle. Foley isn’t done with Orton and sends him into the steps as Christian is in at #22.

Orton gets in a few wicked chair shots to Foley and punches him down before slamming Foley’s head into the ramp. Some right hands get Foley out of trouble and it’s Mr. Socko but Foley has to give it to Nunzio, who comes in at #23. The distraction lets Orton get in a low blow and run off after a great angle that makes me want to see these two have a heck of a fight. Back in the ring, Christian can’t get rid of Angle or Benoit so Angle suplexes Benoit instead. Benoit is the only one standing as Big Show is in at #24.

Show starts fast with the overhand chops and throws some Canadians around until Chris Jericho is in at #25 to a very nice reaction. Jericho and Christian stomp on Angle in the corner until Show makes a save with a double noggin knocker. How old school of him. Everyone goes after Show so he shrugs them off and Charlie Haas is in at #26. Christian tries to turn on Jericho but gets dumped out instead, which just fits for Christian for some reason. Billy Gunn returns at #27 and hits some Fameassers but can’t get rid of anyone.

John Cena is in at #28 to a very nice reaction and you can feel the star power growing every night. Cena catches Nunzio sitting on the floor and throws him inside as the ring is starting to get too full. For some reason Nunzio goes after Show, earning himself that hard shot to the back. Rob Van Dam is in at #29 and can’t get rid of Show either. Cena gives Angle an FU and here’s Goldberg in at #30 to complete the field. I’m not going to bother saying who all is in there because we’re about to lose a bunch of them.

Goldberg wrecks everyone and tosses Haas, Gunn and Nunzio (after an insane spear). That leaves us with Benoit, Angle, Show, Jericho, Cena, Van Dam and Goldberg for a heck of a final group. Goldberg loads up the Jackhammer on Show but here’s Lesnar to jump him from behind, allowing Angle to dump Goldberg, who is busy seething at Lesnar. Show shrugs off the masses again but Angle chop blocks him, which isn’t the brightest idea. That means a Lionsault, a Five Star, a Shuffle and a Swan Dive but Show is unconscious on the mat. Real smart guys.

Show fights up and dumps Cena, who lands VERY awkwardly on his knee. Van Dam is gone too and we’re down to Jericho, Big Show, Angle and Benoit. Jericho goes after Show’s knee and bulldogs Show now, which has done so well against him already. The Walls make Show tap but Jericho lets him go. That’s not the brightest move in the world and Show makes him pay with a chokeslam over the top for an elimination. A regular chokeslam drops Benoit so Angle gets the Angle Slam on Show.

Benoit gets one as well and now it’s the ankle lock to make Show tap again. Show gets up and muscles Angle out as well, leaving us with two. With Show hanging over the top rope, Benoit hits the Swan Dive to the back of his head, accidentally bringing Show back in. The chokeslam is countered into the Crossface to make Show tap for the third time.

A side slam gets Show out of trouble as we hear about Benoit getting close to Ric Flair’s longevity record. Show loads up a gorilla press but Benoit pulls him down into a guillotine, even as Show puts him on the apron. Benoit pulls him down and slides back inside as Show goes out, giving Benoit the big win.

Rating: A. It’s one of the best Rumbles ever, mainly due to Benoit. There was some great storytelling near the end, with Jericho and Angle both making Show tap but then making some kind of a mistake to get eliminated while Benoit was smart/determined enough to make it work in the end. The same thing happens when the big groups try to get Show out and Benoit does it on his own, showing how technique and determination are better than brute strength. It kept you wondering if Benoit could finally win the big one and that’s what they managed to pull off in a great story throughout the whole match.

Other than that, they did a great job of not letting the ring get too full save for near the end, which Goldberg took care of in short order. Pacing is often such a problem in these things and it’s very nice to see them get it right. They had a big angle with Foley and Orton too, giving it something besides the winner to go off of from here. Finally, there were multiple possible winners, which always makes for a better match than having one or two people be the only ones who could win. Great Rumble, and one of the best of all time.

Steve Austin talks about how Benoit was one of the best he’s ever been in the ring with and how Benoit worked so hard. One of his favorite matches of his career was against Benoit in Edmonton, Benoit’s hometown and he wishes Benoit was still here.

Benoit talks about how he got into wrestling and the whole thing snowballed from there. He finally had to force himself to meet Dynamite Kid, which was the final step he needed.

Cole and JBL talk about how much Benoit loved his children and family. His kids were always in suits and respectful and Bradshaw sounds like he can barely keep it together.

John Cena says this is the most difficult thing he’s ever had to do and says his first instinct is to celebrate Benoit’s life. Benoit was the type of guy you would want to go to war with and if you meant business, he would look out for you. Benoit did everything for the fans and he was a man who loved the business. Cena respects that and Benoit made it clear when he cared about you. He never got the chance to tell Benoit how much he meant but Cena loves him.

Benoit talks about his time in ECW.

Joey Styles and Tazz are upset as well but were honored to call Benoit’s last match.

From ECW on Sci Fi, June 19, 2007.

Chris Benoit vs. Elijah Burke

The winner moves on to the ECW World Title match at Vengeance. Benoit takes him down by the arm to start but it’s too early for the Crossface. They go to a standoff but Benoit slaps him in the face, setting up another failed Crossface attempt. A whip into the corner gives Burke two and he hammers away at the ribs, setting up a seated abdominal stretch.

Benoit suplexes his way to freedom and cuts off a charging Burke with a kick to the face in the corner. A snap northern lights suplex gives Benoit two and it’s time to roll some German suplexes. There’s the Swan Dive but Benoit can’t follow up. Burke is back up with an STO but the Elijah Express hits the corner. The Sharpshooter sends Benoit to the title match.

Rating: C. Benoit was kind of the perfect choice to go to ECW as he was a veteran who could have a good match with anyone. At the same time, someone beating him would mean something as he had the resume to give a victory some impact. Burke’s time already seems to have come and gone though and he never felt like a real threat here.

CM Punk talks about how disappointed he was to not get to face Benoit last night and now he feels incredibly guilty. Benoit taught him a lot and he wants to pass that on without ever letting Benoit down.

We see Vince’s opening statement again.

JR and King talk about what happened and throw us back to WCW, against one of Benoit’s best friends.

From Hog Wild 1996.

Chris Benoit vs. Dean Malenko

Jimmy Hart tries to come out with Dean Malenko, who isn’t interested. Benoit on the other hand has Woman and Elizabeth with him. They jaw with each other a bit to start until Malenko takes him down and hammers away. Benoit kicks him in the ribs to take over but Malenko gets in some boots of his own. A suplex gets two and we hit an early chinlock as Heenan goes into some weird analogy about birds. Benoit fights up and chokes on the rope as Tony has to bring commentary back to the match from their NWO discussion.

A back elbow gives Benoit a few near falls and they go to the pinfall reversal sequence. Malenko wins the battle over a backslide for two as Woman screams a lot. The short armscissors has Benoit down but he muscles Malenko up and drops him down for the break. There’s the snap suplex for two as the fans do not exactly seem thrilled. An abdominal stretch goes on but Malenko grabs the foot to escapes and flips him over.

Commentary talks about how we are coming up on a new millennium and these two could be the future. Eh kind of with one of them. Back up and they hit stereo crossbodies for a double knockdown to get a breather. Malenko goes up but gets knocked out of the air, setting up another snap suplex. The Swan Dive gives Benoit a delayed two and it’s time to fight over a Tombstone until Malenko plants him for a few near falls.

Benoit charges into a boot in the corner but is fine enough to counter a Texas Cloverleaf attempt into a small package for two. They fall out to the floor in a double heap with Malenko blocking a posting by hitting one of his own and it’s time to go back inside. Benoit catches him on top with a heck of a superplex and they’re both down again. Malenko hits a release German suplex for two more as the fans (or more like people who happen to be here) just do not care.

A hard clothesline gives Malenko two as Heenan tries to figure out how many holds Malenko knows (Chris Jericho can be seen in the background taking notes). Benoit slams him down and grabs the Liontamer (Chris Jericho can be seen in the background furiously taking notes) but Malenko makes the rope. A victory roll gives Malenko two and another backslide gets another two. Benoit runs him over for two more but Malenko catches him on top for a superplex. There’s a powerbomb to Benoit but time expires at 20:00.

Actually hang on as we’re going to get a five minute overtime, which the bikers DO NOT like. Benoit jumps Malenko at the start of overtime and grabs the Cloverleaf in the middle of the ring. After over a minute, Benoit lets it go, which seems rather unlike him. Malenko’s leg is done so Benoit kicks away and cranks on said leg on the mat. Some Ric Flair Cannonballs onto the leg set up another hold but Malenko reverses into a cradle as overtime expires.

We get ANOTHER five minute overtime and the bikers boo this out the non-existent building. Malenko snaps off a dragon screw legwhip but Benoit is back up with the dragon suplex for two. Benoit misses a dropkick and gets Cloverleafed, with Malenko switching it into an STF. Woman tries to help Benoit make the rope so Malenko goes after her, allowing Benoit to grab a rollup for the pin at 28:13. The replay shows him grabbing the rope for a bonus, because he is in fact a Horseman.

Rating: B+. You can go a few different ways with the thinking here. On the one hand, it’s a great match with two guys going at it for the better part of half an hour in a pretty bad spot. On the other hands, the fans didn’t care and the wrestlers failed to get over. There might be something to the latter, but consider the situation these guys were in.

These bikers didn’t pay to see a wrestling show. They’re here to see Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage and people from the WWF ten years ago. Benoit and Malenko are small guys they’ve never seen before and don’t care about having a pretty long match. You’re supposed to make the fans happy, but I’m not sure if these people qualify as fans as much as they are just people watching the matches because they’re there. This match was great though so I’ll go with the “these bikers are pinheads” and move on.

Dean Malenko talks about his time knowing Benoit over the years, starting in Japan. They were always there for each other and supported each other. Benoit was always someone he could talk to, though Benoit would never open up. He was even nicknamed Houdini for his ability to sneak out of a conversation. As for working in the ring, Benoit knew how to help young talent and always made them better.

Malenko has now lost two of his best friends in two years and he is the last of the original Three Amigos. The greatest gift Malenko ever gave him was the Crippler Crossface and Benoit always thanked him for it. Malenko starts crying and talks about how his two best friends are together, and probably already arguing. This was a rough sit and you could feel how much Benoit meant to him.

JBL and Cole talk about how Benoit might not have been a great talker but it didn’t matter when you’re that good in the ring. Bradshaw even got the chance to have that big match with him.

From Smackdown, April 14, 2006. I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t go with the Wrestlemania match here but maybe this meant more to JBL.

US Title: Chris Benoit vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

JBL, with Jillian Hall, is defending in a match that was supposed to be a celebration. Before the match, cue Teddy Long to say we’re having a change. The title is going to be on the line in a steel cage, which just happens to be above the ring and no one seemed to notice it yet, aside from all of the times that it was shown earlier in the night. JBL begs the referee to not make this happen so Benoit hammers away to start, sending JBL from one corner to another.

An early JBL escape attempt doesn’t work as Benoit pulls him back down and onto the mat. JBL is back up with a belly to back superplex but Benoit chops him down without much trouble. It’s too early for the Sharpshooter as JBL kicks him away and drops some elbows. Benoit is back up with some knees and chops in the corner before catching JBL on top again.

They both come crashing back down though and it’s time for a quick breather. It’s JBL up first with Two Amigos but Benoit pulls him into another failed Sharpshooter attempt. The Crossface doesn’t work either so Benoit hits the full Three Amigos. The Swan Dive connects for no cover as Benoit would rather go up than cover or walk out the door. JBL is back up with a super Russian legsweep and we take a break.

Back with Benoit climbing the cage again and getting electric chaired back down for two. A sleeper has Benoit in more trouble but the arm stays up the third time. Another suplex drops JBL and it’s time to roll the German suplexes. Benoit can only get two though and JBL boots him in the face. JBL goes for the door but the confused Jillian accidentally slams it on Benoit’s head. The Crossface goes but there is no referee to see the tap. Instead JBL rolls him over for two before kicking Benoit low, which is enough to retain the title.

Rating: B-. This was rolling until the messier than necessary ending. The Jillian stuff didn’t need to be there and seemed to be more of an idea for the sake of having one. JBL shouldn’t be dropping the title yet anyway, and especially not to Benoit after a long reign. The match was good, but having it in a cage didn’t add much of a note.

Stephanie McMahon talks about how passionate of a wrestler that Benoit was, but people don’t know how passionate he was about family. Benoit was so happy that she married HHH and so happy when they found out she was pregnant. She will always know him as her friend.

Chavo Guerrero talks about how Benoit was his best friend and the first person he called when he found out Eddie Guerrero died. That was almost harder than finding out about Eddie in the first place, because Benoit sobbed. Chavo was with Eddie on his last night and he was with Benoit on one of his last nights. They almost missed their flights the next morning but Benoit was calling him to check on him later that day.

It hurts so much to lose someone else and they always left with a hug and an I Love You. That’s what he got with their final phone call and Benoit will always be part of their family. Benoit trusted him with his kids’ lives and Chavo would do the same with Benoit and his kids. Thank you and he’ll always miss Benoit.

We see the last few minutes of Benoit, as the Pegasus Kid, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title from Jushin Thunder Liger on August 19, 1990.

William Regal says he can tell us some great Benoit stories at a later date but for now he can say that Benoit was the best in the ring. Regal says that’s all he has to say at the moment and leaves. Over the years, there has been some speculation that Regal might not have been sure about what happened in Atlanta and he seemed very careful with his words here. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he was thinking something was a lot worse than it seemed.

We see Vince’s opening statement again.

JR and King talk about how Benoit idolized Dynamite Kid.

Benoit talks about finally getting to Stampede Wrestling and emulating Dynamite Kid as much as he could.

From Royal Rumble 2001.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

Benoit is defending in a ladder match and the fight is on in a hurry. The slugout leads to both guys trying their submission to no avail. Benoit sends him shoulder first into the post as Lawler picks Benoit to win in a blowout. A shoulder breaker stays on the shoulder and Jericho’s springboard dropkick is knocked out to the floor. They’re definitely going with the idea that Benoit knows Jericho very well to start.

The shoulder goes into the post and it’s already ladder time. It’s way too early to climb though as Jericho pulls him off in an electric chair. Jericho rams the ladder into Benoit’s ribs and puts said ladder in the corner. Now you know what’s going to happen and I know what’s going to happen, but since Jericho is a face here, he’s stupid enough to be whipped into the ladder and fall outside again.

Benoit’s dive through the ropes is blocked with a chair to the head (egads that’s tough to watch). A ladder shot to Benoit’s back only hits barricade and now it’s the ladder going off Jericho’s head. Jericho sends him into the ladder back inside before tying Benoit’s leg into the ladder. That means a super Russian legsweep to bring them both crashing down. Benoit goes into the ladder again and Jericho catapults the ladder into his face to make things even worse. These are some brutal, brutal shots here and they keep getting harder and harder.

Jericho starts going up the ladder so Benoit belly to back suplexes him over the top in a heap. They both head up the ladder this time though and Jericho gets the Walls ON TOP OF THE LADDER for one of the coolest and most painful looking spots you’ll ever see. Benoit falls off but manages to kick the ladder over, sending Jericho into the ropes. The Crossface makes Jericho tap (and goes back to the shoulder from earlier) but Jericho’s other arm is still good enough to send Benoit into the ladder.

The ladder is set up in the corner but Benoit knocks him off, setting up a HUGE Swan Dive….which only hits mat. Jericho puts the ladder on top of Benoit for a climb but Benoit shoves it forward, sending Jericho crashing into the top rope. Benoit goes up but Jericho makes the save with a chair to knock Benoit to the floor. That’s too much of a fall and Jericho wins the title.

Rating: A. This is one of my all time favorites as the match is nothing short of brutal and featured some unique spots in there. Sometimes you just need two people to beat the heck out of each other with reckless abandon and that’s exactly what you got here. There’s even some psychology with the arm work and that’s all you could ask for. This isn’t a match that needs a lot of analysis because you get everything you need out of just watching the thing.

JR and King talk about how great Benoit was.

Edge talks about how he had three people in this industry that he felt he could talk to and now two of them are gone. He was watching Stampede Wrestling when he was a kid and knew Benoit would be awesome. They fought a few times and it was like two Canadians fighting over the last beer. No one would ever have a bad thing to say about Benoit.

Two weeks ago, he got to face Benoit again and it was fun getting kicked in the head that hard. Seeing Benoit smile after a match was the biggest compliment. Edge would call Benoit after his neck surgery to make sure things were right. He remembers seeing Benoit with his kids and starts crying again, which he knows would get him heat with Benoit but he can’t help it.

JBL talks about Benoit throwing people out of the locker room because they didn’t belong there.

Another Benoit music video, set to Remember (I.O.U.) by Big Dismal.

HHH tries to come up with one thing that defines Benoit and it would be respect. A few years ago, a young wrestler disrespected Shawn Michaels so Benoit made him do 1000 squats. The next day, the wrestler couldn’t bend his legs so Benoit made him do 500 more. He will always remember Wrestlemania XX and the image of Benoit FINALLY winning the World Title. HHH will always respect Benoit because he earned it.

JR and King introduce the only thing that could wrap this up.

From Wrestlemania XX.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels

HHH is defending and wearing white boots for a really weird look. We don’t get Big Match Intros but we do have a weapons check. The fans are behind Benoit here, to the surprise of no one paying attention. Benoit goes after both of them to start but Shawn wants to beat on HHH. A way too early Crossface attempt doesn’t work on Shawn, who is sent into HHH to knock the champ outside. The second Crossface attempt is countered into a rollup for two but HHH is back in to clothesline Michaels.

Now it’s Benoit being sent outside so Shawn and HHH can have their big showdown. That doesn’t last long (you save the big stuff for later) as HHH goes outside to drive Benoit into the barricade. Shawn is right up with a moonsault onto the two of them for a big crash. Back in and HHH hits the facebuster on Shawn but Benoit breaks up the Pedigree. Shawn goes shoulder first into the post, again leaving us with two instead of the three.

Benoit can’t get a belly to back superplex as HHH pulls him down into the Tree of Woe and whips Shawn into him for a near fall of his own. HHH gets sent into him as well for the same two but Benoit gets free for the rolling German suplexes. Michaels is right there to break up the Swan dive though, only to eat a DDT from HHH. With Shawn on the floor, HHH pulls Benoit off the top and hammers away.

That’s reversed into a Crossface with Shawn diving in for a save. Shawn tries his own rolling German suplexes on Benoit and I’ll let you guess how that goes. After Shawn bounces off the mat from Benoit’s third straight German suplex, the Swan Dive connects for two. Shawn forearms Benoit to the floor and nips up for the fight against HHH. The champ gets knocked down for the top rope elbow and Sweet Chin Music connects.

Benoit is right there to pull HHH to the floor of course and he sends Shawn into the post. The busted open Shawn (it wouldn’t feel right otherwise) gets caught in the Crossface so HHH grabs his hand to prevent the tap out. Benoit beats up HHH on the floor but gets sent into the steps. HHH loads up the announcers’ table and Shawn joins him to double suplex Benoit through the table. NOW we get the big Shawn vs. HHH showdown and it lasts all of fifteen seconds with Shawn whipping HHH over the corner and back outside.

Back in and HHH (also bleeding) hits a quick Pedigree but can’t cover. Benoit dives in for a last second save and all three are down. A Pedigree to Benoit is reversed into a Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring so it’s Shawn coming back in with more Sweet Chin Music. That’s only good for two so Shawn tries it again, only to be sent to the floor. The Pedigree is countered into the Crossface and Benoit rolls him into the middle for the tap and the title.

Rating: A+. I never realized how much the Wrestlemania XXX match copied this one, down to the big double team through the table, the technical star who had worked forever to get here and winning with a very similar hold, plus other things I’m probably overlooking. Anyway, there isn’t much to say here as the match speaks for itself. It’s long in the right way, the near falls were great, the work and visuals were incredible and the right guy won. I’m sure you’ve seen this one at least once and if you haven’t, find the time to sit down and watch Benoit’s crowning achievement.

Benoit is in tears as Eddie comes out for the big celebration. Confetti falls (another Wrestlemania XXX scene) and JR has almost lost his voice shouting about how amazing this was. The ending is a spectacular visual and what should have been one of the most memorable moments ever.

One more Benoit graphic wraps us up.

Overall Rating: N/A. What else is there to say? Benoit is someone who is going to be remembered in two very distinct ways and this show was about the first one. No one really knew what had happened yet and it made sense for them to pay tribute to Benoit. This was an amazing tribute and set of matches to one of the most successful wrestlers ever. Benoit had an incredible career and while I can’t say it’s a shame that it won’t be featured ever again, there is so much greatness in there that it can be rather hard to ignore. This was the right show for the time, but it isn’t likely to see the light of day again.



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