Chris Benoit shown in new WCW DVD

WWE’s recent Very Best of WCW Nitro DVD is a must-see for any fan of WCW from 1995 through its demise in 2001.  It features many of the crucial moments of WCW, especially some of the highlights of the nWo (back when it was good) including the backstage attack in which Rey Mysterio got lawn-darted into the production truck.

But what really struck me about it was as I was watching a tag team match between Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, suddenly there was someone I hadn’t seen in a WWE production in four years.

 

The commentary seemed to cut out to avoid his name being used, but there he was right in the ring.  Chris Benoit footage was being shown.  I nodded approvingly – despite the horrors of his final days I still remember the Chris Benoit I had been such a big fan of for over a decade.  It seemed that WWE was finally able to show archive footage of Benoit’s career.  (Also of note, his wife Nancy in her ring persona Woman was in Ric Flair’s corner for that match).

But then I saw something that shocked me.  The Four Horseman reunion of September 1998 was there, uncut, in its entirety.  Arn Anderson saying that Benoit had come to him.  No name missing from the audio.  Then the introductions were there and out came Benoit, front and center with his music playing and everything.  I was amazed and quite pleased.

Benoit will never be in the WWE Hall of Fame.  There will never be a retrospective of his life and career because it cannot be separated from the choices he made at the end of it.  But wrestling history that he was a part of can be used and can be shown without drawing attention to him.  A Wrestlemania box set can have the main event of WrestleMania XX in it.  It happened.  Maybe cut the celebration at the end, but put the match in.  The WrestleMania 2000 match between Benoit, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho?  Let the match be shown.  Don’t call attention to Benoit – don’t let the focus fall solely on him and it can be brought back into the record books.

This DVD set looks to be the first step on being able to preserve wrestling history without the holes caused by the Benoit tragedy.  And I am happy to be able to see that.

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A possible reunion?

Now I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I am saying that every time Undertaker is out after a Buried Alive match, his gimmick changes, and he and Teddy Long just happen to BOTH be out at the same time.

I’m just saying.

Great Moments In Championship History: United States X

The final installment of the U.S. Title Moments takes us back to the land of WCW:

“Ladder Match” (WCW Starrcade 1999)

Setup: The United States Championship Match was signed to be between Chris Benoit (the challenger) and Scott Hall (the champion), in a Ladder Match. However, Hall suffered a knee injury and was forced to vacate the title to Benoit. Benoit then issued an open challenge to the locker room… answered by Jeff Jarrett, who had defeated Dustin Rhodes earlier in the show in a Bunkhouse Brawl match (plus attacked Sid Vicious for good measure).

(part 1)

(part 2)

Aftermath: Benoit’s reign lasted one day- Jarrett won the U.S. Title on Nitro the next night. Jarrett would go on to 2 title reigns… and never be pinned or otherwise defeated for the belt in either reign: he vacated the title at Souled Out 2000 (injury), was awarded the title when Kevin Nash became WCW Commissioner, then “lost” it again when Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo stripped all champions of their titles in a “reset” of WCW (Scott Steiner would win the tourney for the U.S. Title).

These have been 10 of the more memorable moments of the United States Championship. I’ve learned a few things while researching these clips, such as the above-mentioned Jeff Jarrett reigns and the fact the Eddie Guerrero won 2 U.S. Titles by winning tournaments for the vacated title. Time to recharge the batteries for a few days, then I will take a look at memorable moments of the Intercontinental Championship. Until then…!

Great Moments In Championship History: United States IX

“Going Extreme” (WCW/nWo Spring Stampede 1998)

Setup: Former ECW star Raven had shown up in WCW, after weeks of him sitting ringside with an increasingly larger group of wrestlers/misfits. Raven and his “Flock” began targeting the United States champion, Diamond Dallas Page. Almost anything and everything- from Raven stealing the U.S. Title to fights on MTV shows- happened. This feud would become one of the best (if not THE best) feuds in WCW during the 1990’s:

(part 1)

(part 2)

Aftermath: Raven’s reign lasted 1 day. He lost the title to Goldberg, the next night, on Nitro. The Flock slowly started having problems and disbanding shortly thereafter. (An interesting side note: according to our crack research staff at ‘The nelson’, Raven would later become the 1st man to hold championships in each of the major American promotions: ECW, WCW, WWE/WWF, and TNA.) Page would begin a “Hollywood Stars” tour, of sorts: matches with actors/athletes as partners and the nWo as opponents (mainly “Hollywood” Hogan).

Great Moments in Championship History: United States VII

After a day off (stupid arctic weather…!), we return with memorable U.S. Title moment 7 of 10:

“LatinWo Heat?” (WCW Starrcade 1996)

Setup: Eddie Guerrero had been involved in an off-and-on feud with Diamond Dallas Page throughout the majority of ’96. The main object of their feud was the “Lord of the Ring” nickname and trophy (an actual ring); DDP won it, Eddie wanted it. DDP got the best of Guerrero more often than not. This feud carried over into a tournament for the vacated United States Championship (vacated by Ric Flair, after sustaining a shoulder injury). The finals- Page vs. Guerrero would take place at Starrcade:

(part 1)

(part 2)

Aftermath: The nWo (mainly Hall and Nash) continued to “woo” DDP, showing him that there was strength in numbers. Page responded at “WCW/nWo Souled Out 1997” with one of the most famous “answers” in wrestling history:

Page would spend almost all of 1997 feuding with the nWo, mainly “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

Great Moments In Championship History: United States VI

“‘Reality’ Check

Setup: February 8, 1999 and WCW Nitro was the setting. The defending U.S. Champion, Bret Hart, had been milking a groin injury for months. Then-WCW President Ric Flair wasn’t buying it. He booked a match between Hart and a Hart friend, Roddy Piper. However, a 3rd player would enter this game…

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Hall of Fame Wishlist

With the announcement of Shawn Michaels on Raw last night kicking off the WWE Hall of Fame Induction season, I’m taking a moment to look at 10 names whom I feel are quite deserving to be in the Hall of Fame themselves.

10. Yokozuna
Some might argue that Yokozuna did not do enough or was not as skilled in the ring to warrant entry into WWE’s Hall of Fame.  I would point to the likes of Koko B. Ware and Rocky Johnson as signs that it’s not just the ring techniques that make a Hall of Famer, but the contributions to the sport and the memorableness of the character.  Few fans at the time could probably ever forget the massive 600+ pound Yokozuna, for not only his size, but for his accomplishments.  He won the Royal Rumble in 1993, becoming the first to earn a WrestleMania title shot from the match, then defeated Bret Hart for the championship.  Though he lost the belt quickly to Hulk Hogan, he regained it in their rematch at King of the Ring, effectively ending Hulkamania in the WWE for 9 years.  He went on to hold the title for nearly a year, running through all the company’s good guys until finally falling to Bret Hart at WrestleMania X.  Though Yoko’s tenure in the WWE was short, he made a large enough impact to be posthumously awarded for his accomplishments.

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