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Chris Jericho vs Mike Enos - WCW Nitro 9/23/96 This is a cult favorite WCW Nitro match from the early days when random midcard wrestlers were just thrown together and gold was born. Enos gives a really fun and engaging heel beatdown on Jericho. He just throws his body at Jericho with reckless abandon and is just mean & nasty the whole time. The climax is clearly the suplex onto the steel steps, which needs to be seen to appreciated for its brutality. It was an interesting strategy to let Jericho shine by taking a licking and keep on ticking as opposed to kicking ass as Enos was a lower mid-carder and Jericho had just debuted against Benoit. Jericho is very good at selling at this beating Jericho looked resilient, but I don't think it paid off and not much did with Jericho until found that amazing conspiracy victim character. Jericho's comeback is rough and tumble, but lacks a spark. The counter to the Frankensteiner with a SuperBomb was neat. Enos looks for the powerslam, but Jericho shifts his weight for the victory. A bit too flukey against a lower micarder for my taste. Booking aside this is a fun, little match where you get a cool Enos offensive power display and some good Jericho selling, but does not have much else to support it. This is more damning of Jericho's WCW run that this probably in his top 5 WCW matches, but still a fun match to check out and wonder what was to be if The Mauler got a push. ***
Bret Hart vs Chris Benoit - WCW Nitro 3/1/99 I really liked aspects of the commentary in this match. My favorite part was Tony and Bobby putting over how dangerous and difficult it is to be a pro wrestler. I think commentators should bring this up once a show to remind me us of the risks these men and women take to entertain us. I think it will build more respect and admiration for wrestlers and actually increase the heat for spots that have become passe like taking a bump to outside the ring. Definitely not as good as the Owen Hart Tribute match, but another great TV bout that just littered WCW around this time. What kept this from reaching all-time great status was Bret's cold performance. I first noticed this reviewing Hart Foundation matches is that Bret can come across as very mechanical and disinterested in the ring. He may be one of the most naturally gifted wrestlers to ever lace up the boots and I think the actual execution of wrestling was too easy for him. I wish he would challenge himself to be a better wrestler by being more engaged. Technically, this was a perfect performance. He performed his spots correct. He laid it out appropriately using heel tactics like eyerakes, choking, testicular violence and the ropes to set up his high impact moves: suplexes, piledriver, the Five Moves of Doom. It is hard to put it all on Hart because Benoit's performance was unusually tepid. The one great thing about Benoit, which is also his downfall is that he makes everybody wrestle his match and drags them out of their comfort zone. He is just an intense, always moving forward, bring the fight to you kinda wrestler that every match tends to have heat just because he is always struggling. I don't know if he was deferring to The Hitman out of reverence, but he basically just played ragdoll to Bret's great offense. You get some good selling here and there, but it was not continuous. I will say once Benoit started roaring back the match started to generate heat. The tease of the Crossface as a reverse out of the Sharpshooter got a huge reaction and was the coolest spot in the match. Benoit's comeback proper generated a good buzz with his usual wicked chops and intense strikes and suplexes. He can not immediately capitalize on the Diving Headbutt. Bret tries to mount a comeback. They both take a nasty spill over the top rope that looked like Bret was inches of landing right on the top of his head. The tag team champions, Curt Hennig & Barry Windham, attack Benoit on the outside and roll him in. Hart applies the Sharpshooter with Benoit in the ropes and won't let go. The ref disqualifies him and the beatdown commences. Malenko comes out and a similar fate awaits him. The crowd is left with their dicks in their hand when Flair does not make the save. It is a very good match that was given a good amount of time to develop, but nothing terribly essential to see. ***
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