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[2006-05-21-WWE-Judgment Day] Chris Benoit vs Fit Finlay

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Chris Benoit vs Finlay - WWE Judgement Day 2006

 

Chris Benoit is wicked over despite his push being down for two years now. The same thing was true in WCW where he was not pushed very often. I think Benoit has to be the most over person ever in relation to how little talking charisma he had. He has a lot of body language charisma. He has the silent, violent asskicker vibe that definitely resonates. Of course, that's what makes him so difficult to watch is how violent he can be in the ring and it turned out he was even more violent in real life.

 

Intense and gritty. That's going to shock absolutely nobody. I think the deeper story here is Finlay is reacting to Benoit. Benoit is a great babyface because he is like the Russians at Stalingrad. He is always moving forward. He is going to fight through everything. On about a handful of occasions, we see Finlay completely overwhelmed by the fury of the Rabid Wolverine. I thought Finlay's reaction each time was perfect. He was always trying to break Benoit's momentum first by using the ref, then it was an eye poke, and then finally it was going outside trying to use foreign objects twice. Sometimes, he was successful, like that eye poke really gave him his first control segment. Other times, Benoit would blast through these distractions. I really liked that sense of tension they built.

 

I thought it was very lo-fi not a lot of highspots and when they happened they counted. Transitions mattered. Everything was laid in. Benoit looked ferocious in this match. Finlay had jumped Benoit by using a distraction and got a little cocky so he started to disrespect Benoit with some slaps to the face. BENOIT ROARED BACK WITH THE SLAP TO END ALL SLAPS! Like you need to see this slap. He SMACKED Finlay. Watching Finlay backpedal and Benoit just race after him and still chop him was so awesome. Finlay eyepoke gives us the first Finlay heat segment, which I thought was excellent all centered around the head and neck while maintaining wrist control. The Benoit hope spots were great. He gets the Rolling Germans, the first one is nasty like a deadlift and misses Diving Headbutt, both men are kinda out. Benoit goes for Sharpshooter, Finlay kicks out and heads to floor. Finlay is spooked at this point. He averted disaster twice. Now he wants chair so Benoit baseball slides chair into him. Benoit knows how critical the Diving Headbutt is so he goes back and hits it. He does not cover just once, but twice. Benoit makes the Diving Headbutt such an important spot. He does not just leave it. He goes back, gets it and when it does not get him the win, he tries another cover. Now Benoit is a little lost in kayfabe and needs to regroup and look for Crossface, but Finlay reverses into a Bret Bump in the corner and smashes him in the back of the head.

 

Second Finlay heat segment not as good as first. There were some wicked short arm clotheslines! It kinda meandered. It was intense. It felt like Finlay was torturing Benoit but it was NOT progressing. This is my criticism. Finlay was not escalating towards a win, he kinda stalled out. Benoit's selling was so good in all of this. Benoit gets an enziguiri and again Finlay freaks out and heads to outside and goes for Shillelagh, but Benoit gets a German on outside and does the Three Amigos inside as a tribute to Eddie. I also thought this was weird as Finlay bumps him off apron and actually starts to work over the arm. All of sudden Benoit gets an armbar takedown, great struggle over Crossface and Finlay taps.

 

Angle take note, the struggle should be to put on the hold not in the hold!!!!

 

Great character work by both men. Benoit was a machine in this looked awesome. Finlay was great as the sort of mirror heel Benoit and made good choices reacting to Benoit. Benoit's great understanding of psychology and selling was on display. Thought Finlay needed to escalate in his second heat segment and go for the win, thought build to finish was strange. The finish itself was great and how you ought to do a submission finish. Excellent intense encounter with strong storytelling and psychology from both men. I still think Akiyama/Taue is match of the year. ****1/2

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