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[1998-02-22-WCW-Superbrawl VIII] DDP vs Chris Benoit

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Really liked the slapping of hands to begin this showing they were still both going to do whatever it took to win this match. Good chain wrestling results in Page hitting a front suplex over his leg. Benoit returns the favor hitting Page on the top rope. Early diamond cutter attempt has Benoit bailing. There is a certain caution the early going of this match that makes everything have an added emphasis to it. Match breaks down a bit with a flurry of punches before we get a wheelbarrow suplex by DDP. Benoit is able to take over and locks on a sleeper to bring the match down. Benoit brings the match down but does interesting thing in between to keep interest. Benoit takes a nasty spill to the outside and then a superplex leaves us at a standstill. Slugfest and clothesline has DDP on top getting some boos actually. Benoit locks in the crossface but DDP is able to reach the ropes. The german suplex gets a great nearfall where DDP kicks out at the last minute. DDP reaches down and hits a ddt and both guys are spent. Benoit flips out of a pin attempts and right into a diamond cutter for the pin. Two great Benoit matches so far on PPV in 1998. This was one of the better face vs. face matches of the 90's in the US and felt like a potential starter match into what will be a feud over the world title in the next two years or so. (****)

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I enjoyed this one. A well planned and executed encounter, with sound structure and the right duration. The segments fitted nicely together with correctly timed switches in momentum. It wasn't just a gimmick how much DDP had improved, and he had a top notch opponent. A face vs face battle it may have been, but there was no lack of intensity or intent. Nice finish also. They achieved the level that they set out to produce. Any more ambitious and Page probably would've been found wanting.

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I liked this match a lot, but I also get the points that have been made through the years about Benoit having to dumb himself down to DDP's level. I don't think that's as glaring as it's made out to be at times because the match is still very good. It felt like most of the sequences were built on the idea of making Page look good. But they really did a good job crafting something that was harder hitting than the usual Page match and kept the crowd hot.

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The reaction to the near fall on the rolling Germans really hits home how over Benoit was at the time, and how much WCW missed the boat with him. Put me back in the context of being a Benoit mark in this time period - and taken that way, the finish was very well executed and appropriately heartbreaking.

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Benoit was on a major roll, no doubt. DDP did a good job of hanging, but this definitely felt like Benoit pulling him up a level rather than two great wrestlers going at it. For all the scattered virtues of the DDP-Savage series, it rarely featured DDP working with this kind of intensity. This helped both guys, which isn't a common thought when watching '98 WCW.

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WCW United States Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs Chris Benoit - SuperBrawl VIII

 

Why is this not considered one of the best WCW matches of all time? I was impressed by the work and fight of both men in this tremendous hard-fought contest. Every little move from a standard Irish Whip to the final Diamond Cutter felt like an incredible struggle to execute. Each man was coming at the other like they were at the Battle of Stalingrad and there was no retreat. They were cutting each other with nasty strikes and knee lifts. It truly felt like both men were incredibly invested in winning this championship and they were going fight and claw for the victory on this night. All in all, they still kept this very much a babyface vs. babyface match. You had the rough and tumble blue collar street fighter against the polished, gnarly Canadian fighting machine. I liked DDP trying to impose his size and rough house tactics early only for Benoit to hang him out to dry and then try for the Crossface early. Page smartly bails and gets back in, he knows he is in for a fight against Benoit is just throwing crazy strikes to keep him at bay and now he looks for the Diamond Cutter and Benoit powders. I love the mirror spots. DDP IS JAAAAACCCCKKKEDD! They brawl back in the ring. Fuck, I love this. Benoit dropkicks the knee and looks to sap Page's energy by leaning on him with a Cobra Clutch-like hold. I like this use of the move. We know DDP is a ball of crazy energy that is his offensive strategy he is impulsive if you sap that then he should be easy pickings. I loved little shit like Benoit eating jawbreaker, but then coming right at Page with chops and kicks. Babyfaces always move forward. DDP pulling himself up by the ropes and throwing Benoit into the corner is one of my favorite spots of DDP matches. Benoit fights like hell on an Irish Whip attempt and snaps off a suplex. This is pro wrestling. Benoit is all about the sleeper and Page dumps him over the top rope and Benoit is still coming! Page crotches him and superplex to finally level the playing field. They work really awesome, well-built nearfall sequence that was rare at this time and would be over huge now. Benoit shoving DDP off of the Diamond Cutter attempt and Dallas immediately climbing the top rope and flying three quarters of the way across the ring to wipe out Benoit like an out of control torpedo epitomizes how wild this match was. It is just dripping with urgency. Benoit gets a Crossface, but DDP is too close to the ropes and his rolling Germans serve as his super hot nearfall. DDP signals for the Diamond Cutter, Benoit looks for the Backslide and BANG!

 

What a damn fight! Neither man gave an inch and they went toe to toe for the entire bout. They sustained heated fight for a good 15 minutes and it just never let up. The finish sequence was damn near perfect (ok ok there was a shitty DDT in there somewhere). I love matches where everything is contested, both wrestlers are invested in the outcome of the match and every action is urgent and consequential. This match had it in spades. As much as I love DDP/Goldberg, this is my WCW match of the year. ****1/2

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Man...while watching I thought, "DDP is carrying this!", but maybe it was in fact a case of Benoit dumbing things down. He does provide a lot of chinlockery and stalling here, which you don't normally expect and which even Schiavone sort of calls him out on. In any event, DDP comes out of this looking better from both a storyline and a workrate-centric standpoint. Whether it's laid out to his particular tastes or not, Page works his ass off going along with Benoit's suplexes, providing a few nice ones of his own, and providing a terrifically well-timed kickout on the rolling Germans. His punches looked great, too. At the moment this may be the #2 American MOTY behind the Casket Match.

 

Also, they're starting to hammer the "best wrestler not to have a title" talking point for Benoit. I can just see some WCW brass and even modern-day WWE brass seeing that as a great way to get somebody over and thinking that putting a title on him would "hurt" that.

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I thought this was great, but I will have to re-watch as my wife was nagging me the whole fucking time I watched this. This may be the best WCW match this year thus far. Definitely need to watch again.

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