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[1998-06-14-WCW-Great American Bash] Chris Benoit vs Booker T

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Match 8 of 7, since the series ended the way it did. I have to say that I really prefer Booker T clean cut in a suit taken seriously as a wrestler to what he ended up being. So much more sincere and I think he has more potential as a headliner in this persona too.

 

This was a spectacular match. Benoit really made Booker look like a million bucks by framing a match around what Booker could do. This was really hard fought and it's been fun to track Booker's growth in 1998, especially in this series. Booker is a better seller than he is someone with a lot of offense, so Benoit took most of the match and put him in a position to sell. So when he won the match, he really accomplished something in doing so. Great match, easily the best thing in WCW all year.

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Booker really worked from underneath this match, which made a lot of sense given the build-up. I liked the way Benoit seized the advantage with single-leg takedowns, highlighting Booker's bad knee, even though he didn't spend the whole match attacking it. They worked some nice comeback teases and cut-offs, and the crowd was into this, which was good to see after all the work they'd put in on the series. Booker seemed to have genuinely improved over the course of a few weeks; his basic movements looked tighter. This whole series played out in satisfying fashion. Perhaps the powers that be didn't care enough to fuck it up?

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The series has been a shit ton of fun to go through and they reward us with a legitimately great match here. Benoit continues his hot streak of 1998 PPV matches. He really took control here and had more desperation in the air now that his big lead in the series was completely gone and Booker had kicked out of some of his more vicious maneuvers. I really liked the finish with Booker finally able to fire off a successful rally and winning the whole series with his trusty missile dropkick. (****)

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The 8th(!) and final match of a repetitive and disappointing best of 7 series. The PPV delivered what the TV bouts did not however. Having full length is never an insignificant factor. Benoit was in control of proceedings. It would've been preferable for him to work on the leg, but they were saving that for T's second contest of the evening. There was a nicely constructed stretch with reference to previous battles in the series. A satisfying way to round off the feud.

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Chris Benoit vs Booker T - WCW Great American Bash 1998 Match #7

 

Technically, this is match #8 of seven to determine the number one contender to the Television Championship (my childhood memories were foggy and I thought they were in the midst of the Best of Seven series for the TV Title when one of them lost the title to Finlay randomly and thus threw a monkey wrench into the works. Turns out, it was a number one contendership series the whole time). On the previous episode of Thunder, Bret Hart tried to help out former Dungeon graduate, Benoit by blasting Booker with a chair. Benoit does not want to win that way and goes so far to tell the referee. That kind of sportsmanship is actually pretty refreshing rather than playing morally conflicted interminably. JoJo Dillon scrubs the record clean and says the Great American Bash match is for the kit and kaboddle. Really strong midcard WCW booking, which is shocking because the WCW main event scene is a total clusterfuck at this point.

 

The argument can be made Benoit's lack of attack on Booker's knee stems from his sportsmanship. He was above exploiting an injury and respected Booker too much. Now clearly the reason is because the Finlay match later was going to be based around the knee, which makes sense since Finlay is the real heel. It would have been helpful if the commentary told this story rather blithering on about the injured knee. Even trying to apply this logic to the match, Benoit's offensive strategy just seemed off. His execution was as crisp as ever, but it was meandering like he did not know what he wanted to do next. He uses the dragon screw leg whip to take control, but after that it is an assortment of chops, suplexes and chinlocks. It was a weird use of the chinlock because it is not like Booker established himself as a runaway locomotive early on. It really feels like his offense is not setting anything up. Tenay did a good job claiming this was to set up the Crossface, but I wasn't feeling it. Benoit does go for the Crossface when Booker starts to mount a comeback, but Booker falls towards the ropes. In fact, I thought Booker outperformed Benoit. He was timing his hope spots really well and he brought a lot of fire from underneath. I really liked his crash and burn off the reverse cross body as he was going for a home run. Again when Booker is able to get a head of steam, he is looking for that missile dropkick. His offense is setting up for a big bomb. Benoit is always great at selling his big high-risk moves like the superplex (milks it for an 8 count before the cover) and swandive headbutt (writhes in pain before the cover). Loved Benoit have scouted Booker's weird sunset flip thingy in the corner, by stopping short letting him do it and then CHOP! Booker nails a couple Harlem Sidekicks, which finally dazes Benoit enough to hit his missile dropkick.

 

This maybe my favorite Booker performance of his career. He was laying his shit in well and his timing and move selection were just spot on. His instincts were just clicking. He built perfectly to that missile dropkick and Benoit really was able to sell how his big bombs had taken a lot out of him. It was a war of attrition and Booker outlasted Benoit in this battle. Match was dragged down by an unusually meandering Benoit in the early going. The finish stretch and Booker's performance make this one of the best WCW matches of 1998. ****

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They saved the best for last, didn't they? This was absolutely fantastic and easily the best WCW match so far this year. Booker really feels like he could be main eventing within 6 months--maybe he'll always need someone to lead the way for him, but he can work underneath and at least with another pro in the ring, is great at timing his big crowd-pleasing comeback spots. I *loved* the near-fall off the dragon suplex--great that they saved that move for the final match and not remembering what the result was going in, they had me suckered in thinking that was the finish, but we had another 5 or so minutes to go after that. Another thing about not remembering the result was that I spent half of this match waiting for some bullshit gaga involving Bret and the NWO, but they're refreshingly a non-factor. I wasn't expecting this series to age that well, because of the elephant in the room and because Booker took some shit in the WCW Highway to Hell thread, but this exceeded my expectations.

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Just saw this for the first time. Excellent match. Hard-hitting, really good execution on nearly everything, and a hot crowd. Plus, just watching the PPVs and Clashes, this is kind of Benoit and Booker T as established as they'd ever been as singles guys. Every signature move (even the most basic) they do get huge reactions in a way they weren't 2 months earlier. It's cool to see. Benoit is an animal, throwing himself into everything but Booker is no slouch either with his selling or his comebacks. Booker might be cringeworthy as a announcer these days, but he holds his own here. Respect. Ending is a touch abrupt for me, though, as a missile dropkick is just not a finisher to me - especially considering the types of moves they had hit prior. Still, easy. 4 stars and a 4.25with 60 more seconds and a better finish.

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Really solid, simple match built around Booker T. Benoit laced him up good with stiff chops and clotheslines and worked some decent cutoffs. I'm still not sure he was better than Motegi though. Booker T looked really good, selling his butt off, bumping big and hitting some great kicks including one to the back of Benoits head (hm... probably not a cool thing to praise in a Benoit match). Crowd going bonkers for the Dragon Suplex was a nice moment. Hell of an opener.

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On 10/17/2014 at 9:41 AM, Zenjo said:

The 8th(!) and final match of a repetitive and disappointing best of 7 series. The PPV delivered what the TV bouts did not however. Having full length is never an insignificant factor. Benoit was in control of proceedings. It would've been preferable for him to work on the leg, but they were saving that for T's second contest of the evening. There was a nicely constructed stretch with reference to previous battles in the series. A satisfying way to round off the feud.

I didn't find matches repetitive as few counters & transitions were copied throughout series - not like flair steamboat where whole sequences are repeated in the same match not just series.

There were interesting wrinkles too - for example in first match Booker counted cross face by rolling forward & hitting side kick. In match 3 Booker tried to do this but Benoit caught him before kick with German for pin. German in turn was used as a false finish going forward including a triple in final stretch of match 7. This was turned up a notch at bash with the dragon pin.

None of finishes were repeated despite same finishers being used they came about different ways. 

Benoit having the break dance spin scouted was a theme with various counters & ultimately superplex at bash.

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