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[1999-09-20-WCW-Nitro] Sting vs Chris Benoit

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This was an excellent match. It was interesting that it started off with Benoit on offense and Sting put in a position to sell, which was a risky proposition considering that Sting had just turned heel and Benoit was not established as a top guy. But they reversed course quickly and granted, Sting wasn't particularly heelish, but they did lay this out in a cool veteran vs young guy way regardless of that. I watch this and wonder if Ric Flair is singlehandedly responsible for Sting never becoming a consistently great wrestler, because we do see some new offense from him here which I really like, and this match doesn't really follow the Sting formula, at least if there is a Sting formula. Luger hits Benoit with the bat after a ref bump to give Sting the victory, which brings Flair down to get attacked by the Sting, Luger and DDP until Hogan makes the save. They quickly moved on from the match finish to put the focus on the big six-man feud, and the announcers even looked ahead to that feud despite this being a World Title match. It was obvious they didn't feel strongly about even doing this match, even though these are exactly the types of matches they needed to do to build for the future.

 

Interesting side story here: Benoit won a winner-gets-a-title-shot battle royal a few weeks before this. WCW was just filling TV time and had no plans of giving the winner a match, so weeks passed with no Benoit title shot and Internet fans complained pretty loudly. ECW even took shots at them for not delivering their advertised matches. They finally ran the match just to shut everyone up. Give credit to Benoit and Sting for crafting something good, but the presentation of this makes clear that we're not supposed to be too excited about it.

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See, Charles, I disagree with you because I feel like the presentation was to make Benoit a star. Tony and Bobby were talking him up. He got two visual falls on Sting before Luger came in and ragtagged him with that bat. Benoit felt like a pretty big deal in this match to me.

 

 

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting vs Chris Benoit - WCW Nitro 9/20/99

 

Sting doing a kneelift cutoff was more surreal than seeing Sting in a WWE ring. After years upon years of Sting getting cutoff by heels, it was just so strange for him to finally do the kneelift. Then I was just as discombobulated when Sting's kneelift was reversed into a cradle, it was just so wrong. Overall, I loved this match, it felt super dramatic and Sting just has a huge presence in this match. The weird part of this match was that Sting worked the early portion as a babyface. He would hit these big spots and Benoit would have to bail on the outside to catch his breath. They were working this like a Clash of the Titans match for a Mania or a Dome it was really neat. Sting looked great in this match everything had purpose and an energy to it. The crowd reaction was definitely mixed for the Woos. It almost feels like they are doing an interesting evolution of the Sting character. Yes he did something rotten at Fall Brawl, but that is not going to change who he is in the ring, but it changes the crowd response. That would be some high-end booking if that was the plan. Benoit picks an ankle starts to go to work on the legs of the Stinger. Benoit gets in a nice bridging Deathlock, but he goes for the dropkick on the Tree of Woe one too many times and Stiing posts Benoit. AT this point, Sting does his mid-match turn and starts breaking down Benoit with really well-timed elbows and chinlocks. Benoit is just great at the chippy, upper midcarder with thee short bursts of energy, but Sting always has a cutoff. Sting hits a huge front suplex. They are building great drama on every nearfall. I am really blown away how food this is right now. The commentary is really putting over Benoit. Sting goes for out of control top rope splash and eats knees. Sting tries to recover quickly, but ends up eating turnbuckle on the Stinger Splash. Benoit signals for the heatbutt and he hits it! WOAH! 1-2-NO! Double hot sequence right there! Benoit pours it on with rolling snap suplexes and now the Crossface, but too close to the ropes. Sting is disoriented and desperate shoves Benoit into the ref. Benoit looks powerbomb, but goes piledriver WOW! Count to 1000, but there is no ref and the crowd is counting along for Benoit. Benoit now with rolling Germans and again gets the visual fall, but Luge comes comes in and cracks a bat across his exposed abdominals. Benoit sells this like a champ and Sting retains. Here comes Flair who looks great throwing punches in the corner. DDP here to help heels as Hogan clears the ring. Tony hypes Hogan/Hart/Flair vs Sting/Luger/DDP. You know, as a WCW mark, I would have loved to see where this was going without Russo's interference. It may not be the most inspired or unique booking, but definitely piqued my interest.

 

I really liked this match and thought both Sting and Benoit looked king-size in this. Sting looked great as King of the Hill, which he has shown flashes of in his career, but this is unique as he is a heel in this match and he plays the finish so well. This was the perfect match for Benoit to be having at this point of his career taking a heel champion to the limit and within a year finally climbing that mountain if this was a normal company. Really strong TV match. ****

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During Stings solitary month of being a heel. It made him even cooler if anything, so no wonder it didn't work. The Stinger actually kicks off with a babyface shine segment. Old habits die hard. At least he then worked his proper role during the build. I did like how the champ was generally in control and the status dynamic between the two. The work itself wasn't necessarily all that impressive, but they were telling a story. They were permitted full length and things were coming together nicely down the stretch. Will it make the lower reaches of my annual list or will there be a HSF? It's the usual answer. There'd be plenty more US hosted entrants on my best match lists without screwjob finish deductions.

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Really strong match that showed Benoit could hang with the main event players. I don't think Sting was Mr. heel here until the ending but he did do enough heelish type stuff to keep things moving along throughout the match even if some of the crowd didn't get the memo. In addition, I thought he did a good job feeding into Benoit to where some of the nearfalls felt like a legit chance at them changing the title onto Benoit. Crap finish drops this slightly but another strong tv match for WCW in 1999. ***3/4

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I thought this was fine but nothing better than that--just a good solid TV match. Sorry, but Sting's refusal/inability to heel is an outright distraction, and him taking time to howl at the crowd after sending Benoit to the floor is something we'd all be crucifying Kevin Nash over. Benoit is put over well during the match but not so much during the post-match.

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