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[2001-05-21-WWF-Raw] Steve Austin & HHH vs Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho

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WWF World Tag Champs Stone Cold & HHH vs Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho - WWF RAW 5/21/01

 

Austin in 2001 was so awesome. I don't know why everybody including Austin is down on that run. I loved the heel paranoid lunatic character. In the ring, I thought he was great all year portraying that wild out of control character. I felt like Austin was the one who set the tone for the entire match. His urgency got everybody working at a high level. He would try so hard to kick some ass that when Jericho and Benoit started to ROARING back it meant so much. That Austin/Benoit chop exchange was badass. I thought HHH was great at his sneaky, weasel heel that was using a thumb to eye or saving Austin from a pin after the superplex and then ultimately blasting Benoit with the steel chair in the Crossface. I think Benoit was an interesting choice for Face In Peril. I think he is a better seller than Jericho, but he would undoubtedly be a better hot tag also. I thought Austin was terrific as violent maniac in this heat segment. HHH was his usual methodical self, which did bring the energy down a bit. Benoit was great at varying his selling and hope spots. Benoit gets the German out of the Sleeper and then Enziguiri, but the ref does not see the tag! Austin is out of control wailing on Benoit! He throws back Benoit back in! PEDIGREE~! NO REF! JERICHO MISSILE DROPKICK! Austin is wild-eyed while Jericho exhorts on his fellow Canadian. Jericho gets the hot tag and he levels the Two Man Power Trip. The Thesz Press into the Walls of Jericho was BITCHIN! HHH blows out his quad saving Austin and then in an incredible act of manliness continues the match. He looks for the Pedigree on table, but it is reversed into the Walls of Jericho. OW! Benoit drills Austin with a diving headbutt. This is a damn great finish stretch, Benoit hollers at the ref. KICK! WHAM! STUNNER! Jericho yanks out the ref. Lionsault! No Knees! Stunner? OH HELL NO! LIONSAULT! HHH hobbles in with the sledgehammer, but Jericho moves and he hits Austin. Benoit tackles HHH! JERICHO COVERS AUSTIN! 1-2-3!

I have not seen this since the original airing! WOW! One of the most exciting tag team finish stretches of all time and I thought one helluva an Austin performance and Benoit was not far behind. Loved the pacing and urgency of the match. The babyfaces came out firing overwhelming the heels. Nice mid match climax with superplex/crossface. HHH steel chair shot was a great transition. Austin was just out of control in the heat segment. HHH was all man by continuing the match. Really great match! ****1/2

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As brilliant as I remembered this being. Austin is so good in this and I don't think any wrestler has had a better year than he did in 2001. He keeps Benoit under control with eye pokes so subtle that Jim Ross doesn't even pick up on them the first time around. The heels isolating Benoit and keeping him away from his partner is one of the best examples of a building up for a hot tag I've ever seen. They do a fake-out when Benoit gets the tag and Earl Hebner isn't there to see it. It was so brilliantly executed that I didn't care that I was rooting for a child murderer. Once the tag is finally made, all hell breaks loose. Props to Triple H for carrying on after tearing his quad. My only grip in this is that Earl Hebner's officiating feels rather inconsistent. Aside from that minor nitpick, this is probably the best straight-up tag match WWE has ever put on and one of the best RAW matches of all-time. 

★★★★¾

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