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[2000-02-14-WWF-Raw] The Rock vs Chris Benoit

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It didn’t take long for Benoit’s music to get refined to its familiar sound. He has also been mixing it up with the big guns right away between HHH on SmackDown and now The Rock here. You don’t really want to be seen as a Benoit apologist or pedestal holder but he really does seem like he may have a case at being the wrestler of the year for 2000 so far. Here he is able to go toe to toe with Rock as the technical wizard which compliments the charisma of Rock nicely. He targets the arm and goes after it in a variety of ways including putting Rock on the outside and using the table and a chair. Eddy adds some flavor on the outside and did a good of making himself look relevant even with the sling as Saturn and Dean are nowhere to be found and in some ways were already downshifted even at this moment. Benoit has the crossface locked in and cries from the crowd come for Rock to reach the ropes. Rock makes his comeback to shrieks from the crowd. Rock really does have a nice variety of good looking offense People’s Elbow aside. Big Show who was supposed to be in Hawaii comes out and slams Rock down on the ground. This allows Benoit to hit a German suplex and get the pin which it took Hebner a LONGGGG time to count. Really strong tv effort for the time given and with interference or not, this was big for Benoit to pin Rock. ***

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Well, this was quite effective in continuing to establish Benoit as a real player. The heat isn't quite there at the beginning but the crowd gets into the match after a couple of minutes of skepticism, which is always fun to see. Eddy is great as an antagonizing second, which builds up to him getting his just desserts by taking one bump for Rock's punch effectively. I really like that they found a way to keep him involved during his injury. Big Show interferes to help Benoit win with a German suplex in a major upset. When Rock tries to get his revenge after the match, Benoit stops him and they end up back in the ring where Benoit gets him with a diving headbutt and that's the segment. Yeah, no ifs, ands or buts here, no letting Rock get his heat back or anything like that. He took most of the match, he got the win, and then he laid out Rock in the post-match angle. How about that. ***

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Benoit not only got the three count here but basically a visual ten count or whatever. Apart from some of the usual slopiness by the Rock early on this was a strong 7 minute (or whatever) match. Eddie's bump on the injured elbow on the ring apron is insane.

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Jerry Lawler informs us that the Big Show is in Hawaii on vacation and not in the arena tonight. Hmmm… Benoit with a clotheseline that puts a stop to Rock’s early onslaught and I like how he sells his own arm shaking it out. Snap suplex followed by a backbreaker for two. Rock reverses an Irish whip and a swinging neckbreaker for a two of his own. Eddy Guerrero hooks the Rock’s ankle and Benoit fells him with a back elbow. Eddy continues to get in some shots behind the ref’s back before the combatants go at it on the outside and Benoit hammerlocks the Rock and rams him shoulder first into the ring post. Chair shot to the back as Earl Hebner is pre-occupied with Guerrero. ‘The Crippler’ with a cross armbar but he’s not able to fully extend the Rock’s arm so gives up on it. Hard knife edge chops, Rock then reverses another Irish whip and levels Benoit with a clothesline. Benoit ducks a right and hits a belly to back suplex. DDT by the Rock and a cover, but Guerrero is up on the apron and again distracting the referee. The Rock’s had enough and drops Eddy with a big right. ‘Crippler crossface’ but Rock is able to inch his way to the ropes for the break as JR screams how there’s no counter for the hold. Rock fires back with a Samoan drop for a two. Spinebuster and a clothesline which sends Benoit over the top rope to the floor. Rock follows him out and as Guerrero has the official’s attention, here comes the Big Show (didn’t think he was in Hawaii!) who paws Rock in the face. He throws him back inside, German suplex and Hebner, after what felt like an eternity, sees what’s going on and counts the pin. Rock chases up the runway after the Big Show, however Benoit and Guerrero are on hand to help him out. They drag him back to the ring and Benoit with a diving headbutt as they leave the Rock laying.

 

Another good Benoit outing although this one didn’t grab me as much as the Triple H or Rikishi ones (the latter got rated lower purely due to the length of the match and schmozz finish). It’s been some fortnight for Benoit: visual tap on the World champion (Triple H), gets the pin in the ten man tag, goes toe to toe and made to look strong in a match against the hottest new act (Rikishi) and then a pin over one of the biggest stars ever (Rock). They’ve put the guy over huge. Impressive stuff from Guerrero (with his facials, selling, interference and that apron bump) at ringside too who has managed to stay relevant even with the elbow injury.

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Another of my favourite match-ups from 2000. Benoit working heel makes for a much better dynamic than the Triple H match as he can dominate offensively without going overboard. The match is fine though it never reaches great heights since it's just an excuse for the Big Show to pull one over the Rock. 

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