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[2000-05-25-Brian Pillman Memorial Show] Chris Benoit vs Steven Regal

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Cole and Tom Pritchard are on the call here. Dr. Tom is great here getting over the psychology of the match and showing the transitions that are being executed. The opening mat work was engaging and then we get the first shoot headbutt. From there the match is on with blood pouring down Regal’s face. The match is a sequence of tough power moves and stiff strikes. This was an important match for Regal as he was able to get some momentum after the last 2-3 years of being in neutral in his career. You could hear the Regal chants building and the crowd realizing they are watching a damn good match helps bring gravity to the proceedings overall. Regal hits a butterfly suplex from the top rope and the crowd gives great applause in appreciation. Reversal of the tombstone gains Benoit a slight advantage but he misses the diving headbutt. After a series of reversals, Benoit hits the dragon suplex and locks on the crossface for the submission. This is a professional wrestling match although I could have certainly done without the headbutts. ***3/4

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This was a significant match back in the day much like the Owen Tribute match had been the year before. People really wanted to see Regal have a good match and while it got overhyped in some quarters it is every bit as good as your typical Regal vs. Benoit match. If it had gone another 10 minutes it may have been something special but Regal proved to himself that he could still wrestle and that paved the way for his career rebirth.

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I enjoyed this one a great deal. This is a no-nonsense wrestling match with both guys working snug. This is an interesting match as it is two signed guys working with no restrictions on an independent show. The headbutts stick out more than anything in this match, and they are a little uneasy to watch with the whole Benoit situation.

 

I remember this being heralded as an important match for Regal at the time as people pointed this to be the reason that he was put back on tv. Regal disputes this in his book and says that he had a time frame established before this match took place. Either way, this has to be seen as Regal proving himself as still being a very capable wrestler after going through a time period where he was unreliable due to substance abuse.

 

****

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I haven't watched this in about 10 or so years, so this is a good throwback... I love this match. Thought it was great back then and imo it still holds up. Tom Pritchard's commentary is great. The work itself in the match is great. Both guys bust out things they weren't allowed to in the WWE and that gives this a unique touch. Those headbutts that busted Regal open were brutal. That modified Blue Thunder Bomb and the Dragon Suplex were by far my favorite spots here. Really good match.

 

****

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Collar & Elbow tie up and this isn’t your bog standard lock up, there’s an extra grittiness to this, it feels real. Benoit backs Regal into the corner where there’s no immediate break as both men are pawing at the other’s face. Regal tries to arm drag his way out of a wristlock but ‘the Crippler’ holds on and then turns it into a hammerlock. Even with his face down to the mat and Regal cinching in the hold, he’s still throwing palm strikes to the side of Benoit’s head to try and disrupt his equilibrium. Regal gets back to his feet, escapes the hammerlock and transitions to a wristlock of his own. Single arm throw for a one count, however not the most conventional of pins as their fingers are interlaced. Regal goes for another, this time driving his knee into Benoit’s jaw, although the result is the same. ‘The Crippler’ with a nip up and they’re in the ‘test of strength’ position. They work some spots around that before three shoot headbutts by Benoit bust Regal open hard way. Enziguiri followed by a dropkick that sends Regal under the bottom rope and to the outside. DDT on the apron by Benoit! The action returns to the ring and a belly to back suplex from ‘the Crippler’ gets him a two count. Regal with a leg trip and as he clamps on a crossface, for the first time in the match the ropes are used to force the break. I thought we were getting the Steve Grey surfboard, but Regal grapevines the legs and pulls Benoit back, without lifting him off the mat, stretching ‘the Crippler’ out. Dragon sleeper from the same position which Benoit escapes from with a back elbow to the top of the head. German suplex. Benoit lights Regal up with some chops and his response is another shoot headbutt and four stiff kicks to the mid-section. Regal blocks the third rolling German, looks for a double underhook, but Benoit drops to his knees to prevent it. He lands another German and signals for the diving headbutt, however is too slow climbing the turnbuckles and is met up there by Regal. Top rope butterfly suplex! Accidental clash of heads (no putting their hands up like others do on this spot) and both go down. ‘The Crippler’ reverses the tombstone piledriver only to miss the diving headbutt as Regal rolls out the way. The two jockey for position, release Dragon suplex, ‘Crippler crossface’ and Regal taps out.

 

I thought this was fantastic. I’ve watched so many matches in this project when they go unnecessarily long for no reason and here was me not wanting this to stop and wishing they would go another twenty minutes or so. Snug, stiff, everything laid in, everything calculated, no wasted motion and every little thing they do meaning something. Tom Prichard was tremendous on commentary and no wonder he uses this bout to show his students on the nuances of psychology and how to build a match. Just watching these two you see so many little things, things which they don’t need to do, but in doing so it adds an additional layer to what you’re watching and adds to the vibe that this is a sporting contest. Great match.

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It has been a while since I did a match review proper, but I got a new idea for a project so here we go...

Chris Benoit vs William Regal - Brian Pillman Memorial Show 5/25/00

I got the Hard Knocks Chris Benoit DVD for Christmas when it came out and I remember watching the hell out of it. This was a match I didnt watch too much, but I put it on a re-watch list. Unfortunately, I totally forgot about it, which is a shame because this is excellent. Benoit vs Regal have excellent chemistry and they had a ton of ultra-stiff TV matches in the mid-2000s, but I would hazard to say this is actually the best of the bunch. 

I have been watching a ton of 2019 wrestling. I just needed something mindless and that's what 2019 wrestling is. This was so refreshing so interesting and so intricate. I appreciated the amount of physical contact in this match. There was actual chain wrestling and struggle. There was a natural flow that made sense, but they also worked hard for everything. They hit those cool spots you want to hit at the beginning, the bridges, holding onto control through a reversal attempt, good stuff. Of course, it being Benoit vs Regal there are shoot headbutts and they are early. Benoit busts Regal open in a knucklelock with those shoot headbutts. Regal sells this so well ala BattlArts-style and Benoit just keeps moving forward in true Benoit fashion. The Regal drop toehold and hopping right into the Regal Stretch was genius. Regal was clearly in a hole and needed something that could do damage, but allow him to catch his breath and even potentially finish Benoit. It was too early though and Benoit had enough fight left in him. I loved the transitions in this match so much. Benoit breaks up a surfboard with a stiff elbow to the cut head of Regal. Or Benoit taking too long to get to the top for the diving headbutt and Regal clubbing him with a left and then a Super Buttefly Suplex! Regal busted out a lot of cool shit in this match: standing dropkick, Super Butterfly Suplex and a modified Blue Thunder Bomb. This was his big comeback match so it makes sense that he wanted to impress. Benoit busting out the Dragon Suplex and immediately pouncing on Regal with the Crippler Crossface for an quick tapout was a perfect finish. Just great pure pro wrestling! No running, no overly chereographed spots, no cooperation, just two men trying to earn a victory in a gritty, nasty match. ****1/4  

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