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Benoit vs Smith

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This was the climax of the first series of matches between Benoit and Smith. 3 weeks later they had another match but you could tell from watching the TV shows that was never supposed to originally happen.



As a general rule, I don't like English rounds in wrestling. They almost always are a detriment to a match because they wreck the flow of a match and stop the sympthany of a wrestler getting beaten up as he has a chance to recover. In saying that I must say 1 match that managed to use the Enlish rounds well was the Dynamite Kid vs Marty Jones from England



These rounds are 5 minutes long with 1 minute rest periods. Benoit has Steve Blackman in his corner and Smith has the weasel.


The first round starts off with Benoit dominating Smith with Smith vacating the ring after flurries of offence against Benoit. Really wicked exchanges as Smith would go behind Benoit, take him down to the mat amateur stlye - Benoit than sits out and turns -- Smith than grabs Benoit's legs -- Benoit rotates his body sideways causing Smith to flip on his back which is than proceeded by I believe an armdrag and a dropkick before Smith bails to the outside.

Another highlight has Smith trying to monkey flip Benoit mid ring but Benoit does a cartwheel right beside him at full speed off of the ropes. Smith not to be outdone nips up a second afterwards but it's "all for naught" as Benoit once again nails him causing Smith to bail yet again.


Smith is real good here at these beginning portions of the match. At first he's fighting pretty clean but once Benoit starts to get the best of him he'll start backing away in the corner, using the hair for an unfair advantage and than attacking right after backing away in the corner.


Benoit largely dominates until around the 10 min mark where we have a real nice series of moves where Benoit ends up being dropped on his back which causes Smith to start attacking his ribs which along with Benoit's upper body becomes his main point of attack. Smith now is using full blown heel tatics. He does a real smart bit at the end of a round as he throws Benoit in an illegal move over the top rope to the cement floor letting himself rest up while at the same time not allowing Benoit to recover and lose some of his beat up sympthany from the fans.


That though is an ecample where I think the round problem can play havoc on you in the ring. The 1 minute rest did take away the possability for a cool out of the ring into the ring counter possability. Also, at the end of the other round time is running out and they may have had to cut a hope spot for Benoit short.


Back on track here Smith dominates for about 10 whole minutes and while this portion of the match was not as good as the excellent 6/4/88 match it is still very strong as Smith is that strong of a heel. Smith chokes Benoit like there's no tommorow, slaps him around while he's laying on the mat, takes 10 or so seconds to go back to his corner mid match and dry himself off with his towel, gives out a middle finger and just lets out this aura of complete arrogance with everything he does in the ring. But what I really like about Smith here is he doesn't cross the line into what I like to call a cartoon heel. There's no 10 punch in the corner, no going down with 1 punch all the time or no having your head rammed into the turnbuckle pad 10 times over. That is somthing that has always bothered me in wrestling and thankfully it doesn't happen here. In fact, with just a little bit of tweaking I would've loved to have seen Smith's heel charactor in All Japan.


Smith repeatably attacks Benoit's midsection hitting some real nice offence like a military press into a stomach breaker and the absolute *best knee to the stomach off of the ropes that you will ever see in your life. When it's time for Smith to put Benoit away (which I think may have also have to been sped up because of the round style) he goes up for a top rope Vader Bomb splash on Benoit's ribs. The same splash he had beaten other wrestlers with successfully. He nails it but Benoit puts his foot on the ropes. Smith takes it off but Benoit puts it back on again. Benoit is not to be denied.


Now this is a part of the match I talked about before. Smith slams Benoit in the middle of the ring and goes for a high range finisher for Stampede with a move that he didn't let out too much as a heel. The top rope flying splash which would surely be the end of the match if he hits it. But maybe the best part here is not the distance Smith gets on the splash but his complete and total arrogance adjusting his kneepads before going up to the top. Smith's all, "I got him. It's beyond over for that little snot nosed punk." Smith didn't defuse the seriousness of the situation by taking too much time but he did manage to beautifully show once again his cockiness getting the viewer against him all the more so the splash (Smith was pulling out the big stops) and the missing of it just means so, so much when you combine the fact that Smith was just nailing Benoit for 10 minutes straight and of course Smith's heelishness. It's almost impossable for someone to be cheering Smith at this point.


Benoit's subsequent comeback after the splash is extreamly well done. He hits all sorts of sweet offence including a tremendous backwards top rope elbow drop from the top rope ala Tenyru. Benoit ends up going for it again but the weasel distracts Benoit and Smith in a super spot throws Benoit backwards into the middle of the ring getting the 1/2/3. Smith of course never forgetting who he is uses the tights big time for the win.


The end is a huge rollercoaster ride where you find yoursef hoping Benoit will survive to hoping he will win to cursing for Johnny Smith and the weasel. This is done by letting out all the big moves as they stressed the importance of this climatic match. In saying that I must give props for Benoit and Smith for having the patience to make their first "final" match special. Smith's finisher was never used in any of thier 4 previous matches except for when Smith tried it once but Benoit got the knees up. Still he never made contact with it. This was the first time Benoit ever used the backwards top rope elbow which made it truly special. Smith only used the big splash once in the whole series. The finish was something they had never done before. All this made the match feel special.



In conclusion, I absolutely love this match. The beginning is fantastic, the face/heel structure is very strong with Smith being so arrogant that you have to cheer against him, a long heel control segment which gets you behing Benoit and a super ending that was a fitting end to their first series of bouts. A real hard fought wrestling match is the feeling you get after watching this.



* I wanted to talk about the knee. I don't know how Benoit and Smith do it but their knees to the stomach to each other off an Irish whip are heads and tails above everyone else I've seen do this manuever. So brutal looking. It must be exceptional timing because I have seen them miss the knee a couple of times.

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