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Credit Where Its Due, BUT . . . . .


E2K
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I have to say well done to the WWE hacks for the way they've thus far presented Chris Benoit as world champion. Whats that you say - ME giving the WWE writers CREDIT??? Well all credit where its due, Benoit has been presented so far like a truly worthy champion, and as somebody who's far from the caretaker champion that a lot of people thought he would be. I was afraid, really afraid, at the start of all this that WWE would drop the ball with the Crippler, just as they did with Jericho, and miss the oppurtunity to elevate someone deserving to the main event. That they haven't (yet) is deserving of praise.

 

Now, I'll go on record right now as saying that, knowing WWE, when the time comes for Benoit to lose the title, its not neccessarily going to be done in the right fashion. And if it isn't, then that'll probably put my nose out of joint big style. But I believe in giving credit where its due, because without the top quality booking he's been afforded, Benoit could've easily ended up a stigmatised ex-champion like Jericho. It just goes to show you just how much the booking department can make or break a champion.

 

It was always going to be the case that Benoit was going to be the underdog as far as winning the World title went. Certain fans, particularly casual fans, were always gonna have trouble accepting Benoit as being on a par with HHH, Rock and Austin, because he's smaller than they are and not as charismatic. Everybody was a doubting Thomas; everybody said he wasn't good enough, that he'd only be a caretaker champ, etc, etc. The way in which WWE writers wove this scepticism into the storyline was great.

 

First doubter = Paul Heyman. On Smackdown, in the run-up to the Royal Rumble, Heyman tore into Benoit backstage. Benoit put his hands on him in an aggressive way. Result? Benoit has to go into the Rumble at #1, and Heyman tells him he doesn't have a chance. So Benoit attacks him again (nearly breaking his fingers as I recall), goes mad, and promptly wins the Rumble. Not only wins it, mind you, but wins it from the start, in the process being elevated onto the same level as Shawn Michaels, the only other man who won from number 1.

 

But there were still doubters. Second doubter = HHH. Have to say, the first time I heard HHH saying "You're dreaming, you'll never beat me", I didn't like it, cos it reminded me of the whole "People like you don't win world titles" jibe to Booker. But it worked really well this time; because Benoit actually proved him wrong. Then you had Michaels trying to take his shot. What is it Benoit says in his promo video? "I fight to protect whats mine". Well he certainly proved that in the storyline by beating, not only Michaels, not only HHH, but CLEANLY, in the 20th Wrestlemania, in MSG. WWE were really going all the way with him as champ. But wait; there was still doubters. That was a fluke. So they had Benoit go back and beat HHH and Michaels AGAIN, and AGAIN cleanly.

 

The writers have really gone all the way with him as champ. Not only has he beaten big names cleanly, but he's also been given an equal footing in physical confrontations with Evolution (more than Goldberg was afforded), and was also given a world tag title win with Edge over Flair & Batista. They've made him the main man on Raw, which is not neccessarily something that comes JUST from being world champ; you need the back-up from the writers. Just ask Chris Jericho.

 

Alas, poor Y2J.

 

In 2001, there was nobody in the WWE that I loved more than Chris Jericho, and that still holds true today. I really wanted him to be elevated to World champ asap, feeling that he'd done it all in the mid-card ranks and was truly deserving of a main event push. It seems that Vince and the rest shared my view - for a while at least. At No Mercy 2001, Y2J beat the Rock for the then-WCW title in one of my favourite ever matches. The build up to that match was booked identically to Benoit's big night; everybody made reference to the fact that he'd never won "the big one"; Stephanie called him a loser, Rock said "The reason you've never won the big one is because, simply, you're not that good". So when he won that night, it had maximum impact. The crowd went ballistic, and it came across as well-deserved.

 

A pity then that the booking team deemed it fit to leave him the title for onlyTWO WEEKS. He didn't even have the chance to defend it on ppv. But that was fine, I was still confident that they'd go all the way with him NEXT time. I was wrong.

 

At Vengeance 2001, Jericho was booked along with Angle as the makeweights in the undisputed title tournament. Thats how it seemed right? Austin & Rock were the champions; the two of them, along with Flair, kept going on about Austin/Rock, Austin/Rock, Austin/Rock . . . . to the point where, even I as a massive Y2J fan, was shocked when he won it. I mean, there was no build up, no sense that he was a threat. I just assumed it was a way to book an Austin/Rock match, as well as end their respective feuds with Angle and Jericho. The upshot was that there was no crowd reaction, no sense that Jericho was a worthy champ. But that was ok right? Surely, having taken the time and energy to make Jericho the FIRST UNDISPUTED CHAMPION, then they'd push him to the moon, right?

 

Wrong. The following night, he beat Austin, WITH HELP from Booker T. At the Rumble, he beat Rock WITH HELP from Christian and Lance Storm (of all people). At No Way Out, he beat Austin WITH HELP from the NWO. Then he became Stephanie's bitch for a few weeks, in a disgraceful storyline that tarnished the belts, tarnished Jericho, tarnished HHH, and tarnished the main event of Wrestlemania. Then he drops the title clean, in a match so predictable that the fans were heading for the exits while it was on. Then he's dumped back into the mid-card. Two years on, Jericho is the most consistent wrestler and superstar on Raw (along with Benoit), but he never gets a sniff of the world title. Why? Cos other people failed him when he was champion, and those same people now consider him a failed world champ.

 

It always amazes me the way WWE seem to be out sometimes to prove to top class wrestlers that they're not good enough, despite the fact that they've proven themselves time and again. They did it to Jericho; they did it to Goldberg; they did it to Booker. Its like they hear good things about people, then decide to prove that they're crap, so that they can say "Hey, you were wrong about this guy being good. It took the WWE to pull the wool from over your eyes".

 

Thank God they haven't done that with Benoit. The guy is a truly brilliant wrestler, and I'm really glad he's gotten his chance to shine. Its just a pity that Jericho, Booker and the rest weren't given the same chance.

Edited by E2K
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It always amazes me the way WWE seem to be out sometimes to prove to top class wrestlers that they're not good enough' date=' despite the fact that they've proven themselves time and again. They did it to Jericho; they did it to Goldberg; they did it to Booker. Its like they hear good things about people, then decide to prove that they're crap, so that they can say "Hey, you were wrong about this guy being good. It took the WWE to pull the wool from over your eyes"[/quote']

 

Yeah no wonder A.J. Styles wants to stay where he is!

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