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The Career That Killed The Crippler

A look at the career that eventually ended in heartbreak and confusion.



Chris Benoit

Mason Epeneter takes a look at the long and trying career of Chris Benoit, the decorated time that ultimately led to his demise.

WrestleMania XX, Chris Benoit has the World Heavyweight Champion Triple H locked into the Crippler Crossface. Benoit has gone after the WWE World Championship before against The Rock and Kurt Angle but failed both times, a former WCW World Heavyweight Champion in his own right after he beat Sid Justice at the 2000 Souled Out event for WCW, but that was short-lived seeing he had vacated the title the next night due to disagreements with how World Championship Wrestling was managing business. After all that work, all the effort of almost 20 years, would Triple H tap out? He did. Chris Benoit was crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion in the Main Event of WrestleMania XX, and I will go into how he got there, and how he fell from there.

It all started with the Dynamite Kid. When Benoit went to his first wrestling show, he saw the recently deceased “Dynamite Kid” Tom Billington and that was when he decided not only that he wanted to become a wrestler, but he decided that he wanted to be just like his childhood hero, The Dynamite Kid. He got his start by going to shows early, setting up chairs, and eventually being invited into the ring. He got his reputation backstage by having the guts to speak to his hero, The Dynamite Kid. Later on in his career, Bruce Hart invited him to the Hart Dungeon where Stu had told him to come back once he finished high school, and that he did. During his time with Stu Hart and Stampede Wrestling, he won the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship four time and won the Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship four times. It was in Stampede Wrestling that he met a man who would change his life, Bad News Allen (known to WWF fans as Bad News Brown).

Bad News Allen had suggested that Benoit go to New Japan Pro-Wrestling after Stampede Wrestling closed. He had spent a year training earlier in 1986 at the New Japan Dojo but he had matches under his real name and wasn’t made into anything special at the time. In 1989, he became The Pegasus Kid. The fans loved his matches with Jushin Thunder Liger. So much so that he eventually went onto win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Jushin Thunder Liger in the Tokyo Dome on August 19, 1990. Jushin won it back on November 1 of the same year. As Pegasus Kid, Benoit went onto win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship from Villano III I Mexico on March 3, 1991. Benoit went onto hold the title for an astonishing 560-days. He lost it back to Villano III on September 13, 1992.

During his WWF Light Heavyweight Championship reign, Benoit lost a mask vs. mask match against Jushin Thunder Liger, forcing him to become the Wild Pegasus. Benoit won the 1993 Best of the Super Juniors tournament after defeating El Samurai in the finals. On April 16, 1994, Benoit participated in the first edition of the Super J-Cup. Benoit, as Wild Pegasus, had a first-round bye. In the quarterfinals, Benoit defeated Black Tiger II (FKA Eddie Guerrero), in the semifinals, Benoit knocked off Gedo. In the finals, Benoit beat the legendary Great Sasuke in 18:46, becoming the first ever winner of the prestigious Super J-Cup. In 1995, Benoit made it to the semifinals of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament where he defeated Black Tiger II again, he went to the finals and had beaten Shinjiro Otani in the finals to win the 1995 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. To this day, the Pegasus Kid is a legend in New Japan and is often considered one of the greatest Junior Heavyweights of all time.

Benoit had started with Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1994 while working with New Japan. At the 1994 November to Remember event, Benoit accidentally broke Sabu’s neck and he earned the name that would make his career, “Crippler” Benoit. Benoit went through a moment of extreme guilt and worry that he potentially paralyzed Sabu. In 1995, at the Return of the Funker event, Chris Benoit teamed with Dean Malenko as “The Triple Threat” (ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas was also part of this stable) to win the ECW World Tag Team Championships from Sabu and The Tazmaniac. This was Benoit’s first title within the States. The Triple Threat dropped the Tag Titles to The Public Enemy of Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock on April 8, 1995. This match also including Rick Steiner and The Tazmaniac. The Crippler’s work visa expired, and Paul Heyman failed to renew it which caused Benoit to depart from ECW and to go back to working with New Japan.

Benoit had signed with World Championship Wrestling as a part of a talent exchange between WCW and New Japan in late 1995. He competed in the 1995 edition of the Super J-Cup where he received a first-round bye. He defeated Lionheart (Chris Jericho) in the quarterfinals, but fell to Gedo in the semi-finals. Ironically, long-time rival Jushin Thunder Liger went onto win this Super J-Cup. After this tournament, Benoit had impressed WCW management and Ric Flair to the point that Benoit was made a member of the legendary Four Horsemen.

Benoit was put into a feud with Kevin Sullivan that included a kayfabe affair between Nancy Sullivan and Chris Benoit, this lead to a real-life affair which caused animosity between Benoit and Sullivan backstage. After plenty of matches throughout this year-long feud, it finally came to the end at the 1997 Bash at the Beach event, in a retirement match. Benoit had successfully beaten Kevin Sullivan, which forced Kevin Sullivan’s in-ring WCW career to end.

In 1998, a feud between Booker T and Chris Benoit had started to develop over the WCW World Television Championship. This led to a Best of 7 series between the two to determine who would be the #1 Contender for the Title that Fit Finley had taken from Booker T. Benoit and Booker T had gone to a 3-3 split leading to their final match. Throughout much controversy, including an original match that neither men accepted the result of (Booker T won via disqualification due to the nWo trying to win over Benoit). The final match happened at the 1998 Great American Bash event, which Bookter T won and went onto defeat Fit Finlay later that night for the WCW World Television Championship.

At the 1999 Uncensored event, Benoit once again teamed with former teammate Dean Malenko to successfully capture the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the team of Barry Windham and Curt Hennig after losing to them previously in a tournament final to crown new Tag Team Champions at the SuperBrawl IX event. Benoit quickly entered the Four Horsemen again, this time with Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, and Steve McMichael. Benoit and Malenko quickly dropped the title to the team of Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman on the March 29, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro. Throughout the rest of the year, Benoit had many feuds (including a WCW United States Heavyweight Championship reign) but he started to become unhappy with management and the company as a whole. As a desperate attempt to keep Benoit, World Championship Wrestling had Chris Benoit win the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the 2000 Souled Out event against Sid Vicious. The next day, Benot vacated the championship and left the WCW for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Benoit started out strong. In his first WrestleMania, after a few months in the company, Chris Benoit pinned Chris Jericho to win Kurt Angle’s Intercontinental Championship. That caused an incredible rivalry that spanned to the Royal Rumble event of the next year where Jericho won the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match. Throughout that feud however, the title changed hands on more than one occasion causing Benoit to become a 3x Intercontinental Champion within his first year with the company.

The next year at WrestleMania X-Seven, Benoit faced Kurt Angle, a match which Angle showed successful in. At the 2001 Backlash event, Benoit defeated Angle in critically-acclaimed “Ultimate Submission” match (Writer’s Note: I highly suggest you watch this match, it is a technical masterpiece). The feud culminated at the 2001 Judgement Day event when Angle got the upper hand on Benoit with the help of Edge and Christian in a Best of 3 Falls match. The next night on Raw Is War, Benoit teamed up with former rival Chris Jericho to challenge the World Tag Team Champions Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H of The Power Trip for the titles, a match Benoit and Jericho were successful in and became the new Tag Team Champions. They quickly dropped the belts to The Dudley Boyz less than a month later. Benoit’s Tag Title reign led him to two WWF Championship matches, both of which he lost.

Benoit returned from injury a year later and feuded with RVD for the Intercontinental Championship, a feud RVD would later go onto win at the 2002 SummerSlam event. Benoit reignited his feud with Kurt Angle quickly after. At the 2002 Unforgiven event, Benoit had finally knocked off his former rival… or so he thought. Things took a turn when Stephanie McMahon announced Benoit & Angle would be teaming together in a tournament to crown the inaugural WWE Tag Team Champions (currently known as the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship). At the 2002 No Mercy event, Benoit and Angle shocked the world when they overcame their years worth of differences and became the first-ever WWE Tag Team Champions.

Benoit and Angle had a somewhat of a lengthy reign before dropping the Tag Team Championships to the team of Edge and Rey Mysterio on the November 7 edition of SmackDown. Angle and Benoit quickly fell out when they lost the Tag Titles. Angle and Benoit quickly crossed paths again at the 2003 Royal Rumble event. Angle had once again captured the WWE Championship and once again, Benoit was chasing the belt. This match was also a fan favorite but after a long 20 minutes, Angle made Benoit tap out. WrestleMania XIX had come around the corner and Benoit was chasing after the title that he won first. A triple threat tag team match occurred for the WWE Tag Team Championships. It was the champion team of Team Angle vs Los Guerreros vs Chris Benoit and Rhyno. The champions retained after Shelton Benjamin pinned Chavo Guerrero.

The 2004 Royal Rumble event has come. Chris Benoit is entering the Royal Rumble match as the #1 entry. The odds of him surviving 29 other men are astronomical, the only other man to have done it before is Shawn Michaels in 1995. It didn’t help that the #2 entry was Randy Orton. But despite everything, Benoit survived everybody, now it was to just him and The Big Show. Could Chris Benoit defeat The World’s Largest Athlete or would he crumble? He did. Benoit held on from the apron, putting the Big Show into a headlock and eventually getting his body over the top rope. Benoit did the impossible, the Canadian Crippler was going to the Main Event of WrestleMania XX!

The day had come: WrestleMania XX. An incredible match by Triple H and Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit that included a Hell of a lot of bloodshed. Benoit was crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the night and had an emotional celebration with longtime best friend and WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. This was the high point of Chris Benoit’s career. But, Benoit quickly started to fall. He lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton at the 2004 SummerSlam event. He then deescalated into mid card feuds. Eventually, in 2007, Benoit was given a shot to be ECW’s World Champion. Tragedy struck, depression hit Benoit hard and he hung himself after so much brain deterioration from the Career that Crippled him. WWE refuses to ever recognize Benoit again. That is The Career That Crippled The Crippler.

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AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?



With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass

Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed

The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!

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King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!



Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.

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