Hey Parv, could you elaborate on your Kurt Angle comment near the end? You said something about not liking him going toe-to-toe with Benoit. Not sure I totally understood.
My reviews of those matches:
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (Insurrexion 2000)
Crash Holly comes out and sits on commentary where he's incredibly distracting. Hard to really say much about this match. It was just a bunch of stuff that happened in a vacuum. I did like Angle's execution on his suplexes, but it's hard to be interested in a match where even the commentators don't care.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (Wrestlemania 17)
Angle cuts a promo against Texas and cowboy hats before the match. He has a lot more charisma than his opponent.
Some amateur stuff to start, which is faintly ridiculous if you think about it. As if Benoit could go toe to toe with an Olympic Gold Medalist. What they do here is not so much matwork two men looking to get their submission finishers, ankle lock vs cross face. I'm not a fan of that in the first two minutes of the match, you've got to build to it. I think it's poor psychology. You might argue that they are trying to establish for the crowd what sort of match this will be in order to educate them, but I don't buy that.
Angle takes things outside and slams Benoit on the announce table. Suplex. Cover. Back suplex. Cover. Okay, this is all fine, but what was the point of the early sequence grappling over the submissions? Ignoring that for the moment, this is a decent heat sequence worked at an even and methodical pace.Chop exchanges now culminating in a nice belly to belly by Angle. His execution is superb. Another belly to belly. Benoit's selling could be more expressive.
Jim Ross busts out a Jack Brisco reference!! He compares Angle to Brisco. Heyman says he only likes Brisco because he's from Oklahoma and JR gets angry.Benoit bringing Japanese style hard and stiff chops now. He's ramping up the intensity. Snap suplex. Superplex. Beautifully executed. Rolling German suplexes. Crowd seem oddly muted for this. Neat counter by Angle for an ankle lock attempt. Benoit counters into the ankle lock himself. Crippler cross face. Angle counters and now he applies the Crossface himself.Heyman is talking a lot of shit on commentary about how he's never seen a greater display of hold and counter hold. He needs to watch more wrestling if that's true.The submission elements of this match have been very poor. Angle hits the Angle Slam but it only gets two. Heyman says he's never seen anyone kick out of that. Maybe that was true at this point? Angle goes up for a Moonsault, Benoit gets his knees up. He goes up for the diving headbutt. Only two. Armbar take over by Benoit but Angle rolls him up and over with the tights for 1, 2, 3.
This was a really mixed bag. The middle portion with Angle working the heat and then Benoit coming back with the stiffness was well worked and everything was very smooth. But the opening and closing portion built around the submission finishers was really bad. There was virtually no attempt at telling any other story but "it's my finisher or yours", which can work but not if that's all there is. Angle didn't do a single move to soften up the leg or the ankle for the hold. I get that maybe the ankle lock isn't a move that requires the leg to be softened up and that it works on suddenness and sharp pain, but damn it this is wrestling. That's true of the spinning toe hold and of the figure four too.JR compared Angle to Brisco, but the comparison is very superficial because here we don't really see any understanding from him of how to work a body part or soften a guy up for a submission finish, which I find baffling in a match built around the idea of submissions. Heyman was talking about the display of counter wrestling here, but we were a long long way from Dory Funk Jr here because neither guy did anything at all to actually work organically through different holds as counters. I'd got as far as to say the matwork (if you can call it that) was exceptionally poor. And Benoit was every bit as guilty as Angle for that. The ground game of both guys consisted of precisely two moves: the ankle lock and the crippler cross face.What's even weirder is that if you follow the story they were trying to tell, why did the thing finish with a roll up? Baffling storytelling. I did like the execution of the throws, but this was explicitly not worked as a spot fest. It was being sold as a psychological duel and as that it failed dismally.
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (Backlash 2001)
Okay, so they used the Mania match to set up this match which is now officially built around submissions? Weird booking, but it doesn't retroactively help the WM match one iota. Angle cuts a funny promo on Chicago about Michael Jordan quitting in his prime. He also randomly calls Roger Ebert a pig! Ha ha, I wonder how many people there got that. Benoit comes out showing not much charisma as per usual. He's the Dory to Angle's Brisco I guess. Ha ha.Jim Ross talks about attacking joints and body parts. I do hope he's not setting up these guys to fail. Angle goes to the single leg takedown and it looks to be him going for the ankle lock. Benoit counters by ... going for the ankle lock, and then going for the Crossface. Come on Benoit, you must have learned more holds in that New Japan dojo.
Benoit goes for the Crossface again. This is really crap. Benoit goes for the Crossface outside and gets it for a while. Angle is pissed and grabs a chair. Fairplay he's selling his shoulder. But it looks like he was playing possum because explosively he goes for the knee and gets the ankle lock for the first submission. 1-0. Terrible so far.Both guys seem to immediately forget about their respective injuries as they start up again. Angle targets the leg with a series of chop blocks and Benoit does start selling the leg, but this very quickly gives way to him hitting the Crossface for 1-1. This is appalling.Benoit starts to mix it up a bit now. Arm drag. Arm breaker. Shoulderbreaker. Sustained focus on the left shoulder, and this is good focus. 10 minutes into the match that's the first sign of any real psychology. But then Angle comes back and hits the ankle lock for 2-1. Christ, I'm hating this.We come back and Angle hits the Crossface for 3-1. Bad is the only word for this.
Heat sequence for Angle now. Back suplex. Stomps. Action goes outside, rolls back in and Benoit hits a backdrop to send Angle to the outside. I'll say this though: Benoit's chops are tremendous,Back in and Angle goes for the arm breaker again. This is the first time this match has actually resembled a proper submissions match. Abdominal stretch. Jim Ross busts out a Wilbur Snyder call!Benoit hits the sharpshooter now. But he's in the ropes. Half crab by Benoit makes Angle tap. That sequence was quite nice. Angle sells his lower back. Cat and mouse now and Angle suckers Benoit coming back in the ring. Apart from execution, the strongest aspect of Angle's performance has been in his heeling. He could almost be an 80s heel.Back in and we get a suplex. Angle has the leg and threatens the ankle lock. Benoit gets to the ropes before he can do it. Angle is clearly playing for time now and resting on his 3-2 lead. He's being slow and methodical. Takes it outside. Happy to go back in when the ref tells him. This bit of heel business is the best psychology he's shown so far. His character stuff is good.Angle goes to a chin lock / veiled choke. Ref goes to the arm. Benoit is again not very expressive in his selling here. And his struggle is not very convincing either. Hits a jaw breaker. Angle hits a clothesline. About 3:30 left.Belly to belly suplex. Another one. Benoit reverses an Irish whip and goes for the rolling Germans. Counter exchange now which leads to Benoit hitting the ankle lock for 3-3. 1:36 left. Another poor fall.Another German by Benoit now but Angle hits a low blow. Ankle lock, Benoit gets to the ropes. Back suplex. Ankle lock. Benoit is about to tap, but the time expires for a draw.The ref now declares this must for to sudden death. Oh god. I wish it could have been over already. Angle pounds on Benoit. Belly to belly. Benoit is selling his leg, so why is Angle not targeting it? Makes no sense. Benoit rolls through something and Angle gets some weird lying abdominal stretch on. But Benoit gets to the Crossface andAngle taps.I really didn't enjoy this. For a submissions match the psychology was through the floor bad. The first 15 minutes or so are just appalling. Things pick up a bit when Benoit works on top but it's very short lived. Surely people don't think this match is good?
Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (9/22/02)
Rikishi stink faces both men in the hype: 0/10. I haven't enjoyed three previous matches involving these guys, see here: http://prowrestlingo...ngle/?p=5660409
Benoit tries for the crossface early. Angle takes over. Backbreaker. Continues to focus on the midsection. Misses a shoulder barge and hits the post. Back suplex by Benoit, lands on the injured shoulder. So we have midsection vs. shoulder here.
Belly to belly by Angle. Two German suplexes by Benoit. Angle elbows out and does two of his own. Benoit elbows out. German! Angle breaks, German! Another one. A third. All in, eight Germans then. Angle goes for the Angleslam, Benoit reverses with a sick overhead back suplex thing. Goes to the top, Angle runs over to belly-to-belly him from the top. Ankle lock. Several countered tombstones culminates in a shoulder breaker by Benoit. Diving headbutt from the top to at same shoulder, Crossface! I like how Benoit is still focusing on the shoulder.
Angle gets in an ankle lock and manages to reverse the hold into that. Alternating cross faces and ankle locks now. Angle gets on the crossface, and Benoit gets in a sneaky flash pin using the ropes. Angle is pissed and Benoit has stolen the win.
This was a bombfest which was trying to tell a particular story: "anything you can do, I can do better". They were going for parity. Angle hits a German, Benoit hits a German. Angle does a move and gets it countered, Benoit does. Rinse repeat. Despite that, they also managed to work in some basic psychology, Benoit's injured midsection sort of got forgotten about, but Angle's injured shoulder played right through the match. "Go go go" would be one phrase for this one, and we did get to see some very well executed bombs, but it all felt a bit light and frothy. Match was like a firework, burned brightly for a while before fading away very quickly. I mean as I'm typing this, Eric Bishcoff has two lesbians with him and has brought out Stephanie and is promising a threesome. I've completely forgotten about Angle vs. Benoit. We don't get a real les-up. Bischoff sends them away and then I turned it off.