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Benoit earns WWE success
By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun


Chris Benoit celebrates his Royal Rumble victory.

In 14 days, Chris Benoit will be in the spotlight at Wrestlemania XX, the biggest event in the history of pro wrestling. It's about time. For 18 or so years, Edmonton's own Benoit has performed for pennies in front of a handful of fans and for big paydays in front of packed houses.

But the size of the crowd didn't matter. He worked his butt off every night.

He has worked his way up to the main event of Wrestlemania, battling star performers Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat match for WWE's world heavyweight championship.

He's come a long way from a modest debut in Calgary, where as an 18-year-old he teamed with Rick Patterson to compete against Mike Hammer and Carl Moffatt.

"It was unbelievable," said the 36-year-old Benoit earlier this week. "It was more than a match ... I was standing in the ring, looking around and thinking, 'Oh, my God. Here I am. What do I do?' "

Benoit won the match with a sunset flip. He now forces opponents into submission with his Crippler Crossface.

And as far as Wrestlemania, to say he's excited would be an understatement.

"I'm sure everyone who laces up a pair of boots and wants to be a pro wrestler dreams of being in the main event of Wrestlemania," he said. "But I get emotional about a lot of matches. Wrestling is a complete art for me. It's my passion. When I think back ... all the years, all the dreams, all the injuries. I really haven't sat down and let this all sink in, I think it'd be a little overwhelming."

Wrestling purists laud Benoit for his technical skills. But some fans wonder whether he has the pizzazz, wrestling's Barnum and Bailey skills.

"As far as improving (on the microphone), hell, yeah!"said Benoit. "But I can still improve in the ring too. You never stop learning.

"Perhaps my interview skills are not as good as my wrestling. I've never been one to talk. The in-ring personality is somewhat of an extension of what I am in real life."

And what he is in real life is a Canadian hero whose success comes from hard work, not flapping his gums.


More on Chris Benoit

- The Rock could be back on tomorrow night's RAW from Atlanta?That could lead to a Wrestlemania match teamed with Mick Foley against Randy Orton and Batista or Ric Flair. Other Wrestlemania matches we expect to see: A cruiserweight open match; Playboy evening gown match with Torrie and Sable vs. Jackie Gayda and Stacy Kiebler; John Cena vs. The Big Show; The Undertaker vs. Kane; Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg and Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle.

- Word is that Edge hurt an ankle while training at Ohio Valley Wrestling. Just a wild thought, but could he show up at Wrestlemania and get tangled up in a Chris Jericho vs. Christian match?

- We've got three DVD copies of Monday Night War and two copies of Mick Foley:Hits and Misses to give away. Here's the catch, if you win you've got to be able to pick them up at the Sun office, 6 Antares Dr., Phase III, in Ottawa. Just answer the skill-testing question. Name at least two of Foley's in-ring aliases. Send your answers to tim.baines@ott.sunpub.com. Entries must be in by March 8. One entry per household.

- Lex Luger returned to NWA:TNA on Wednesday, attacking A.J. Styles.

- CPW is gearing up for its next event, March Mayhem, at 7 p.m. on March 6, at the St-Joseph Rec Centre, 122 Berri St. in Hull. Results from the Last Man Standing show on Feb. 21: Player Uno beat "Mr. Know It All" Shawn Demers; Pierre Choury beat Roy Stevens; Tray Hugh Mongus vs. Drake Styles ended in a double DQ; Thunder beat "MVP" Michael Von Payton; Jaguar beat Paranoid Jake Matthews by DQ; Wild Dangerous Dan beat Pierre Carl Ouellet in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Main event of the March 6 show will be Dave LeJusticier vs. Thunder in a Whipping Match. Check out www.cpwinternational.com.

- Abdullah the Butcher will headline a series of CPW cards across Quebec, beginning in Hull on June 5, then on to St-Jerome on June 6, Granby on June 7, Lachute on June 8, Verdun on June 9 and Trois Rivieres on June 10.




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