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   Tue, June 26, 2007


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Raw: Remembering Chris Benoit
By DALE PLUMMER -- SLAM! Wrestling
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Monday Night RAW was supposed to be a three-hour spectacle getting to the bottom of who blew up "Mr. McMahon," but after Chris Benoit, his wife and son were found dead in their home those plans were scrapped. The three hours were instead filled with individual tributes to Chris Benoit and Benoitís greatest matches, as Vince McMahon and all six announcers broadcast from an empty arena.

The show started off with a "In Memory of Chris Benoit 1967-2007" graphic. Vince McMahon was standing in the middle of the ring in the empty arena in Corpus Christi, Texas, and acknowledged that tonight was supposed to be about the demise of the "Mr. McMahon" character, but in reality Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and young son Daniel were found dead in their home. After offering condolences to Benoitís extended family, Vince said tonight will be a tribute to Chris, as we will hear from his peers and witness some of the most memorable moments of Benoitís life.

Many superstars offered their thoughts during the show. Steve Austin, Chavo Guererro, Edge, Stephanie McMahon, CM Punk, William Regal, John Cena and Dean Malenko all spoke. Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Tazz, Joey Styles, Michael Cole, and Bradshaw also weighed in with their thoughts and feelings in between matches.

Throughout the night clips from a Benoit retrospective is shown.

As for the matches chosen to air, the first one shown was one I attended. I was sitting high in the stands in Philly the night Benoit won the Royal Rumble in 2004. Benoitís match from last weekís ECW show versus Elijah Burke, which turned out to be his last on TV, was also shown. WWE dipped into the vault and pulled out a match versus Dean Malenko at Hog Wild in 1996. Malenko followed the match with his thoughts. Joey Styles and Tazz provided commentary for a match broadcast in Japanese, with Benoit, as The Pegasus Kid took on Jushin Liger. Another Royal Rumble match was featured, as Benoit faced Chris Jericho in a ladder match back in 2001 for the intercontinental title. After the match JR shared Jerichoís thoughts on Benoitís passing.

WWE also showed one of Benoitís Smackdown matches. I covered Benoit a lot as the Smackdown reporter when I first started with SLAM! Wrestling. I was either on sabbatical or had moved on to RAW when Benoit took on JBL in a steel cage for the U.S. title.

The show wrapped up with Benoitís win over Triple H and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XX. That moment is bittersweet in itself as Eddie Guerrero and Benoit celebrated their respective championships in the middle of the ring, and now both men are gone.

I donít want to get up on a soapbox here, but, hereís to hoping the Mr. McMahon death angle has been shelved permanently. Hopefully Vince has realized that death isnít funny and should not be used to further a wrestling storyline.

It is 2:20 in the morning as I wrap up this report. Iíll be honest; I didnít think I could do a RAW report tonight. I canít do justice to what each person said from their heart, so I didnít even try. As for the matches, I didnít think it was right to do a play-by-play or recap of matches that are shown in tribute. Unfortunately as the truth comes to the surface, WWE will be questioned for jumping the gun on a tribute show before the all the facts were in.

RELATED LINKS

  • Chris Benoit tragedy news section
  • Chris Benoit biography and story archive

    Dale Plummer has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling since 2003.