Benoit believes tag belts salvageable
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
Chris Benoit is well aware that the WCW World Tag title that he co-holds
with Dean Malenko is basically worthless. But he's trying to do something
Chris Benoit on TSN's Off The Record show Tuesday night.
"They [WCW] haven't done nothing with them. There haven't been any
storylines, any controversy," Benoit told SLAM! Wrestling. "I think that it
will take a while to make them mean anything again. It's definitely
possible. But we're going to have to take baby steps to get there."
He enjoyed the recent series of matches against Barry Windham and Curt Hennig, and
believes that the four wrestlers had "a good series of matches."
Up next, he
hopes, is a feud with Raven and Perry Saturn, whom the Horsemen faced this
past Monday on Nitro. It's a natural feud, considering all four men spent
time in ECW.
While on the subject of Nitro, there is no question that Benoit is excited
about next Monday's big show at Toronto's Air Canada Centre. He guessed that
he hasn't wrestled in front of a Canadian audience since WCW's last Toronto
show -- in 1993.
"I'm really looking forward to it," he said on the phone from the TSN
studio, where he had just taped an episode of Off The Record. "I've been
waiting. Ever since Bret [Hart] first started in WCW, [Chris] Jericho and I
have been, like, 'why don't you guys go up there?' ... It's beyond me why
we're not running Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg,
right out to the East Coast."
But will a cross-Canada tour ever happen with WCW?
"I'll never say never. Not in this business. But right now, with the way it
is, no. It doesn't look like it will."
It's certainly no boost to a Canadian's confidence when WCW has informed
Benoit that he won't be needed in Kitchener, Ontario on Tuesday for the WCW
Saturday Night taping.
Benoit is happy that he's finally a world champion, but insists that belts
aren't important to him.
"I'm not one for titles or accolades. I really love what I do," The
Canadian Crippler explained. "My biggest thing is going into the ring and
having a good match, no matter who it's with or what it's about. That's
basically where I get my satisfaction out of this business."
In conversation with Benoit, one gets the impression that he's not 100%
happy with the direction of WCW and his character. But he recently signed a
new contract, and will be around for another three years.
He's heard the 'Vanilla Midgets' nickname for the Benoit - Malenko team,
but never to his face in the dressing room, "just through the sheets and
through fans talking."
Is the company fully behind pushing the world tag champs?
"They say they are. But what they say and what they do are sometimes two
different directions," sighed Benoit. "People will ask me, how does it feel
to be a Horseman? If I think about the tradition and all that, what the
Horsemen have been about, it's an honour. But what are they going to do with
it? If they're just going to s**t all over it and no do anything, it really
doesn't mean anything to be a Horseman."
When asked if Ric Flair, WCW World Champion and leader of the Four
Horsemen, is going in his own direction and out of the group, Benoit replied
with a cryptic "we'll see" before continuing. "Right now with WCW, it seems
that there's no real direction. Hopefully, over time, it will pull together
and find some direction."
In Benoit's ideal world, he'd be able to set a little more of his own
direction. And much of it would be to stops outside of WCW.
"I really miss Japan a lot. I'd definitely like to go over there a lot
more," Benoit said. "But right now they keep me so busy here. I keep
requesting to go over there, because WCW and New Japan still have somewhat
of a working relationship. They just have me so busy here, I'd like to find
He'd also like to do a shot for the re-born Stampede Wrestling, but like
friend and countryman Chris Jericho, doesn't think "the company will allow
Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko from a couple of years back in WCW when the two weren't tag partners.
In a recent interview on the WCW web site, Jericho said that his dream
match would be against Benoit for the world title. Benoit would jump at the
"I love wrestling Chris. I think he's a tremendous wrestler all-around. He
can wrestle all styles -- European style, Mexican style, Japanese style,
American style. Right now, when it comes to American-style wrestling, he's
developed his character and his ring presence is just unbelievable. I'm
really proud to say that he's from our generation. I enjoy every time I'm in
the ring with him."
Bret Hart is the other big-name Canadian in WCW, and Benoit freely admits
that backstage politics have kept Hart down. (On Off The Record, he called
WCW honcho Eric Bischoff "somewhat of a genius".)
"Obviously there's some kind of politics involved, because that's a lot of
what this business is about. Personally, I don't agree with how they've
treated him or what they've done with him," Benoit admitted. "Bret's one of
the most talented in the business today. He can wrestle, he can interview,
he's very entertaining to watch. He's an all-around athlete as a wrestler.
Personally. I don't agree on what they're doing or what they've done with
him. Hopefully that will turn around. Bret's a great role model also."
Regardless of politics, Benoit will continue to shine in the ring. He takes
great pride in his performances. For him, "wrestling is really a form of
art" and Benoit is undoubtedly one of the top artists in pro wrestling
"I love the challenge of going out there, doing the best that I possibly