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PostSubject: 2001 Discussion   Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:39 pm

Discuss 2001 in Smackdown
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:51 am

Chris Benoit vs. Steve Austin (5/31/01)
This has always been a bizarre match for me, in that Austin’s character around this point is one of my favorites ever, and Benoit in general is one of my favorite workers ever, but for some reason the 2 other times I watched this I just thought it was really good as opposed to “classic” or whatever word you want to stick to it to say it’s one of the best matches ever. Well this time everything finally clicked for me. Simplicity can speak to me now like it never had before, and that’s all this match really was, just a simple, well built wrestling match. Austin was really just incredible in this. He made everything feel that much more significant with every instance of characterization he brought to the table. Can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone play lunatic in the world of wrestling like he can. Really makes me dream of a match between him at this point in his career and Cena in 2007. Basic story in this is Austin is a fucking madman and Benoit won’t lose no matter what. The sequence where Austin suplexes Benoit on the table ribs-first is just glorious, especially one of the bumps Benoit takes. Benoit’s hope spots are so intense in this as well. The Superplex and Rolling German Suplex spots are really well done. Should also note that Vince takes some of the MANLIEST chair shots I seen in quite some time. Oh yeah, crowd is stupid hot for pretty much everything. Benoit comes out looking stronger and Austin leaves looking like an evil psychopath, so it’s all good. This was a better version of the Michaels/HHH match from San Antonio, and I have that match in my top 35 - 40. So, this will do well. ****1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:52 am

Steve Austin v Chris Benoit (Smackdown!, 5/31/01)
- Like Mike, I was always sort of "whatever" on this. Thought it was good, but not something I'd go to bat for as a top 30 match in company history. This time I changed my tune. Benoit's ribs are all taped up here and are a big focus throughout. Austin was more or less a complete maniac at this point, and while there's clear "rib work" in spells, Benoit's still doing everything he can to hang with the champ every step of the way. He goes for multiple Crossface attempts in the early stages, matches Austin in a duelling sharpshooter spot, and generally doesn't let Austin get the sort of advantage he needs. Then Austin says "Fuck it" and tries to break him in half by front suplexing him on the announce table. The first suplex looks ugly enough, but the second one is just horrendously nasty. Now Austin's in complete control and it's as if the more comfortable he becomes the more unhinged he becomes. He's dragging Benoit around the ringside area by the tape on his ribs and throwing him into barricades and steps with this crazed look on his face. At random moments it's like he'll leave Benoit alone for a few seconds while he goes looking for someone to punch, then when he doesn't find anyone - because nobody's stupid enough to go near him - he turns back to Benoit and dishes more punishment. Love the part where he's got Benoit where he wants him, so he starts taunting him with the World Title belt, rubbing it in his face and talking trash, and Benoit starts firing back only to run head first into a huge spinebuster. Guys throwing out stupid amounts of German suplexes is a spot I'm not much of a fan of anymore, but Benoit's German-times-11 spot in this feels like a huge moment, like one of his big weapons being used when it's needed most. The crowd completely lose their shit for it, too. Screwjob finish is a screwjob finish, but I get the feeling they might've been building to Benoit actually taking the belt at some point. That obviously never happened, though, because he was gone for a year less than a month later. Excellent match. Austin was on an absolute tear in '01 and this is definitely one of his best outings. Not sure what I was missing before. ****1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:52 am

Benoit/Jericho v Dudleys v Edge & Christian v Hardys (Smackdown!, 5/24/01)
- I'd still say this is one of the best WWF matches of the year. Didn't like it as much as I used to, but I knew that I wouldn't anyway since I'm not really into this kinda thing anymore, and if anything I was surprised at how much I did still like it. I thought the Armageddon '06 ladder match was really good because there seemed to be a bunch of little sub-plots popping up as the match progressed, and you get a few here as well. Right at the start the TLC vets go straight after Benoit and Jericho, who don't have any TLC experience. While that's happening, Edge and Christian break away and go straight for the belts. It was a cool way to start the match, I though, because it puts Benoit and Jericho over as a threat (ie. a team with no experience in this environment being triple teamed by three teams with plenty of experience) and then they establish that Edge and Christian are sneaky little shits directly after it. Then there's the Benoit injury and that becomes a sub-story as well. He's great at selling it, and the spot where he tries to block a con-chair-to by covering his head only to be hit in the ribs is maybe my favourite spot of the match. There's also far less awkward moments where guys are clearly setting stuff up, and the actual big spots are really impressive, which you sorta need in something like this. I was tempted just to leave this off since I already had four ladder matches on my list, but I like this way more than the Benoit/Jericho match that I've got towards the bottom, and I'll probably wind up dropping another one anyway, so this is gonna finish on my ballot. ****
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:46 am

Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho (WWF Smackdown 8/23/01)
-Not worth a nomination, but I really enjoyed this. Felt like something you'd see on WCW Saturday Night - Austin even worked a bit like Stunning Steve again. Some nice chain wrestling at the beginning mixed in with brawling. Jericho looked good targeting Austin's arm, and Steve sold it in a way that you really thought he was hurt. Some clever spots, and very well timed near falls. Jericho looked great in defeat. ***
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:21 am

Smackdown 31/05/2001: 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit
Nothing overly complex here, just a simple story of the hometown hero taking the title from the vicious heel. The familiar formula however is used brilliantly in this match. Austin's reached a whole new level of viciousness over his heel turn, arising from his increased paranoia to hold on to the title he worked so hard to get, his level of hate, violence, and anxiety to remain the champion is highlighted effectively in this match. Benoit matches him though for intensity, particularly from the get go, where he takes the fight to Austin. These two guys work together so well, their pretty evenly matched, and although Benoit has the overall technical skill advantage, Austin fully establishes his veteran instincts by targetting Benoit's already injured ribs, and relentlessly using any part of the ringside, whether its the table or the barricade to his advantage and for applying more damage. Nothing technical, just an all out fight for Benoit to win the title in his hometown, and for Austin to hold on to what he loves. The intensity is at an all time high in this match, Austin is so driven as a heel, his ring presence is excellent, and he really does a good job of making you care about Benoit because he plays a prick so well in this match. But Benoit also highlights himself as a sympathetic figure by showing his will to fight through the pain of Austin's brutal assault and use every bit of strength he has to take it to Austin, again alluding to Benoit's intensity, I love how he matches Austin in violence and brutality, you get the feeling that Benoit wants to destroy this guy and not just win the title. Excellent stuff here in the amazing year of 2001. ****1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:46 am

Smackdown 2001 (13th of March) - Steve Austin vs Kurt Angle
A No DQ match with high stakes - the main event slot at WM is on the line. Austin wants revenge for Angle decimating Debra's ankle the week prior, so this brawl is even more chaotic than their January encounter. Match quality isn't as high and it's more one dimensional, but it's just as entertaining. Great crowd heat, a raged Austin, an opportunistic Angle, interference, a wild pace and an unpredictable structure. By no means some outstanding piece of work, but I guarantee anyone would have a lot of fun watching this. It's very good based on entertainment value and a load of high octane action anyway, even if it is a simple contest typical of the Attitude Era. 11 wild minutes that I'd highly recommend, succeeding in building for the WM main event and getting everybody amped up for it.

***1/4 - ***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:46 am

Smackdown 2001 (26th of July) - Booker T vs Kurt Angle
This is a fired up Angle going for the WCW title, giving us a 10 minute hard hitting main event. Angle brings out the heavy artillery early, eventually making a mistake, at which point Booker T proceeds to slap the shit out of him. He knows he can't outwrestle Kurt so resorts to a lot of ringside brawling. It turns into more of a WWF/Alliance angle than an actual match in the latter half, but it's still fun of course. This one relied more on overbooking, but it was still a decent, simple match. Worth a watch, but it won't go close to anyone's list.

**1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:56 am

Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit vs Edge & Christian vs The Hardy Boys vs The Dudley Boys - TLC III - WWF Tag Team Championships - Smackdown 24.05.2001
I dunno if Vince paniced about his main event situation when Trips had to have surgery on his quad but this is brilliant panic booking if you ask me. It's like his whole main event plan got fucked up, so with probably less than a day to come up with a new direction he just decided, fuck it, lets just have another TLC match on free TV. You've got the 3 original TLC masters and then the new tag champs added which can only be for the better.

The match is actually really well booked given circumstances. It's a great way to punish the new champs and Benoit plays really well at making the match seem deadly with the diving headbutt forcing to have to be taken temporarily out of the match and then coming back out with his ribs all strapped up. The other 3 teams going after the champs at the start of the match is another great example too.

It's not got as many memorable massive spots as the first two TLC's do but the added storytelling from Benoit in particular makes up for that. It's still nowhere near as good as the first one which never gets old for me at least. I'm still the full 5 on that bitch too. Like the Mania 17 one though, I'm not as high on this one as when I last watched but it's still brilliant.

****1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2001 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:56 am

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Chris Benoit - WWF Championship - Smackdown 31.05.2001
I'd managed to keep this one on hold while I was working my way through the 2001 shows and not watch it on it's own beforehand and I'm glad I did because there's a ton of backstory going into it that works really well and as a wrestling match alone it's fantastic.

Benoit wants another chance after being screwed on Raw and Austin wants to prove he can beat Benoit straight up. The scene is set in Benoit's home town which means instant hot babyface support for Benoit and heel heat for the champ. The crowd once again doesn't fail to add to the match and again it has a brilliant big match atmosphere. This time though it's got PPV time and no restrictions on the wrestling. What I loved was that it's a really original style of match that they worked and it felt so fresh throughout and you know that Benoit and Austin are always going to have a great match together. Add to that the great booking and atmosphere and you've got all the ingredients for a classic. All you've got to do then is stir and not fuck anything up.

Thankfully they dont either. The sharpshooter exchange they do is awesome and you know this is gonna go down a treat in Canada. Vince played off the crowd so brilliantly in these two Canada shows that week. Benoit's ribs are still strapped up from TLC III the week before and Austin goes after them vicously. The two front suplexes on the announce table are great but the second one is amazing how Benoit almost turns the table on it's side, lands on his head and his ribs catch the point on the corner of the table going right into his bandaged ribs. Austin's character comes out perfectly in this with him acting like a psycho attacking Benoit's injured ribs when he sees the oppurtunity as well as his heel nature coming taking a shortcut at any chance possible.

The finish is great to and in a match like this on free TV you normally feel the finish will let it down, especially with Vince at ringside but if anything it adds to it. Benoit's ten german suplexes to Austin are brilliant and then when Vince realises he could be losing the title he takes drastic measures. Benoit aint having this though, especially after Monday night on Raw and starts attacking Vince with the chair. Austin however takes advantage and rolls Benoit up for the 3 grabbing the tights. Once again superbly booked with Benoit getting screwed again, showing he can beat Austin one on one and Austin just further more adding to his heel character. Different style of match that they did from the night before which just makes it even better. I'm not a fan of people overusing the work epic, but this is just an epic classic by every mean of the word.

****3/4
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