Greatest Feuds of the Attitude Era: Chris Jericho Vs Chris Benoit Vs Kurt Angle
by, 10-28-2011 at 11:39 AM (6513 Views)
In my opinion the year 2000 was the best of the Attitude Era years and I’ll explain why. The Rock, Stone Cold, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mick Foley and Kane had dominated the main event scene since 1998 and while the product wasn’t becoming stale by any stretch of the imagination, there was certainly a key element missing.
There was a lack of technical ability. But to the WWF’s credit they rectified this problem by introducing three wrestlers who brought diversity to the upper mid card. One was a brilliant submission specialist who, while not having the best promo skills, was generated heat for his ‘ruthless aggression’ persona. The next was an exciting and charismatic wrestler who could beat someone down with an outstanding move set that highlighted the necessary technical and high flying styles needed to be successful Japan and Mexico to the WWF. The final one, and perhaps the most successful of the three, was an Olympic gold medallist who introduced a magnificent technical ability that made him one of the most consistently outstanding main eventers ever.
This rivalry was suggested by Sahu. Enjoy
In the summer of 1999 debuted the first of our wrestlers: Chris Jericho. Honestly, he didn’t get off to a great start. Despite weeks of build up with the famous countdown clock, his actual first appearance came when he interrupted The Rock during a promo. This was a shame as the reaction to Y2J was brilliant and he could have been a popular face. The Rock, as was natural at the time, ripped him to shreds:
On his wrestling debut he lost by DQ to Road Dogg and his first real feud was against Chyna. He was entertaining but bad booking on the WWF’s part made sure he had a tough time getting over.
The second of our wrestlers debuted at Survivor Series ’99: Kurt Angle. He went on a winning streak and his Three I’s (Intelligence, Integrity and Intensity) gimmick made him a heel from the get go.
The last of our wrestlers debuted around February ’00 as part of the Radicalz faction: Chris Benoit. His aggressive nature and the Radicalz alliance with the McMahon-Helmsley faction cemented him as a heel quickly.
Kurt Angle got off to a brilliant start by winning both the European and Intercontinental Titles heading in to WrestleMania 2000. The three met off in a triple threat match at WrestleMania in a special match where the winner of first fall won the Intercontinental Title and the winner of the second fall won the European Title. In a highly entertaining match, The Crippler pinned Y2J for the first fall while a Lionsault was enough for Jericho to pin Benoit:
The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla lost the European Title the next night to Eddie Guerrero. He went straight back for Benoit and the Intercontinental Title but unfortunately a DQ decision cost him at Backlash while he couldn’t better the Crippler in a Submission match at Judgement Day.
After the losses to Benoit, Jericho battled Triple H for the WWF Title, even causing an upset by winning it on an episode of Raw before Earl Hebner reversed his decision:
The rivalry ended when he lost a Last Man Standing match to the game at Fully Loaded, the same PPV where Benoit was unsuccessful in taking the WWF Title from The Rock.
The two Canadians met for a feud ender at Summerslam in a two out of three falls. Benoit was the better of the two on the night and won. By this point both had established themselves as wrestlers who, while main eventers, weren’t at the same level as guys like The Rock, Triple H and Kurt Angle.
The Olympic gold medallist had been busy since WrestleMania. He won the King of the Ring and by Summerslam had entered a great feud with Triple H over the attention of Stephanie. Along with The Rock they battled for the WWF Title at Summerslam in a triple threat match. The Rock was victorious on the night but it was only a matter of time before Angle held the gold.
Angle lost to Triple H at Unforgiven which ended the rivalry which was a bit of a shame since it had so much heat. Angle should also be noted for how comfortable he became during promos and how funny he could be when patronising people:
Despite the loss his momentum carried and he finally had his time at No Mercy when he defeated The Rock for the WWF Title. He outsmarted The Undertaker at Survivor Series and retained his gold but his biggest challenge came at Armageddon. Angle proved himself as a deserved main eventer when he beat Rikishi and four legends in Triple H, Stone Cold, The Rock and The Undertaker in a six man Hell in a Cell.
Since Summerslam Benoit and Jericho had taken part in a few small feuds against the likes of Kane and Triple H but it was obvious at this point they weren’t at the same level as Angle. Jericho did have an opportunity to face Angle for the WWF Title but lost the No 1 contenders match to The Rock. Before the match the two battled in a promo showing that Jericho could almost match the great one on the mic:
Y2J and Benoit met again in arguably their best match at Royal Rumble ’01. In a fantastic ladder match Jericho was successful in winning the Intercontinental Title.
Kurt Angle seemed destined to main event WreslteMania 17 as WWF Champion but at No Way Out he was unsuccessful in retaining his title against The Rock who went on to battle Stone Cold.
Every match Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit met in had the potential to be a classic. And at WrestleMania 17 they had their best match of the Attitude Era when they met again. In a wonderful match highlighting the brilliant technical skill of both wrestlers, Angle managed to beat Benoit.
I do class WrestleMania 17 as the end of the era though. Angle and Benoit met at the two subsequent PPVs in fantastic matches and they would again meet at Royal Rumble ’03 in their best match. Jericho meanwhile became the first Undisputed Champion when he beat The Rock and Stone Cold in the same night, a fact he brings up very rarely.
Jericho back then was one of my personal favourites. While he never really challenged The Rock at wrestling level he was one of the few who could give him a run for his money when it came to promos. Angle is undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, easily up there with the likes of Michaels and The Undertaker.
Chris Benoit is and always will be a touchy subject. My thoughts have always been that as a wrestling fan I will look at his work and remember the fantastic contribution he made to the WWF. He wasn’t far behind Angle in terms of quality and could elevate even the most lacklustre of wrestlers to good matches, the true showing of a talented wrestler.
Overall they added a much needed technical aspect to the main event level matches. They didn’t have the same effect as either The Rock or Austin but few people do. All three should be remembered for their time in the WWF as outstanding wrestlers who all played a huge part in the best year of the Attitude Era.
Just to finish I’d like to mention a few things. I’m very pleased with the feedback you’ve all been giving me, the ideas you’ve suggested (keep them coming) but for the sake of this blog please don’t start commenting on Benoit’s death. Keep the blog wrestling related and we’ll get along fine.
Next time I will cover the Attitude Era as a whole. Not particularly looking at any rivalries but I will return to that later when I cover The Rock Vs Stone Cold and my WrestleMania 14 special on Owen Hart Vs Triple H and Ken Shamrock Vs The Rock.
If anyone on here wants an idea for a blog I’m sure covering the best rivalries during the PG-14 Era (WrestleMania 17 to WrestleMania 21) would be my suggestion.