30 September 2004 | BunkhouseTito
Better Than The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection! Read On And See Why.
Don't get me wrong. The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection is a great DVD set and belongs in any wrestling fan's DVD library, but in my opinion, Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story was a more complete story. It hit pretty much all the key points in Benoit's career. All the major title wins, the story on his early years and even the smaller things such as how he became "The Crippler". Ric Flair's DVD can't honestly say that. I believed when I bought something called the "Ultimate Ric Flair Collection", it would at least contain his first record-breaking 7 NWA/WCW Title wins. It seemed as if WWE completely forgot about anything or anyone that didn't have some relevance to their company. The Benoit DVD seemed to me to be a whole lot more about the whole Chris Benoit story than about fluffing up WWE, which in many cases, was what the Flair DVD was. To be fair, I don't think you could fit all of Ric Flair's key matches in a 4 DVD set, but it omitted some stuff that was obvious to most it should be in there. Enough on the comparison, let me tell you more about the DVD at hand.
Hard Knocks started off with Chris Benoit and various family members and friends talking about his early years as a fan and becoming a wrestler. Not only what he had to do at the famous Stu Hart Dungeon, but what it took just to get there. They talked about his career early in Canada and the obvious influences of his personal wrestling hero, The Dynamite Kid, and it shows how similar their styles really are. He even spoke very emotionally on the deaths of Stu and Owen Hart.
One of the little things that sets this DVD apart from the other WWE DVDs is the fact that they actually went out and got rights to some footage that doesn't belong to them. Showing highlights from the Super "J" Cup in New Japan Pro-Wrestling was a really cool thing to see, as you can't really get a DVD in the right format with this stuff anywhere else. You get to see Chris Benoit wrestling as the Pegasus Kid under a mask, and as "Wild Pegasus" Chris Benoit after he lost the match. After the Japanese footage, it goes on to some ECW footage and ultimately, this is where and how he got his "Crippler" moniker that is still with him today. From there it was on to his WCW days, and like most other wrestlers who were there, didn't enjoy himself and started to hate what he was doing. It could have gone more into the story on how he won the WCW World Title against Sid Vicious here, but it chose to leave this little back story out of it.
Anyhow, it goes on to his WWF/WWE debut along with Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko and the rest of his WWE history. The story goes into his neck injury, what it took to come back and the amazing turn of events from there. It pretty much ends with his future classic match at WrestleMania XX against Triple H and Shawn Michaels in the Triple Threat Match where he finally wins the World Heavyweight Championship. The sight of both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit in the middle of the ring with both of their World Heavyweight Titles was great and an awesome way to show how parallel their careers actually were and truly deserving of every accolade.
This is where you truly get your money's worth. There are some good gems in here. Let me say, I don't believe there is such a thing as a bad Chris Benoit match, but there are some that could have been better represented or switched with another match. I'll try and give some meaningful comments on all these matches, without spoiling the outcomes for anyone that hasn't seen them (in other words, if you've been under a rock). Also, one of the cool little things about this DVD, if you don't want to listen to the Japanese commentary on the Japanese matches, you have a choice of switching to Michael Cole and Tazz commentating, in which sounds like they're commentating for Smackdown, or you could listen to Chris Benoit, himself, along with Dean Malenko and Todd Grisham talking about the match, which seems more like a director's commentary.
Pegasus Kid vs Jushin Liger for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - For some reason, Pegasus Kid reminded me of a young Owen Hart here. They started off with some mat wrestling and by the end, they turned it into a pretty good, solid match that still stands up as good today.
Chris Benoit vs 2 Cold Scorpio at WCW SuperBrawl '93 - The fans weren't into this match at all until the end. I can't really figure out why they put this match on here. The match was OK, still good but OK considering it's Benoit, but Tony Schiavone treated this match like it was nothing special. It probably wasn't to him or anyone else behind the scenes at that time. I'd rather listen to Japanese commentary than Schiavone by himself, and I'm reminded of why I stopped liking WCW after listening to him for this one match. I would have rather seen something else from ECW in this spot or maybe the match where he lost his mask to Jushin Liger in Japan.
"Wild Pegasus" Chris Benoit vs Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero) - This is most likely one of the first times these two have wrestled each other. This was the Semi-Finals of the 1994 Super "J" Cup and it was full of high risk maneuvers and great high spots.
"Wild Pegasus" Chris Benoit vs The Great Sasuke - This was the 1994 Super "J" Cup Finals. Sasuke threw a nice dropkick off the top rope to the outside and a great handspring moonsault from inside the ring to the outside. It's matches like this that made the Super "J" Cup one of the most important and well received tournaments of all time.
Chris Benoit vs Sabu - This was at ECW's November to Remember in 1994. Very short match, as it was the one where Sabu broke his neck.
"Crippler" Chris Benoit vs "Snowman" Al Snow - This started off as a very quick and high paced match, then slowed down a little. Suplexes galore. This was definitely one of Al Snow's greatest matches.
"Canadian Crippler" Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero - Everything looked much more crisp and strong in this match than on their previous match on this video. You can tell they've worked together many times between now and then. Probably the most brutal powerbomb I've ever seen came from this match.
Chris Benoit vs "Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan - This was from The Great American Bash '96 in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Most of it took place in a men's room somewhere in the stadium. Surprisingly, no one's head ended up in a toilet or urinal. This was not as bad as I remembered. Probably the best Kevin Sullivan had to offer.
Chris Benoit vs Booker T. - This was the Best Of 7 Series final match at The Great American Bash '98. Booker T was a much better worker back then, and it shows. He even takes a Dragon Suplex, which I would have bet I would never see that.
Chris Benoit vs Bret Hart - This was one of the top matches, if not THE TOP MATCH, ever to be broadcast on Monday Nitro. It was the Owen Hart Tribute Match. It went over 30 minutes and not only did they put on one hell of a match, it made me miss Bret Hart's wrestling matches. Hopefully, one day he'll have a DVD like this I can review.
Chris Benoit vs Sid Vicious - Chris even carried Sid to a good match here. It started with Sid beating down Chris and went to Chris working Sid's leg most of the match. The whole WCW locker room came out to watch this match on the ramp. Overall, a pretty good match but I wish they would have gotten into the whole story behind the scenes on this one.
Chris Benoit vs William Regal - This match took place at the Brian Pillman Memorial Show in 2000. As you would expect, it featured some great mat wrestling on both parts. I'm glad this was added to the DVD.
Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle - In my opinion, these two matches with Kurt Angle were the best two on the DVD. This steel cage match shown on WWE RAW featured all-out good wrestling. It also went above and beyond with the high risk moves such as an awesome German Suplex from Chris off the top rope, one of the most amazing moonsaults from Kurt Angle off the top of the cage, Benoit's famous flying headbutt off the top of the cage and, count them, 9 German Suplexes in a row from Benoit. Don't miss this one!
Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle - This was a WWE Championship match from the Royal Rumble in 2003. This match could main event any PPV, including WrestleMania. Great spots, false finishes and, as usual, a whole lot of suplexes.
Chris Benoit vs Shawn Michaels vs Triple H - As I mentioned earlier, no doubt this will be considered a future classic, if it isn't already. This 3-way action was amazing with all the perfectly timed spots and near falls. This was a great way to finish off this DVD and overall, a great showcase to the 19 years Chris Benoit has dedicated to professional wrestling.
I give this DVD 10 out of 10, it deserves no less.