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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: Chris Benoit vs. Booker T: Best of Seven Series #1

March 29, 2016 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: Chris Benoit vs. Booker T: Best of Seven Series #1  

In 1998, Chris Benoit and Booker T had a best of seven match series to see which one would get a shot at Fit Finlay’s WCW Television Championship. This is my look back at it.


Match #1
May 25, 1998

Chris Benoit [0] vs. Booker T [0]

This was real solid. There was a nice level of intensity and physicality early on. The better wrestler, Benoit, got control. Booker fought back with some big movez. Benoit avoided the Harlem Hangover and slapped on the crossface for the win. Competent storytelling, strong action, and it did not overstay its welcome. We’re off to a good start! (***1/4)


Match #2
May 28, 1998

Chris Benoit [1] vs. Booker T [0]

This match told a very similar story to the first match. The difference was that Booker was able to string together enough big movez down the stretch in order to pin Benoit for the three count. He picked up the win after the missile dropkick. I have this one slightly below the first one due to some early awkwardness, but it was solid and really came together down the stretch. (***)


Match #3
Saturday Night
May 30, 1998

Chris Benoit [1] vs. Booker T [1]

I liked how focused Benoit was here. He worked with a sense of urgency that presumably came from dropping a match to Booker. Booker basically could not get anything going, and he lost before he knew it. Despite this being less competitive, I found this more compelling than the previous match. Great storytelling. (***1/4)


Match #4
June 1, 1998

Chris Benoit [2] vs. Booker T [1]

Fuck, the story of this series is being done so well. Since he was down 2-1, Booker came out a house of fire here. He gave Benoit everything he had, and it seemed like Booker was well on his way to victory…then Benoit got the crossface out of nowhere to steal the match. I love everything about this series right now. (***1/2)


Match #5
June 4, 1998

Chris Benoit [3] vs. Booker T [1]

They executed the next chapter of the story very well once again. As you would expect, Booker came out hot due to the score of the series. Benoit again looked to end it quickly with the crossface, but Booker brilliantly prevented the hold from ever being applied. They battled some more until Benoit got cocky and tried to jaw with Stevie Ray. This allowed Booker to connect with a missile dropkick (which won him Match #2) out of nowhere to get the victory. Just good stuff. (***1/2)


Match #6
June 8, 1998

Chris Benoit [3] vs. Booker T [2]

After a few matches in a row where the guys just came out hot and blew through the match, they worked a much more methodical effort here. That absolutely made sense, but they did not compensate for that with anything. So, we basically just got our first plodding match of the series. Booker won with a sunset flip pin. (**1/2


Match #7
June 11, 1998

Chris Benoit [3] vs. Booker T [3]

Hahahahaha. So, they did a match where Benoit dominated Booker T in a compelling manner by primarily going after the left leg of Booker. Booker fought back at one point, but Benoit resumed control of the match. In an odd move, Bret Hart, in an attempt to help Benoit, hit Booker with a chair. Benoit felt bad and told the referee what happened. The referee disqualified Benoit. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but…LET’S SEE WHERE THIS ONE GOES! (**3/4)


Match #7 (again)
Great American Bash
June 14, 1998

Chris Benoit [3] vs. Booker T [3]
Okay, they redid the match on the PPV. The winner would face Finlay for the title afterwards.

They basically did an extended version of their television matches. I can see why they thought that was a good idea, but it actually took away from what was really working about their matches. The extended length did allow them to tell the story of Booker really needing to earn this final victory right before he has to fight again for the title. All of this was a way of saying that the story was good but not so good to make up for the unnecessary lengthy match. Booker won with the missile dropkick. (**1/2)


*Bonus Review*
Great American Bash
June 14, 1998

Fit Finlay(c) vs. Booker T [WCW Television Championship]

This match was a very dull and featured an incredibly anti-climatic ending. Finlay took control early and went after Booker’s leg. This went on for a long time. They went to set up a tombstone reversal spot, but Booker botched it. Now, to be fair, he should have botched it in the story because of his worked-over leg. The manner in which this happened though made it impossible to suspend your disbelief. Anyway, Booker ended up hitting a piledriver to win the match. I was very bored throughout this, and the fans sat on their hands most of the time. (**)




Read Chris Benoit match reviews!

Read Booker T match reviews!


Watch some free matches!

Chris Benoit vs. Terry Funk

Booker T & Test vs. The Rock & Chris Jericho

Booker T & Rhyno vs. Steve Austin & Kurt Angle

Booker T vs. Curt Hennig

Booker T & Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio & Rob Van Dam vs. The Bashams vs. Mark Jindrak & Luther Reigns

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
After the first five matches in the series, this was easily the greatest thing that I had seen in the Eric Bischoff era of WCW. The last three matches of the series did not fully capitalize on that though, and the story ended on a series of increasingly flat notes. That being said, this is one of the few romanticized wrestling things from the Attitude Era that genuinely holds up as something interesting, entertaining, and worthy of praise all these years later.