Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong: Best Match of Clash of Champions
When WCW released it’s “Clash of Champions” DVD, I wasn’t even born yet. I know nothing of WCW, which required me to research it. What your about to read is a recap of a match that I am seeing for the first time.
What better way to write? After watching various matches, I stumbled upon one that blew me away from the opening bell.
While I knew nothing of the time period, I did know one of the participants. Knowing wrestling history, it’s hard not to. His name is Chris Benoit.
We all know the first thing that comes to mind when you say his name, but I never got to see the true talent Benoit possessed in the ring. His match with Brad Armstrong showed me real fast.
The match started fast, with great commentary from Jim Ross and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. The match quickly showed how versatile, quick, agile, and athletic both competitors were.
It started when Armstrong put him in a side headlock. After Benoit escaped, both rolled over to avoid colliding with one another. Armstrong then went for a dropkick, only to fall short hitting it on Benoit, crashing to the mat.
Then, Benoit threw Armstrong against the ropes, and attempted a powerbomb, only to be thrown by an arm drag from Armstrong. Next, Armstrong went for the hip-lock, and was held at a stalemate with Benoit.
Armstrong quickly took action, and flipped backwards. He finally connected with the hip toss, and got on a roll. He kept Benoit down with the dropkick, and as he quickly tried to get back up, he was taken back down with an armdrag from Armstrong.
After two minutes of face-paced wrestling, Armstrong remained in control with an armbar as Benoit was pinned firmly on the mat. Jesse Ventura described the match nicely, saying it would be a “great match with both wrestling in their prime”.
Armstrong kept Benoit down, even after a kip-up attempt. Benoit went for another kip-up, and succeeded. He continued with a nice takedown, only to find himself back on the mat from two dropkicks by Armstrong. Not a lot of offense from Benoit thus far.
For the next minute, Armstrong kept Benoit down, turning his focus to the arm. The armbar was tight, as Armstrong used his knees and arm twists to target Benoit’s left arm.
Both wrestlers showed extreme leg strength and stability, as they tried to free themselves after trading holds. It’s clear Armstrong wanted to keep Benoit grounded, making it his game plan from the beginning.
After exchanging grips, Armstrong showed he had the superior strength by maneuvering Benoit out of the ring. What a technical bout it has been, the best I have ever seen. Benoit got back in the ring and applied a hammerlock to Armstrong.
Armstrong was in control once again with a dropkick and an armdrag take down. Armstrong would not let go of Benoit’s left arm! Action begins to pick up, as Benoit gets Armstrong in a double leg pick up.
Armstrong countered by shifting himself on his back and using his core leg strength to throw Benoit into the ropes. Benoit got up fast to deliver a kick to the abdomen on Armstrong.
Benoit then picked up Armstrong and tossed him on the top rope with Armstrong hanging there, helpless. Ventura called it a “half-asleep shock suplex”, where instead of hitting an actual suplex, you “slingshot him”. Could this be just what Benoit needed?
The whole match he was kept grounded by Armstrong, coming in with a strategy that was effective, until now. The ref held back Benoit, giving Armstrong needed time to re-group. As he walked over to take advantage of a groggy Armstrong, it was clear Benoit wasted too much time.
Armstrong went to deliver a big blow, but was stopped dead in his tracks by Benoit, who landed a head but. What happened next was what Chris Benoit can do when he’s in the driver’s seat.
He launched himself from the second rope turnbuckle, and clubbed Armstrong with a clothesline.
Armstrong remained down after taking a rough fall on his back. Armstrong got back in the ring just in time, met by an Irish Wip from Benoit, and ending with a clothesline. Benoit hit a snap suplex, and then attempted a lateral press.
It was a smart cover, as Armstrong had taken a tough fall on his back just moments ago. Benoit used every part of his body, and everything in his arsenal that came with it.
Armstrong followed up with a knee to the face, only to be met with punches to the head and mid-section from Benoit.
Benoit picked up Armstrong and planted him on his knee, driving it into his back.
Armstrong targeted Benoit’s arm, now Benoit countered by targeting Armstrong’s back. Benoit body slammed Armstrong and went top rope. Armstrong tried to strike him as Benoit perched himself on the top rope, but Benoit used another headbutt.
Armstrong could’ve been put away, but Benoit missed the top rope splash. Armstrong delivered a neck breaker to Benoit. Both wrestlers had styles that were similar, yet attacks that were so different. Armstrong landed an elbow, and went for a cover… kick-out at two.
Armstrong picked up Benoit…what a mistake.
Benoit countered an Irish Wip, and threw Armstrong, only to stop him and twist the left arm. He locked up Armstrong in a full-nelson lock, and finished it off into a German Suplex. 1…2…3.
A battle that was technical, innovative, and by far fantastic, was now over. Why did I love the finish? Because the whole match, Armstrong targeted Benoit’s left arm, and it ended with Benoit using Armstrong’s left arm to apply the full-nelson.
This match was not picked by anybody in the competition, nevertheless not even in the discussion. Why? I agree it didn’t have that “big match” feel, but in terms of actual performance and breakdown of the match, this match is one of the best technical bouts I’ve ever seen.
I love technical bout, as it shows the true art form of wrestling. It showcased two guys with great abilities in the ring. Brad Armstrong never competed much in the main-event, even if he did have the superstar “look”, but never had the charisma to follow.
This match represents mid-carders who can probably out perform the main-eventers. Look into modern-day. What would be a better wrestling bout, Tyson Kidd vs. Dolph Ziggler, or John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar? The answer is clear, and reflects what type of match this was.
WCW had the wrestling, while WWF had the entertainment. Had the two a jointed, Ric Flair said business would’ve “hit the moon”. As a wrestling fan, we all forget what the business was founded on sometimes.
We all want to be entertained, but how much of us are entertained by true wrestling anymore? Does it take a guy to go through a table and risk his body? This match had my interest from the first second.
It had my interest for the wrestling that ensued, as it has the right to be called the best match of WCW”s “Clash of Champions”.
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