Corpus Christi, Texas
June 25, 2007
thanks to: pwtorch.com
We open with "In Memory of
Standing in a completely empty arena, Vince McMahon (the graphic said Vince McMahon) said tonight's storyline was supposed to have been the continuation of the demise of his character, Mr. McMahon, but the reality is that Chris Benoit, his wife, Woman, and his son, Daniel, are dead. With heavy eyes, McMahon said tonight is a tribute to Chris Benoit.
They cut to the classic Chris Benoit video package we've seen before, recapping his journey from Japan to WCW to World champion at WrestleMania 20.
They showed clips of Benoit's family members talking about Benoit from the video packages they aired during his 2004 title run.
Ringside, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler spoke from the announce table. Ross said they hoped this situation would never come, as Benoit was one of his best friends in the wrestling business. Lawler said this probably will be the most difficult broadcast they ever have to do.
They went to clips of the last 10 minutes or so from the 2004 Royal Rumble when Benoit eliminated Big Show to win the WrestleMania 20 title match opportunity.
They cut to Steve Austin, who spoke in front of the Tribute set. He talked about Benoit giving 120 percent every night of the week in front of a few or thousands of fans. Austin said Benoit is one of the most-honest and generous people he's ever met in his life. He said he wishes Benoit was still with us.
They cut to clips of Benoit talking about how he got into the wrestling business. He spoke about how Dynamite Kid influenced him the most to get started.
Ringside, Michael Cole and JBL spoke quietly. Cole said he's been thinking a lot about the phrase "a child defines a father". He said Benoit used to always bring his kids to the shows, and they were always very respectful to people backstage. JBL got choked up talking about his memories wrestling with Benoit in Japan. He said he wishes he didn't have to be here doing this, as he'd rather be calling a wrestling match with Benoit.
They cut to John Cena at the Tribute set. Cena said he firmly believes this is the most difficult thing he's ever had to do. He said some people will provide some fantastic moments, and this has been a very sudden occurrence, and he doesn't know how to react to it. He said his first instinct tells him to celebrate Benoit's life. Cena said Benoit was the type of guy you want to go with war with, but he would always look out for the wrestlers he formed bonds with it. Cena said Benoit respected the business, did everything he could for it, and his set of ideals toward the business were what he looked up to. "He took no s--- from anybody," he said. Cena said that the fans watching would hopefully appreciate everything Benoit has contributed to the business. Cena said Benoit was like John Wayne because he was too tough to open up with, but you could tell by the look in his eye whether he cared or didn't care about you. Cena said he wishes he got the chance to tell him that he loves him.
They cut to clips of Benoit in the early days of ECW when Benoit came in from Japan. Benoit talked about 2 Cold Scorpio and their common bond in the ring.
Ringside, Joey Styles and Tazz talked about how excited they were that Chris Benoit was in their locker room in ECW. Tazz said that when Paul Heyman told him that back in the day, he told Heyman that it brought credibility to the ECW brand. Tazz said Benoit always helped the younger guys out, but you always had to up your game in the ring or he'd wear you out. Styles said the irony is how excited they were when Benoit came over to the ECW brand in the Draft just two weeks ago. They laughed at how excited they were at the prospect of calling some Benoit matches on Tuesday nights.
They cut to a video package on Benoit's last televised match, against Elijah Burke on ECW TV six days ago.
C.M. Punk, with tears in his eyes, spoke at the Tribute set. He said he couldn't help but feel really guilty right now because he was so disappointed last night when he didn't get to face Benoit at the PPV. Punk said he never got to wrestle Benoit, but he taught him a lot. He said he hopes he can do Benoit's memory right by leading the next generation of wrestlers in the right direction following Benoit's lead.
They opened the second hour with the same McMahon speech from the beginning of the show.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler spoke from ringside again. Ross introduced a match Benoit had with one of his closest friends, Dean Malenko, some ten years ago at WCW Hog Wild '96. Just to hammer home the impact of Benoit's death even more, ringside for the match were Miss Elizabeth and Woman. They cut to a break during the match.
Back ringside, Ross and Lawler briefly talked about Woman and her contributions to the wrestling business. They went back to the conclusion of Benoit vs. Malenko.
After they finished airing the match, they cut to Dean Malenko at the Tribute set. He talked about Benoit enriching his life and career. Malenko said he met Benoit and Eddie Guerrero in the early '90s wrestling in Japan, and they all supported and leaned on each other. Malenko said only a select few got to really know Benoit because he was very guarded and private. He said he felt honored to spend 15 years in and out of the ring with Benoit. Malenko talked about the irony of losing two of his closest friends in the last two years, and how the original Three Amigos were the three of them, not the Eddie suplexes. Malenko talked about the legacy Benoit left in the business as someone wrestlers can model their careers after. He said he loaned the Crippler Crossface to Benoit back in the day when Benoit was looking for a finisher. Malenko closed that his two closest friends over the last 15 years are now together and he'll never forget Chris.
They showed a video package on Chris Benoit standing in an empty arena, with clips of Benoit in action, and in surgery.
Back ringside, Cole and JBL talked about Benoit being known as one of the best professional wrestlers of all-time. Cole talked about no matter whether Benoit won or lost, he would always look into the crowd and receive a standing ovation from the appreciative fans. JBL said Benoit was never a great talker, but a great wrestler. He introduced a match he had with Benoit for the U.S. Title at the beginning of 2006.
They cut to footage from Smackdown in April 2006 when Benoit faced JBL for the U.S. Title in a steel cage.
And now the Stephanie McMahon Tribute. Stephanie said people considered him a passionate wrestler, but he experienced Benoit's passion for his family. He said Benoit thought it was so cool that she married Triple H. All the cards are on the table tonight. Stephanie said Benoit was genuinely warm and excited when news came of Stephanie being pregnant. He said he knows how much Benoit's kids loved his dad. Stephanie said she will always know him as his friend.
Chavo Guerrero spoke at the Tribute set. He said Benoit was one of his best friends, as part of the Guerrero family. He talked about Benoit being the first person he called after finding Eddie dead. Chavo said it broke up Benoit, a guy who never really showed emotion. He said Benoit wailed and cried and sobbed uncontrollably because Eddie was his best friend. Chavo said he was given a gift of being the last person to be with Eddie, while he was also given another gift of being at Benoit's house last week. He said they did a few house shows together, went to TV, had dinner, and Chavo missed his flight home. Chavo said it's so difficult to go through this again. He said being in the ring with Benoit was such a pleasure, privilege, and an honor. Chavo said some of their matches were the best of his career, and he was able to learn so much. Chavo said their last phone called ended with Benoit saying, "I love you, Chavo." He said Benoit was part of his family. He tried to hold back tears, and said he reminisced on their families spending time together at WrestleMania.
Joey Styles and Tazz talked ringside about the deaths of Benoit's family. Styles took us back to the Pegasus Kid days in Japan prior to him coming to the U.S. He said some of Benoit's best matches of all-time were against Jushin Liger in Japan.
They went to a Pegasus Kid vs. Liger match from 1990, with Michael Cole and Tazz doing voice-overs on the match. They showed Benoit winning the Jr. Hvt. Title with a top rope guillotine leg drop.
They cut to William Regal at the Tribute set. He said he hopes to sit down and talk great things about Benoit at a later date. Regal said all he can say now is that Benoit was the hardest-working wrestler in the business of anyone he ever met. "He was the absolute best," Regal said.
They started the third hour of the show with Vince McMahon's announcement from the top of the show.
Ross and Lawler spoke from ringside about Benoit's adoration for Dynamite Kid. They cut to footage from Benoit speaking on his first match in Calgary where no one knew who he was. Family and friends talked about Benoit using Dynamite's moves. Benoit talked about emulating Dynamite's pattern and style into his action. He said the first time he did the diving headbutt, he knocked the wind out of himself because he didn't protect his body doing the move. Ross and Lawler then talked about Benoit wrestling his friends and rivals. They went to January 2001 when Benoit and Chris Jericho wrestled for the IC Title in a ladder match at the Royal Rumble.
We joined the Benoit vs. Jericho Rumble ladder match in progress. They cut to a break after the sweet octopus-spot where Jericho stretched Benoit's back across the top of the ladder.
They re-joined the match in progress, with Jericho winning the IC Title after knocking Benoit off the ladder to the floor.
Ross and Lawler spoke ringside. Ross said Jericho was very upset after hearing about the death of one of his best friends. Lawler said Benoit wasn't a wrestler for the money, but because he loved performing in front of the fans. He said no one was more intense inside the ring than Benoit. Ross said we would Benoit's crowning moment at WM 20 later in the show.
Styles and Tazz talked from ringside, then we went to comments from Edge. He said at the Tribute set with his arms folded, not sure what to say. Edge said he has three people in this industry that he feels he can talk to about anything in wrestling. He said two of them are gone now. Edge said he first saw Benoit as an eighteen-year-old in Calgary and he thought to himself that he would be awesome one day. He said anytime they were in the ring together, it was like two Canadians fighting for the last beer. Edge said he had some personal issues in his own life, and Benoit was the first person he went to because he could trust him and because he cared. He said that was more important than anything. Edge said everyone in the locker room respected Benoit because of the pride he took in his work. He said he got to face Benoit in Orlando a few weeks ago, and getting kicked in the head that hard was such fun. Edge said when they went through the Gorilla position, Benoit was smiling after their match. He said Benoit was the guy he called for advice after his neck surgery. "He was always there," Edge said. Benoit said they had a show in Dothan, Ala. and Benoit came to the show with his son, Daniel, who was dressed up and doing warm-up exercises with his dad. Edge paused to choke back tears, then he said how lucky he was. He said Benoit would be hot at him for crying, but he just loved the guy. Edge said he doesn't understand situations like this. He threw his hands in the air as if to say he doesn't know how to react. They faded to commercial with Edge's head down.
Back ringside, Cole and JBL talked about Benoit's emotions in the ring and in the locker room. He said a few wrestlers were thrown out of the locker room by Benoit because he didn't feel they were giving respect to the business. Cole said Benoit always gave 100 percent and always made sure the fans went home happy.
They aired a video package on Benoit talking about putting his heart and soul into everything he does for the fans.
Triple H spoke at the Tribute set. He said if given a few minutes to sum up a friend's life, it's tough to do. Hunter said that he kept asking himself what one thing sums up what Chris Benoit stood for. Respect. He said Benoit demanded it, received it, and it meant everything to him. He said it was respect for the business, the fans, the wrestlers, his family, and his friends. Hunter said there was an incident a few years ago when a young wrestler showed a lack of respect to Shawn Michaels, so Benoit made him do 1,000 squats with him. He then made him do 500 squats the next day. Hunter talked about WM 20 when he looked back to see Benoit holding the World Title in the middle of Madison Square Garden. He said he can't speak for everyone, but he's pretty sure that every person Benoit ever met respected him. Hunter said there's no one he respected more than Benoit. He said he's not saying that because Benoit isn't here, but because Benoit earned it. Hunter choked back tears as he finished.
Ross and Lawler talked about respect having to be earned in the business. Lawler said everyone on the roster respected Benoit. Ross said arguably Benoit's greatest moment was WM 20 when Benoit held the World Title high after defeating incumbent champion Hunter and Shawn Michaels.
They went to the very beginning of Hunter vs. Michaels vs. Benoit for the World Title in the main event of WM 20 to show the match in its entirety. They cut to a break after Michaels's moonsault onto Benoit and Hunter on the floor.
They re-joined the match in progress. They cut to a break after Hunter rammed Benoit into the ring steps.
They came back with Ross and Lawler discussing how they will remember Benoit. Lawler said they've talked a lot about Chris, but they also need to talk about Nancy and Daniel. He said it makes him want to get home and tell his family that he loves them. Lawler told the audience to tell whatever family member they're watching this show with that they love them. Ross said Benoit was a great friend, man, and one great wrestler. He introduced the finish of the Mania title match.
The Benoit Tribute show closed with the final few minutes of the Mania main event, and the famous post-match hug between Benoit and Eddie with both wrestlers holding WWE championship gold at the conclusion of the PPV.