Edge vs. Chris Benoit - WWE Smackdown 06/07/2007
When I dissect a wrestling match I often look to how the maneuvers performed by the wrestlers are tied into delivering storytelling and psychology. This match excels in telling the story of two men looking to deliver a physically intense match but also to prove who is better. As far as psychology is concerned, the corner turnbuckle
would play a major role several times throughout the match (along with several other shifts).
To start the match off, Benoit frustrates Edge with crisp arm drags which almost pull his arm out of socket because of their aggressive and technically sound delivery. Benoit punishes Edge literally from pillar to post
in the first half of the contest with knife-edge chops, vicious knee shots to the head, and an explosive Irish Whip into the corner turnbuckle. What I like most about Benoit in this match is his constant use of knee shots to the head of Edge. Whether Benoit was on offense or defense, he continued to attack Edge with those unmerciful blows to the head. It made it look like Benoit was attempting to knock Edge out at any point in the match and it adds authenticity from my perspective. The Canadian Crippler then applied a European headlock on the World's Champion to add more pressure to the head and neck region of Edge which Benoit knows was once broken.
But Edge was able to shift the match in his favor with an explosive Irish Whip of his own sending Benoit crashing sternum first into the top corner turnbuckle
. Bret Hart made this spot famous but Benoit made it look more brutal than ever before. Both Edge and Benoit sell the physicality of the fight extremely well here. Edge sells Benoit’s chops like a knife is actually cutting through his chest and Benoit sells the sternum shot as if his heart was about to stop.
Loved Edge's attack on Benoit’s shoulder with the intent to eliminate the Crippler Crossface. They feature some good payback spots here with one man attacking the body part the other man initially attacked. Every exchange is connected together so well. Benoit makes his matches some manly when he uses those session of headbutts to escape a hold or win a striking exchange.
The “Ultimate Opportunist” sets the match in his favor again by smartly using Benoit’s momentum to send him shoulder first into the top turnbuckle
. Again, a lot of the match psychology is focused on momentum shifters with the turnbuckle and using the corner for an advantage. Edge would use Benoit’s momentum against him this time sending the worked over shoulder into the steel post. The psychology is very precise and perfect fit with into the finish. This is the last great match of Benoit's career.
Link to watch
Edge vs. CM Punk - WWE Smackdown 04/25/2008
At one time this was sort of a dream match for many wrestling fans pitting Edge’s sexual, crude, and sleazy “Rated R lifestyle” against Punk’s disciplined, no drugs/alcohol, and honorable “Straight Edge lifestyle.” This match came about when Punk called Edge out on being dishonorable for sleeping with General Manager Vickie Guerrero just to stay at the top on Smackdown.
What I liked from many of Edge’s matches in 2008 is the pacing and psychology he used with a deliberate start and thrilling finish. He perfected his “Ultimate Opportunist” character to a tee by picking apart his opponent and manipulating every situation in the most intelligent ways. It made sense for him not to rush a match but to set the pace and find an opening to capitalize on.
On the other hand, we have CM Punk who employed a mixed style of holds and strikes into this match with submissions and kicks. I truly appreciate Punk’s ability to sell a beating so realistically and get his fans rooting for him so easily. Even though it was CM Punk that tried his own psychological game plan by methodically dissecting Edge’s arm in an attempt to take out the Spear, Edge would find his opening when CM Punk fell off the top turnbuckle with his back landing on the edge of the ring apron. Edge capitalized on Punk’s injured back by superbly working over it with knee shots and a body scissors. This is smart because Punk had been through multiple grueling matches all week long with the King of the Ring Tournament on RAW and a tag team match on ECW and Edge took advantage of Punk's durability being taken to the limit. As I pointed out earlier, Punk’s selling is stellar and you can see the pain from the agony in his eyes and the groans he made.
When Punk made his comeback the match instantly picked up to a frenetic pace which meant so much at that point because the slow build allowed for me to be more engaged in the story Edge and Punk were telling. Pacing is so important in giving meaning to counter moves and false finishes they executed. The best wrestlers know how to structure the match to effectively pull it off. Punk gave some kicks to Edge towards the final stretch that really tested his durability at that point. I loved the slow burn pacing to the finish that featured some shenanigans in the end which I didn't mind for this TV match as it was done in a way were the loser still looked strong.
- *** 1/2
Link to watch
They also had a good match earlier that year on Smackdown -