Just rewatched what is probably Benoit's and Raven's most underrated/overlooked match in their respective careers.
Chris Benoit vs. Raven (3/16/98)
This match occurs the day after that terrific triple threat match at Uncensored between DDP, Benoit, and Raven, which reminds me that I need to revisit my DDP project. The stipulation here is that the winner of this match gets to face DDP for the US Title at Spring Stampede.
As we've all heard millions of times, Benoit is among the greatest ever at technical/ground based wrestling, but I have always felt that he is just as good when he is brawling or in a hardcore environment. This match is exactly just that. Raven's Rules allow us to do whatever anyone wants outside the ring, and what makes this even better is that this match takes place in one of those WCW venues that has a pool surrounding the ring. A majority of the match (well it really is a fight) occurs outside of the ring, but unlike those annoying Attitude Era brawls, these guys don't look like they're stalling by hitting each other with soft punches. Benoit gives some stiff shots as usual, which sells just how heated this incredible US Title feud was.
The thing that makes this match so special from any other Benoit match is the fact that this is one of the very few times that we ever see Benoit lose his cool. I wish we got to see it more in WCW, but the beauty of Raven in ECW was that he was the master of mind games. Raven knows how to push people's buttons, and that is how he takes advantage of people's mistakes. Benoit however is a guy known for not
making mistakes, which is what makes this match so interesting. Raven wins the mind games battle in this match with the way that he makes Benoit focus less on winning the match, and more on trying to make the match personal and hurt Raven. Take notice of how Benoit slaps Raven around and refuses to pin Raven when he has the chance, but also notice how that emotion from Benoit makes his strikes even more painful. This is a very intriguing story especially for a Benoit fan. Not going to spoil this, but this match at its core is a battle of whether Raven's mind games could defeat Benoit's aggressiveness.