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I admire Chris Benoit's wrestling ability. Hell, I'd pay $30 to see a WWF PPV which featured only one match, as long as Benoit was in it. The Crippler is a god in the ring. He ain't too bad on the mike, either. The one problem Chris Benoit has is his gimmick. Sure, he plays an excellent heel, but it's the most boring type of heel...

Being evil for evil's sake.

This was no more evidenced than at the end of the first RAW ever on TNN, where Benoit headbutted Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley to holy hell. My first thought: Whoa! My second thought: Why the HELL did he just do that? Sure, it was cool and all, but given the context of the surroundings, it was utterly pointless. Benoit and Steph are both heels, and the action is laying the seeds for a feud with Kurt Angle, another heel. Why is the WWF doing this when there's all this talk about how The Rock has no legitimate heel contenders for the strap? Jeez... no wonder why there are so many complaints...

This is what I'd do with Benoit:

1. First of all, I'd turn The Undertaker back into a heel by having him be the mastermind behind the Stone Cold Steve Austin attack last year at Survivor Series (and as I've suggested in a few online forums, Kane would be the driver - thereby ending the pointless and stupid feud between the Demonic Brothers. Though I like the 'Taker's biker gimmick, it has to go for the purposes of Benoit's new gimmick.

2. At No Mercy, Undertaker seemingly makes peace with Austin by giving him a video of Kane driving the car. (It's at Survivor Series where we find out The Undertaker was behind it all.) Main event is another four-way (groan): Rock defends against Benoit, Kane, and Chris Jericho; special guest referee Mick Foley. (The way this happens is that Kane & UT and Benoit & Jericho face off respectively for the right to clash the RAW before No Mercy to face the Rock at the PPV. Kane beats UT, Benoit and Jericho get counted out, and the resulting three-way turns into a no-contest, so all THREE end up facing the Rock.) All madness ensues in the last three minutes: Undertaker comes to the ring and takes out the Rock (though it's an attempt to help Kane, the fans don't see that until the truth is revealed later.); then SCSA comes out and attacks Kane, leaving us with Benoit and Jericho in the ring. It's at this time Foley really screws Benoit, hitting him with the belt while he has Jericho in the Crippler Crossface, allowing Jericho to hit the Lionsault for the pin and his first true WWF championship.

3. Benoit bitches and moans on a RAW about how the McMahons and the rest of the organizations "head cheeses" are screwing him over. Vince McMahon (who returns at No Mercy to play out a role in the Triple H-Kurt Angle-Stephanie triangle) comes out to set the record straight and how he'll get a title shot at Survivor Series, if he can beat Kane in a #1 contendership match. Benoit wins the match on a Crippler Crossfire but Kane gives him a false rib injury afterwards (take note of that, because it'll come into play in the next part). Vince books Jericho vs. Rock for that RAW with Mick officiating again. It's at this point both Jericho and Mick turn heel, as Mick refuses to count the legitimate pinfall for the Rock and Vince comes out with the chairshot (followed by the quick count) to help Jericho retain. This is CRUCIAL to what develops.

4. The payoff: Survivor Series. Stone Cold vs. Kane. Stone Cold dominates, of course, until the Undertaker pukes his way out to give Stone Cold the Last Ride and let Kane get the pin. Undertaker then reveals to the crowd that he was the mastermind behind the attack last year, and how hell is going to rule the world. (Yawn.) Stone Cold goes postal, but can't beat the two big men at the same time, so to everyone's surprise, Benoit comes down and attacks Kane (revenge for the rib injury), and the two get the advantage over the Demonic Brothers. Austin gives Benoit his "I don't need help" look and leaves. Then Benoit faces Jericho for the WWF title. The match is pretty much even despite the sell on bruised ribs for Benoit, but Vince eventually comes down to puke out Benoit and get the retention for Jericho. Shane McMahon comes out to protest and gets attacked by Mick, while Jericho continues to kick Benoit's ribs, and then... THE GLASS BREAKS. Stone Cold comes down, destroys Mick, and Stunners Jericho while Benoit puts Vince in the Crossface to cheers. Stone Cold and Benoit shake hands, Benoit displays a SCSA University T-shirt, and Shane raises the arms of both men.

SO WHERE DOES THIS ALL LEAD? Benoit essentially becomes Stone Cold's protégé, because Stone Cold knows he can't be in the WWF forever and wants to still have a role in it once he's gone. While this would keep Benoit out of the upper card for a while (because the management would make more obvious its efforts to screw him), it would allow him to garner popularity with the fans, building to a day sometime in 2001 where he would finally win it, in a quest against the management much the same way Stone Cold did it nearly three years ago. It's also a great shot at the WCW, who held Benoit back for years but never admitted it. Not only would Benoit be drawing face heat for being held back, the WWF goes over WCW for holding someone back the RIGHT WAY. It's also a great way to set up a Stone Cold heel turn (mentor turns on protégé after mentor wins title), it squarely sets Shane against Vince - which is going to be necessary for that day when Vince retires; also Shane is a better face than a heel - and it keeps Kurt Angle where he belongs right now, feuding with Triple H and out of the title picture. His day'll come, but it's too soon.

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NEXT TIME, SAME CHANNEL: Why D-Generation X should be brought back one more time, and how to bring it back the right way. Can anybody say... the Dudley Boyz? Huh? Until then...

3. The original version of the D-X theme music is SO much better.
2. X-Pac better job, and job, and job.
1. Stone Cold is THE MAN.


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