Musings of a Mark #20: Edge / Chris Benoit Analysis (Backlash 2005)
So ?Musings ?? is (finally) twenty editions old. Through failures to meet deadlines, angry HBK marks salivating for my blood and three extensive columns declaring my admiration for Eddie Guerrero – I was wondering how many I could get out before being told to cease fire ? ?Musings ?? has finally made it!
Once again I?ve been exploring WWE’s 2005, this time with specific focus on Edge’s resume. What I viewed wasn?t consistently good or bad, but overall was pleasing. Avoid his Rumble encounter with Shawn Michaels, and you shouldn?t be disappointed by the Rated R Superstar. I?ll save comments on the controversial Edge / Lita / Matt Hardy soap opera feud for the next ?Musings ??, as it deserves as great a detailed investigation as I?ve employed here. So here’s another column dedicated to a single match, though as you read my review / analysis I hope you?ll appreciate why I felt it were necessary. If John Cena and Umaga didn?t deliver their absolutely magnificent last man standing performance at 2007’s Rumble, Chris Benoit / Edge would be an almost sure fire pick as the best LMS match I?ve ever seen. Read on to find out why!
Edge vs. Chris Benoit, Last Man Standing ? Backlash 2005
Edge’s initial body language is visibly fuelled by frenzied energy, judging from the sudden movements (head snapping left and right, inability to calm his walk etc.) Unfortunately this allows the exaggerated expressions to return, as can be seen throughout Benoit’s entrance. Honestly he needs to tone it down; anger/ hatred doesn?t necessarily equate to being on a psychotic fringe. Hell, Orton normally is on a psychotic fringe yet there is differentiation between that and anger / hate. Thankfully Benoit invests his persona with a decidedly stoic portrayal. His features remain blank as he approaches the ring, breathing deeply occasionally as though to keep his emotions in check. As such he’s more believable than Edge, and character-wise wiser (which might be intended). Regardless Benoit presents a ?less is more? mentality to performing, which I?ve supported for a long time now. After all an up-wrinkled nose would?ve signified Edge’s distaste more than adequately. As for the psychotic intensity ? Edge’s actions as the match progresses should more than account for that.
Benoit’s early attacks certainly showcase exactly what I just claimed (though perhaps not psychotic intensity). A rough tackle and a slew of mounted punches open this contest, then a knee to Edge’s gut ? as he rebounds off the ropes ? followed by knees to the temple. The unfocused assault designed to hurt Edge in any way possible, combined with the velocity of each strike, signify Benoit’s anger. But the maintained stoicism (displayed on his face) upholds the characterisation established during his entrance. He has controlled his emotion, knowing that to not do so during this match type could be dangerous, and is channelling it through the execution of moves.
Chris Benoit’s deliberate pacing suggests contemplation, further resembling what was mentioned above. He allows the referee to begin futile counts. Meanwhile Edge disallows any room for recovery (or counting) in his first offense, repeatedly stomping on his opponent. This could contain the point that his emotions are largely guiding his assault. He doesn?t wait for a count after executing a scoop slam, immediately attempting a killer blow with the Spear. His overzealousness subsequently costs him.
Edge’s attempt to procure a weapon is interrupted. This moment is thusly situated as a defiance to clich?, whereby the search for ?toys? compromises the narrative logic. It also again represents Edge’s emotional eagerness by choosing to look for an item far too early in the match. The patience (and intelligence) of Chris Benoit is communicated in his use of the Sharpshooter as a draining ?tool? on Edge ? which also highlights the no-submission stipulation ? setting him up for five consecutive German suplexes. Both Edge’s selling of consciousness (though obviously senseless), rather than unconsciousness, and Benoit’s selling of fatigue (lying exhausted for a few seconds) layer this sequence with significance. In other words, it’s the first serious count of this last man standing performance. Controlling his emotions until Edge regains footing, Benoit then pounces just as the count is broken.
It takes a jarring shift in momentum (i.e. Benoit’s dive into the trashcan lid) before Edge can string together substantial offense. Firstly he takes note of his opponent’s example and portrays fatigue after each impactful manoeuvre. Either this drained stamina or Benoit’s blatantly dire condition (possibly a combination of both) convinces Edge to wait out the count rather than rush into further attack. Logic, whether forced physically or realised mentally, motivates Edge’s actions now. Therefore Benoit’s head becomes a target for knees, headbutts and the sporadically used weapon. Furthermore Benoit’s state now justifies a successful search for additional weaponry, though it’s still depicted as potentially adverse to Edge’s offensive advantage (i.e. Benoit regains senses as Edge locates and sets up a ladder; thus this performance isn?t solely concerned with ‘spots?).
The ?German Suplex ladder spot? features a great negotiation of offense between performers. First Edge seems able to use it after quelling an onslaught of Benoit chops, but is far too exhausted to ascend the rungs. This leaves him open to Chris Benoit, resulting in the damage caused. The Rabid Wolverine invests perceivably strained effort in getting back to his feet, despite being the move’s employer, strongly establishing the heightened effectiveness of the spot. Neither man (at this point) breaks the impression of extreme fatigue and senselessness via the off-balanced nature of their movements.
The ?Flying Headbutt ladder spot?, which rightfully misses, is an example of Benoit’s over emotionality besting his better grasp on judgement. Considering how the previous spot was built as nearly conclusive for both (albeit more so for Edge), had this connected then the contest surely had to end. Unfortunately the swiftness of Edge in grabbing the MITB briefcase, and subsequently Benoit countering the attempted shot into the Crippler Crossface, only moments after the missed Headbutt spot clashes with the aforementioned portrayal of overwhelming fatigue. This, however, is positioned as a minute adrenaline burst through Benoit’s marked inability to stand following the rendering of Edge unconscious.
The simplicity of motions (numerous strikes to Edge’s back in order to secure a German suplex, the stiff elbows to escape it etc.) keep both performers? actions within the realm of believability. There aren?t any elaborate counters due to the damage sustained, so to speak. The Impaler DDT onto the MITB briefcase is opportunistic weapon use, as searching has backfired on each occasion (the trashcan, ladder and briefcase).
A finely worked ?accumulative damage? sequence characterises the finish. The ?Impaler DDT briefcase spot? knocks Chris Benoit into a condition of near unconsciousness. He’s ?aware? enough to reach a standing position, but not to dodge Edge’s assault. The fact that he manages to survive two Spears asserts his toughness, making his eventual loss not harmful to his credibility. Moreover the Spear’s status as a viable finisher isn?t contradicted either, as it doesn?t affect Benoit’s head (i.e. where all the damage had been caused). I was praying for a simplistic blow to the head as the match’s conclusion, and it came in the form of a concealed brick. Chris Benoit endured as much as possible, but the final move exceeded his capacity to endure. Furthermore the reason the brick worked as a ?retrieved weapon? is because it was premeditated, rather than aimlessly searched for. A fantastic depiction of ingenuity on Edge’s behalf and critique of spot-fest convention (which applies to the match’s entirety).
In conclusion, this match is great. Check it out! XD
Edge vs. Kane ? Vengeance 2005
Edge vs. Matt Hardy, Steel Cage ? Unforgiven 2005
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In the next column I?ll be focusing in greater detail on the Edge / Lita / Matt Hardy saga from 2005, which presents an interesting breaking down of kayfabe / true life boundaries that does produce significant effects on the resultant performances. The remainder of Edge’s 2005 was crud (vs. Shawn Michaels Royal Rumble 2005), fun (vs. Kane Vengeance 2005) or injury plagued. Overall, I?d claim that Edge had an above average twelve months (despite some poor showings and a noted absence), though John Cena and Batista still had one or two superior matches.
Anyway until next time,