I'd agree with Rotusrock...the match was good, and certainly better than most of what we get on free TV, but not a MOTY candidate.
As for Benoit, I'm a big fan of his skill in the ring but it bothers me that he has been put on the pedestal the way he has. He's been good but not great since his return from injury and yet certain segments of the IWC seem unable to recognize this. Cut the over-wrought idolization, folks, its bordering on the hagiographic
"Emotional feedback on timeless wavelengths, bearing a gift beyond price- almost free" -- Rush
For the record, I think Benoit is very, very good.
As for the match - I thought it was all that and a bag of peanuts - for a free TV match, which is what it was supposed to be.
As for SK's four stars - remember that he uses a different rating system for PPV and free TV matches.
Now,as it relates to the "awkward" moment with the frog splash - heck, if most people weren't so quick to point out that "he f'ed up!" they would realize that the accidental contact was sold to near perfection by Benoit, RVD *and* the announcers. Benoit sold it partially, but not as much as if RVD had hit it squarely. JR even noted aloud that RVD "didn't get all he wanted out of that move," I think a lot of the time we are so quick to prove our smarkdom (to ourselves) that we fail to realize that sometimes mistakes can be "happy accidents," as the late Bob Ross would say.
Personally, I enjoyed this mistake, as I thought it added a nice touch of realism to the match. In real athletic contests, sometimes holds and counterholds are not perfectly executed like they were choreographed. Sometimes attacks are only partially blocked. Sometimes in pro wrestling flubbed spots can add realism to a match, (so long as they are sold properly). It's almost as if - gasp - the two opponents were not coordinating with each other. What a concept, eh?
In addition, I'm willing to bet the average viewer at home saw that spot and thought it was intentional. They probably would give RVD and Benoit credit for coming up with an original spot, if they even think that way. I think it was only awkward to those who care that it was not intentional.
One more thought - I sometimes like matches that are of the "slower" variety, like this one was, so long as you have two guys that can make slow interesting.(May I say I like the way RVD sells? I do. I just wish he would remember his injury all the way throughout the match, but he's improving.)Slower = strategy, which is what this match was about, and I like that.
To conclude, I enjoyed the match immensely and look forward to more, please.
Another thought occured to me (no kidding, right?) If anyone wants an example of why so many people love Benoit, look no further than the end of the RVD/Benoit match. *Benoit has a habit of doing all the little things right.* So many times when I see a rollup/feet on the ropes sequence, it just looks sloppy and WEAK. Either he doesn't roll the guy up much at all, or his feet get on the ropes at 2 3/4 count, or both. (Test's attempts at this spot, for example) Benoit, on the other hand, stacked RVD all the way up on the back of his neck and immediately put both his feet on the middle rope. It was tight.
It sounds simple, and in theory it is, and yet sooo many times that spot looks bad and really contrived. Not this time. A lot of times being a good performer has more to do with getting all the little things right, not necesarily doing something flashy and showy. That is a very small example of why many people love Benoit so much, I think.
Well said Faust, I totally agree that all parties involved sold that frog splash spot perfectly. RVD didn't get everything he wanted on the splash because benoit *tried* to move but didn't quite have time, so what? Seems realistic to me. I think it almost added something to the match rather then taking away - especially the way Benoit and JR sold it.
Having followed Steve Austin's career since his feud with Chris Adams (oh how incredibly thick with irony THAT feud seems at the moment) I've been trying to put my thoughts in order about the whole things and the most I can come up with is. . .