This is just one of the many historically-significant wrestles matches that the critical twenty years. It significant a symbolic change in mindsets in WWE. This complement main-evented WWE’s biggest show of the year and also ended through an unlikely human winning. Unlikely, since that human being was not a ‘WWE superstar’ in the traditional sense. The male that winner this match was small, lacked a bodybuilder’s physique, wasn’t that an excellent of a talker and didn’t go the end of his way to it is in a showman. Instead, he was a pure technological wrestler, and one that had actually been praised by people around the people for nearly twenty years. And also while there have actually been others choose him to main-event and win at WrestleMania (Bret Hart, because that example), there had yet come be who to main-event and also win in ~ WrestleMania favor Chris Benoit.

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Now, Benoit’s tradition has due to the fact that been lugged into question and also for very good reason. Yet the purpose of this article and this collection isn’t to pass referee on wrestlers’ actions exterior the ring. Instead, us look earlier at famously-praised matches to watch if the worship they obtained (and tho get) is still deserved. To the end, this day we revisit a enhance that many call the best triple-threat complement in pro wrestling history. Let’s watch if that’s still true.

This is the WrestleMania XX Triple danger match between Triple H, kris Benoit, and also Shawn Michaels for the human being Heavyweight title on the raw brand.

As a reminder, ns am reviewing 5 Star and also almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by rings Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes ago to the 1980s and also I’m going to pick different matches from various eras to see just how they look at today. Inspect out ahead entries in my 5 Star complement Reviews collection right here.

The story

This is a match involving three wrestlers at various stages the their particular careers. Triple H to be the reigning, defending world Heavyweight Champion. He was the optimal star ~ above RAW and had been due to the fact that 2002. He remained in the midst of his third reign as WHC, and was the most hated male in WWE. Not just by his other wrestlers, yet by fans. There to be many fans the genuinely despised Triple H because that a number of reasons, v the best reason being his regarded politicking backstage in WWE. Speculation ran wild at the time with people claiming the HHH manipulated RAW’s main-event scene to advantage himself at the expense of various other wrestlers. One need only look in ~ his list of adversaries (read: victims): Booker T, rob Van Dam, Kane, Scott Steiner, Goldberg, the perform goes on. The just wrestler that didn’t have actually a bad match with HHH throughout this period was one of his two enemies in this match.

Shawn Michaels remained in the middle of his second WWE run. What was an alleged to it is in a soft return with just part-time appearances turned into an entire 2nd wind come his career. Michaels ended up having a totality career renaissance, having great matches everywhere the place versus different people. And throughout 2003 and also into 2004, he retained reigniting his seemingly-endless feud v Triple H. The 2 of lock last faced off at the 2004 royal Rumble event, in a WHC complement that finished in a draw. Yet that show also included a big win for this match’s third participant.

Chris Benoit, then a SmackDown wrestler, winner the 2004 imperial Rumble match. He gotten in at #1 and won the whole match. That earned the right to a civilization title shot, and showed up on RAW rather of daunting for SmackDown’s WWE Championship. However Michaels decided to rain on his parade instead, cheap-shotted him, and also signed the contract instead of Benoit. Thus, a triple threat match was announced.

With that, every man entered the match with the potential to win. Triple H to be the devious, knevish champion that would do everything it took to win. Shawn Michaels was the rings legend of WWE that was much more than qualified of out-performing either of his opponents. And Chris Benoit was the rings workhorse that had never been seen as a ‘superstar’ but as a male whose in-ring ability was much better than almost anyone else’s. So which guy would come out on top?

The match

This is because that the world Heavyweight Championship. This complement originally took location at WrestleMania XX on march 14th, 2004 and was rated ****3/4 stars by the rings Observer’s Dave Meltzer. The was additionally rated ****3/4 the end of five by’s man Canton together well. Let’s check out if that rating to be deserved, or if this match’s quality has changed given the happen of time.

The bell rings and also the pan are already chanting for Benoit. Chaos ensues from the beginning with every three guys punching and also shoving each other. Michaels goes to punch Benoit, however he counters into a Crippler Crossface early, just for Michaels to role through. They profession chops and also Michaels goes to whip Benoit, yet Benoit reverses the whip sending out Michaels careening right into HHH, that gets knocked the end of the ring. The remaining two wrestlers have a nice technological exchange v takeovers, bridges, headlocks, a backslide attempt, one escapes Crossface, and also a small package by Michaels because that a two-count.

Michaels fights the end of a German suplex however can’t protect against a bridging northern Lights suplex, which gets Benoit a two-count. Michaels clotheslines Benoit and also a returning Triple H clotheslines Michaels. Triple H whips Michaels the end of the ring and goes to brawl through Benoit., however Michaels skin the cat and also tosses a running Benoit the end of the ring. Michaels lands a back body drop on HHH and chop that in the corner. Triple H reverses Michaels’ ireland whip and ducks a clothesline, but walks into a jumping knee. Triple H pins yet Michaels kicks the end at two. On the apron, Benoit cd driver his shoulder right into HHH’s gut but on the 3rd one HHH it s okay his knee up, sending out Benoit ago down. Ringside, HHH rams Benoit lower-back very first into the apron and also holds the there together Michaels baseball slide kicks Benoit. I’m not sure if that was opportunistic or an intended double-team move, yet it worked.


Both Triple H and Benoit are down. Moonsault by Michaels. Native the optimal turnbuckle come the floor. Good move. He tosses Triple H earlier into the ring and also gets a two-count. The whips HHH and also goes because that a earlier body drop but HHH counters into a knee facebuster. HHH goes because that the Pedigree but Benoit interferes. Benoit goes because that a German suplex top top Michaels yet Michaels resists, therefore Benoit hits some hard strikes and also tosses Michaels shoulder-first right into the stole ringpost.

Benoit’s in manage as he snap suplexes Triple H and also chops that in the corner. That goes to whip HHH however HHH counters, and Benoit walk the Bret Hart bump and also goes chest-first into the corner. HHH tote Benoit end to one more corner and also ties him in the tree that woe, in spite of Benoit’s resistance. Climate he whips Michaels into that exact same corner, sending out Michaels injured-shoulder-first right into Benoit’s midsection. Man, the looked painful. HHH pins Michaels but he kicks out.

Triple H goes to whip Michaels again yet Michaels reverses and also Benoit it s okay a boot approximately boot HHH in the face. Michaels schoolboy pins HHH, however he kicks out as well. Michaels reverses one more HHH ireland whip and lands his paris forearm smash. That kips up, yet Benoit charges and also clotheslines him the end of the ring. German suplex by Benoit top top HHH. HHH tries to fight out but Benoit maintains control and also lands the second. And he lands a third. Benoit ascends the peak turnbuckle. He’s going for the diving head-butt, however Michaels knocks that down. Michaels goes because that Sweet Chin Music. HHH ducks and hits a DDT. Then he soil a superplex ~ above Benoit for three consecutive two-counts.

The group chants for Benoit together he brawls with Triple H. Benoit whips HHH yet he counters into a Pedigree, i beg your pardon Benoit counters into a Crossface. Triple H tries come fight out but can’t. Crossface is locked in. But Michaels division it up after just a couple of seconds.

Michaels and also Benoit obtain up and also Michaels soil a German suplex on Benoit, which it s okay boos. That goes for a second, however Benoit counters right into a German the his own, which gets cheers. Adhered to by two more. Diving Head-butt by Benoit. Michaels kicks out, twice in rapid succession.

Michaels knocks Benoit out of the ring v a paris forearm smash, kips up, and starts do a comeback top top Triple H. Michaels floor an atomic drop and a scoop slam, followed by his diving elbow. However instead the cheers, Michaels it s okay showered by boos. This group really wants to watch Benoit win. Sweet Chin Music connects. Michaels goes for the pin. One, two – Benoit pulls HHH out of the ring. Clever move.

Michaels and also Benoit get back in the ring. Benoit reverses an irish whip and throws Michaels difficult into the corner. Benoit goes because that the sharpshooter but Michaels resists, for this reason Benoit slingshots him. Michaels goes face-first into the stole ringpost. He’s busted open. Crossface! Benoit has the Crossface ~ above Michaels. Triple H comes in. The grabs Michaels’s complimentary arm to stop him native tapping. Awesome idea. Triple H punches Benoit to break up the hold.

Benoit and Triple H brawl ringside and Benoit blocks HHH and also smashes the face-first right into the steel steps. Lock brawl roughly the ring some more, and HHH manages to reverse Benoit’s irish whip, sending out Benoit shoulder-first into another collection of ring steps. Triple H starts dismantling the Spanish notice table and also Benoit catches up to him and also smashes that into another table. Benoit goes for a German suplex off the notice table but Triple H fights out. HHH goes for a pedigree through the table yet Benoit resists, till Shawn Michaels comes into the picture. The long-haired duo twin team Benoit. Twin suplex with the notice table. Benoit goes under in a heap.


HHH and also Michaels go earlier to the ring to have their own complement as Benoit is now out the commission. But their impromptu singles encounter it s okay no reaction native the crowd. Some world still walk ‘wooo’ when Michaels lands chops, yet that’s basically a Pavlovian response at this point. Michaels whips HHH, then turns around, sending out HHH over the rope and to the floor. He tosses HHH face-first into a stole ringpost. Currently Triple H is additionally busted open.

Back in the ring, Michaels lands part punches, but HHH fires back with a Pedigree. Both men go down. The crowd chants for Benoit. HHH pins. Benoit makes the save. All three males are down. Benoit and also HHH brawl, and also Benoit takes control. Sharpshooter. Benoit v the Sharpshooter on HHH. The crowd’s walking nuts, having been all yet silent only moments ago. HHH is fingertips away from the ropes, however Benoit traction him away. But here comes Michaels. Sweet Chin Music top top Benoit. Michaels pins Benoit. Benoit kicks out at 2.8.

Michaels melody up the tape again together the crowd easily goes native cheering to according to boos. Michaels charges, yet Benoit ducks and also sends Michaels the end of the ring. HHH it s okay up. The goes for the Pedigree. No, Benoit counters right into the Crossface. Benoit v the Crippler Crossface! HHH is on the handle away. The crowd’s walking nuts HHH tries to fight back by rolling, but Benoit maintains the entry hold. Triple H taps. That’s it! Benoit has actually won!

Winner and brand-new World Heavyweight Champion after ~ 24:47: chris Benoit


As Benoit turns, Eddy Guerrero joins him in the ring and also the two guys celebrate together. Castle celebrate with each other as confetti rains under from the ceiling.


This enhance was a lot far better than I at first thought. Going into it, I had the impression that, together a Triple H human being Title match, it would attribute some kind of unnecessary shenanigans: a ref bump, a visual three-count pin to remind everyone the Triple ‘won’ the complement or some sort of screwy nonsense that would’ve made Triple H look an excellent at the price of kris Benoit. Thankfully, nobody of that happened, as Triple H was the one to send to Benoit’s Crossface.

As a match, this was put together exceptionally well. It was filled with tense sequences and also dramatic near-falls, with conserves happening at the last possible moment. I specifically liked once Benoit traction Triple H out of the ring following Sweet Chin Music, and then Triple H grabbing Michaels’s hand to protect against him indigenous tapping. Both were really clever at the time, and really included to the quality of the match. I likewise liked several of the clever double-teams the HHH and Michaels pulled turn off on Benoit, prefer the apron baseball slide and also the announce table twin suplex. Both moves proved that Benoit was, at the really least, one annoyance the both that them needed to address as soon as possible.

And yet, i can’t upgrade this match to 5-star, all-time standard status because it had some flaws in it that, while minor, can not be ignored. Firstly, there to be the structural concern of the match. The idea that the enhance was that Benoit was supposed to overcome two top-tier enemies in Triple H & Shawn Michaels. And yet, the match did no fit that narrative. Benoit was eliminated early and double-teamed frequently, and any one-on-one interactions he had actually with either one were blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. Instead, over there was an ext emphasis top top the Triple H/Shawn Michaels feud, which by that point was currently played out and had naught left to add (as prove by the nonexistent crowd an answer to castle duking it out in the ring).

If this match was around Benoit reaching ‘their level’, the wasn’t shown. Yes, that outwrestled Michaels a few times and made Triple H madness out. Yet he was never ever made to it is in the focal suggest of the match. If Triple H & Shawn Michaels were endangered by the idea the Benoit coming in and also making self at residence on their turf, they didn’t treat him as the credible risk he was an alleged to be. They were all wrapped up in their own feud, which made Benoit appear as much less important.

What’s more, the enhance fell right into the common pitfalls that a three-way complement that made a lot of stuff pointless. Benoit’s tiny technical wrestling exchange early on meant nothing, due to the fact that it didn’t lead to anything later on. The match went into a usual brawl-style challenge without lot in the way of psychology or structure things up. Because that example, there to be no setup or develop to the Sharpshooter. Triple H hadn’t been struck much top top his back or legs to construct up the Sharpshooter as something the he could possibly tap out to. That, in turn, make that certain sequence come across as a garbage of time just done to pop the crowd. I recognize that submission holds us are claimed to hurt. Yet if you’re trying to end a match with a hold that targets a certain body part, at least target claimed body part a couple of times to make your job much easier and much more realistic when that organize is applied.

The match also suffered native gaps in reasonable that, if fixed, would’ve changed the entire complexion the the match. There were two that stood the end for me. First, after Benoit gained thrown v the announcement table, no one bothered to pen him. That just didn’t make sense. Either Triple H or Shawn Michaels could’ve lugged Benoit right into the ring and tried to pen him, and then castle could’ve began their little brawl. Just ignoring a man that had taken the greatest bump in the enhance seemed choose a glaring mistake come make, considering they enabled him to recover and also then win the match.

And speak of Benoit’s win, the Crossface succession at the finish really dragged on also much. Triple H was in the Crossface for sixty-nine seconds, i beg your pardon was means longer than necessary. Just prior to that, Michaels had been tossed the end of the ring and seemingly forget about. It to be an anticlimactic method to compose him out of the match, and I watched the Crossface sequence expecting him come come earlier in. And also all he had to carry out was crawl in. Also if he didn’t with Benoit in time, offering him a close up door crawl come try to break up the submission would’ve made it much much more compelling. And Triple H likewise ignored a an essential piece of usual sense here. Evaluate from the camera angle, the was an extremely close to the ropes as soon as Benoit very first applied the Crossface. Because of that, why didn’t Triple H reach out to the ropes with his legs? he had much more than enough room come reach.

There’s additionally one thing that has constantly bothered me around Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music finisher: the whole ‘tuning increase the band’ thing. Michaels stomps as loud as he can before charging at his opponent. Also with every the deafening crowd noise, ns sure any type of wrestler deserve to hear the sound that Michaels’s foot-stomping top top the mat. And if because that some reason they can’t, they should be able to feel the vibration comes from that stomp. Therefore for any wrestler to in reality take the hit from that kick comes throughout as stupid rather of serious. Yes, i know, this is part of wrestles theatrics. Yet playing come the crowd favor that was out of ar in this match, given its unpredictable and chaotic nature as a triple-threat, and the reality that this specific crowd walk not provide a solitary shit around Shawn Michaels.

Final Rating: ****1/4

This enhance is an ext remembered for its historic significance and the incredibly emotional post-match celebration than the complement itself. Jim Ross shedding it ~ above commentary together Benoit shed it in the ring to be outstanding. Yes, this is agree wrestling and the outcomes room predetermined. Yet hidden beneath the obvious performance theatre facet of agree wrestling is the idea that hard work payment off. And few wrestlers organized that belief an ext closely 보다 Chris Benoit. He had spent two decades wrestling and also had lengthy been said he’d never ever make it past the midcard. No in Japan, not in WCW, and also not in WWE. But he persevered and kept going. And his story resonated therefore deeply v the audience in attendance and those watching in ~ home. It to be inspirational in that own method to view a man break through the glass ceiling, also if the was yet for a moment, to it is in crowned the ideal in the world.

Sadly, most civilization will neglect that due to the fact that of what taken place three years later. Discussing Benoit’s name is quiet taboo in WWE and also it’ll most likely be that method forever. But we can’t neglect what he accomplished in the ring. Here, he and also his two opponents put ~ above a good match. It’s still widely related to as among the ideal triple risk matches of all time. And also while it’s not the single-greatest three-man complement (that honor belongs come this match), that pretty damn good on its own right. Yet with a slightly different structure and an ext focused logic, this would’ve been a much better match 보다 it currently is.

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Check out previous entries in mine 5 Star complement Reviews series right here. Many thanks for reading.