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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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EOTR Match Of The Week: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho

By @Phranchize19

The Monday Night Wars officially came to an end on March 26th of 2001 with the purchase of WCW. Vince would use a lot of the left over talent and begin a storyline of their invasion of his company (remember this as you will need this information to tie into this match later). Austin, who recently turned heel at WrestleMania, aligned himself with Vince McMahon and Triple H. Austin and HHH would hold the WWE, Intercontinental and Tag Team Titles at the same time. At Judgment Day, Austin successfully defended his WWE Title against Taker while HHH lost the IC title against Kane. On this same night, Benoit and Jericho, who were former bitter rivals, put their differences aside and won a tag team turmoil earning a shot at the tag titles that Austin and HHH held.

Austin and HHH would drop the titles to the makeshift team with HHH injuring himself in the process. In the following weeks, Austin would give both Jericho and Benoit their own title shots, only see those two come up short (Benoit in particular got screwed out of the title), which set up our match of the week.

The Match
What do you get when you take an established superstar and two of the best workers in the history of wrestling? Magic. Austin came into the match banged up, but put on one of his best performances in the ring matching hold for hold with two great technicians. Benoit came in with a damaged neck, but wrestled as if his life depended on it. This match was hard hitting, but had some of the best wrestling you'll see as well. Booker T’s WWE debut would be made during this match (remember that info I told you to keep in mind) and attacked Austin (this attack would break Austin’s hand and damaged his back), but Austin overcame that  to retain his championship.

Fun Fact
Originally, Benoit and Jericho were set to wrestle Austin and HHH in two main event matches on this night (there is no word on who was supposed to face whom), but HHH’s injury caused WWE to call an audible. Another fun fact is that in some sort of strange poetic justice, months later, Jericho would defeat Austin to become WWF Undisputed Champion with interference from the same man who made his WWF debut in this match.

Benoit would be out of action after this match for almost a year due to a neck injury. Austin would go on and join the Alliance as its leader and feud with Vince McMahon and WWE. Jericho gained more from this match than anyone in my opinion due the fact that he soon elevated to the main event and he was one of the most known and used talents in the Invasion Angle. Jericho’s star would be made after this match 100% IMO.

-C. Yates