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April 23, 1994 / Bill Thompson

Chris Benoit vs. Terry Funk from National Wrestling Alliance New Jersey 1994

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Thoughts from Bill Thompson:

I’m not sure if Chris Benoit and Terry Funk ever met anywhere else. Most likely they met in Extreme Championship Wrestling at some point. However, a little bit of research reveals that this is the only time they ever wrestled one another. The atmosphere for this once in a lifetime meeting does seem charged. It’s not a huge crowd by any measure, but there are enough people present that they are able to make some noise for what happens in, and out of, the ring.

This match follows your typical mid-1990s Funk formula. Funk is a wild man, he throws some objects around, he mainly goes after Benoit with Punches, there’s wobbly knee selling, and lots of crowd brawling. In lesser hands this formula would wear its welcome out very quickly. In the hands of Terry Funk the formula very much works. It’s not exactly what I would describe as great wrestling, but it is entertaining wrestling. There’s no telling what Funk will do next, which speaks to the ability of Funk to keep his formula fresh. Sure, I know there will be crowd brawling, but the way Funk will go about implementing the crowd brawling feels different each and every time out.

Benoit doesn’t do much of anything but sell for Funk and hit some limited offense. And by limited I mean really limited; the way Funk has structured the match has removed most of the usual tools from Benoit’s arsenal. It may surprise some, but this actually helps Benoit. By forcing him to slow down and wrestle more methodically it gives more import to the offense that Benoit does execute. And Benoit’s selling is better here because he takes the time to sell and isn’t worried about moving to the next move as much. It’s not Benoit’s best performance or anything like that, but it is a different performance that I could definitely appreciate on its own merit.

There’s a bit of a problem with the match, and that is the filming of the crowd brawling. There are long stretches where it’s unclear as to what is happening outside of the ring. I’m sure the crowd brawling went over well for the live crowd, but for those of us watching on film/video/whatever it created a less than compelling section of the match.

Honestly, the lackluster filming of the crowd brawling is the only true negative I have with the match. The lack of a definitive finish makes sense, and the length is just right for the type of match Funk and Benoit were aiming for. Funk is a wild force throwing himself at a hot young talent in Benoit. It works for the most part and the end result is a highly entertaining little affair of a pro wrestling match.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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