Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker, The Ironman, Steamboat vs. Savage all have been discussed as possibly the greatest match of all time, and all deserve that honour.
There is, however, one match that doesn't seem to receive the same hype as the others. This match doesn't often get mentioned when the topic of great matches comes up.
This match isn't overly flashy. It doesn't have any chair shots or ladders. There were no run-ins or interferences.
Why does this match not receive the love and attention it deserves? Is it because it involves Chris Benoit?
Side note: This match, and obviously this article, are centered around Chris Benoit. I refuse to let the horrible ending to Chris Benoit's life affect the way I watch his matches. I did not know Chris Benoit as a person, only as a wrestler, and as a wrestler, he was one of the best.
If you are no longer able to watch Benoit's matches and do not wish to read about them, I respect your decision. Now would be the time to bail on this article.
The match that I am talking about is Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship at the 2003 Royal Rumble.
The name of the company is World Wrestling Entertainment, and this match may be the best example of pure wrestling this side of Flair vs. Steamboat.
The simple fact is that when you put Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle in the ring together for 20 minutes, you will be rewarded with a classic, and at the Royal Rumble, that is exactly what we received.
Again, there were no interferences, ref bumps, or weapons. Instead, there were 20 minutes of stiff suplexes, perfect reversals, and smooth submissions delivered by the two best technical wrestlers in the company.
The match had its share of great spots as well: Benoit's DDT to Angle on the apron, Angle countering the Crossface into the Angle Slam, Benoit's headbutt from three-fourths of the way across the ring, and Angle taking a German Suplex by doing a back flip and landing face first.
The crowd was into every near-fall, every submission hold, and every high-spot. Benoit kicked out of two Angle Slams. Angle countered out of the Crossface four or five times.
In a company where seemingly every match has interference or a screwy finish, the two best in the business went out there and had the crowd in the palm of their hand with clean, simple wrestling.
As Michael Cole said during the match, "You talk about your matches at WrestleMania; this match could headline WrestleMania!"
As Tazz said post-match, "A phenomenal, five star match in my opinion."
If you have not seen this match, do so immediately. If you have, re-watch it. I realize there are those that refuse to watch Benoit's work, but for those that still do, watch this match.
It was an all-time classic.
It was the greatest match that gets no love.