This weekend, we mourn the loss of the infamous Benoit family tragedy that occurred four years ago from this Friday. As one of the greatest technical wrestlers to ever grace the business, may Chris Benoit always be remembered as such.
Before I begin, let me note that it would only be appropriate to not go into details of the incident, as the following article will only focus on the legacy of Benoit's career. I please advise those with opinions on the aforementioned matter to keep to themselves and to stay respectful.
It was a shame for such a gifted athlete to depart us when there was so much left to be desired. Even worse, it's disappointing to see WWE distance themselves from Benoit in anyway possible, attempting to forget his legacy in the process.
I, on the other hand, look to remember the career of the Rabid Wolverine and what could of been. With the youth movement in full effect, the possibilities are endless as to how many feuds we may have seen come to fruition.
However, I have only narrowed down my list to the top five rivalries I would loved to see from Benoit and his respective opponents.
If you feel the list is inaccurate or have other ideas as to who you may have chosen instead, make sure to voice your opinions in the comment section below following the presentation.
Coming in at No. 5, the fresh Alberto Del Rio is not a superstar to be taken lightly.
As the newest superstar on the list, Del Rio has already made a significant impact only after 10 months with the company. Winning the Royal Rumble match earlier this year is only the beginning of what he is capable of, with the WWE Championship not too far from his grasp.
From the start, Del Rio has always been quick to be referenced to the late and great Eddie Guerrero, who consists of some similar qualifies to the aristocrat. Much like Eddie, Del Rio's smooth style of offense allows him to pull off an exciting match, despite who his opponent may be.
For those not aware, Eddie was a dear and close friend to Chris Benoit, where both shared simultaneous World Championship victories at WrestleMania 20. Before this occured, the two competed in an intense match against one another at Vengeance 2003 over the United States Championship.
In addition, both Del Rio and Benoit have submission maneuvers to finish off their opponents, being the crossarm breaker and the Crippler Crossface respectively. Make the contest a Submission Match, throw in a prestigious title and you have yourself match of the night.
Being two highly respected veterans in the business, there is no doubt Christian and Chris Benoit could pull off one personal and intense rivalry. Although they have crossed on few occasions, I do believe these two have never had the opportunity to engage in a true feud together.
Both were known for amazing programs with Chris Jericho over the years, who also shares the same high work ethic to put on a great match. Benoit and Christian have the rare move-set to not only fire up a crowd, but mix technicality with high-flying ability.
Ironically enough, both were also victims of the typical WWE main eventing booking while holding the World Heavyweight Championship. Benoit's reign was considered lackluster due to falling back into mid-card following his title loss, while Christian still looks to regain the brass ring he once held for five days.
Their natural ability allows them both to shine in Ladder Matches, where both competed in the inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 21 that was won by Edge.
Their chemistry was given a chance to be showcased a few weeks following the Show of Shows, which can be seen in the video attached.
Around the time of Chris Benoit's "departure," WWE Champion John Cena was already shaping up to be one of the company's promising stars, fresh off his impressive title defense against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 23.
It was also at that same event that Benoit was victorious in retaining his United States Championship against the up-and-coming MVP.
With Cena's win, he looked to defeat anyone in his path, and did just that until he was forced to relinquish the belt in October due to injury. Benoit remained in mid-card status until his death, which was a shame seeing how much more he had left to prove.
However, the Champ's character was growing stale around this point in time, especially with no definitive rivalries over the summer. What if Benoit was drafted back to RAW instead of ECW, kicking off a fresh feud with Cena to conclude at that year's SummerSlam?
Although Benoit was booked to win the ECW Championship the night of his disappearance, you have to admit that a heel turn would have been interesting for the Rabid Wolverine. His motive could have been similar to Christian's: tired of being overlooked by the younger stars and World Championship opportunities.
We know Cena isn't the greatest wrestler, but he is capable of putting on a solid contest when up against a credible opponent such as Chris Benoit. With their similar submission finishers, a match between these two over the WWE Championship really could have defined the summer of 2007.
If there is one superstar in WWE today who holds the complete package of what a future star should be, it's CM Punk. From his excellent mic work to his solid in-ring skills, it's a huge loss to the WWE when they lose someone the caliber of CM Punk.
Before his current villainous character could come about, Punk played the role of a straightedge role model for the WWE Universe, kicking off his career in the now-defunct ECW. Throughout the year of 2007, Punk was still looking to capture his first ECW Championship, and had that chance at Vengeance that year.
After qualifying to compete for the vacant ECW Championship on his singles debut in the Land of Extreme, Chris Benoit was set to face Punk for the title that Sunday. It was even said by Stephanie McMahon that Benoit was booked to win the championship, but it was unknown if he was aware of that.
However, due to not showing up to the event that night, Johnny Nitro, who later would become known as John Morrison, took Benoit's place and would defeat the Second City Savior to win the prestigious belt. Because of this, we were never able to witness the great match that these two were scheduled to have.
Fast forward four years later and we find Punk as one the greatest heels in the business today, who has the ability to showcase any rivalry and turn it into an exciting one. Benoit would have been no exception, and their wrestling styles would have blended to perfection.
Was there ever any doubt?
Daniel Bryan is known as probably the greatest combination of a technical and submission wrestler today, with comparisons constantly being made between himself and Chris Benoit.
I wrote an article a number of months ago comparing the two and why a dream match between them is highly desired, which can be reached here.
In summary, Daniel Bryan looks to be following the controversial steps of Chris Benoit as far as career goes, with their similarities in winning the United States Championship and even their similar generic rock music that Bryan used upon his return last summer,
Their size has never kept either wrestler down, expanding to new heights and succeeding in getting over with the fans. Benoit was able to prove many wrong in winning the World Title back in 2004, but the real question is, can Bryan execute the same?
Obviously, their respective crossface finishers is what really relates the two as seen above, using the move with such intensity like no one else can. They might not have the attractive overall look such as Randy Orton or John Cena, but it's their natural ability that is able to almost always provide us with five-star matches.
Had the incident with Benoit and his family never occurred and stayed loyal to the WWE through the youth era, and Bryan was still able to make it to the WWE in a similar fashion, would a dream match between the two be out of the question? I would certainly hope not, as this feud that was never meant to be would have given WWE a reason to keep the "wrestling" in its infamous name.