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 - Arnold Schwartz

Chris Benoit defying physical odds stepped into Stampede Wrestling with little fanfare. Unlike Owen, Pillman, and Johnny Smith who received the spotlight immediately, Chris quietly entered the territory in 1986 in what would quickly become known as Stampede's silver age. This quiet entry by Chris would pretty much define his career. Straight ahead and workmanlike his basic wrestling skills would win over fans just as fast as Owen, Smith and Pillman would. In ring, victories would follow just as fast. Chris would go on to win four tag team titles and hold the British Commonwealth mid-heavyweight title four times.

Chris Benoit quickly followed in The Dynamite Kid's shoes in Stampede, utilizing an amazing snap suplex and frightening arial moves. While Owen was swanlike and graceful, Benoit was full speed ahead all the way. The young Benoit full of courage would think nothing of climbing the ropes and hurtling his body at his opponents, much like Dynamite had done years prior. Chris entered Stampede's ring wars in both the single scene and tag scene at the same time. In 1986 he would encounter The Cuban Assassin for the first time. A veteran for years(decades?), The Assassin was no stranger to the pretty boys Stu would churn out year after year. The Assassin would relish the opportunity to use his seemingly infinite supply of foreign objects on Stu's pretty boys. Chris was not exempt from the Assassin's wrath. There was no complicated plot on the Assassin's part. For the life of me I think he just plain enjoyed beating up Stu's boys. Benoit learned real fast and hard not to over-estimate the crafty veteran.

However Chris was at a disadvantage size wise in his early days. Stampede was dominated in the singles scene by big men in Makhan Singh, Jason the Terrible, and Bad News Allen, not to mention veterans Kerry Brown and Duke Myers. He would need time to bulk up to tackle this crew. So he found an almost equally powerful tag partner in Ben Bassarab. Both extremely gifted aerially, Benoit and Bassarab made a impact in the tag scene with wins over the veterans Assassin and Bad News Allen. Between the two lightweights fans heads turned at the new explosive tag team. 

However, at the time, the tag title scene was being dominated by "The Memphis Mafia", Rotten Ron Starr and Honky Tonk Wayne. Loud and proud, Ron and Wayne held onto the tag team title with a vice grip. They quickly found heads would turn with their colorful interviews.  More...

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