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WWE Superstars - Smackdown
Christopher Michael Benoit (born May 21, 1967), is a French Canadian professional wrestler. He is currently wrestling on the Smackdown! brand of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he is the reigning United States Champion.
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In 1994, Benoit signed with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). While there, he dropped the "Pegasus" gimmick, becoming The Canadian Crippler, because of his rougher style, and an incident where he took out Rocco Rock with a powerbomb through a table. Coincidentally, after taking up this gimmick, Benoit was involved in a match with Sabu during which Sabu broke his neck. The injury came when Benoit threw Sabu with the intention that he take a face-first "pancake" bump, but Sabu attempted to turn mid-air and take a backdrop bump instead. He did not achieve full rotation and landed almost directly on his neck. The incident was traumatic for Benoit, but Paul Heyman took the opportunity to change Benoit's character even more. He changed him into a ruthless "wrestling machine" with no mercy for his opponents or their bodies. Heyman had him cut long monologue promos to give him the chance to come out of his shell and to express a tough, dark persona.
Benoit and Dean Malenko won the ECW Tag Team Championship from Sabu and The Tazmaniac in February of 1995. After winning, they were initiated into the Triple Threat stable, led by ECW World Heavyweight Champion, Shane Douglas. The team lost the titles to The Public Enemy that April at ECW's Three Way Dance.
His appearances in ECW caught the attention of World Wrestling Federation (WWF) bookers, which led to Benoit having three tryout matches for them. They intended to bring him in as The Ringmaster (a role that eventually went to Steve Austin), but when he was told that as a WWF competitor he would not be able to work in Japan, he declined a contract. After that, visa problems halted him from continuing to work for ECW, so he returned to Japan.
After controversy surrounding a US title defense against Booker T, Theodore Long set up a "Best of Seven" series between the two. Booker T won three times in a row, due largely to his wife's interference, and Chris Benoit faced elimination in the series. Benoit won the fourth match to stay alive, but Booker then suffered a legitimate groin injury. Randy Orton was chosen as a stand-in, and Benoit defeated Orton twice by disqualification. However, in the 7th and final match, Orton defeated Benoit with the help of Booker T, Sharmell, and Orlando Jordan, and Booker T captured the US title. Benoit feuded with a Booker-assisted Orton, but Benoit was given one last chance at the US title at No Way Out 2006. He won the title by making Booker submit to the Crippler Crossface, ending the feud.
The next week on Smackdown!, Benoit in kayfabe broke JBLs hand (JBL actually needed surgery to remove a cyst from his hand). Benoit faced JBL at WrestleMania 22 for the U.S. title, only to lose the match and the title when JBL reversed a Crippler Crossface into a cradle, illegally using the ropes for leverage. Benoit used his rematch clause a week later in a steel cage match on SmackDown!, but JBL again won with similar results.
Benoit entered the 2006 King Of The Ring tournament only to be defeated by Finlay in the opening round. At Judgment Day 2006 Benoit gained some revenge by defeating Finlay with the Crippler Crossface in a very physical grudge match. On the May 26, 2006 edition of SmackDown!, Mark Henry attacked Benoit during a match, giving him a back and rib injury. Benoit then announced a sabbatical to heal nagging shoulder injuries.
On October 8, Benoit made his return at No Mercy, defeating Sir William Regal by submission in a surprise match. Later that week, he won his third United States Championship from Mr. Kennedy also by submission. Benoit would then engage in a feud with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. He just wanted answers from the Guerreros for their rash behavior towards Rey Mysterio, but was avoided by the two, and was eventually assaulted. Benoit put his newly won United States title on the line at Survivor Series, and retained it by forcing Chavo to submit to the Crippler Crossface.