wwf heavyweight championship

The Radicalz
[January 31st, 2000]

During an episode of Raw at the spark of 2001, a group of what many thought were WCW wrestlers were spotted at ringside. Perry Saturn, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko had front row seats. It would later be revealed that the group were guests of Mick Foley, with whom Triple H and D-Generation X were feuding. During a match with The New Age Outlaws taking on Head Cheese (Al Snow & Steve Blackman), The Road Dogg took a shot at Benoit, who only a few weeks earlier had won the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship at WCW Souled Out in a match against Sid Vicious. This was apparently a last-stitch effort to keep Benoit in the company, but he wasn’t interested.

Prior to the group’s appearance on Raw, Benoit, Malenko, and Saturn were in a group in WCW known as The Revolution, along with fellow-former ECW wrestler Shane Douglas. It was rumored that Douglas was interested in being part of the jump, but changed his mind at the last minute. Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn had long been heralded as workhorses, dating back to their days in ECW and prior when the group (sans Saturn) would travel between Mexico, Japan, Canada, and the United States, where they gained notoriety in WCW. It was unheard of at the time for a group to stage a mutiny to such a high regard, but the WWF was intelligent to capitalize on the arrival of the four men.

The group came to be known as The Radicalz, who attacked The Road Dogg and Billy Gunn following the agitation. The four were offered a chance to become part of the WWF roster if they could defeat members of DX, but Malenko fell to X-Pac following an illegal groin attack, while Saturn and Guerrero would fall to The New Age Outlaws despite Road Dogg pulling the referee while Guerrero was covering Billy Gunn. Despite Triple H tapping out to the Crippler Crossface while the referee was unconscious, Benoit would fall to “The Game”. Even though The Radicalz were unsuccessful in defeating DX, the group were given contracts anyway as they turned on Mick Foley.

The Radicalz would reach unparalleled levels of individual success in the WWE, with each of them holding championship gold in their first year. Dean Malenko won the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship from Essa Rios, Saturn won the WWF European Championship, and both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit would win the WWF Intercontinental Championship by the end of 2000. Within a few years, both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit would win the top championships on their respective brands, SmackDown and Raw (respectively) and would celebrate their victories at WrestleMania XX.

Since 2000, The Radicalz have gone in much different directions. In 2005, Eddie Guerrero passed away from heart failure. In June of 2007, Chris Benoit was found dead in his home from an apparent double murder/suicide which also included his family. Perry Saturn retired from active competition in 2004, having recently popped up asking for fan support via GoFundMe as he’s recovering from addiction. The only wrestler of the four that still works for the WWE is Dean Malenko, who’s a road agent for the company.

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On this day: Amid chaos & controversy involving Booker T, Mr. McMahon and Ric Flair at the inaugural Vengeance PPV, Chris Jericho survives grueling back-to-back matches with The Rock & Stone Cold Steve Austin to unify WCW & WWF’s World Titles and become the first-ever Undisputed World Champion. (12/9/01)