Where do I start…? Chris Benoit, my hero for so many years.
Still to this day he remains one of the most talented technical wrestlers ever to grace our television screens. His matches are some of the most memorable in history. He is and will always remain the most taboo subject in wrestling.
I loved watching Benoit wrestle; it was a little bit of magic. There were no masses of bravado or vanity; it was all about the wrestling. The Rabid Wolverine was ruthless aggression, nothing more, nothing less. His match against William Regal (then Steven Regal) at the Brian Pillman Memorial Show remains one of my favourite ever matches. He had a great run in his pro wrestling career having held many titles in WCW and WWE. He is the second of only 4 men to have achieved both the WWF and WCW Triple Crown Championships. A wrestling favourite that was often described as one of the most respected and gifted men in the business.
And then came the darkest moment in the history of professional wrestling. On June 22 2007 Chris Benoit murdered his wife Nancy and his young son Daniel. Benoit went on to hang himself shortly after the murders. Unaware at the time of what had happened fans everywhere went on to mourn the loss of one of wrestling’s greats and wonder who would commit such as travesty? The story unfolded that a triple homicide had occurred at Benoit’s home, and we could have no idea what was going to be later revealed. As a fan, watching the story unfold was devastating. Then came the 3 hour tribute that replaced the scheduled episode of Monday Night Raw. I would imagine at this point there was not a dry eye in the whole of the WWE Universe. A moving programme with extracts from Benoit’s Hard Knocks DVD and many segments of wrestlers sharing their anguish and upset at the loss of a friend. Then came the unbelievable. There was no suspect; Benoit had indeed committed the most horrific of crimes to the people that had trusted him the most. His name was mud, and quite rightly so. I can only imagine the suffering that followed for the family and friends of the Benoit family. As a long time fan, I felt angry with Benoit, let down by the man I had looked up to and respected for so many years. Nothing will ever change the horrific crime that was committed that day and no one can ever answer the why’s and endless other questions. It was a long time before I could watch his matches again. A wave of shame and guilt came over me every time I did. I am now however able to chose to remember him for his in ring abilities that still remain unmatched on many levels.
Chris Benoit has been erased from WWE history. You can’t find his accolades or achievements on WWE.com nor any mention of him on any DVD or archived episode.
What he did was unforgivable and should not be regarded in any way as acceptable but he should still be remembered for the wrestling legend that he undoubtedly was. WWE should accept some responsibility for what happened on that fateful day in 2007. Back when PG didn’t exist and regular, rigorous drugs testing was only an idea somewhere on the desk at WWE corporate, men like Benoit were left struggling with injuries, concussions and the constant pressure to over achieve night after night. Head injuries occurred far too often and bloodshed was relished by fans (including me). Far too many tragedies incurred during these times and for years after as injuries and steroid abuse ravaged the bodies of these men. A post-mortem revealed Benoit’s brain to be so damaged doctors estimated he had the brain capacity of an 85 year old Alzheimer’s sufferer. There have been many tests over the years which conclude that repeated head traumas can lead to brain damage, dementia and schizophrenia. Now we are more aware of these factors and pay more attention to welfare policy breaches there is less chance of this occurring in the future. WWE now have an iron clad, rigorous drugs testing policy firmly in place now and abuse is not tolerated. Benoit as a man will never be forgiven, but as a wrestler he remains one of the best. It’s seemingly not acceptable to talk about Chris Benoit, and in forums round the globe he is referred to as ‘he who shall not be named’, I’m not ashamed to say I was a fan. I am profoundly ashamed of what he did, but I chose to remember his greatness as a performer rather than the tragedy that overshadows it.
Chris Benoit…… Wrestling legend.
As ever you can follow me on Twitter @helenrobinson82
[Helen was spooked about posting this as she felt it might not be preferable to everyone’s taste. This was posted under my permission and everyone is welcome to post their personal thoughts on Benoit. In fact, because it’s an edgy topic, we give an extra urge out for readers to comment. We value and respect your opinion here. It’s simple to do and you don’t even need an email address – here’s an easy guide on how-to comment. Thanks – Ray.]