The day was Monday June 24, 2007. I had just gotten in from work, and just like any other Monday I was looking forward to an episode of Monday Night Raw. Two weeks before, Vince McMahon had mysteriously blown up in his limousine and I was looking forward to seeing where WWE creative was going to go with the story-line. As you all know, we never did get the conclusion because that day as it was revealed that Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel were all found dead in his home in Georgia.
I sat there watching CNN and asking myself “Who the hell is bad-ass enough to break into his home and murder him along with his family?” Raw was cancelled that night, and instead the WWE did a Chris Benoit tribute which at the time seemed fitting for all of his contributions to the company that he had made over the years. While this tribute was going on (or before the tribute even aired depending on who is telling the truth), more facts came out that revealed it was Benoit himself who killed his wife and his son before killing himself. The media circus was in full swing as they began to blame steroids and the WWE itself for the man’s actions. WWE had a lot of egg on their face for doing a tribute to a murderer, and within 24 hours they distanced themselves from Benoit totally as their own form of damage control. Vince McMahon had announced that Benoit’s name would never be mentioned on WWE TV again, and even went as far as to edit him out of all of their classic programming. Basically, Chris Benoit was erased from WWE history.
6 years later, wrestling fans are still talking Chris Benoit. What amazes me the most is the fact that the man has so many admirers out there despite the heinous acts he had done. There are even people out there who feel that he should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame! This is the part where I piss some of you off. If you REALLY think that the WWE should induct a man who killed his family into their Hall of Fame, then you are nothing but a silly mark. I know that a lot of you out there are buying into the conspiracy that he didn’t kill his family, and are out there blaming people such as Kevin Sullivan and even the Russian Mafia. I don’t buy into either of those theories, plus all of that crap has been debunked already anyhow. What we do know is that he wasn’t in the right frame of mind when he did what he did, but I am not going to blame steroids for it as much as I feel that it was the concussions that caused him to go nuts in the end. He had been wrestling for years with non-diagnosed brain trauma to go along with the steroids that he was taking. The concussion issue has been taken a lot more seriously since the NFL started having their own problems with former players doing acts such as suicide and murder likely due to not being in the right frame of mind.
WWE also has since really started to get things on the right track with their wellness policy that tests for drugs and also makes sure that no one is in the position to die on their watch. Of course, they do a great job with keeping guys out of the ring after concussions now, but we all know that steroids aren’t going anywhere anytime soon because you can take them as long as some mark doctor prescribes them to you. It can be argued that while WWE is taking the right steps; it’s also another way for them to wash their hands of any wrong doings in case anything like this happens again.
Where is Benoit’s place in wrestling history? While I understand why WWE would never put him in their Hall of Fame, and rightfully so, I don’t think that it is the right thing to do to erase his matches from WWE history because it isn’t fair to those guys that he had those matches against such as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, Triple H, and so on and so forth. Chris Jericho has expressed how it’s a shame that some of his own matches technically don’t exist anymore because of what Benoit did, and I am sure that there are others who feel the same way. While Benoit was a murderer, he shouldn’t be torn from the pages of WWE history because he is a part of WWE’s history whether they like it or not. Tell the story the way that it truly went. When I am watching WWE Classics on Demand, I should be able to watch an episode of WCW Monday Nitro from the year 1997 in its entirety without anything being edited out like it didn’t happen. Showing matches with him involved isn’t honoring his memory; it’s honoring the integrity of the wrestling history. Don’t we have enough McMahon revisionist history already? You don’t see history books erasing dictators or tyrants who committed mass genocide at all, do you? The only way that WWE would be truly honoring his memory was if the WWE decided at any time to induct him into their Hall of Fame. No matter how many fake fights and fake belts he won, no matter how much he entertained us, or how many memorable matches he had the man is still a murderer who should be burning in hell for what he did. What he did over that course of 3 days supersedes ANY of his accomplishments. I have seen a lot of people say “Well OJ Simpson murdered his wife, and he still in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” There’s a difference there because regardless of your personal opinions on the matter, OJ Simpson was found NOT GUILTY in the court of law. Mark shades off, folks! He should NEVER get a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame just to satisfy a bunch of his fanboys.
If you want to read more about the case and the story of Benoit I would suggest checking out the book Ring of Hell written by Matthew Randazzo V. it’s an excellent read that covers Benoit’s whole career all the way up until he committed the crimes. You could also check out the book Chris & Nancy which was written by Irv Muchnick, this book does an excellent of job of piecing together the weekend before all of these heinous acts went down, there are even documents included. Both books are available on Amazon.com for you to pick up and read at your leisure. Now I know that this column may upset some folks, but I am going to be honest with you, I really don’t care. You have your opinions on this and I will have mine.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @whosantcox, and I can be reached by email at email@example.com. Questions, comments, concerns, thoughts, opinions, I respond to ALL of them! I promise you that! See you next time, wrestling fans!
Follow us on Twitter @Kayfabe_Kickout, to get the latest news in the world of professional wrestling and like us on Facebook as well. To submit wrestling news email firstname.lastname@example.org.