This tweet dates back to July 3rd, 2015, but it was only recently brought to my attention on Instagram.
@sharksfan08 Guerrero, Benoit and Rey! Ivory, Mickie, Jazz, Molly Holly, Victoria lol
— $asha Bank$ (@SashaBanksWWE) July 3, 2015
With role models like that, it’s no wonder Sasha was at the forefront of the women’s wrestling movement.
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) June 24, 2013
Chris Benoit is such a fascinating case. As I wrote in the original article, his impact on the world of wrestling was simply too large to erase, despite his horrific final actions. There’s a series on the Squared Circle subreddit that takes a look at old issues of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer, a comprehensive fan magazine run by pretty much the man when it comes to wrestling journalism.
They’re at a portion in time where Benoit’s name is starting to pop up. It’s so fucking eerie, because you know where everything is headed.
He’s wrestling’s greatest tragedy.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’ve been working on a documentary about this whole subject for Nerdopotamus and Mark Out Entertainment. I pitched it to them and they were nice enough to offer up money, crew, and talent. The research portion has been the most mentally draining experience of my fucking life.
After a ton of work, the project has evolved into a look at CTE as a whole, with an emphasis on the professional wrestling community. For those who don’t know, CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is a progressive degenerative brain disease. The reader response to the original article below and it’s companion piece is what sent me on my path. This comment from a guy named Steve played a big role, as well (you can see it in the comment section below).
With all the findings of Benito and the advanced CTE he was affected by. It’s really sad what happened to his family and I feel for the survivors. What we have found out about CTE and our understanding of the disease it can make people hear voices and imagine images and thought processes that don’t. I’m not by any means trying to say what happened was OK but only to say he may not have had control of his actions. That being said the WWE has put safety protocols in place to help prevent CTE. I think benoit was a great wrestler that had a tragic ending. I’m not sure how to do it tactfully but I think he should be remembered for his contributions he made to the sport all the way up till the tragic end. Giving insight of CTE in the sport we love so much.
When this article was originally posted on Nerdo’s Facebook page, it was flooded with comments from people proclaiming Chris Benoit to be innocent. Not that he was a sick man. Not that they believed he had too big an impact on wrestling to be written out. No, there were accusations thrown at Kevin Sullivan. That he was a satanist, that he actually killed Chris and his family, etc.
So, I have to be honest, I was taken aback by Steve’s response to this situation. It wasn’t dumb as shit. That’s mostly what I was getting, up until he showed up. I didn’t know what to do. Hell, not only was his comment not stupid, I even agreed with him. We need to look into the impact of CTE, especially in wrestling. Everyone writes off wrestling as fake, but those men and women suffer very real injuries. Chris himself was said to have lost count of the number of concussions he suffered throughout his career.
That’s how the documentary came about. A documentary that is kicking the shit out of me, by the way. Researching CTE involves a lot of sadness. The film’s been delayed a couple times, thankfully with the full understanding of Nerdo and Mark Out.
There’s such a fine line I have to walk. I know this sounds weird, but I want to contribute to this conversation in a positive manner. I certainly don’t want to write this whole experience off as simply having created another platform for apologists to apologize. Fuck that.
The Benoit conversation is already fucked enough. In the world of wrestling fans, it’s become some sort of sick joke. I don’t find them funny. I remember hearing about Triple H encountering some “Benoit” chants at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and also not finding them very funny.
This whole experience of researching Chris Benoit and trying to understand the reaction to him has been taxing, to say the least. Add on trying to learn the science of the brain to truly understand what CTE does to a person, and you have an awfully stressful ordeal.
Hopefully next time I write about this will be the last, and I’ll feel comfortable enough to show you more than just the intro for “CTE and Wrestling.” It might be quite a while. Now there’s a lawsuit we’re waiting on…
Recently, I wrote an article entitled, “The Chris Benoit Factor.” The overall idea behind it came from watching a few of his matches, after not seeing him work for at least 5 years. I stayed away from Benoit for all the reasons that you think I did.
Of course, the first match I watched when I came back was the main event of WrestleMania XX, one of the greatest main events in WWE history. That’s when I realized how unfair it is to erase him from existence. Not for him, obviously. Fair or unfair is irrelevant in Chris Benoit’s case. When it comes right down to it, he murdered his wife, and his son. There’s no excuse that can make up for that.
However, due to his sheer ability, there were a lot of guys who had their best matches against The Rabid Wolverine. Booker T, for instance, had a ton of them. They had two best of seven series’ for Championship gold. One in WCW for the TV title, and one in WWE for the US title. All those matches were stellar.
Benoit wrestled in Japan for a while, under the name The Pegasus Kid. He had matches with such men as Jushin Thunder Liger, Shinjiro Otani, Black Tiger, and El Samurai. Years later, when he began in Japan, Finn Balor took up Benoit’s long discarded mantle.
Point is: Chris Benoit’s legacy is far too deep-rooted in the world of professional wrestling. Pretending he didn’t exist is a disservice to the men he stood across from. I’m not saying to glorify the man.
He clearly doesn’t deserve that.
What WWE has done is perfect. Thanks to Redditor GaryGump, we can all check it out. It’s inside a book celebrating 50 years of WWE. Or, as it says on the cover, “Celebrating 50 Years of Sports Entertainment.”
NOTE: For some reason, it’s only embedding one of the images I need. Here is the important one.
If you click on the first picture, it’ll take you to the post. Once there, you’ll see the third and final picture, which is only a shot of the cover of the 50th anniversary book. It looks pretty sweet. If you’re a collector, I’d suggest peeping it out.
Anyway, what do you guys think about this? There was a point where WWE was going back to home videos (before the WWE Network), and taking all the audio out of his matches, so that you’d never hear his name.
Now, there’s this. Interesting.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: prowrestlingwikia.com