There is no skirting around it, no dodging it, he is simply one of the best in-ring performers that there ever has been in the history of sports entertainment. I always feel the need to defend the fact that I love Benoit as a performer. I have been in heated debates with people, near tears, yelling, just to make my point. Is it fair? No. Do I enjoy it? No. As the end of June rolls around each year, I have a heavy heart.
I was as sad as anyone hearing that he died, dealing with the details after, and being crucified (for lack of a better term) for being a fan of his. He had a stellar career and had some of the best matches that I had ever seen in my entire life. He was a Canadian boy and we love to cheer on our hometown (or home country) heroes. Chris Benoit was superb in the ring and had a technical ability that goes unmatched by anyone on the current roster. He was a small guy fighting in a land of giants and everyone loves cheering for the underdog.
I am making it very clear right now that I do not condone what he did in any way, shape, or form. He murdered his wife and his son. Had he lived, he should have been persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. When people hear that I like Benoit, they automatically assume that I support what he did. There is a distinct difference between the man who entertained people for decades and the one who murdered his family. No one knows what happened, what went through his head, or if there was even anything that could have been done to prevent it. Sometimes shitty, terrible, god awful things happen and those of us left are just meant to deal with it and find a way to move on.
In the end, Benoit hurt his career, family, his legacy, and his fans.
What makes me the most pissed off about it all was the media and how they handled it. I read and watched everything that I could get my hands on, I think I still have some of the newspapers kicking around my room. To assume it was automatically steroids is ridiculous. To throw wild accusations around that the entire WWE roster is on roids was even more ridiculous. I hope that every single wrestler who got on the television or gave an interview spreading that garbage feels like a total piece of shit. Sure, steroids and drug use were a huge part of wrestling in decades past. The operative word there being ‘were’. To get on television or online and speak so badly about a company that provided you with so much, or a man who you thought of as a ‘friend’, really shows what kind of person someone is. I would post videos of some of them but it makes me too mad. The media who threw those accusations around should also feel terrible. Didn’t CNN have to release an apology because they had edited footage to make it seem like Cena admitted to using performance enhancers?
I also encountered a fan on the May 27th edition of Raw that walked around with a sign that said ‘Benoit is innocent’. I had no words. I also held back my urge to punch him in the throat. Things like that also sully the image of wrestling and its fans. You really can’t fix stupid.
The man did a flying headbutt off of the top rope as a finisher, it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. He took steroids but that wasn’t the cause. There is more to the story that some people just choose not to pay attention to.
I also took great issue with the WWE essentially erasing Chris from everything. It hurt me as a fan but I understand why they felt like they had to do it. It still bothers me today, I don’t expect them to sell his merchandise or anything like that but when his name comes up regarding a match, he shouldn’t be ignored. It isn’t the exact same circumstance but Danny Heatly, a professional hockey player, killed his teammate while he was driving drunk behind the wheel. He’s still allowed to play hockey and be acknowledged.
I may not like it, but CM Punk explains it pretty well the clip featured at the very beginning of this article.
Chris Benoit will never get the accolades that he deserves because of what happened in that three-day time span. My heart hurts because of it but it is a fact that I, as a fan, have to just suck it up and deal with. To me, he is the rabid wolverine and he always will be.
I choose to remember him as Benoit the wrestler and I am leaving it at that.
Rest in peace Chris.