RIP, Chris Benoit

June 26, 2007

A few years back, there were a bunch of toys left over from a photo shoot for the cover of a Holiday Gift guide. Most were given to charity. Some of the less giftable toys were left over. The coordinator of the section came to me with an action figure, still in the plastic box.

“You like weird stuff…want this?”

I looked at the box. “Sure! It’s Chris Benoit! The Rabid Wolverine! The Canadian Crippler!”

She shot me a wary look. “It’s yours.”

I’d been watching wrestling with my family since Hulk Hogan’s first go-round. I had the benefit of a much younger brother who was a raging Hulkamaniac. The love affair with pro wrestling continued through its cycles of popularity. I don’t watch anymore, but I still loosely follow the plotlines and characters.

Chris Benoit was one of my favorites. (Shawn Michaels & Stone Cold Steve Austin being the others) He wasn’t a pretty boy, but a fearless in-ring scrapper. I remember when he won the WWE title and celebrated in the ring with his long-time, real-life friend, Eddie Guerrero. Chris’s wife Nancy and their son joined them in the ring.

As of yesterday afternoon, everyone in that ring is now dead. Eddie died in November ’05 and the entire Benoit family was found dead in their Atlanta home yesterday. I’m jaded enough now that I refuse to believe it was something accidental like a virus or carbon monoxide poisoning. The news reports are saying it’s a murder-suicide.

Chris Benoit was only 40 years old.

What is it about pro wrestlers that they seem to die earlier than everyone else? Is it the long grueling road trips that tear them from their families and lead to depression? Is is the frequent injuries that lead to daily pain-pill popping which in turn lead to addiction and other side effects?

Chris Benoit was only 40 years old.

Chris Benoit, Sensational Sherri, Eddie Guerrero, Mr. Perfect, Miss Elizabeth, Brian Pillman, Owen Hart, “Crash” Holly, Davey Boy Smith, Yokozuna, Chris Candido. All of these dead wrestlers were under 45 except for Sherri.

Chris Benoit was only 40 years old.

And I don’t want to believe he killed his wife and kid.

Edited to add: He killed his wife and kid.

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  • Ani June 26, 2007 at 9:41 am

    How could I think you hadn’t heard? It’s so horrible.

  • dr. dave June 26, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Is it even more cynical of me that when I heard it, the first thing I thought was… “‘roid rage”.

    The only stories the local news reported last night were tragic deaths… murder suicides, a two year old (one of twins!) drowning in a family pool… firefighters falling off of roofs…

    why does anybody watch this stuff?

  • Mel June 26, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    At first I thought it was a WWE bad joke. I was watching the Benoit tribute although I didn’t realize it was a tribute until it flashed on the screen. “Remembering Benoit” I immediately ran the comp and thought NOT AGAIN. Such a great wrestler and from what I heard on the tribute he was an awesome man.

  • Chris June 26, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Definitely sad! You are right, it must be all the pressure, pain, and training that takes the toll.

    Like you I watched WWF in high school and then stopped in college. I only recently got back into watching wrestling, because a friend of mine from college is wrestling for TNA (“Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels). I started watching to see him and got sucked into the storylines. I hadn’t been watching WWE so I didn’t really know anything about Benoit, other than the name. But it does make me worry about my friend. We lost touch a few years ago (computer crashed with his email address in it).

    One hopes it will be the wake up call the others need….but sadly it never is.

  • Wandering Minstrel June 26, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Dr. Dave – people watch this stuff for the same reason the Romans watched the gladiators – because it allows the masses to indulge in their bloodlust from a third party point of view. Speaking of which, how goes Hitman 2?

  • Tommy June 27, 2007 at 9:12 am

    LGN…your post was right on the money. I don’t watch Wrestling anymore (I’m an 80s guy)- I even sat in the third row at Wrestlemania 1 at MSG), but the few times I have watched recently, this guy was one of the best. Despite going to Wrestlemania, I still was more of a NWA/WCW fan. I saw Benoit in WCW and knew this guy had incredible ability.

    First up, what happened was a tragedy. There is no rhyme or reason. Something snapped in this guy and this is a tragedy on all levels.

    But I’m going to turn my attention to one Vince McMahon. This guy is a complete jackass and deserves to be tarred and feathered. I dislike him to the core. How in the world do you run a tribute like they did? He’s a great wrestler and I miss him. If Benoit had overdosed, I can understand this – but this is a horrible crime. I undestand Benoit might have been ill beyond what anyone knows…but you just can’t do that. If Benoit had lived, there would have been no tribute. He would have been fired and forgotten about.

    The correct thing was to cancel the programming on Monday night. Rerun a match with Shawn Michaels or something. There were hints of something very wrong – and Vince McMahon showed how irresponsible he was.

    Remember, this is the same clown who turned an American Icon (Sgt Slaughter) into a Iraqi supporter

    I don’t care how much my children like Wrestling – and thank God they don’t. I will never take them to a Vince McMahon event. I will not allow them to order one of his Pay Per Views. I will not allowed them to watch his programming or even have any WWF/E toys. I will never mention Vince McMahon on L.A. Scene because he doesn’t deserve the publicity.

    And if congress wants to get George Mitchell to go after Baseball for steroids – great! More power to them. Barry Bonds deserves what is coming. How about spending cycles going after McMahon and his circus. 64 deaths since 1985 before the age of 50 – what does that tell you.

    No Vince McMahon isn’t responsible for what happened. But he circus of irresponsibility is deplorable.

  • Ani June 27, 2007 at 9:38 am

    I actually like the wrestling for the story lines. Even though they are geared more for men. I figured they were soaps for men. I do agree Vince should be investigated again.

  • Tommy June 27, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I will not allow them to watch his programming or even have any WWF/E toys….

    But his circus of irresponsibility is deplorable. (last sentence)

  • d.mo June 27, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Dude obviously had some problems. Too bad he believed that this was the only solution.

    As a husband and father, I feel more for his wife and son than I do for him. I can’t imagine the mindset that would drive a man to do this.