With the recent tragedy that beset the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, the murder suicide involving Javon Belcher, touching off spirited debate over the airwaves, I was shocked that no one was comparing this incident with that of Chris Benoit. Benoit was the wrestler who a little over five years ago murdered his wife and son, then took his own life over a three day period.
Some comparisons I am sure will be made, but lets get one thing straight: there is no comparison. While Belcher’s acts were tragic and terrible, he left his young daughter alive. That can not be said of Chris Benoit, who claimed the life of his own son in an act so heinous, it shook not only the world of wrestling to its core, it started a sport wide trend of examining the very dire consequences of concussions and head trauma.
This is a touchy subject to me. You see, Chris Benoit was my favorite wrestler. He is a man whose career I followed for many years, and at a time when wrestling became almost a parody of itself, Chris Benoit was the only reason I kept watching. He was an absolutely breathtaking performer who literally left all of himself on the ring canvas. In a profession of hacks, he was a true artist, a purist in the worst sense. He absorbed incredible amounts of damage over a twenty five year period, almost all self inflicted. In the book I pictured above, Ring of Hell, you get a very in depth biographic breakdown on the monsters career, and through interviews with peers, an insight to the fragile psyche that was Chris Benoit. The author, Matthew Randazzo V is clearly not a fan of the pseudo sport, and he makes no bones about it in this book. However, he did his homework and found the correct sources as, speaking as someone who is intimate with the career of Benoit, this book is spot on. Unlike the litany of books that hit the market shortly after the tragedy, all half assed attempts by hacks to make a quick buck, profit hungry glory whores exploiting a very real, very human tragedy, this book has its shit together. If you ever watched any pro wrestling as a kid or even during its renaissance in the late 1990’s, this book is a must read. If you are wondering what the effects of repeated, prolonged head trauma are, this book offers a wealth of knowledge. For a fan like me, it is a frightening expose on just what a fanatic wonk Benoit was, showcasing him both at his very best and very worst, worst being very bad indeed, best being arguably the best in ring performer who ever lived. But Chris Benoit ultimately died for his art, and took down with him his wife and innocent five year old child. For that alone we should never deify him or his career works. Chris Benoit should, however, not be wiped from history as the WWE would care. He should forever be a cautionary tale of the perils of taking ones profession too seriously.