For my newest idea(yup, I’m taking all the credit for this somewhat ripped-off format), I’ve decided to cover some of the most interesting, controversial, or just plain overused topics in professional wrestling. Joining me for these adventures will be Mr. Mike Lightning and the man of mystery himself, Mean Jean, Jee-S! We’ll probably be doing these columns at least twice a month, so look for them to pop up when you least expect it!
For this particular prompt, I gave Mike and Jee-S ONLY five hundred words to talk about their thoughts on this situation, and below you’ll see what they came up with along with my own reaction! Enjoy!
Should Chris Benoit be talked about in regular WWE conversation? Would the situation have been handled differently if it were another top star like the Undertaker, John Cena, or the Rock?
Jee-S: When it comes to wrestlers who have made careers out of their pure wrestling skills, the name of Chris Benoit is one that doesn’t come up in conversations, but it should. Why? Because Benoit is one of the best technical wrestlers that ever lived. He really matched his skills with his intensity; two qualities that made for one of the most exciting wrestlers to watch in a WWE ring. Ever. The fans loved him, his co-workers enjoyed working with him and, really, the guy had it all. There is no question that his legacy in the squared circle is one that made many performers jealous. Unfortunately, it was tarnished by his last actions outside the ring, taking the lives of his wife and son before taking his own in a tragedy that shocked all of us. Following the events, the WWE has taken Benoit’s name off the record books and pretended like he never existed, distancing themselves from anything the Rabid Wolverine has ever done.
The internet wrestling community and the fans who have been following the company for long enough still remember to this day the five-star matches he put on with the best the business has to offer. And isn’t that all that counts? Isn’t the fact that Chris Benoit lives in the memory of all of us who saw him in action the one thing that matters the most? The fact that WWE doesn’t mention his name on television or on their website is secondary as far as I’m concerned. I think one’s professional life and personal life are two entities that shouldn’t be mixed together, especially when that person is admired by many. Does that mean that what Benoit did in his personal life has to be forgiven? Absolutely not. Ill or not, it is inexcusable to take another human’s life away from them and, well, it’s even worse when they’re your son or wife. What I’m saying is that his work inside the ring has to be remembered for what it was: remarkable. Don’t remember Christopher Benoit, the father and husband. Remember the things Chris Benoit did inside the ring.
I don’t blame the WWE for taking Benoit’s name away from anything that has to do with the company, not one bit. They have an image to keep as a well-known public business and I totally get that. The fact that they are ashamed of their employee’s horrific actions is a factor too and, honestly, I can’t say I wouldn’t be too. And I personally don’t think they would’ve handled things differently if the concerned wrestler was a bigger name like Stone Cold Steve Austin or John Cena, for instance. Any human being with a heart, cold or not, understands how immoral and inhuman it is to kill someone. It was a cowardly act and it will never leave our minds whenever he crosses our minds.
I suggest things just stay the same: we remember Benoit the wrestler, and that’s all that matters.
Mike Lightning: No. Do I think his name should be erased or forgotten in the timeline of WWE history? No to that question too. But as far as regular WWE conversation goes, he shouldn’t be spoken about. His professional career speaks volumes and deserves to be recognized when brought up, but the heinous acts he committed in his personal life and the severity of those acts should automatically omit him from conversation. The WWE has chose to go the distancing route which is good for their business. Unfortunately, it took the Benoit situation to make them aware of the severity of concussions. As for the second part of this question, the answer is no. The WWE would have handled the situation in the EXACT same fashion even if it was a guy like The Rock or Stone Cold.
Murder is the most violent and brutal of all crimes that one can commit. Despite whatever the medical reports read about Benoit, he still killed his entire family and a child. He even wrote notes and placed copies of the Bible next to their bodies. Even if WWE legends and cornerstones Undertaker and John Cena snapped mentally like that and did a carbon copy of what Benoit did, the WWE would handle their situations with the exact same resolve they did with Benoit. They just would just have a tougher time trying to erase everything from the record books. The WWE separating themselves from the situation is exactly what they should have done and I don’t believe they would change the way they handled it depending on who was involved. Benoit did this to himself(to an extent) by abusing steroids for as long as he did knowing the severe side effects it may cause. But the WWE really mishandled the safety of their performers for numerous years by turning a blind eye to steroid use and not diagnosing concussions properly. Unfortunately, it took something as disgusting as murdering an entire family to wake up the professional wrestling world to steroid abuse and concussions. Despite how great of a performer and worker he was, Benoit will never be forgotten by the fans, he should be distanced as far away from normal WWE conversation as possible. It’s a bad image for a business that is already surrounded with multiple black eyes and already has a rather negative reputation amongst the American culture.
Joe Thunder: I still watch OJ Simpson highlights from his playing days and enjoy them. I still watch Chris Benoit matches and enjoy them immensely. I still talk about Benoit as one of Chris Jericho’s best opponents when I list off guys like CM Punk, Kurt Angle, and Shawn Michaels. Why shouldn’t WWE? Yeah, his crimes were horrendous. They’re beyond awful. But I wonder how many WWE performers over the last fifty years have struck a woman in their lives, or beaten their children. We don’t hear about those things because often times they’re kept quiet. I wonder how many wrestlers have committed murder and gotten away with it. I can’t prove that any have, but you can’t prove that any haven’t. I guess my point is that we are all sinners, and some people get caught or do something public to get themselves judged. For me, it doesn’t change what he did as a performer. I enjoyed watching Chris Benoit when he was alive, and I enjoy watching him now. Do I like thinking about what happened with him and his family? Hell no. But I enjoy listening to Jerry Lawler(less nowadays but more in the past) and the guy was accused of raping and sodomizing a fifteen year old girl nearly twenty years ago(charges were dropped when the girl changed her story). I prefer not to think about those things. Does that make me ignorant? Sure, you can say that. I don’t care. I like wrestling for the entertainment value, and the entertainment value brought to me by Chris Benoit hasn’t changed because of what happened. You can judge me all you want, because that’s one reason for the editorial. I just think we need to appreciate what we did get from Chris throughout the course of his career and enjoy those precious moments(like WM20 with Benoit and Guerrero celebrating together) that can never be duplicated. Why dwell on the negative? Why not talk about Benoit as one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time? He was one of the best, right?
As far as other performers go, I believe the Undertaker’s streak would still be talked about if he were in Benoit’s shoes. As far as Stone Cold goes, I believe his popularity would still be talked about. Same with John Cena or Hulk Hogan, or even the Rock. I don’t believe WWE would have tried so hard to erase them from everything when they were such a huge part of the company’s history. Lucky for WWE, Benoit wasn’t as big of a name and therefore it became much easier to try to erase him from people’s minds. That’s just my take, however.
Please make sure to leave your thoughts and opinions below, no matter what they are. We love getting any and all feedback! Thanks for reading!