Chris Benoit: 72 Hours Later

Rob Taylor


72 Hours ago, I posted an article in Tribute to the Benoit Family, in particular to Chris Benoit.

This was written in the immediate aftermath of hearing of Daniel, Nancy and Chris’s deaths.

After much thought and soul searching,

I have decided not to follow the lead of WWE and remove the tribute I wrote form WZ. Indeed I stand by the assertion that Chris was the greatest technical wrestler of his generation.

I made a comment about he and Eddie in heaven, as I am not a religious man, I will not retract that either… even though I have nothing but utter disgust at the actions Chris is being accused of I am not his judge and I strongly believe that those who wish him to burn in hell should remember that for the final hours of his life, Chris Benoit will have lived not only with his crimes, but the knowledge of the pain and damage he had caused to those who loved, adored and idolised him…and that he was ultimately going to be known as a murderer and a coward. In my eyes, that punishment, for the man his friends described on RAW would have been tortures of the damned.

Clearly, in the days since, with each horrific development, the wrestling world, in particular the fans have gone through a profound but bizarrely accelerated grief process…

There has been Shock and Denial, the disbelief that this could happen, especially to Chris and family, the initial tears and sadness, later the anger, indeed many in the IWC referring to Chris as “scum” in relation to his alleged crime.

We have had bargaining, through wild theories and steroid speculation, many wanted it to be a murder commited by someone else, that there be a reason to explain this, some even that it was Nancy who had hurt Daniel or that the “roids” could be blamed, anything but a cold blooded murder on the part of their hero.

We have faced Depression, how many people really want to talk about wrestling right now? How many of us have had friends or family who would never be interested in what we love but… now they suddenly want to talk about Chris Benoit? How many of us have had to say we don’t want to talk about it? I’d bet on a lot.

Many have faced guilt… This is a man who we look up to, many who as fans still do and maybe always will for his ring work… The guilty feeling of those who have not yet been able to “cut their ties” emotionally with Chris or who will defend his work or character are being made to feel guilty for it whenever the nature of the crime is mentioned.

WWE’s reaction to that guilt is to erase Benoit from its history, I agree that merchandise should be pulled, but in reality you cannot erase Chris from history, his legacy touches too many others to do so.

Will they never show a clip of Eddie again, in case people think of Chris and his end for example?

WWE, do have to do what is right for them as a business and that is right… many difficult issues will be coming their way and they have to move on and potentially survive as a business, just as any employer would. Erasing someone because of a crime is not the long term answer, learning the lessons most certainly is.

I fully hope WWE institutes a mental health programme that is not linked to the current Wellness Programme, that it serious looks at the schedules and pressures the wrestlers have faced and changes them for the better. If this means one brand…not three… that is what it means… if it means fewer shows and PPV’s so be it… If it means Vince has to finally agree to a “Union” as the price of doing business, I would vote for it.

Most of all there is a phrase some use connected within WWE… “Titan Training”, a “code” that is whispered and often mentioned that means you do what is required without complaint or fail, no matter what… if you want to be part of WWE.

I hope after this incident it is dismissed and a more caring attitude takes over… This is not new… Wrestlers and Staff in WWE have complained for 20+ years about the schedules, being away from the family for so long. Beyond The Mat quoted Jake Roberts as saying he was “…obliged to wrestle every day”… This must stop… Attention must be paid to the people behind the curtain, certainly more so that a cursory look on arrival to a show…

The wrestling world has, in just 3 short days, faced 6 stages of grief… the 7th cannot possibly occur in anywhere near the immediate future…. acceptance…

Chris’s actions have left a mark that will not easily heal on the collective conciousness of the entire wrestling world. A man loved by millions has seemingly committed an evil act that will never truly be explained. Had there been a note, an explaination, acceptance would have been much easier to attain for us all… If he was unhappy enough to kill Daniel and Nancy and told someone, even in death why, we would have an answer… We will never have that, just speculation, innuendo and rumor…

At some point, we have to come to terms with 3 simple facts…

Chris Benoit WAS someone special in the ring, and the moments we as fans shared as a result of that will not be erased…

2… It is OK to still care about his ring work… you do NOT have to be ashamed to still love whatever feeling watching his matches instilled in you… It is part of your life, your history… Whatever Chris Benoit’s life ended up becoming, it is not your fault, nor your problem if you enjoyed, or still want to enjoy his work in the ring…

Perhaps more importantly…Life goes on… However much pain we feel, the world will turn, Nancy, Daniel and Chris are gone and there is nothing we can do about it… It is F***ed up and wrong but it is fact. If Steroids are to blame, if it is mental illness, if issues related to care of Daniel. It doesn’t matter… In all but the last 3 days of his life Chris Benoit gave nothing but his best and joy to millions… in death he has brought nothing but grief…

The dichotomy is huge and is already tearing the world of wrestling apart…. Lines are drawn, people are emotional and angry and hurt… hurt for having to defend a man they believed in, or having to hate him…

If we are gonna accept this, we have to realise that this should be pulling us together not causing flame wars on forums or YouTube or in the water cooler… If someone wants to cherish Chris’s ring work, it is ok… It does not mean they accept the actions he will end up being known for… If they are in denial or shock still, they MAY be right… there MAY be more to this… but we will truly never know the true story…

At the end of the day, we all have one thing in common, we LOVE wrestling… We all are gutted that 3 young vibrant people are dead… but in the scheme of things, the crime is just that…a crime… This is not 9/11 or Saddam using chemical weapons on his own people this is a man apparantly killing his family, it literally happens every day… this time, he just happens to be someone we all cared about… Chris should be remembered…maybe not for the same reasons we all beleived he would be, but as the cautionary tale….

If you EVER feel it is getting on top of you…ask for help…get help…do not hide it… THAT is the moral of this tale… the sooner everyone realises that this was Chris’s flaw, not that he was a “Psycho”, the sooner we all get to stage 7 and accept what has happened and can finally move on…

If I am wrong, you are welcome to tell me at robwilltaylor@hotmail.com…

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