Benoit Lives, Kayfabe is Dead

Nick Paglino

I was checking out the world title history at WWE.com and I saw a name I didn’t expect: Chris Benoit. I was shocked. I thought Benoit’s legacy had been redacted by WWE. A further check of WWE.com revealed that two DVDs featuring Benoit are for sale: A Royal Rumble collection, and a steel-cage match collection. Benoit still exists in the WWE universe.

Now, with a movie on Benoit’s life being mooted, is it time to stop forgetting, if not forgive?

You can’t forgive. Benoit committed a heinous, horrible act that damaged the wrestling business far beyond his contributions.

But to act as if Benoit never existed is silly. He was one of the greatest workers of his generation, a performer who beat size limitations to become a star – a star in WWE, no less, where bigger has always been better. Furthermore, he had great matches, and those matches were with other people. Is it fair to forget their contributions?

That said, I don’t know how you name-drop Benoit on WWE TV without A) invoking memories of that terrible night and B) adding a clumsy disclaimer. It’s not worth it.

I don’t see the value in a Benoit movie. He wasn’t a particularly charismatic or interesting guy outside the ring. I don’t see what the story is beyond the matches and the murders. It would not be inspiring. Who wants to see a movie that’s depressing and gruesome?

If the Benoit legacy dies a natural death – and perhaps that’s exactly what’s happened – then so be it. More impressive wrestling legacies reside in that graveyard, that’s for sure.

I have nothing but fond memories of Benoit. As I’ve often recounted, he was a good friend when we worked together in WCW. I prefer to remember Benoit for the time we spent together, and as a top-shelf performer, rather than for one night gone horribly wrong.

I’m glad to see WWE no longer seems to be pursuing the militant extermination of Benoit’s existence. It’s always funny/ironic when Vince McMahon tries to pass moral judgment. While I don’t think a Benoit DVD retrospective would be appropriate, I see nothing wrong with watching a WrestleMania XX DVD and enjoying Benoit’s world title victory.

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