The WWE Universe has never experienced anything as tragic as the double murder-suicide perpetrated by Chris Benoit against his wife and youngest son. Almost a full decade later, Benoit’s actions remain as senseless as when the news first broke, and fans most likely will never be able to achieve any closure on the issue either, considering the brutal and total nature of his crimes. The only thing interested parties can do is reflect on what was, that being a fairly public romance gone horrifically wrong. The lives of Chris and Nancy Benoit were in fact public enough that a good deal of information about their time together is widely known, and yet answers still elude experts on what caused Chris to end the relationship and their lives in the way he did.
The sad fact of the matter is that there’s not much to be gleaned by over examining the little information we have. Chris Benoit did what he did, and no matter the reason, it will never be possible for fans to look past his actions, nor should they lest they harm the memories of the other lives he destroyed. Still, people have a right to know the full story, which has as many shocking twists and revelations as would be expected with a climax so terrible and public as the one Chris and Nancy’s life together had. Knowing how the story ends, perhaps the most shocking element of the story is that all evidence implies there were indeed happy times at one point, making it all the more repugnant to think about the way things between them ended. Keep reading to learn 15 things you’ll wish you could forget about Chris and Nancy Benoit.
15. Nancy Debuted Before Chris
For as highly publicized as Chris Benoit and his crimes have been, his victims have actually received far less attention post-mortem than he did. This is why Nancy Benoit’s career has largely been forgotten, despite the fact it actually started roughly one year prior to Chris Benoit’s decision to step into the ring. Nancy’s time in wrestling began in June of 1984, when she started managing Kevin Sullivan and his group of Satanists, performing as The Fallen Angel. Her work was eventually noticed by the NWA, who introduced her as Robin Green, a fanatic supporter of The Steiner Brothers. Robin turned on the Steiners and renamed herself Woman, the moniker she would continue to use for the rest of her time in the business. After the Steiners, Woman managed Ron Simmons and Butch Reed as Doom, followed by a prolonged run as one several valets to Ric Flair. Next, Woman began making appearances in ECW, where she was integral in The Sandman’s rise to the main event. Finally, Woman returned to WCW and realigned with Flair and company, leading her to Benoit through association.
14. They Were Both Married More Than Once
It isn’t uncommon for people in the public eye to go through a number of messy relationships, and neither Chris nor Nancy were one another’s first in any sense of the word. Both Chris and Nancy were married when they met, Chris for the first time and Nancy already on her second. Not much is known about Chris’s ex-wife, Martina, aside from the basics. They were married in the 1980s and had two children, named David and Megan. Chris’s relationship with Martina ended as his new life with Nancy began, and she has remained out of the public eye ever since. Nancy’s first husband, Jim Daus, has been much the same, in that his life more-or-less remains a mystery to the wrestling world. On the other hand, Nancy’s second husband, Kevin Sullivan, played a huge role in sports entertainment history both long before he met Nancy and long after she left him for Chris. In accordance with their obscurity, Daus and Martina had little to say about the relationship between their exes while it occurred in retrospect. Sullivan’s higher profile intrinsically linked him to the couple, especially because in the eyes of most onlookers, his actions indirectly brought Chris and Nancy together.
13. They Were Members Of The Four Horsemen
Based on their career paths, it’s possible Chris and Nancy met while both were working for ECW in 1995. Assuming that wasn’t the case, they most definitely started spending time together by 1996, when they had moved on to WCW. Chris came first in 1995, introduced by Brian Pillman as the newest member of The Four Horsemen. Woman followed in the early months of 1996, originally to support Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. She turned on them to resume her relationship with Ric Flair and the Horsemen, thus beginning her union with Benoit in earnest. During her time in the group, Woman usually stood as a slow festering point of aggravation amongst the various other females associated with the Horsemen, although her more memorable storyline came through her connection with Benoit. Initially upon Woman and Benoit joining the Horsemen, they were allied with Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom in an alliance to end Hulkamania. Once those plans fell through, the two factions started feuding, and Woman and Sullivan found themselves in opposite camps. Before long, life started to imitate art, as Woman spent more time away from her husband and with the Horsemen, specifically Benoit.
12. Kevin Sullivan Booked Their Relationship (And His Divorce)
Certain sports entertainment experts feel wrestlers and bookers shouldn’t mix, due to the obvious conflict of interest bound to materialize through that arrangement. Kevin Sullivan’s run as a lead booker in WCW proved that possibility correct, although in this case, it was the booker who (at least immediately speaking) suffered the most. In the midst of the long feud between The Four Horsemen and The Dungeon of Doom, Horseman Benoit and Dungeon leader Sullivan branched off to their own, far more personal and heated feud than the one between the groups. Sullivan and Benoit weren’t feuding over group loyalty alone, but rather the far more personal issue that Benoit was in the process of stealing Sullivan’s wife. According to Sullivan, the idea that Sullivan and Benoit should feud actually belonged to Nancy, and he therefore wasn’t very surprised when he realized she and Benoit’s relationship continued when cameras weren’t rolling. Sullivan also admits to regret at having booked his own divorce in hindsight, although he can hardly be blamed for anything Chris did more than a decade later. This didn’t stop some fans from trying, and even creating conspiracy theories that linked Sullivan with Benoit’s crimes, which Sullivan later claimed bothered him for some time, until Nancy’s parents made it clear to him they never believed any of those rumors, let alone understood why people would create them.
11. She Faded Away With Chris As Her Last Client
Women typically have shorter wrestling careers than men, so it’s only appropriate Woman would follow the trend of her gender. After only about 13 years in the business, Nancy Benoit left sports entertainment for good on May 26, 1997. Appropriately to her start in wrestling, Woman’s last act as Benoit’s ringside accompaniment came when he defeated Kevin Sullivan in a retirement match. The last 10 years of her life were then spent as the actual manager of Benoit’s career, and then as the loving mother of their son, Daniel. There was never any great explanation behind Nancy’s decision to stay off television from then on, although it would be fair to assume the simplest solution is correct and believe she left to focus on her family life. She would make one addition and unofficial appearance, at WrestleMania XX, celebrating with Chris, their son, and Eddie Guerrero in what has since become arguably the most chilling scene in WWE history. Despite her long and impressive career, it pretty much goes without saying Woman will never find her way into any wrestling Hall of Fame, thanks to the terrible association of her last husband.
10. They Got Married In Late 2000
It wasn’t long after Chris and Nancy’s characters started dating onscreen that they went public with the fact the relationship had spread to reality. Benoit divorced Martina sometime in 1997, either while she was still pregnant with their daughter Megan or almost immediately after she gave birth. Nancy likewise made her separation from Kevin Sullivan legal in the same year. The Benoit family was always very reserved about their privacy, meaning very little about their lives together is known. Even the information about his first wife’s pregnancy is merely educated guessing, hence the inability to say when exactly Megan was born. We do know when Chris and Nancy’s son David was born, though, and that was on February 25, 2000. Nine months later, on November 23 of the same year, Chris and Nancy were wed. Regardless of any confusion to when the children were born, Nancy allegedly treated them all as though they were her own, with her sister later claiming she “hated the word step when it came to parenting.”
9. Nancy Tried To Get A Divorce
There’s no taking away the shock fans felt when the news of Benoit’s crimes first broke, although in hindsight, the warning signs had been there for some time. The biggest without question came three years after the two were married, when Nancy filed for divorce citing “cruel treatment” including irrationally throwing furniture. At some point during the proceedings, Benoit’s temperament got to a point Nancy needed to file a restraining order against him. According to Nancy’s sister Sandra, while Benoit never actually assaulted Nancy prior to the murder, he once pushed her into a shelf and intensely screamed at her. The restraining order was in effect for approximately three weeks, until Sandra and family friend Johnny Grunge facilitated a reconciliation between Chris and Nancy. Somehow Benoit sufficiently convinced everyone he was sorry, and Nancy withdrew her application for divorce soon after. Through it all, Nancy also remained Benoit’s career manager. Unconfirmed early reports indicated that Nancy was again considering divorce shortly before the crimes, although this could merely have been speculation towards finding a motive.
8. Benoit Grew Despondent As His Friends Rapidly Died
It is by now impossible to hide the harsh reality wrestlers die at a young age more often than practically any other profession. To wrestlers, this also means their friends are dying at terrifying speeds, and this sort of pressure can easily cause high strung people to unravel. In the three years preceding his death, Chris Benoit lost his close friends Eddie Guerrero, Black Cat, Johnny Grunge, and the Big Bossman, all of whom tore him to pieces in their passing. Everyone who knew these athletes were affected and saddened by their loss, but Benoit took things especially hard, with friends starting to worry as he grew distant and difficult to talk to. Such is the wrestling business that Nancy was losing her close friends, as well, including Miss Elizabeth and Sherri Martel. As the couple lost their friends, they grew distant from each other as well, with Nancy’s sister admitting they were both increasingly relying on alcohol and recreational drugs to deal with their grief. While all of the deaths affected them greatly, it was allegedly Eddie’s that caused their substance abuse issues to start getting out of control.
7. The Wrestling Community Hushed The Warning Signs
Wrestling journalism, and perhaps entertainment journalism in general, is sketchy and exploitative by nature, and always needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, a great deal of reporting is done on the lives of professional wrestlers, especially when their personal lives get as interesting and shocking as their time in the ring. Chris Benoit was always deeply private by his own request, and the wrestling community at large helped him in this desire by under reporting his problems with his wife to an intense degree. Few fans knew about Nancy’s divorce attempt until years after the crime, and the few friends that had knowledge of it kept it quiet. Statistics prove domestic abusers are highly inclined to become repeat offenders, and keeping situations like this out of the public eye only help the criminals continue getting away with senseless violence longer. While no one should blame Chris or Nancy’s friends for their failure to talk about these incidents, it does prove people knew the warning signs were there, and Benoit was hardly the saint wrestling press attempted to present him as until the extent of his violence was known.
6. Chris Killed Nancy In 2007
After 10 years of ups and downs, Chris and Nancy’s marriage ended in the worst way possible, when Chris violently murdered her in their Georgia home. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation, possibly after a brief struggle where Benoit bloodied her head. Nancy reportedly had Xanax and hydrocodone in her system, matching her sister’s claims she had been self-medicating her grief. Authorities found there was no reason to believe Benoit had purposefully administered these drugs to sedate her prior to his actions. Some fans and friends of Benoit have attempted to rationalize the incident by guessing the two had gotten into some sort of argument that saw Benoit accidentally get too violent, but Nancy’s sister discredits these thoughts by claiming he “brutalized” Nancy to an extent it was very clear he intended to kill her. Benoit had apparently bound Nancy’s limbs at some point during his attack, and once she was dead, he wrapped her in a towel and placed a Bible next to her corpse.
5. Chris Ended Their Son’s Life Hours Later
The exact timeline of Chris Benoit’s actions in the days after he murdered his wife will never be known. The day after Nancy was killed, Benoit made a series of confusing phone calls to Chavo Guerrero, alleging that Nancy and their son Daniel were “sick from food poisoning.” Sometime around this point, Benoit also sedated Daniel with Xanax, and then murdered him just as he had his mother. Later that night, Benoit sent further texts to Guerrero and their friend Scott Armstrong, later found to have contained cryptic comments that left both men highly concerned. Early reports indicated that Daniel may have suffered some sort of growth condition, specifically Fragile X syndrome, although Nancy’s sister Sandra later clarified that this speculation was “preposterous.” Sandra also discounted reports Benoit may have murdered Daniel out of the fear no one would take care of him with both of his parents gone, making it clear she would have been completely willing to raise Daniel as her own child had anything happened to the Benoits, a fact she had made clear to Chris when he was alive. As he did with Nancy, Benoit left a copy of the Bible next to Daniel’s body after his crime.
4. Chris Took His Own Life After Committing His Crimes
It should go without saying Benoit’s actions on that dark weekend in June will never be understood, although if any of the three deaths he’s responsible can make any sort of sense, it may have been the fact his killing spree ended with himself. Whether an act of contrition at his crimes, an inability to cope with what he had done, or simply the final senseless act of a man who had completely lost his mind, Chris Benoit committed suicide by hanging himself with his weightlifting equipment the day after he murdered his son. Nancy’s sister has explained that Benoit’s suicide, like the murders, was hardly an act of sudden insanity, considering the method he used to end his life would have taken “superhuman strength” considering the weights involved. She also explained he had apparently made an Internet search for “the easiest way to break a human spine,” which stands as clear intent and at least some soundness of mind. Benoit left a Bible on his weight bench, again confirming the idea he knew what he was doing, and knew it was wrong. A suicide note was later found in one of the Bibles.
3. The Crimes Were Reported Online Before Police Reported Anything
The wrestling community might’ve respected Chris Benoit’s right to privacy while he was still alive, but the manner in which he died promised his last few days would be the most highly publicized era of his life. Speculation ran rampant in the immediate wake of Benoit’s crimes, with fans and family attempting desperately to somehow rationalize the horrific actions perpetrated by a man that had previously idolized. Amidst the speculation, a user on Wikipedia somehow managed to report Nancy’s death before the information had even become public. Tightlipped reports had been surfacing that Benoit missed a house show in the middle of his crime spree, and the next night his absence from Vengeance: Night of Champions Pay-Per-View was highly reported, leading to a rumor that something had happened to his wife. A fan posted the rumor as fact online, only to express heavy regret when speculation turned into horrific reality. The more prevalent rumor at the time was that Benoit had been booked to win the ECW Championship the night he killed himself, and it was in relation to that rumor the fan posted his speculation of Nancy’s death.
2. Chris’s Old Tag Team Partner Died During The Murders
While the full story will never be known, the one thing that’s certain is Chris Benoit’s emotional state was highly unstable during the time he committed his horrific crimes. As we had mentioned, the deaths of his and his wife’s best friends heavily contributed to his negative state, and through grim coincidence, those problems would have continued plaguing Benoit had he lived even but a few days longer. In the middle of Benoit’s killing spree, Benoit’s longtime friend and tag team partner Biff/Beef Wellington passed away due to a sudden heart attack. The duo achieved their greatest success in Japan and their native Canada, where they won the Stampede International Tag Team Championships while training with the Hart family. Wellington retired from the business in 1996, so he and Benoit had obviously drifted apart to some degree over the years, but his death easily could have been yet another tragic blow to Benoit’s psyche. Wellington had been experiencing health problems in the year prior to his death, and this alone could have been affecting Benoit in some ways.
1. Raw Is Benoit: A Tribute To Regret
As hard as the Benoit tragedy is for fans of sports entertainment, one thing they can take solace in is the knowledge WWE and the business in general were in no way responsible for Benoit’s actions. Regardless of any speculation about roid rage or wrestlers having violent tendencies, Benoit acted entirely alone, and should not in any way be considered representative of the industry at large. The one area in which WWE has any reason to show regret occurred the night after Benoit’s death was reported, on June 25, 2007, when they aired a 3-hour special honoring his life and career. That night’s episode of Raw was canceled in lieu of the tribute opened with a speech by Vince McMahon and featuring clips of Benoit’s most popular matches interspersed with superstars giving testimonial feelings on his life and career. In WWE’s defense, the extent of Benoit’s crimes was unknown at the time the episode aired. The next night on ECW, Vince McMahon again addressed the crowd, this time to essentially retract the tribute and promise there would never again be any mention of Benoit on WWE programming. The promise has thus far been kept.