If you were around in January of 2007, there was not a doubt that Chris Benoit was one of the most respected wrestlers in the WWE. A multiple time champion, and long-term veteran of the sport, Benoit had solidified his place as one of the most technical wrestlers of all time.
There may not have been a better wrestler on the roster, and while he had his fair share of injury concerns, there was still reason to believe Benoit could get down with the best of them. Dave Meltzer, one of the most respected names in the wrestling writing world, had awarded Benoit the award of best technical wrestler in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2004. Hard to deny Benoit when he would yell “”I am the greatest technical wrestler in the history of the WWF!…Prove me wrong!”
His long standing in the WWE also allowed Benoit to make several close friends. One of the most iconic moments in wrestling’s history was Benoit and Eddie Guerrero holding up their respective championships at WrestleMania 20. Yet the wrestling world, and Benoit in particular, were devastated with the passing of Eddie Guerrero in 2005.
When Benoit lost his long-term friend in 2007, his sister in law Sherri Martel described it as being the final blow before everything happened.
What happened exactly, was Chris Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son before taking his own life.
The incident left an incredible void in the WWE. Not only was Benoit an outstanding talent, but the awful nature of such an event is hard to even begin to imagine, especially coming from someone who was so respected.
There were a lot of ups, but clearly some very real demons that plagued Chris Benoit throughout his life until he decided to take these drastic actions in June of 2007.
Here are 10 things that you might not know about the legacy, and the fallout of the life of Chris Benoit.
10. Benoit Wanted To Open A Wrestling School
While Benoit’s life came to a shocking and sudden end, it may not have been long until he stepped away from the WWE like he had hoped to do. Chris Benoit’s sister-in-law, Sandra Toffoloni, stated in an interview that Benoit had plans to start his own wrestling school and had even started doing some merchandising. Instead, the WWE started to talking to Benoit about making another championship push on the show and the wrestling school idea never turned to fruition. Given the extreme talent level that Benoit had for a variety of different wrestling styles, you can imagine it would have been an outstanding school.
9. One of Two Wrestlers To Win The Royal Rumble As #1 Entrant
Part of what made Chris Benoit such an amazing wrestler, was the success that he was able to attain throughout his career. A winner of numerous titles, including twice being the world champion (once in WCW, once in WWE), Benoit’s biggest claim to fame may have come in 2004 when he won the Royal Rumble. Benoit was the #1 entrant in the Rumble, and alongside Shawn Michaels, and the two remain the only candidates to win the Rumble under those circumstances. Benoit’s tragedy marred all of his accomplishments, including this one, as best described by the ringside announcer, JBL during the 2015 Rumble;
“two people have won from the number one position, including Hall of Famer HBK in 1995,” you can’t deny that he won, but you can absolutely refrain from saying his name.
8. Nancy Benoit Left Another Wrestler To Be With Chris
In an unexpected twist of wrestling fiction turning into reality, fellow wrestler Kevin Sullivan had plenty reason to hate Chris Benoit after their on air feud in 1995. Sullivan had been married to Nancy, who was also an on-air talent. When their marriage was on the rocks however, Nancy had an affair with and ended up marrying Chris Benoit. If that isn’t a reason for Sullivan to want to go out and beat the hell out of Benoit, I don’t know what would be. It may not be a shock that this was cited as one of the potential reasons why Benoit ended up leaving for the WWE in 2000.
7. No Anabolic Steroids Were Found In His Body
One of the quickest assumptions that people made when the incident first occurred, was that this was a case of a wrestler who abused steroids and ended up snapping. It may be interesting to note that no anabolic steroids were found in his body at the time of his death (though there were some in the house). That doesn’t mean that Benoit was not still under the influence of other factors. Reports stated that his body contained roughly, 10 times the normal level of testosterone. Benoit’s toxicology report also showed the painkiller hydrocodone in his system. That’s not to say that Benoit didn’t steroids in his career, but it may not have played a direct role in the incident. Reports did uncover significant areas of brain damage that may be associated with multiple concussions.
6. There Is A Parental Warning Before Benoit’s Matches
When you do something awful like murder your wife and son, you need to understand that with that comes a black mark on your reputation. One reminder of the horrors the Benoit committed can be seen before watching his old matches. Before the start, a warning will pop up on the screen stating
“The following program is presented in its original form. It may contain some content that does not reflect WWE’s corporate views and may not be suitable for all viewers. WWE characters are fictitious and do not reflect the personal lives of the actors portraying them. Viewer discretion is advised.”
It is clear that once the WWE learned about the awful incident that occurred, they would not condone any mention of Benoit unless absolutely necessary.
5. Benoit Studied Under The Hart Family
You don’t end up being one of the best technical wrestlers of all time without having the proper training. Given that one of Benoit’s biggest influences was Bret Hart, it may seem only natural that he went to train with the Hart family. There may not be a better ‘wrestling’ family than the Harts, with Bret, Stu, Bruce and Owen Hart all having tremendous impacts on the wrestling world. Benoit was one of many talents that ended up making in professional wrestling that trained in “The Dungeon.” Once his training was complete and he graduated from high school, Benoit started wrestling for “Stampede Wrestling,” a federation put together by Stu Hart.
4. Benoit Was Scheduled To Fight For The ECW Championship
It might have been lost in the shuffle, but before Chris Benoit’s horrific murder-suicide, he was scheduled to wrestle for the ECW World Championship at the ECW Pay Per View, Vengeance. Benoit was unable to attend the show, claiming a family emergency prevented him from making it to the arena. When asked further, he stated that his wife and son both had food poisoning and were vomiting up blood. Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro in the main event, who won the championship that night. There is no definite sign that it would have been Benoit winning the title that night, but given all the circumstances around his death, it was clear that wrestling was the last thing on Benoit’s mind.
3. Benoit May Have A Film Coming Out
There are talks that there may be a biopic coming out about Benoit, entitled “Crossface.” The film would be based off of the book “Ring Of Hell” which was written by Matthew Randazzo. The biggest actor that has been linked to the role is Liev Schreiber, who is best known for his role of Ray Donovan (for which he has won an Emmy). There is no telling how the film would play out, but early rumors also talk about how it would show some of his younger days and feature other wrestlers, such as the late Eddie Guerrero, as characters in the film before finishing with a dramatic retelling of the 3 day weekend which involved Benoit taking his own life, and the lives of his wife and son.
2. There Is A Song With His Name In It
One of the biggest signs that you have made it as a relevant celebrity in popular society, is when you start to hear your name in songs or other mediums. Perhaps it is fitting for a wrestler who had such an awful end to his life, that he also has an awful song out there. The song, entitled “Chris Benoit,” was released in 2012 by Insane Clown Posse. While Benoit is not called out by name during the song, it does end with
“Heading for the worst
(a passion for the regrets)
Given that Benoit was known for the Crippler Crossface, it is easy to see who the reference is for.
1. Police Believe He Killed His Son With The Crippler Crossface
Part of what made Chris Benoit feared in the wrestling ring, was his classic finishing move “The Crippler Crossface.” The submission move involved incapacitating the victim’s arm/yanking it back, while choking the person over the face. When a medical examination was done on 7-year-old Daniel Benoit, there was no bruising on the neck that would indicate strangulation via hands around his throat. Police found bruising found both on Daniel’s arms, as well as on his face, leading them to declare
“A choke hold was used, rather than hands. There’s no bruising consistent with strangulation by hands.” which was followed up by wrestling writer Dave Meltzer, who stated “There was bruising consistent with the Crippler Crossface on one arm and Daniel’s face.”
Truly an awful last image of a man who at one point seemed to have so many amazing things in his life.
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