This is a post I was waiting a long time to write. I took my time, I meditate on it and I’m ready to talk about the big elephant in the room.
I was so shocked to hear in June 24th 2007 the death of Chris Benoit and the atrocity act of killing his wife and his young son. For me, it just didn’t make any sense at all. As you will read this post, maybe you will see some lights on this tragedy and why I want to write an hommage to him.
Foremost, as a wrestler, he was one of the best there was in the business. I discovered Chris while I was watching a WCW pay per view as one of the members of the reform Four Horsemen. He was a quiet storm. He didn’t say much but you could see the eye of the tiger. I was mesmerized by his aura.
He was a born Montrealer that grew up in Edmonton. From a young age, he idolized one of the most avant-garde wrestler of all time Dynamite Kid (Tom Bellington) and The Best There is Bret the Hitman Hart.
Actually, Bruce Hart was the one that discover this young boy and if my memory is right, he did start training him and he did trained some really unbelievable given wrestlers.
Bruce is one of the older brother of Bret Hart and this guy is a wrestling guru. He have the eye to discover new talents and he have this perspicacity of understanding the psychology and the development of a good wrestler.
So Chris was trained at the famous Dungeon at the Hart’s house. He grew a close friendship with a fellow canadian prodigy Owen Hart. Ahh Owen and Chris could have the perfect dream tag team.
When Eddie Guerrero and Chris both won the championship belt at WrestleMania, what a beautiful moment it was in the wrestling history. Two guys from WCW that they were finally shining like a bright and beautiful diamond at the biggest night of sports entertainment. You could feel the brotherly love between the two of them.
The three amigos were a better version than the one of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chavy Chase. Dean Malenko was one of Chris best friend and they were the both of them peanut butter and banana. They were dynamite together on the ring as a team.
When he was in the ring, he was superman. He was well liked by his peers and the fans. That is ironic that I will compare him toO.J, but like O.J Simpson, he was well liked and admire by many people and bang, he committed this really awful crime and people stop mentioning his name like he never exist and was never part of this world. Ok, this week, we did hear a lot about O.J (again) like we were back in 1995.
My opinion is that except from O.J, people still love Chris Benoit and at the time, your ethical side and your rational side is in a perfect conflict. We must choose the ethical right…
From an business point, you don’t want to associate yourself with a murderer and I do understand 100%.
How come someone could have this change of personality and being so violent like this? He was one of the nicest person ever. What happen?
The result of the autopsy shown that he had so many concussions that his brain was like the one of a elderly 80 years old man with an advanced alzheimer. Chris was forty when he die. It like what the fuck moment. And add the steroid and painkillers and it was a bomb ready to explose. This is so sad. We will never forget the crime he made but with the knowledge we know now about concussions, can we just forget the career of a legend? I know I will get a lot of heat for writing this but I said I will talk about his wrestling legacy with pride. I know I may shock some readers and I do apologize but I won’t apologize for changing the conversation.
The movie Concussions with Will Smith (by the way, an excellent movie and brillant performance by one of the best actor out there) is the perfect way to explain how multiple concussions can change someone behavioural cognitive especially in the sports industry.
Just to give you a small example.
In the movie, there was a football player that was inducted in the all of fame right in the beginning of the move. He was playing for actually my favorite team The Steelers of Pittsburgh. He had so many concussions that he left his family, he was living in his car in the middle of nowhere and was addicted to anti-freeze liquid… When they did the autopsy, they discovered the many concussions he had change his personality and he develop a really heavy case of Dementia. And while the movie goes, you see that many football players are committing suicide and while performing the autopsy, they had several major concussions.
You will tell me it is a movie. Actually, this movie is based on a true story and the character that Will Smith played is the one of the groundbreaking pathologist and scientist Dr. Bennet Omalu. This man is a warrior and a scientist I really admired. Thank God for Dr. Bennet.
It’s a real killer having so many concussions. They were some that was so lucky but their life did change. Bret Hart had a serious one while wrestling a reckless Goldberg. A few years later, he suffered a major stroke. I had two concussions not while wrestling or playing soccer but the first time, I was playing at my neighbour and his mom told him to not jump on the bumper bed because the bed is a little bit shaky. This kid (I’m kind) jump and all the bed fell on my little 7 years old body. I don’t remember the rest until this moment I’m typing. The second one was my only fight at grade 6 and I felt my head straight to the ground. And it was the beginning of my terrible migraine and hallucinations. Imagine having those type of situation over and over again since you were a kid until you are retiring in a sports like Football, Hockey and even Wrestling.
With that knowledge, I always felt Chris Benoit have the right to have a proper respect for his wrestling legacy. He was smart, quick in the ring, agile, not a big flamboyant wrestler but a quiet storm. He did deserve all the championship he won with all his heart. I’m proud of his achievements and I’m proud to say it out loud. I also admired what Steve Austin said about Chris:
“Well first and foremost, what I think about Chris Benoit is that guy was one of the most nicest guys I ever met in my life. He’s one of the most talented, hard working cats I’d ever seen in the squared circle. Anybody who knew Chris would tell you those exact two things. That guy loved the damn wrestling business, he was born to be a wrestler and was absolutely phenomenal. Drawing a lot of his influence from The Dynamite Kid, he blazed a path as the Pegasus Kid and his legacy as The Crippler Chris Benoit was just one hellacious career.
Speaking for myself, Chris Benoit as the person I knew, loved him. Chris Benoit as a wrestler, loved him. Chris Benoit as the person who did what he did, unforgivable. Bottom line.”
The only thing he didn’t deserve was to be another victim of the CTE ” Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy”. It’s the name of the disease that is a neurological one that is degenerative and found in the athletes that had repeated blows to the head.
Let’s change the conversation. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Let’s remember the happy times. Let’s continue to aware the community about CTE and to be a safe athlete. I’m happy the NFL, the WWE and even some universities football leagues are taking the stand for it. Thank you!
As for Christopher Michael Benoit, he will always be in my top 5 all-times wrestler. He may not be in the HOF but he will be in mine because he is one of the greatest period.
And that is because I said so!