On June 30th, PWTorch ran an summarizing an interview with Chris Benoit’s sister-in-law. To condense it into a few short sentences, she blames wrestling indirectly for the deaths of Chris, Nancy (a.k.a. Woman), and their son Daniel. She doesn’t think it was the multiple concussions from head-shots. She thinks it was his continual use of pain killers and steroids coupled with his taking the deaths of some friends in the business particularly hard. I am not going to go into great detail because you can read the article or the entire interview by following the link at the bottom. However, I do want to discuss a HUGE problem that WWE might have based on some recently broken news.
It seems Chris Benoit’s son is training to be a professional wrestler. This is not a problem for WWE right now, but it may be later. Why? Because once he thinks he is good enough, I am betting he shows up at WWE expecting to be signed. Do they turn him away just because he is the son of Chris Benoit?... I am guessing not. I predict he gets a developmental deal since that’s what WWE seems to do for everyone else. Then the real problems start. What does WWE do with the son of Chris Benoit?
WWE has gone to great effort to scrub Chris Benoit from the history books, at least as far as any public acknowledgement goes. In a recent Q&A post, Jim Ross stated that "Considering the actions of Chris in the last hours of his life, I'd suggest that there is no way to separate his wrestling career with the murder/suicide involving his family. He was a great wrestler but his inexplicable actions of the last hours of his life overshadow any wrestling matches in a fictitious world."
WWE has been the mecca for second and third generation superstars and generally talks proudly about talents’ pedigrees. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Alberto Del Rio, Curtis Axel, Roman Reigns, the Usos, Bray Wyatt, Natalya.. The list goes on and on. Now… How do they deal with David Benoit?
As I see it, they have three choices, and none of them are particularly good.
First, they could take the “pay no attention to the elephant in the room” approach. They can give him some innocuous name and totally ignore his pedigree. Frankly, I think that would be quite sad. Randy, Cody, Natalya, and all the others are children of wrestling greats (in most cases Hall of Famers), but David Benoit is nobody because the last few days of his dad’s life were tragic? I am not even sure the fans would accept that.
Second, they could saddle him with a psycho gimmick, playing up the whole “rabid wolverine” theme and say he is the son of a great wrestler turned suicidal murderer who never quite came around. This approach is problematic for a few reasons. Chris’s fans will find it offensive. Most people would find it to be in very bad taste. I am sure David would find it difficult to deal with, and it would be very unfair to him to make him spend his whole career under the dark cloud of his dad’s death.
Third, they could ignore the horror of Chris Benoit’s last days and just let David be the son of a great wrestler. Benoit fans would love that, but that would upset a huge sector of the population that thinks much like Good Ole’ JR. While people generally agree that Chris was amazing in the ring, how do you overlook what he did? Do you put Chris in the Hall of Fame just to help get David over? The general consensus has been that even though his in-ring talent would justify it, Chris's actions in his last days disqualify him from consideration.
I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but I know WWE is going to have a serious problem and some serious thinking to do if David Benoit comes knocking at their door.
What are your thoughts? Please post comments below.