The Phantom Pain: How Benoit Affects Us Ten Years Later.

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Hello. Thank you for joining me today as I discuss Chris Benoit ten years on from the tragedy. It’s never an easy subject to revisit, as I understand most fans don’t want to talk or hear about it. Regardless, I feel now is the right time to expand on my earlier work, which you may have read before. Highly recommend you read The Benoit Family Tragedy Explained if you haven’t already, as it covers a lot of facts and opinions about the incident specifically.

What this piece aims to do is to add to the body of work, as well as highlight how the tragedy affects the business today. I am neither condoning or glorifying his career or life. I find it important to maintain information for historical value and educational purposes. Some younger fans may not have lived through the times, so I feel the handling of the subject should be handled carefully to avoid confusion through misinformation. I do not plan on expanding further unless new information is presented.


David Benoit.

While Chris’ father Michael distanced himself from WWE, his son David regularly shares pictures of himself on Twitter attending WWE events. He’s in the minority, as he believes his father should be inducted in to the Hall Of Fame. He also sees his father’s old friend Chris Jericho when possible. Smith Hart booked David for his first match, however .. his wrestling debut didn’t take place as Chavo Guerrero pulled out (meant to be his tag team partner) after finding out David had no wrestling training. It was reported Jericho was furious with Smith Hart for booking him in the first place. Dave Meltzer stated that David’s enrolled in a few wrestling schools, but chose not to show up and remains untrained. WWE said they would consider him if he was fully trained at Lance Storm’s wrestling school.


His Thoughts On Ray “Big Boss Man” Traylor.

As Benoit neared the end of his life, he kept a journal of his thoughts. Part of this included his thoughts on Ray Traylor after his death in 2004. This was yet another case of Chris grieving for a loved one (Eddie, Sherri Martel etc.), and it also shows his mindset a few years before the incident.


“22nd of September 2004 Ray Trailor passed away from a heart attack. I dont remember the first time I met Ray, but that seems to be with alot of my life. I dont know if its because Ive lost a lot of memories because of bumping, or if I just dont like looking in the rear view mirrors too much. This one thing I hate about myself are these walls I put up around myself sometimes when I feel hurt and everything seems to be oblivious.


I loved Ray Trailor. he’s the only person that I know that Ive never seen in a bad mood, or not smile, or not make me smile, EVER. He always made time for me, whether to talk or to lend a helping hand. Ray Trailor was a real person. No guess work. I like to say Ray Trailor was a man’s man. He always used to say that about me, to me. I would spend days with him, and every half hour or so, though it seemed like every 5 minutes he would say “Chris Benoit, Have I told you I loved you yet.” And I used to laugh and he would laugh, but by the end of the day, whenever we were done doing whatever we were doing we would hug I and I would tell him I loved him. I used to laugh when I would hear that from him all day. I used to laugh thinking about it. Now I dont. But I know why he did it, and what he meant. Ray Trailor loved life and everything it offered.

It is Sept 25th today. I’m sitting on a plane on my way to Sioux City to wrestle. I just left Picket Mills Baptist Church where the service for Ray Trailor was held. I spent time with his wife Angie and two young daughter Lacey and Megan. I listened to some of his friends get up and tell stories that made me laugh while I was crying. The most emotional part was listening to his daughter Lacey talk. I wanted to take all her pain and sadness away. I pray that God gives them the strength and faith they need to get through this, Angie, Lacey, Megan. As Nancy and I left the church and watched them put Ray’s coffin into the hearse. We both waved goodbye one last time and I thanked him in my heart and thanked God for putting him in my life and said I love you Ray.”

— The first paragraph is one of a few examples I’ve found which references his issues with remembering events, and the concern for his health after years of bumping. He also mentions how he hates himself for putting up walls, which is exactly what he did in later years.



Rene Dupree Questions The Incident.

Just recently Dupree questioned something which happened on the day. Benoit’s former tag team partner Biff Wellington died on the same day, so the former WWE wrestler remains curious. Duprée called Benoit a “very quiet, intense individual” in an interview with Hannibal TV.


I’d like to talk about one thing that nobody talks about. There was another body found that day, another wrestler died that day that nobody talks about and he was kin to Chris. His name was Biff Wellington. We all know that there were text messages between different wrestlers and Chris, right? I would like to know if there was any communication between Biff Wellington and Chris. Cause that’s an eerie coincidence to me.”

Quite the coincidence, but Benoit died in Fayetteville, Georgia while Biff died in Calgary. After examination it was found Biff died of a heart attack. On Jericho’s podcast, he referenced the coincidence while also informing his guest Dave Meltzer that Chris and Biff hadn’t talked as they had heat with each other for years.


Kurt Angle References His Old Rival On WWE TV.

Much like Jericho, Angle is another who sometimes finds it necessary to talk about Benoit. They never condone his actions, or celebrate his career, but they feel compelled to talk about him as he played a huge part in furthering their careers. They know it’s something they can’t talk about on WWE TV, but Angle can’t help himself and names him among the best he’s ever faced. Angle also mentioned him in TNA (Impact) a few times.


“Crossface” The Movie.

For a few years there’s been talks of a movie being released which will cover Benoit’s life, career, and death. WWE is really against it and hopes it will never get off the ground. Lexi Alexander was named the director last year, but the project remains under development. There were rumours they would include the Kevin Sullivan story as a major point in the film, which drew criticism as some stated adding Sullivan was ridiculous and in bad taste as he had nothing to do with the double murder-suicide.



“Elijah”

Something which I missed initially was a strange factoid about Chris which emerged from his journals. Back in 2010, his father Michael Benoit was interviewed on ABC’s Nightline where he revealed how Chris looked up the prophet Elijah on the internet. There was one story from Elijah about how a prophet could rise a child from the dead and lay him on his own bed. Whether this had anything to do with Daniel’s death is unknown. Elijah was known as a prophet or miracle worker in the Hebrew Bible, who god used to perform miracles such as resurrection and “entering Heaven alive by a whirlwind”. You can view the interview with Michael Benoit below.



Morbid Memes

While some fans will either a) not talk about him, or b) acknowledge the research, there’s another type of fan who shows support (or joke) by wearing T-shirts, making Facebook pages, or by sharing their grim sense of humour via memes. There’s a few out there, and I’ll admit to having a light chuckle over one or two. Most of ’em are terrible though, they are designed to shock and offend. I don’t get it personally, I’ve seen many and I can’t bring myself to laugh at something which makes fun of a double murder-suicide.

We all have the right to have a say, but when we have too much freedom you end up seeing Chris Benoit in a Walker’s crisp advert .. with Gary Linekar stood there .. holding a picture of him. I can’t put into words how I felt when I saw it for the first time. Walker’s gave the consumers the choice of picture to put on the advert .. and they go and do that. It’s either very funny, or very wrong depending on who you ask.



Jericho & Meltzer Talk Ten Years Later.

Much like I and others, Jericho sat down with Dave Meltzer to talk about Benoit at length ten years later. The main thing about this podcast is it goes in-depth about his career, and not how his life ended. I was listening to the podcast as I wrote this, so I can say it feels good to hear them talk with no limits. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll say it feels like closure .. well, as much closure as one can get. I think it’s the main reason Jericho decided to do this, as he’s never been able to before. Jericho wanted to go through it with someone who covered Benoit since his early days, and Meltzer was a good choice. It’s long .. but worth it.


Conclusion

What is clear from the fact he continues to be talked about, and is still named as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time, is he will never be forgotten despite the way his life ended. No amount of blocking, no amount of fans screaming “murderer!” is going to make his friends in the business, or wrestling fans forget who he was to them. Some would be happy to bury him permanently, never seeing or hearing him again. Others sometimes feel the need to highlight the good he brought to people’s lives. The way he died, and the information about CTE and brain damage, will always be looked at differently. Sometimes no amount of explaining will open people’s minds to the fact that Benoit could possibly be a victim of his own work.

The business has changed a lot since 2007. We don’t see chair shots to the head anymore. We don’t see wrestlers doing suicide dives head first in to a chair. We have the WWE Wellness Policy which strictly prohibits anyone working with a concussion. The crossface is used sparingly, especially in WWE. When we see someone like Jack Gallagher do a headbutt every match .. do we think about Benoit? Katsuyori Shibata had a match with Okada in NJPW where he took a severe headbutt. He collapsed backstage and was rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma; he might not wrestle again. The main thing to come out of the incident is the business (except Japan) has done a lot to cut back on blows to the head. Without anyone knowing, it may have saved other talent from succumbing to CTE much like Benoit and Test.

But no matter what’s been said here, or by anyone else, the fact that two innocent lives were lost in Nancy and Daniel remains unforgivable. It doesn’t make sense, and it will never make sense. We’ll never understand why, so it’s good not to try and put ourselves in that place. Much like Jericho said on his podcast, it feels wrong to talk about him .. but he was one of the best. How do you talk about history and not include him? But also, how do you talk about him at all after what happened? It’s conflicting. You can’t even say his name without getting backlash .. even ten years later.

You could lose your arm in a war, but there will be times you feel your arm. You know it’s not there, but you feel it and want to move it. Benoit is the phantom pain of the business. He was one of the best workers ever, he brought everyone up to another level in their work rate .. he touched the lives of millions, but in one weekend it was taken away. He spent his entire life wrestling and trying to make the business great, but in one weekend almost destroyed the business he loved.

Unlike Eddie, he will never be hailed as a hero. He will be hailed as the murderous devil, the guy who took the lives of his family before taking his own. He won’t be like Chester from Linkin Park .. or Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Had he only taken his own life, we’d be treating him like the god of technical wrestling. I’m not saying we should celebrate his career or anything like that, I think at the very least we should acknowledge it for the sake of the talent he helped. Would that be too much? Please let me know in the comments below. As stated in the intro, this will likely be the last time I make an article on Benoit as I feel there’s nothing else we can take away. So thank you for spending your time reading my stuff, it’s much appreciated. Nothing in this piece was meant to offend, but if it did .. I apologize.

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