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Wrestling: The Benoit Tragedy; 15 Years Later – June 22, 2007 (Part 1)

Oh hey there Divas! It’s your favourite diva (and Wardlow’s girlfriend…oops there I go again) back with another one. In this column, we are teaming up with one of my favourite people on Twitter, Chris. (Joe, Virtue Colin and Aaron I still love you guys). We need to talk about The Benoit Tragedy on June 22, 2007.

So much happening with your girl here. Stella is approaching her first birthday and she’s still a cute pain in the butt, work has been chill yet I question how much longer I’m able to work in the classroom, and babysitting has made me a nice chunk of change. I’m booked all next weekend, then off to Chicago for my birthday and the Fourth then booked again. Fine by me, because it’s what I love to do.  If I wasn’t teaching, I’d be an actress, or working in pro wrestling. Hell, I’d be a legend. Wednesday would have me on commentary with Dynamite, and I’d be managing someone. (Any idea who? Like you don’t know the answers to this one. One is my absolute fave and the other is from Chicago). Pro wrestling is a hobby of mine, and I’ve been teased about being a fan, plus guys have looked at me weird as a woman who likes, no loves, pro wrestling. 

And here with go with the Diva Show. 

Your diva has a birthday on June 22, which makes me a Cancer. A water sign, Cancerians are the most loyal of the zodiac, not to mention emotional. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we are the nurturers. A scary thing is that we are the most intuitive of the zodiac, which means we can pick up on the energy of a room when entering it and we can spot a liar within minutes. (This scared my ex, which my friends and I laugh about to this day). Another thing about Cancers is that we have incredible memories, meaning we remember the smallest details and the big events for our loved ones… So needless to say, let’s say that I will always remember June 22, 2007.

It was a day that stopped the wrestling world, like a brick getting thrown through a window. (As I wrote that sentence, I remember my brothers playing soccer and shattering a window on the back porch. I screamed, and Grandmother came walking into the room as fast as her arthritis could take her. My father came upstairs to assess the damage and got on my brothers. There was no ” ‘you almost killed your sister’ ” speech, there was the ” ‘you broke the window’ ” speech.) What happened on June 22, 2007, could be compared to a car crashing through a building, or a massive object falling through the sky destroying a home. 

The events that took place on June 22-24, 2007 were a blow to professional wrestling, that later left a huge impact due to the aftermath. Four Horsemen member Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy Benoit (also known as Woman in WCW) and son Daniel passed away and nobody knew what happened. was living in Milwaukee at the time, and when Raw started recording that night, I could see it was a tribute episode to Benoit. I didn’t realize what was going on until I picked up on the negative energy surrounding the show-I then realized Benoit was gone. The melancholy mood of Raw was present, and I was in shock. Details of the murders were still fresh, the police were working on resolving the case, and the media only knew the information provided to them by law enforcement. 

I knew something wasn’t right. I could feel it. There was something odd about the entire situation, and sadly, when the story broke, I knew what happened even before the police and media knew. 

Remember what I said about Cancerians earlier? We can feel the energy in the room. We can feel things around us that others cannot feel. Some call us psychic, others call us scary due to our strong intuition. At various jobs, I have called situations happening with various co-workers, I predicted the parent of one of my former nanny families having another baby, and sadly I predicted a very dear co-worker’s boyfriend cheating on her, and I predicted her marrying one of his friends. She smiled and said I was a crazy-this co-worker and her husband celebrated five years of marriage this month with two boys. Another prediction I made was a different co-worker getting back together with the father of her children, and another baby on the way-a girl. Their daughter turned two in May and they are now engaged. 

Please do not flood my inbox with lottery numbers. I don’t have them. (Then again, if I did have power like, I wouldn’t have lost two weeks in a row at $30K on a scratch off). What I did have was the realization of the unthinkable, and the saddest thing one could ever imagine.

Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son and took his own life due to guilt. The deaths of the Benoit family hit the wrestling world hard, specifically WWE. There were many questions surrounding the murders, such as the use of steroids/steroid rage, mental illness, and others. The main question on everyone’s mind is that of why, as in what possessed Benoit to take the lives of his wife and son, plus his own? 

Nancy Benoit, also known as “Woman”, was married at one point to WCW booker Kevin Sullivan. In 1996, while married to Sullivan, she began an on-screen affair with Benoit, which later moved to off-screen. There’s a joke within the indy that life imitated art, with Sullivan booking his own divorce. In November 2000, Nancy and Chris married, after the birth of their son Daniel, who was born in February of that year. According to various reports, Nancy filed for divorce and a restraining order in spring 2003, citing cruel treatment and fear for both her and Daniel’s safety. That August, she dropped both and the Benoits worked on putting their marriage back together. 

Then tragedy hit, and wrestling was never the same again. Owen’s death in 1999 damaged the WWE with safety concerns and the finger-pointing of unsafe working conditions… The death of the beloved Miss Elizabeth in 2003, along with the death of Eddie Guerrero in 2005 also added to the already planted seed of damage with drug issues added more negativity, and the murder-suicide of the Benoits caused more issues. The event left a sour taste in the minds of many, and pro-wrestling lost a gifted athlete. After Benoit’s death, neuroscientist and former WWE star Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston suggested that years of trauma may have led to his actions. Julian Bailes, head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, conducted tests on Benoit’s brain, which resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient. This brain damage was caused by the hard life of a pro wrestler amid numerous concussions during his career. 

When the news broke weeks later of what took place, I was stunned. I’m sure I felt the same way as many fans did-Benoit was loved all over the world, and while I wasn’t a big fan, I did enjoy his work. I found a clip on YouTube of Nancy as “Fallen Angel” in 1984-1989 (not sure of the exact year) when she was part of Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness stable. No matter what role she played, Nancy was good at what she did. (Sullivan trained her well, as evident by her work with the Horsemen in 1997-1999. Grandmother used to say Sullivan was scary looking and never cared for him). 

As I watched Raw that night, tears fell down my face. Pro wrestling suffered the loss of one of its greatest stars and was never the same again. Had Benoit still been alive, we don’t know where his career would’ve taken him. He was around the ECW Title picture at the time, a match with CM Punk was (obviously) never happening. Would he have been World Champion again? How would he have transitioned? Being 40 at the time, his stock was falling but perhaps he could’ve worked elsewhere? TNA/Impact was on the rise. Nobody knows. What we know is that he left behind a bittersweet memory that we will never forget… June 22, 2007, the day that changed Wrestling forever.

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