15 years. It has been 15 years since the darkest weekend in wrestling took place. I’ll be honest, I am struggling with putting this together. 15 years after the Benoit tragedy and I still can not wrap my head around it. It is something I think of often whenever I am thinking about wrestling.
I remember the weekend and days to follow in June very well. Watching RAW in June 25th 2007. Seeing Vince McMahon standing in the ring a week after his “death” in the exploding limo… That is when I discovered kayfabe. I was 6 years old at the time. I could not believe what was going on. Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and their son Daniel. All dead. It was soon after that we would discover the details behind The Benoit Tragedy.
I then proceed to watch the tribute show which I believe featured one of my favourite matches, Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho in a ladder match at Royal Rumble 2001. I was in disbelief. I had just watched Chris Benoit in a match live in person two weeks before.
As I got older the more I understood what happened. However, it still breaks my heart 15 years later. The business that Chris Benoit busted his ass for, was what led to his death.
One of my all-time favourite moments to watch in wrestling is WrestleMania 20. The night where Chris Benoit after 18 long years finally reached the mountaintop of pro wrestling. Benoit had won the world title. His best friend Eddie Guerrero was WWE champion. Together in the ring, the two embraced. Years of hard work and being told you are not good enough had paid off. I love that moment, however looking back on it now, it breaks my heart knowing that both Eddie and Chris are dead.
I like to think those two paved the way for a lot of the talent that we see in WWE and AEW. Guys like Wheeler Yuta, Daniel Garcia, and to an extent their would-be peers Andrade, Bryan Danielson, Kyle O’Reilly and many others. Benoit and Eddie walked so those guys can run.
Let’s not forget about Nancy Benoit either. She played a role of a manager that is sorely missed today in the landscape of wrestling. I wish AEW or WWE would honour her as her character; Woman.
Like I said before, I still can not wrap my head around this weekend. It is just another reminder that wrestling can be a cruel business. It’s not theatre, these performers do get hurt. This event from 2007 has affected a lot of fans and superstars in the world of wrestling. I don’t think I will ever understand it. Wrestling has never been the same since.
If you wish, here are a few of my favourite matches with Chris Benoit. Worth noting, I am not celebrating him as a person, but I am acknowledging what he contributed to wrestling. Because he was one of the best in the world with 1000s of forgotten matches.
- Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle. Royal Rumble 2003
- Chris Benoit vs William Regal. Brian Pillman Memorial Show
- Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho. Royal Rumble 2001
- Chris Benoit vs Bret Hart. WCW Nitro
- Pegasus Kid (Benoit) vs Owen Hart. April 1991