The Dark Side of the Ring: The Chris Benoit Story
Pro wrestling has definitely had its ups and down over the years, but no down was ever as deep as what Christ Benoit did in June 2007.
On March 25, 2020, Vice released a harrowing documentary of the scary sides of pro wrestling called The Dark Side of the Ring. Their first story, which is a two-parter, is about Chris Benoit, a famous WWE star that murdered his wife and son before killing himself in June of 2007.
The story at the time was mind-blowing. Benoit was a workhorse that fought his way through the ranks of pro wrestling since 1985, but when his best friend Eddie Guerrero suddenly died of heart issues in 2005, Benoit began a horrific downward spiral that ultimately led to the double-murder suicide.
Chris Benoit had an illustrious career that saw him succeed all over the world in multiple countries. His talent in the ring was unmatched, and even Vince McMahon recognized this after he believed Benoit finally grabbed the brass ring, giving Benoit a WWE World Championship title reign from 2004 to 2005.
In one of the most iconic nights in WrestleMania history, both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit won different world titles on the same night, and the two best friends were able to celebrate together to close the show. Many fans at the time said it was the most powerful WrestleMania ever solely because of that moment.
Sadly, shortly thereafter, Eddie Guerrero passed away in his cousin's arms, and Benoit was waiting in the lobby of the hotel for them. When Eddie's cousin called him, Benoit screamed in pain, rushed to the hotel room, and wept over the body of the only man he has ever confided in.
As Chris Jericho says in the documentary, "The day Chris’s fate was sealed was the day Eddie died." Darker words could not be said in this story.
People immediately began to wonder why Benoit did what he did. His testosterone levels were many times higher than that of a normal human, so steroid abuse became a major topic. He repeatedly landed on his head match after match after match thanks to one of his patented moves, the diving headbutt off the top rope, so Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) began to circle around pro wrestling circuits. He clearly was fighting with major depression, possibly even manic, and he was never tested, diagnosed, or medicated for the disease.
In reality, Chris Benoit suffered tremendously from multiple angles, and there was no one thing to blame. He was served a cocktail of stuff that damaged or altered his brain, so when he finally started spinning out of control after Eddie's death, it was no wonder that he would completely change and became someone he was not.
Something that echoed over and over again from his wrestling peers was that they could not believe a gentle and loving man like Benoit could do such a thing. It was a complete shock to everyone, and this is why these types of situations need to be handled better and with more care.
Chris Benoit did not get any time off after Eddie's death, nor did he ever get any psychological help. He just continued to be the workhorse that he always was and tried to stay the course even when he absolutely could not.
Stories like Benoit's, albeit less extreme, happen all the time. In many ways, we need to quit the stigma that people need to hurry up and get over pains that are affecting them deeply and learn to be more patient and understanding.
If you have a moment, I cannot recommend watching these documentaries enough. Even if you are not a pro wrestling fan, these stories and testimonies will open your eyes to the harsh reality many people face on the daily. The more we educate ourselves, the quicker we can heal this sick and hurting world.