During the 1990s era, Chris Benoit stood as a prominent figure within the realms of World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, garnering widespread recognition. Yet, as the new century emerged, his narrative took a tragic turn, culminating in a distressing act of murder-suicide that sent shockwaves through the wrestling community.
In the present week, VICE TV’s “Dark Side of the Ring” commences its second season, immersing itself into the heart-wrenching chronicle of Benoit. This series chronicles his ascent and downfall in the world of wrestling, culminating in the heart-rending events of him ending his spouse’s and child’s lives before taking his own. Scheduled to premiere on March 24 and 25, the episodes present fresh insights and commentary from fellow wrestlers who shared a profound understanding of Benoit. However, for those unacquainted with this tale, the intricate details alone unravel a profoundly disturbing narrative.
Who exactly is Chris Benoit? Hailing from Canada in 1967, Chris Benoit solidified his status as a luminary within the professional wrestling fraternity. From his formative years, he harbored aspirations of becoming a wrestler, catalyzed by a match he witnessed as a mere twelve-year-old. He underwent training alongside other illustrious wrestling figures, most notably Bret Hart. This endeavor ultimately paved the way for a career that would yield an impressive tally of 22 major wrestling titles. Embarking on this journey at the age of 18, he traversed the Stampede Wrestling circuit and the New Japan World Wrestling scene before making his debut in the World Championship Wrestling in the year 1992.
Over the subsequent 15-year span, Benoit’s star soared, making him one of the most prolific icons within the wrestling domain. He gracefully transitioned between the two paramount organizations in televised sports—WCW and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). In terms of his strategic prowess and the devoted following he commanded, he undoubtedly secured his place among the most accomplished athletes in this arena.
The year 2000 marked the union of Benoit with his second wife, Nancy. Their shared journey brought forth a child in 2003. Early on in their matrimonial bond, signs of turmoil emerged, leading to Nancy initiating divorce proceedings and securing a restraining order against the wrestler. She cited instances of violent behavior within their domicile. Although their marriage was declared “irrevocably broken” at the time, she eventually chose to withdraw both the divorce suit and the restraining order.
Within the wrestling landscape, Benoit’s actions involved the usage of unauthorized steroids and testosterone, substances not sanctioned by the WWE. Several other WWE wrestlers were implicated in the utilization of these illicit steroids. During this period, the abuse and associated hazards of these substances gained considerable attention within professional wrestling circles.
By the time June 25, 2007 arrived, Benoit had notably missed numerous scheduled events over the preceding weekend. Concerned by his absence, the WWE requested a welfare check for the then 40-year-old Benoit. Upon arriving at his residence in Georgia, authorities discovered Benoit’s wife, Nancy, shrouded in a towel—her demise resulting from asphyxiation. Their son was likewise found lifeless, ostensibly strangled. Benoit had placed a Bible adjacent to each of their lifeless forms.
The scene at which authorities encountered Benoit’s body was chilling; the wrestler’s life had ended by hanging on a lat pulldown machine, with a Bible resting upon the weight mechanism beside him. Allegedly, ten empty beer cans and an unoccupied wine bottle were also present. A three-day period was surmised as the duration during which the murders and suicide transpired.
Subsequent autopsy findings unveiled the possibility that Benoit had administered Xanax to render his son unconscious prior to the murder. Nancy’s system contained trace amounts of alprazolam and hydrocodone, though at levels insufficient to directly correlate with the crimes. Benoit’s toxicology report, in contrast, depicted a far more severe scenario. His system held traces of Xanax, hydrocodone, and an elevated level of testosterone.
Additional autopsy results that scrutinized Benoit’s brain function yielded startling revelations. Questions regarding the toll of the concussions he had sustained during his career within the league began to surface. A report from West Virginia University revealed that “Benoit’s brain exhibited severe damage, resembling that of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.” Many experts posit that this may have been a contributing factor to the double murder-suicide.
Following the closure of the case, Benoit’s name and legacy were expunged from the WWE website.