The John Report: My Final Thoughts on the Benoit Tragedy

February 9, 2021 0 By JohnValbyNation

It’s been four weeks to the day since one of the worst days for me as a wrestling fan. I had been sad a lot of times as a wrestling fan whenever people I admire and respect pass away tragically, but the feelings I had last month had never been felt before. I didn’t know what to think, how to express myself or what to really do. It still brings chills down my body when I think about how Chris Benoit killed his wife and son before he killed himself. I wrote about it two days later and the response I got was overwhelming. More on that later. I will share some of the ones I received, including one from a former WWE employee that knew Chris, but only after I talk about some of the things that have come out since the tragedy occurred.

The biggest question that came out after this tragedy was a simple why? Why would a man who seemed to be of sound mind with a loving family do such a horrific thing? Drugs were the immediate answer. Turns out his testosterone levels were really high and steroids were in his system. His son had elevated levels of a anti-depressant drug. So yes, drugs were a factor. However, chief medical examiner Kris Sperry said that nobody was ever going to know why he killed his family. Did drugs play a part? Sure. But were drugs the only factor? No. That’s what WWE will tell you. That’s what some of the media will tell you, but most of the media will tell you that drugs were a factor. People in the media love telling you that drugs are a problem because that’s what sells. It draws in viewers. I’m not saying they want people dead by using drugs. What I’m saying that if somebody dies then it’s a sexier story if drugs are mentioned rather than a boring reason like saying a guy was depressed. In a case like this where facts are hard to come by all anybody wants to talk about are the drugs. I think there’s a lot more to this than drugs, but like the doctor said we’ll never really know. (For those that were wondering, Dave Meltzer reported that tests done on his heart showed no significant damage.)

The fact is that the business of professional wrestling cannot go without change anymore. Too many people die young. Too many kids are growing up without their fathers because somebody wanted them to have bigger arms. Of course the WWE’s claim is that they don’t tell anybody to do drugs. I believe it. I don’t think they directly tell any individual that they need to take supplements to get bigger. However, they say it in an indirect way all the time. Just look at this past Sunday’s Great American Bash and the two major title matches – Raw and Smackdown. Sorry ECW, you’re still minor. In the first major title match you had The Great Khali defending his title (which is a hilarious column waiting to happen in another time) against Kane and also against Batista. To the outsider that’s two really tall guys and one incredibly muscular guy. In the other title match, John Cena defended against Bobby Lashley. What do they have in common? Huge muscles. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say somebody is on steroids. It’s not my place to do that. Let steroid experts deal with that sort of thing. All I’m saying is if you’re an outsider or if you’re somebody watching wrestling for the first time what’s your impression of the last five wrestlers you saw? It’s simple: Bigger is better. There have been exceptions (Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, etc.), but if you look at the history of this company the implication is that if you want to make it to the top you better get as big as possible.

The other big thing about the past month is how much media coverage this story has gotten. It’s not surprising since two people were killed by a man who worked in a profession that is looked down upon by the mainstream press. Wrestlers don’t get the respect that actors, musicians or athletes get even if some of them are better people. It was the chance for the media to further bury a business they don’t like already. When WWE sent a person onto these shows like John Cena on Larry King Live or Fit Finlay on the Nancy Grace Show (what a freak that woman is!) they trumpeted the company line about “putting smiles on people’s faces.” A guy like Ken Kennedy came off like a perfect employee even though some of what he said seemed like a bunch of crap. Even Chavo Guerrero toed the company line despite losing his best friends in the company over the course of his two years. They all talked about how great the Wellness policy is and how great of a company it is. They also mentioned how the business is tough because you have to work so much on the road, but it’s not as bad as it was in the rock ‘n wrestling era of the ’80s. All of this might be true. It’s the WWE’s way of saying : “We’re fine. We don’t need to change. What we do is enough.” I’m not blaming WWE for this death. It’s not their fault. Chris Benoit losing his mind for a weekend was his own fault.

The other side of the media features former wrestlers as well as wrestling media types that are going on these shows saying how things need to change. Guys like Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez, who both write terrific newsletters on the business (Meltzer for over 20 years, Alvarez for over 10), are probably hated by WWE because they’re going on these shows with facts. Former wrestlers like Marc Mero and Lance Storm are appearing on shows saying things need to change. If a WWE wrestler said something like that what would the company say? I have no idea because nobody within that organization is saying that. They are all keeping quiet. Those that do talk that work for WWE are saying everything the company wants them to. It’s a shame, but from a WWE perspective I can understand why they do it.

You know what would be great? Some kind of committee that was put together featuring people within WWE, within TNA, former wrestlers, people that cover the business, doctors that care about people’s health and maybe even some passionate fans that can talk about what can be done to make the wrestling business better. Will it happen? Hell no. I think congress might do something in a few months, but unless they get Vince McMahon there and are able to grill him for an hour straight with smart questions I doubt anything’s going to get done. There’s no union in wrestling. It’s not like a pro sport where players can rally together to fight for change. You do what you’re told or else you’re gone. Will it ever change? I doubt it.

I have barely watched wrestling in the past month. I watched a bit of Raw, some Smackdown (I did enjoy Flair vs. Finlay) and some TNA as well. I didn’t enjoy it like I did two months ago, though. It’s still tough to watch. I hope I can get back into it because it’s been a part of my life for over twenty years and like some of you emailed me said, I don’t want to let one bad guy ruin all of that for me. It’s easier said than done, though.

It is hard to sit here saying that I hope something good comes from this whole ordeal because there’s nothing good about two innocent people dying due to the actions of one man. However, if you’re looking for a positive I hope that it involves saving lives in the wrestling business. I want things to change so these kids aren’t losing parents because of the grind of a business that is supposed to put smiles on faces. Things DO need to change. Anybody that thinks things are perfectly fine is wrong. If you think that way you’re not just being naïve, you’re being stupid too.

I still love the wrestling business and I have respect for the people involved it. It’s just that I love it a lot less and that respect is dwindling a bit. I don’t know if those feelings will ever come back. I hope they do for me and I hope they do for other fans that are as saddened as I am. After all, we shouldn’t let the actions of one madman ruin a lifetime of memories, right?

* * *

That’s the last I’m going to write about this topic for the foreseeable future. What I’m going to do now to end this column is share some emails that I’ve received from other fans of wrestling that wrote me. I received just under 200 emails, which was quite a lot, and I responded to nearly all of them. Thank you all so much for writing. It really meant a lot.

A lot of the emails I got shared the pain of this tragedy. Some people had never written me before while some had never read me before, yet they still were compelled to write. I’m glad you all did because it very therapeutic and worthwhile for me to go through those emails. As a token of my appreciation to those of you that wrote, I’m going to share some emails. The reader’s words will appear in blue font while mine will be in regular color font. Some will have a reply while others won’t and no addresses will be posted.

First up is an email from a former member of the WWE creative/writing team. His name is withheld per request:

John
I wanted to say that your column along with Richard’s today are Rajah.com were very well written for such a tragic subject matter. Very sad indeed.

I knew Chris Benoit, I worked with him and wrote for him when I worked for the WWE creative team. I met his son Daniel, an adorable sweet little fella…that is why this whole thing is so surreal…I can personally tell you that Benoit LOVED his son, he WORSHIPED the little guy…so for him to take his own boy’s life is even harder to swallow.

Chris was not an easy person to get to know, especially if you weren’t one of the boys. But when he knew I had a grappling background and loved the business, he opened up to me, even then he was soft spoken and low key. I remember watching him in a match one night, he came back to cut a promo in pre-tapes and Paul Heyman was helping him cut it…I turned to Paulie and said “this guy is fantastic to watch, he’s the best”. Paul said “Don’t tell me, tell him”…and I did. I told Chris that to watch him work was a pleasure and that he was one of the best I had ever seen…Benoit actually stood back and said “Really?”…I honestly believe this man didn’t know how good he really was, he should humility and grace backstage to everyone…but we do not know the exact measure of every man…I don’t know if I’d call Benoit a monster, but there was a monster within him, like there is in all of us…unfortunately that monster got unleashed and there was no turning back…the media will jump on the band wagon and try to decry the sport and everyone involved in it…this goes far deeper and darker than steroid abuse or pro wrestling, this goes right into the heart of the human soul, the heart of darkness…I don’t know how I feel toward Chris now, hate, pity, anger, despair…I do know how I feel towards his wife and son and everyone else this has effected…very sad and numb…what is sad is that a lifetime of wrestling work will be lost, what is the real tragedy is that a mother was murdered and a small child will never grow up and was killed by the man he loved and trusted the most in the world…that will baffle us for all time…Benoit’s name will be forever known as child killer, what a fucking shame…God rest Daniel and Nancy and where ever Chris is I hope the torment that he suffered in this world will someday be over for him…

Name Withheld Per Request

I think that story about Benoit being humble about his talents as a performer correlate with what his peers said about him as well on the tribute show. I also think that his quiet nature, and this writer’s point about Benoit being a tough person to get to know also helps to explain why nobody within his inner circle knew what he was capable of doing.

This next one comes from somebody that has used steroids before and also has physical pain to deal with in his life.

John,
Just read your article about the whole Benoit thing and I have to say it is the best article or thoughts that I have heard so far. I will say this…people are going to blame steroids and Vince McMahon but lets be real, Wrestling isn’t the only profession where people kill or die young.

Every sport has it and remember the jokes about “going postal”?? Wrestling, wrestlers, owners and promoters are not the bad guys here. One wrestler is in this case. Obviously there is something much deeper than a guy taking steroids or pain killers or drinking or whatever. I think when it comes to sports, including wrestling, there needs to be more attention on head injuries and/or blows to the head. I played football until I was 24 yrs old, (high school, college, pro), I also used steroids when I was in college. Today my biggest problem is not my knees, my back or my heart..it is my head and neck. I have been diagnosed 4 times with concussions and probably have had about a dozen. My brain is permanently injured. This could lead to depression or some other illnesses. This is the big thing now….head injuries. Chris Benoit had MANY head injuries. Steroids or alcohol or pain killers alone dont make you crazy…but repeated head injuries can. Sports in general need to take a look at a way to minimize head injuries or at least a way to care for someone who has one. Benoit is a murderer and there is no excuse for that, but he didnt just flip a switch one day…this was building in his head for a while. People, including employers, family and friends need to learn to be able to see the signs as they happen to help these people. You being a writer for wrestling can probably think of one person right now that should be helped…Dustin Runnels has something going on. That is where there needs to be some type of “wellness” program or employee assistance program in place. Otherwise he might be next, and if not him who??? Thanks again for a great article.

Todd Smith

Thanks for the insight because I really don’t know much about steroids other than what I’ve read. I don’t know anybody who’s ever used them. I do know guys who have had football injuries (I played and am a huge fan – it’s my fave sport) and I think there’s not enough done about head injuries. Former WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski is doing a good job in educating people about these injuries, and that’s a very good thing.

Your points about there being a bigger issue in this is definitely true. I wonder if Benoit ever had his brain examined because if you think about all the head shots he probably took in his career it has to be a high number. It’s not just the concussions, but the pain in the joints and his neck, which was surgically repaired although I doubt it ever was close to 100% again.

Dear John,
I have never felt the need to correspond with a wrestling correspondent, but, I wanted to thank you for your insight regarding Benoit. I am a 40-something year-old elementary school principal, a 25 year wrestling fan and love that I can relate to my students about what happened on Raw or Smackdown the previous night.

I have been an avid reader of your columns for a long time. I am a much more casual fan than you are, but I am also filled with a variety of emotions when I think about this guy and what happened. It is interesting when my family, who does not follow wrestling, pick this up from the mainstream media. They and most other people will never have the feelings that you had for Chris, yet their disdain for what he did is the same as it is for the fans.

Ever since the death of Owen Hart, I have been hopeful that wrestling would do a better job of regulating itself. Hearing stories of tragic deaths, rampant drug use, and etc, will eventually cause the sport to implode.

Thanks again for making it real…

Larry Perlman
Wichita, KS

It’s tough to deal with the people that make incorrect generalizations about the wrestling business (saying that they’re all steroid users with roid rage, for example) or who had no idea of what kind of person Benoit was, or was thought to be by his peers. This is not a guy with a history of violence or with known problems. I don’t know if two days of ridiculously violent behavior should override a 20 year career, but for me it does. Right or wrong, I’ll think of him as a double murderer before I think of him as a one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever seen.

Hey i read your article on Rajah. Don’t worry about replying if you have alot of emails to get to. Just wanted to tell you that I totally agree with your thoughts. And that is, who knows what to think. I’m only 18. I’ve been watching wrestling for around 10 years now. And Benoit has always been there. The only guy that’s probably the most consistent person to be on my tv set. The thing is, i always saw Chris as boring. He never impressed me. It wasn’t until last week’s ecw that I changed my mind. (The first ecw that i actually watched all the way through). I watched Chris’s match and told myself “this guy is a good guy. He is solid, and probably one of the best wrestlers I’ll ever see” Just wanted to share the irony of how I decided that Benoit would be my hero less than a week before he decided to do this. I don’t know what to think either!!! I want to hate him just as much as I don’t want to. Anyway, just felt compelled to email you. Thanks for the article.

Dillon

I think the thing about Benoit was that even if you’re not a fan of the guy you probably appreciated his work ethic and his ability to make other wrestlers look good. Like you say for 10 years he was always around on TV in North America and wrestling fans got used to him. He wasn’t the draw that Hogan, Austin or Rock was and he’s not as big a name as HHH or Undertaker, but he was arguably the most consistent guy in wrestling.

And now it’s an irrelevant point because he’ll be remembered as a double murderer rather than a great wrestler. It’s such a shame.

John,
I have written to you once before regarding the Muhammed Hassan/terrorist angle with the Undertaker because I am a 9-11 World Trade Center survivor and I liked your corresponding article about that issue.

This one is an even tougher one to swallow. I am not writing to you from any other perspective than as an objective sports fan for YOUR own benefit and edification. I completely understand and empathize with your position and feelings about Benoit…both before and after this tragedy. Since I know you are a fan of other sports, allow me to draw an analogy that is not intended to diminish the significance of these horrific crimes, but rather is being made to illustrate a point. There are several professional athletes from all other sports that have been guilty of committing various crimes or at least gotten into serious trouble outside the realm of their sport. From Mike Tyson to Pacman Jones to Pete Rose to Tank Johnson to Juan Marichal to Guillermo Mota to Chris Simon, professional athletes are just as human as the rest of us and can make extremely poor decisions in life. Obviously none of these examples are even close to the magnitude and horror of what Benoit did. But they all are guilty of something or another.

You idolized Chris Benoit for what he did in the squared circle and how he got to reach the pinnacle of sports entertainment through hard work and overcoming obstacles. It is crystal clear why you respected him so much because Benoit appeared to be a normal guy trying to succeed in a big man’s world. That is no different than some associate trying to become partner at a huge law firm or a street cop wanting to become chief one day. It was a seemingly normal, everyday type guy that showed you don’t need to be 6’5″, 300 lbs to draw ratings and electrify a live audience. Plus, Benoit provided you with some of your greatest memories in wrestling, and apparently in life too.

It is never easy when people you idolize or respect prove you wrong. My parents got divorced when I was 9, and it hurt like hell to see that they were not perfect and that they could make mistakes. But that is what makes them human. Chris Benoit obviously had deep-rooted personal issues and demons that never materialized on screen or backstage to the point where they were made public. What he did was reprehensible, unforgiveable, and downright evil. And for that, you should be upset and disappointed that the man you thought he was clearly was not the case. But, and this is a BIG but…you should not let it undo and ruin the memories you have that you cherish so much. Maybe you will need time away from those old videos or even wrestling entirely to get over it. But his horrific actions cannot undo the glue that makes you who you are. Doing this would be like letting the terrorists win after 9-11. I was upset and traumatized for weeks after 9-11. But after awhile, I picked myself back up and moved on with my life. I work in downtown NYC now and I am near Ground Zero everyday. I don’t let those pieces of shit ruin my daily life, and you shouldn’t let Benoit do the same to you. I was at the 2003 Royal Rumble when Benoit and Angle had their classic match. I was one of the many thousands who stood and cheered him after he lost. I cannot erase that memory just because of what he did. I have no respect for Chris Benoit, the human being who ended the lives of 2 innocent people including his own child. But I will remember the respect I had for him in the wrestling ring and what he did for the business.

It will take some time, but hopefully you can watch a match of his and separate the personal feelings you have for what he did from the enjoyment you receive from watching a great wrestling match. Maybe I am talking out of my ass, but for your sake I think it is worth a shot in due time. Wrestling means so much to you. I would hate to see one person’s horrific actions ruin something so important to you. I know I won’t let this stop me from watching WWE, or even a Benoit match that I have on DVD. I will never look at him the same again, but the lens in which I watch a match will be solely for my own enjoyment. It’s ok to be selfish about this. You have been burned by investing time, money, and energy in respecting Benoit for what he means to the business. So don’t do that anymore. Watch wrestling, or even a classic Benoit match because you enjoy it. Life is too short to abandon what makes you happy. Because then in the end, both you and the WWE suffer and all that is left are black holes inserted where Benoit’s history was once written. These intentional omissions and deletions would only serve to remind people of what Benoit did to his family rather than honor what he did as a part of the wrestling business and in your own personal life.

Mike Stein
Freehold, NJ

I think your points about not letting this one action ruin a lifetime of memories is a good one. Everybody is different and I know some who swear they won’t ever watch again. I don’t know if or when I’ll get back to watching WWE, I’m sure it’ll be sooner rather than later. I also don’t know if I’ll watch a Benoit match again with the same enthusiasm that I had for it before. At this point I’m going to distance myself from it. Maybe in six months I’m bored on a Sunday looking over some tapes I have and I may pop one in and he’ll be there. I may watch. I may not. I don’t know at this point. Your words meant a lot, and I appreciate them.

Hi John,
I never write, or correspond with you guys who do all the work on the great wrestling sites like Rajah, 1wrestling, etc. As a parent of 4 kids, working full time I just don’t have the time, but I truly enjoy what you for all of us fans.

I like yourself, have been a wrestling fan for over 20 years, and like yourself Benoit was one of my favorites. I had to explain to my 9 year old son and 8 year old daughter how one of dad’s favorite wrestlers (and by default, now one of theirs) could do this. How do you explain to a child, as their father, that any father (let alone a larger than life hero) could harm and kill his own child and that child’s mother. There are no words, my kids love wrestling because of me. I feel I brought this burden and pain into their lives. Was it wrong to introduce them to the ‘sport’ that had such an impact on my childhood and young adult life?

I never dealt with issues like this when I was a kid, I mean I dealt with more than my fair share of death than most kids have to, but it was family, friends, and generally natural causes or accidents that, while they really suck – are part of life. When I was a kid, and when wrestlers died – it was usually an accident (Adrian Adonis comes to mind). Things like this didn’t happen (with the exception of the murder of Bruiser Brody, which I remember very well), but that cannot be compaired to what the Benoit situation.

I wonder if there are more parents like myself, who grew up with the sport, and wanted to pass that joy onto their kids. Whereas now, I feel like I have introduced them to something that, while its a fact of life and something that happens, its something that children the age of mine should not have to know about or deal with yet.

Will I keep watching wrestling? I hope so, but should I? I don’t know. Last week we told my son and daughter that for their birthdays we were taking them to a live pay per view (Great American Bash). It is to be the first live event for my daughter, and only the second for my son. I was so excited for this event to happen. We were going to see Rey, Chris, Batista, Edge, Ashley, Candice, the Hardy’s and all the other favorites of my kids. I find myself dreading that event more than looking forward to it. I hope those feelings change. I want to look forward to things like this. I just don’t know if it is the right thing to do anymore.

Thanks again for taking the time to express what so many of us are feeling, stay strong.

Best Regards,
Steve
Sacramento CA

I think there are parents (or uncles or other older family members) that are probably feeling a bit of remorse for getting the kids into wrestling. I don’t think we can blame ourselves, though. All we can do is tell the kids we love them and try to explain that sometimes in life people do the wrong thing just like Benoit did. It’s hard, but I think the kids deserve to know the truth the best way we can explain it to them, so that’s all we as adults can really do.

My advice is enjoy the Great American Bash. Live WWE shows are fun for the most part, especially PPVs because they don’t have the long commercial breaks. I think WWE has made it clear that there will be no mention of Chris Benoit on any of their broadcasts ever again, so if you go to that show you’ll easily forget about it for three hours. Also, I think we owe it as fans to show the wrestlers that we care about them while they’re grieving too. I almost feel selfish in mourning this guy because when I think of what his peers must be going through I admire them for continuing to work. I don’t know how they do it, but kudos to them for it.

Steve, if you’re reading this and you were at the show please email me to let me know how it was.

Hi John,
I just wanted to thank you for posting exactly what I was thinking or trying to think of the situation. He was a hero of mine and for many many years I watched him and enjoyed myself without having to stress about life or well, anything. He made me feel for wrestling while it was sort of in the crapper due to the ridiculous storylines and average (massive guys) wrestlers being forced on us as champion. I didn’t know what to think at first but after a day or two I know I want to vomit or cringe every time I hear about him in a positive light. He really tainted his name and the wrestling business for me and probably tons of others. I also feel like I’ve wasted so many years of my life for him.

I haven’t used his name this entire email because he really doesn’t need it.

Thanks,
Danny P.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think we wasted our lives by watching or supporting him. It’s not our fault that he did what he did. We’re not the ones who did those horrible acts. He did. So don’t beat up yourself for it. I know that personally I did a bit of that too, but looking back on it with perspective it’s the wrong way to go about it. I’ll remember his work in the ring as a positive thing, but I won’t be able to watch it again and look at it in the same light. And that’s his fault, not ours.

My dad has always been a mark. His favorite wrestler has always been Chris Benoit. He loved the no nonesense attitude and the amazing mat skills. I dont know what I can tell him now.

My coworker went to a wwe show and, knowing i was a huge wrestling fan, decided to bring me back a tshirt. Since she didnt know who my favorites were, she went with the Benoit “4 Real” t shirt, because, as she put it “everyone likes benoit”. I cant wear, let alone look at that shirt anymore.

My all-time favorite match was always the Benoit-Angle match from Royal Rumble 2003. the ddt on the apron, the counters from crossface to ankle lock back to crossface, the the insane german suplex, the longest diving headbutt i had ever seen. That match was perfect to me. the standing ovation at the end. Then watching it on the Benoit dvd, right before he won the title at WMXX. I fought off the tears when he and eddy were in the ring together. i cant watch that moment anymore. its not the same. i want to believe that the man that created so many amazing memories couldnt have created one weekend of horror for his family, friends, and to a much lesser extent, those who enjoyed and appreciated his life’s work. i never thought that one moment of insanity or chaos could erase a life of good-will and good deeds. i was wrong. Benoit was the best techincal wrestler i have ever seen. i cannot see him the same way anymore.

i have been a fan of your writing for a long time now, and have always respected and enjoyed your opinions on the world of wrestling. i felt I needed to write this for my own catharsis, and it seems odd that i find that kind of comfort writing to someone that i have never met. but i know you understand the way i, and many others, are feeling regarding this whole situation. i dont know what i just wrote or why i did, i just felt i needed to get that out. whether you respond or not, thanks for being a wrestling fan, for writing us some great columns, and for reading this.

keep the writing going….

Roberto

Your points about the Benoit memories and not being able to enjoy the same is absolutely true. Just seeing you talk about the Rumble ’03 match with Angle has me picturing it in my head because I watched it so many times (I had a Benoit/Angle comp tape) due to the fact that this was the match I’d point to as the reason why I loved the business. And now it’s tarnished. I may watch the match again, but it will never ever be the same.

Now I’m going to run a bunch of your letters in succession without interruption. At the end I’ll put in my contact info for you to email me at if you want to. I won’t post any more emails on this subject again. When I write again it might be about the current WWE product (like an overdue talent evaluation maybe) or it might be about something from the past, but I will write again. I’m not sure when, but I’ll be back.

John,
First off..let me start by saying I read your article, and thought it was written beautifully. You put everything I was thinking in my head out onto a computer screen. A very well written article, indeed.

It’s funny because a group of friends and I also play poker every Monday night and watch wrestling during it. When I flipped over to the show at 8pm, I missed the Vince speech, but instead we all saw various clips of Chris Benoit. I usually read the news and rumors two to three times a day, but I didn’t catch anything after noon or so that day. Needless to say, when one friend blurted out “Is he dead?”, they all looked at me for an answer. I shrugged and watched in silence with them, until the graphic “1967-2007” appeared. Immediately, we all shot up from our chairs together and ran upstairs to the computer to see what had happened. Our worst fears were true: Chris Benoit was invovled in an event that saw his entire family murdered.

We watched RAW that night, but were not 100% into it. The volume was low, and every once in a while I looked up to see a Superstar crying to the camera, or Benoit giving some german suplexes to an opponent. It just didn’t feel right…it all felt so rushed. No mention of this was made to me a mere few hours before, and now I had to watch a 3 hour tribute to one of the greatest wrestlers ever?

After RAW had ended and my friends left, I was shocked to see what had been updated on my computer screen: Benoit was the murderer. He killed his wife, and killed his son. Unbelievable.

I don’t know what else to say, or why I’m even writing all this to you. This is the first time I put all my thoughts on this to writing. I’m sure you have a ton of e-mails to sift through, but I just wanted to write to tell you thanks. Thanks for your stories, your memories, and your words.

However, I do not feel you need to stop watching wrestling because of this tragic event. Chris Benoit is an evil person. The WWE right now needs its biggest fans (like you and I) to stay strong and support them during this time. While many people in the media are tossing horrible words at professional wrestling, it seems we are the only people to calm this storm. WWE has given us some of the greatest memories of our lives. I still remember traveling to Wrestlemania X-8 in Toronto (with the Fan Axxess weekend) as being the highlight of my life. The company, the business, has given so much to me, and now it’s time for us to all give them something back.

I urge you to continue watching wrestling. They are at a huge low right now, but in no time I am confident they will get back on their feet, and continue to bring new memories for us and our children. I’m 25 now, and have been watching for the past two decades. I will continue to watch, and not let sick, twisted people like Chris Benoit change my stance on wrestling. It’s been a part of my life for what seems like ever, and will continue to be for a long time.

Thanks for reading.

Jason Kady

————–

Hi John,
I’ve never really read your column before, I haven’t even really read Rajah regularly since 2004ish. However, everything you wrote there just precisely summed up my feelings that have been plaguing me for the last 36 hours.

I’ve barely paid attention to wrestling in the last 2 years between the horrible gimmicks, lackluster daytime tv-esque writing and the formulaic rivalries that barely last longer than one pay-per-view schedule. That being said, I love wrestling, always have. I have been buying up old school DVD’s as fast as the WWE Inc machine can put them out.

Though as bad as things have gotten I knew that things can always turn around as long as you had certain workhorses still in the mix. Shawn Micheals, Triple H (minus the backroom politics) and namely Chris Benoit. Benoit I have followed since the days he was “hand picked” to join the Horseman by Arn Anderson. A week ago I would have still claimed that version of the Horseman (Flair, Anderson, Pillman, Benoit) was almost as good as the original if it would have lasted longer.

So many feelings have been juxtaposed over the last 36 hours. First denial, when Fox News who were the first to report that Benoit himself was possibly the culprit, I yelled and screamed at my computer monitor, “How dare they!” I even went so far to take a screenshot, so that when the real details came out I could send a letter to Fox with the picture lambasting them for jumping the gun and tarnishing an innocent man. I even imagined a crazed, drunken Kevin Sullivan breaking into the Benoit home to exact revenge. Then the next morning as more and more reports and details emerged, I floated into a state of shock and disbelief. How? Why? There must be some explanation, some missing piece of the puzzle. More details come out last night into this morning that read like the chilling chapters from Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” Now as I write this, the feelings of betrayal and anger motivate every key stroke.

To me, Chris Benoit was the epitome of what was to be a wrestler, one who wasn’t an oversized behemoth, but went out there with the intensity of one and always put his heart out there in every match. As long as they had a guy like that in the locker room things can always get better. I was there at MSG the night he won the title at WM 20, I remember yelling, screaming in triumph, “finally! justice!!” finally the little engine that could got what he so richly deserved. All those feelings seem so betrayed right now, a senseless, barbaric act robbed us all of that.

It will never be the same, that magical innocence that I related with wrestling, that picture book into my childhood has been eradicated.

I just wanted to let you know how much of what you wrote rang so true to my heart and mind.

~Scott

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I have never responded to an Oratory article, but felt I should in this situation.

You know, you are not alone in your thoughts and opinions. This is a hard situation for all wrestling fans to get through. I have been a fan for over 25 years and my favorite memory was being at Wrestlemania 20 during the main event celebration. My friend, a grown man, had tears in his eyes seeing Eddie and Chris hug. I just couldn’t stop smiling. I remember walking out feeling like that was worth all my time, money, and energy I ever put into being a fan. I was part of a moment no one would ever forget, or so I thought. During the Raw memorial show, I was really upset. Of course it went from sadness to anger when I found out the truth. Just like that it had all been taken away. All the joy and all the fond memories gone in an instant. It is tough to have years and years of memories and respect taken away just like that.

The reason I write to you though is that you said you might not watch wrestling again. I think we as fans need to go back and rediscover other memories. Hogan/Andre, Brett/Austin, Shawn/anyone he has faced except Kahli. The point is, yes we lost a big part of what we love, but not all. We as fans need to rediscover the love we have for this business. I mean who knows, the next great wrestler may be just a SummerSlam away. Don’t let killer kill your love for wrestling.

NY21

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Hello John, my name is Chuck. Like you and every other wrestling fan in the entire world right now, I am deeply saddened and confused. I had a somewhat surreal experience like yours this past weekend. It was around 2 a.m. on Sunday. I was hanging out with one of my friends and we were discussing the upcoming Vengeance PPV. I joked about how Vengeance was on June 24 (my birthday), and I told my friend “this is the present that I get from the WWE? another lackluster card?”. My friend and I realized there was only one match we were excited about: CM Punk vs. Chris Benoit. We knew that this match was going to steal the show and my friend was going to have someone tape it for him and we would watch the match sometime later in the week.

Early Monday morning, I checked Rajah.com like i normally do, and I read that Benoit no-showed the event due to family illness. Later that day i checked Rajah again to see if there were any spoilers about the McMahon death stroyline, because I wasn’t going to watch it. That’s when I read about it. I was in shock for the rest of the night. Chris Benoit and his family were dead.

As a 20-year old guy, I am not afraid to admit it. During the Chris Benoit tribute video, I cried like a baby when they showed the footage of him winning the Royal Rumble and inevitably the world title at ‘Mania. Various point of the show I would be in tears again. The whole thing didn’t seem right. When I heard William Regal’s message, I started to feel wierd about the entire thing. I was passed out on my couch when my mom woke me up saying that there were rumors that Chris killed his family before killing himself. I would’nt know the truth until the next day.

I once again checked Rajah on Tuesday and reading headlines that referred to the WWE pulling Benoit’s merch and tribute off the site, I knew the truth. I am not going to go into the details, because I feel wierd even typing them, and I know you know them already. The one detail i will discuss that gets me is that there are reports that Chris’s life ended early Sunday morning.

So while I am out celebrating my birthday, getting drunk and having a good time, This horrible act took place. Another wierd coincidence is that I watched the Eddie Guerrero tribute video at my friend’s house while these horrific events were happening. The events in the past 5-6 days will continue to go through my head for awhile.

As for Chris Benoit, I always ranked him as probably the top 3 wrestlers of my generation(with Kurt Angle and Bret Hart), and as much as I want to remember Chris for his ringwork, but this sick and horrifying act will always run through my mind. Not only because it is shocking, but for every year that I am one year older, this story is also one year older. The Benoit tragedy will always be synonymous with my birthday in my eyes, and I am going to have to accept that.

Unlike you, I don’t have an extensive Chris Benoit library of videos and photos, but the memories I always had of him were such events as his debut in the WWE, the first best-of-seven series with Booker T, and the highly emotional Owen Hart tribute match with Bret Hart. These memories are all tainted by this horrific act that he committed, and my opinion of him as a human being has completely changed. In the span of a day, I went from crying for this man to absolutely despising him. I feel so betrayed.

As fans of the wrestling business, all we can do is move on. We need to appreciate those who are still here and also appreciate those that we take for granted. Chris WAS looked at as one of the good guys in the business, and hopefully some of the troublemakers see this as an eye opener to get their acts together.

Sincerely,

Chuck

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Hi John,

The last time I wrote an email to you was the time Eddie Guerrero passed away. Ever since Eddie passed away, I have not been watching WWE much.

However, WWE had announced that they will be coming to Singapore for a one night event. And it will be a smackdown/ecw tour. Which means that (you know who) will be coming to Singapore as well. I was delighted. The moment the tickets were on sale, My cousin, friend and I bought front row seats. It was worth the money because I saw (you know who) wrestle LIVE in Singapore a few years back.

Then the sad thing happened…. I was on rajah.com as usual to see the results for Vengeance. But the headline was not the Vengeance results….. It was something that made my heart sinked to the ground (You know who) was reported dead along with his family. I was like damn it, is WWE pulling off another stunt? Vince’s fake death really pisses me off with WWE for the time being. But after browsing a few other websites, it was confirmed that (you know who) was dead. I was devastated. A drop of tear rolled down my cheek as I remembered about Eddie’s death and now it was another wrestler who put so much into the industry had passed away.

However, at night, when I checked back for more news on the death, I WAS SHOCKED!! (You know who) had did a double murder to his family before killing himself……. I was disgusted. Like what you wrote on your article, I tried to erase him from my memory. But I can’t……. It was hard…….

I really do not know what to continue to write about (you know who) anymore……. I just want to end this email wishing that this will hopefully be the last case of murder in WWE superstars towards is family/friends/or any other things. And to (you know who) family, I hoped that you rest in peace. As for (you know who), I just want to say that when you are on the otherside and you regretted what you had done, it is too late…….

P.S (I used (you know who) because I don’t feel like mentioning his name anymore)

Cheers,
Nick316 from Singapore.

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Thanks a lot for reading and thanks again for all the emails you sent in. They meant a lot.

Smell ya later,
John C. – oratoryjohn@gmail.com
MSN: oratoryjohn@hotmail.com – Do not email me here! Will not be read!

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