By now, everyone knows about the death of wrestling superstar Chris Benoit. What’s new is that it now seems that news of the murder/suicide was reported on Wikipedia hours before police issued any statement. Weird.
I learned of the tragedy the same way I get all my wrestling news: from my god buddy Sean McLoughlin. It was Sean who called me seconds after Owen Hart fell to his death. It was Sean who alerted me to the death of Eddie Guerrero. And it was Sean who was on the ball with the Benoit story.
What that says about Sean or me I do not care to guess. What is sad, though –beyond the obvious tragedy of the story– is that Benoit has long been considered to be the single finest technical “pro” wrestler in North America. Yet he has never acquired the fame of his technical lessers, like Hulk Hogan or The Rock. It took becoming a family annihilator before he was mentioned on the Tonight Show. The irony is that Benoit, unlike his hard living contemporaries, was known for his clean cut “family man” image.
See, I used to be a proud wrestling columnist. Back in the era of the Monday Night Wars, my columns got more readership than either of my books or anything else I’ve ever written. It got to the point where USA Today contacted me to be a consultant on a feature they were doing on premature deaths in wrestling. While that may seem prescient to some of you, you must understand that the phenomenon of “dying young” is nothing new in wrestling. It all has to do with physical abuse, drug use, and hard living.
Benoit was closely associated with the royalty of Canadian wrestling, the Hart family. Owen Hart –another clean-living family guy– plummeted to his death during an ill advised live stunt. Owen’s brother Bret retired as a result of a kick to the head by Goldberg, resulting some time later in a stroke. Bret’s brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith died of premature heart failure, after a lifetime of steroid abuse. Benoit’s mentor, the great Dynamite Kid, was retired to a wheelchair during his prime, the result of pain killers and drug abuse. And Benoit’s best friend, Eddie Guerrero, also died of heart failure, the likely result of similar steroid abuse.
The list goes on and on… I can give you 20 names off the top of my head of wrestlers dead or crippled before the age of 45, mostly as a result of drug abuse… and now it seems likely that Benoit himself suffered from ‘roid rage and was attempting to inject his 7 year old son with human growth hormone.
There is nothing good about this story. Nothing at all.
Okay, my attempts to migrate to Windows Mobile have now resulted in XP itself rebelling against me. Yes, my droogs, my beloved computer Landru collapsed on me. By the grace of Zod, I was able to backup all (I think) of my critical data and am now in the process of wiping the drive and re-installing the OS. Is it all worth it? Better be!