The Chris Benoit Conundrum: Should His Wrestling Legacy Be Acknowledged?

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2012

NEW YORK - MARCH 11:  (FILE) Wrestler Chris Benoit attends a press conference to promote Wrestlemania XX at Planet Hollywood March 11, 2004 in New York City. Benoit, his wife Nancy and their son Daniel, 7-years-old, were found dead June 25, 2007 at their home in Georgia.  (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Peter Kramer/Getty Images

Chris Benoit shook the foundation of the wrestling world when it was announced he had taken the lives of his wife, son and himself.

The announcement came after he missed a pay-per-view match where he was set to fight for the ECW title against CM Punk. He was replaced by John Morrison when it was announced he could not make the event.

As details began to unfold, all we knew was that he and his family were dead. WWE made the decision to play a tribute show to Benoit in the same way they had done for Owen Hart after his unfortunate death.

Once the details were out in the open, WWE decided to wipe Benoit from the record books as if he never existed.

His matches were edited out of many DVDs and his name has never been said on WWE TV since Vince McMahon told the world that Chris Benoit was no longer a part of WWE's legacy.

At first, there were very few people who would say that he deserved credit for his wrestling accomplishments. Most people chose to condemn Benoit.

Over the last few years, some fans have spoken out about their wish for Benoit to be acknowledged for the talented wrestler he was.

Every time I write a list, or read a list, naming the best superstars for any given reason and Benoit is not included there is always someone who asks why Benoit was not on the list.

He was an amazing wrestler and proved that you did not need to be overflowing with charisma to be the top wrestler in WWE.

Over the years Benoit had been abused and abused himself. He used pain killers to numb the pain, steroids to keep his bulk up and antidepressants to fight his demons.

Combine this with all the abuse his head had taken over the years from chair shots and diving head butts and you have a combination of very dangerous habits and vices.

The exact cause for Benoit's actions has never really been hashed out. Some say it was the years of drugs and steroids which turned his brain to mush while others blame the damage he had done to his head by having multiple concussions which were never properly treated.

The fans who think he should be acknowledged do not necessarily wish to see him in the Hall of Fame or have his own DVD set, but rather that he not be forgotten altogether.

When WWE came out with their last DVD about ladder matches, some fans were upset because Benoit was overlooked, as was he in their 50 Greatest Superstars DVD.

There is still a large portion of the wrestling community who do not wish to see him ever given credit again.

This causes much debate among fans. The question some fans ask is should his legacy in the ring be affected by what he did outside the ring?

The other side ask how can anyone acknowledge how great he was after he did what he did? It is a hot button topic which will never really see a consensus among fans.

I personally have chosen to never mention Benoit in an article unless I absolutely have to. I will not deny his ability in the ring, but I will not praise the name of someone who killed a child no matter what the circumstances.

This position has caused me to receive some backlash from people as I never include him in slideshows featuring the best superstars or matches.

I understand the need to want to remember your heroes for how they were when they were alive, but that is not how everyone feels. Some of us feel that people can ruin their long legacy with a single act.

The one thing everyone agrees on is what he did was wrong, no one will be able to deny that, but how he is remembered is what is so controversial.

A film is being produced which will chronicle those last few days in the Benoit House. It will be interesting to see how the film will portray Benoit's state of mind, but the idea of producing this film has been met with some criticism.

Some feel it will shed a negative light on the wrestling industry, which has already taken a considerable amount of bad press over the deaths of the Benoit family.

The current WWE wellness policy has concussion testing on top of having the usual tests for drugs and steroids. This is another step WWE has taken to ensure the safety of their performers.

Had this policy been enacted 15 years ago before Benoit was ever a member of WWE. then this may never have happened. Unfortunately there is no telling if his other demons would have been the thing that still set these events in motion. It is impossible to say.

It has been over four years since the incident, but does time heal all wounds? Should his time in WWE, WCW and ECW be lauded as an epic career?

While Benoit was one of the most well known in his industry, it does not mean he will get any more special consideration than anyone else.

What do you think? Does Chris Benoit deserve credit for what he did in the ring, or was his last act on this earth enough to make it so he never deserves to be mentioned again?