As the announcement of the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame class is unveiled, there is a name that we as fans of wrestling know that the company will never induct.
The truth is that Benoit murdered his wife and child and killed himself. These facts are indisputable and unforgivable. While those are sins never to be forgiven, it doesn’t change all of the matches that Benoit participated in and all of the lives the man changed.
From his time in the Stu Hart Dungeon, through WCW and ECW, and all the way up to holding the WWE World Championship, Benoit proved time and time again that he was one of the best technical wrestlers in the world.
The man was a champion over 20 times in major federations and a perennial mid-to-main eventer for over 20 years. While some believe he should be in the Hall of Fame, others don’t believe the honor is deserved anymore.
WWE announcing legend Jim Ross gives his take on the debate:
We first have to define the WWE Hall of Fame as not of wrestling as a sport, but of WWE as a company. In that sense, Vince McMahon has distanced himself over the years from the Benoit name, and the lifetime snub shouldn’t be a surprise.
Just because we aren’t shocked by the amount of bias in the selection of HoF members doesn’t mean those stars don’t deserve the honor. Look at Pete Rose’s lifetime snub in baseball. To say that Rose doesn’t belong in Cooperstown because of something he did off the field makes no sense.
Benoit was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and his career was riddled with championships and amazing matches. If there was a pure professional wrestling Hall of Fame, the discussion over whether Benoit deserved to be in would truly rage.
I’m not here to say that what Benoit did to his wife and child was right. It was a heinous act that could never be forgiven. Those actions, however, happened outside of a wrestling organization.
While Benoit was in a ring, he was one of the best people in the world at working with his opponent and working for the crowd. We can’t erase the book because the ending was terrible.
Just like O.J. Simpson in football, Benoit deserves to be enshrined for his wrestling.
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