Wrestling legend Chris Benoit will never make it into the WWE Hall of Fame because of the fact that he murdered his wife and child (h/t ESPN), but that doesn’t mean the world should forget about Benoit’s career and his achievements.
There is no discounting or questioning just how heinous Benoit's crimes were or how unforgiving murdering two innocent people was.
At the same time, there is also no denying the impact that the former World Champion had on the wrestling business and the world during his career.
The Rabid Wolverine was one of the greatest superstars to ever grace the business.
In terms of pure in-ring skill and ability, Benoit was second-to-none, but it was his willingness to teach and help the younger talents that helped bring wrestling to a great era. Not only did Benoit teach up-and-coming stars, but he also worked endlessly to improve the sport of wrestling and break the wall down for smaller workers.
Add in the contributions he made to the Make-A Wish foundation and the support he showed for the troops, and the circumstances surrounding his death and unimaginable crimes become even harder to fathom.
As horrible as Benoit's actions were on the day he murdered his family and then killed himself, there are lessons from the wrestler's demise that can't be ignored.
Benoit should be in the WWE Hall of Fame with a clear story about the ending of his life and some of the possible reasons behind it—including the fact that many doctors (h/t ABC News) believe it was the damage the former WCW and WWE champion suffered to his brain in the ring that could have triggered the double murder-suicide.
Instead of ignoring Benoit and expunging him from the record books, though, the WWE should be using this heartbreaking story as the motivation behind finding out how to prevent head injuries and how to make the sport safer for the competing athletes.
Just like the NFL is dealing with concussion problems that could have possibly triggered suicides—such as former legend Junior Seau and his untimely death being allegedly attributed to his brain damage over the years (h/t ABC News)—the WWE should see Benoit's heinous crime as a chance to learn from tragedy and change the business for the better.
Even after such a horrible ending to a storied career, the issues that ravaged Benoit should be used as a guide to show the WWE Universe exactly how dangerous the sport of wrestling is, and what the long-term ramifications of the in-ring damage sustained can have on today's superstars.
As horrifying as his crimes were, Benoit’s continued impact on the wrestling business is undeniable and must be told. If that means prefacing all discussion about the 20-time champion with the double murder-suicide that ended the lives of his wife, child and himself, then that’s what must be done.
Ignoring Benoit and his story doesn’t help anybody, and it turns a blind eye to the issues caused by years of wrestlers abusing their bodies and the long-term ramifications the damage has on the performers.
If anything, Benoit's story should be used as a cautionary incident for younger talent and to teach how important it is to be mindful of their health in this dangerous sport.
Benoit won’t get into the Hall of Fame in 2013—or likely ever—but the WWE should have something that acknowledges his long career and his tragic demise in the proper fashion.
There is no denying just how horrible Benoit’s actions were at the end of his life, but the fans shouldn’t forget the good that Benoit did over so many years.
Instead, everyone must learn from this awful ending to a storied career.
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