It all started in 1985. Chris Benoit, being fascinated with the style of the Dynamite Kid, began his wrestling career. Looking to emulate the style of his role model, Benoit entered Canada's Stampede Wrestling promotion and began to impress the Hart family with his undying passion to excel in the wrestling business. Here, Benoit started to mimic some moves from Kid, particularly the diving headbutt. Benoit would go on to use this move for the duration of his career.
Benoit then did some work in Japan and Mexico, even capturing the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship and holding it for over a year-and-a-half. After a very brief stint in WCW, Benoit became popular during his ECW run beginning in 1994. Although he only stayed for a year, he made a name for himself by being a dominant heel, even gaining the moniker of "The Crippler." His most notable moment in ECW was when he broke Sabu's neck after a botched back body drop.
He would then gain fame in WCW, becoming notable for a various number of accomplishments such as joining the Four Horseman, his runs as United States Champion and his "Best-of-Seven Series" matches with Booker T for the television title. He also engaged in a real life conflict with Kevin Sullivan over Woman, who was once Sullivan's wife but then became involved with Benoit. This was aired as a storyline on WCW programming.
In spite of winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship during his tenure, Benoit shockingly still decided to leave the company and join the WWE. Three others made the choice to leave as well—Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero—to form the faction known as the Radicalz. Benoit achieved midcard success, becoming the Intercontinental and United States Champion. In 2004, he reached the pinnacle of his career, winning the Royal Rumble and subsequently the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XX.
After being drafted to ECW in 2007, he was booked to win the championship during a match against CM Punk. However, Benoit never showed up to the event.
Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened—he was later found dead in his home, and it was determined that Benoit was the mastermind behind a menacing double murder of his wife Nancy and son Daniel, which eventually resulted in him hanging himself.
WWE even cancelled the previously-booked Raw to have a tribute show for Benoit. However, after finding out the details about the case, the company began to distance themselves from Chris Benoit altogether, refusing to mention him on any programming and even omitting him from most public media footage.
Even with such an indelible tarnish of an amazing and enviable pro wrestling career, many wrestlers still recognize Benoit as a consummate professional.
Long-time friends of Benoit—Chris Jericho and Perry Saturn—commemorated Benoit today, the six-year anniversary of that tragic incident.
Jericho posted this picture of he and Benoit during the WAR Super J Cup in 1995. Benoit (as Wild Pegasus) defeated Jericho (as Lionheart) in the second round of the competition.
Perry Saturn respectfully paid tribute to him on Twitter as well:
Today's the anniversary of real tragedy. I'll never understand it. But I can't help still missing my friend. RIP Benoit Family.— Perry Saturn (@PerrySaturn1) June 24, 2013
Sadly, even though he had such a great pro wrestling career, Chris Benoit will always be known for the deplorable acts committed during that late-June weekend. As a result, a shoo-in Hall of Fame career will never reach that zenith.
Honestly, one can never take away from what Benoit achieved during his career. He became one of the most well-respected people among a host of fellow wrestlers during his lifetime, and to this day, many are still shocked that he would commit such a heinous act.
So the controversial question remains: despite the irremovable career-altering blemish, would you still induct Chris Benoit in the WWE Hall of Fame? Comment, respectfully, below.