Chris Benoit vs. the WWE: The Legacy That Should Never Be Forgotten
We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.
- Chuck Palahniuk
Before I begin, let me just say that this is not about Chris Benoit's final act.
I am not trying to justify what he did. There is no justifying that murder.
But recently, I stumbled upon some videos of the tribute to Chris Benoit after his death. After watching them again, I realized just how truly touching these videos are. They were filmed before the nature of Benoit's death was revealed.
Each man and woman had such deep-set emotion for this man. There was nothing faked or rehearsed about this night.
As this article goes along, there will be a number of these tribute videos. I implore you to watch them before reading each slide.
After that night, WWE stripped the company of any mention of the name Chris Benoit. It is a forbidden name that will never exist again.
While understandable by a business standpoint, this is a mistake.
His actions in his death were horrendous, but they were not worthy of destroying his legacy.
The legacy of a man who gave everything to his company.
The legacy of one of the most dedicated wrestlers of all time.
At about 18, Chris Benoit began wrestling. He went through Stampede Wrestling and New Japan Wrestling.
When he entered WCW in 1992, after about seven years of training, Benoit had made it big. He would make his mark on WCW and ECW before signing with WWE (the WWF at the time).
Benoit fought non-stop for every business he was involved in.
He always took that chance or made that risky decision in the ring because that was what the fans wanted.
Looking back, it is a surprise that Benoit did not miss much time throughout his career due to injury.
Over his time in each company, Benoit would use the flying headbutt as a signature. It was the move that the fans went crazy for.
These headbutts, along with the many times Benoit was hit in the head with a chair, would lead to serious concussions over the years. These injuries would compound to a point where Benoit should have been watched consistently due to medical problems. His final act would directly correlate with his years of head injuries.
This man gave so much to this business and never turned away. It would even end up leading to his death.
Chris Benoit was not a bad person.
He was intense and held his emotions in check most of the time, but he believed that everyone should show each other respect.
He respected the fans and his fellow wrestlers. He expected those wrestlers to return that respect to each other and him.
Today, we see guys like Randy Orton who still wrestle to grasp that idea. I do not know who Triple H was talking about in his story about a young star showing disrespect to Shawn Michaels, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was Orton. Randy has pushed people down and hurt their careers. He still has a tendency to disrespect people, though he shows signs of finally becoming a professional outside the ring as much as he is inside.
Benoit never had that problem. He never taunted older talent or put young talent down.
He was a man who believed in the whole business and never let anyone else change that.
Putting over Young Talent
This video with CM Punk is so touching to watch because we all know where he has gone since that point.
Punk has taken up the reigns for Benoit and made a truly lasting impression.
Benoit's respect for the younger guys transcended simply not ridiculing them.
He was one of the guys backstage who truly took others under his wing. He would help young talent improve and create stars out of these men.
MVP would say, shortly after leaving WWE, that Benoit had truly helped him grow and develop.
These young men learned from Benoit and respected him for it.
Many of them will never forget Benoit.
One of Wrestling's Greatest
Watch Chris Benoit wrestle in any match.
He makes everyone look good, but he always looks better.
His technical ability is unparalleled. He could create magic with Bret Hart, Rey Mysterio, the late Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, and so many more.
As a kid, Chris Benoit was one of my favorite guys to watch on Smackdown.
His intensity and ability were brilliant to watch.
I vividly remember his match against JBL in a steel cage. It was a match that has stuck with me to this day mainly because of Benoit's intensity. I was up in arms when JBL hit a low blow and escaped.
This is what Chris Benoit could do in the ring. He mesmerized the audience with his every move.
Few could or ever will match Chris Benoit in the ring.
Look through WWE history—there are so many holes now.
A list of the greatest matches of all time feels incomplete without some of Benoit's matches.
An entire Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania XX, is centered around the story of Chris Benoit's greatest triumph.
Chris Benoit has been a world champion, a Royal Rumble winner, and a Triple Crown winner.
But Benoit's impact also transcended his work in the ring.
He was a friend and compatriot to so many people.
He made a lasting impression on many stars who traveled through that locker room.
While WWE may hide his name and likeness, stars like Edge, Chavo, Triple H, Cena, and Punk will never forget Chris Benoit.
The Tale of Two Greats
This is one of the most touching videos I've ever seen.
Chris Benoit would leave this world shortly after Eddie Guerrero. Watching this man, who seems so intense and almost emotionless, cry is so incredibly touching.
These two greats died far too soon, but their legacies should live on forever.
The legacy of Eddie Guerrero has been touched on many times. He is one of the best this business will ever see, but he also had his demons. His noted struggles with drug and alcohol abuse plagued him for years.
Chris Benoit was known for steroid abuse alongside the depression caused by brain damage over the years.
Both of these legends were brought down by their demons.
They are different cases, as Eddie died naturally and only partly due to his drug abuse over the years.
Chris killed himself and his family, so I am not calling for him to be raised up to the level of Eddie.
He simply deserves to be acknowledged for what he did for pro wrestling. Not put in the Hall of Fame or forever raised up as a saint.
Chris Benoit Should Never Die!
If we don't let the work that Chris Benoit did for the WWE die, he will never die.
If you are averse to blood, skip to about 7:15 to see the celebration. Regardless, don't miss watching this great moment again.
This is a man who changed the industry and made a major impact on some of the greatest stars in pro wrestling history. Those stars will never forget him.
WWE may try to blot out his name, but as long as we remember him for what he was, he will live on.
He will live on not as the man who killed and died in his twilight hour, but as the man who made new stars, promoted respect, and remained loyal to professional wrestling until his dying day.