Chris Benoit

I was working on a great post about the Constitution and what an evil Constitution-crumpling super-villain Dick Cheney is, but I can’t stop thinking about Chris Benoit, who, over the weekend, killed his wife and child and yesterday hung himself.

Chris Benoit was one of my favorite wrestlers.  I can remember when he and Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero showed up at the WWF after leaving the WCW and how, to me, that really signaled the end of the WCW.  They were solid wresters, probably not large enough or showy enough to reach the top card, but solid, technically sound wrestlers.

That was back in 2000.

I don’t know.  I started blogging in part because I wanted to keep in touch with friends and in part because I was reading and loving these crazy ass wrestling columns written by folks like Chris Hyatt and Eric… I can’t remember his last name, but he was constantly leaving his jobs in various meat packing plants.  I would read them and laugh and get informed and I enjoyed watching them strut around the internet, picking fights and acting like jackasses.

And I think some of the attitude here at Tiny Cat Pants is born from the influence those writers had on me.

And yet, those were some fucked up dudes.  Who were writing about fucked up dudes.  Shoot, I dated an amateur professional wrestler once and even he was fucked up.

I think it must be hard to get up there every week and enact for an audience their most crude (and I mean that in the sense of being ancient and unrefined) fantasies and fears–that you are almost invincible, that things that would kill an ordinary person don’t harm you, that you are a big, strong man who can kick ass, that you can beat the shit out of the people who bother you, that you can earn the respect of your enemies, that your friends might turn on you, etc.

But not only that, you must always pretend to be that crude fantasy.

An actor leaves the stage and is no longer Hamlet.  If someone were to mistake him for Hamlet, we wouldn’t expect the actor to play along.  But a wrestler is expected to always be in character, at least somewhat and the lines between who the person in is the ring and who they are in real life are constantly and often intentionally blurred.

I think it would be hard to live like that.

You might ask around about the kinds of men who are abusive.  About how charming some of them can be, or how ordinary, how their friends and loved ones can adore them and literally have no idea that something is wrong.

I guess what I want to say is that it bums me out that a person who’s work I respected turns out to be the kind of guy who would kill his wife and child.  And yet, there is no specific “kind of guy” who would kill his wife a child–either the answer is much to broad too be of much use–husbands kill wives (but not all husbands kill all wives and not all wives who are killed are killed by husbands)–or too narrow to be satisfying–all we can say is that this husband killed this wife.

It’s just such a stupid waste.

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10 thoughts on “Chris Benoit

  1. The NosePicker told me of this last night, and unfortunately (or presciently (sp?)) I suggested that it could be a murder/suicide situation. And he didn’t even know what that meant, so THAT’S a fun thing to explain to a 15-year old. But it’s the same way that I’ve had to explain when other sports stars get in trouble with the law, and for what reasons. These teenagers really do look up to these athletes, for maybe all the wrong reasons, but it is what it is. And now, with this news, we’ve already had a fairly frank discussion about what steriod use does to a person. So, looking at it like that, will some good come of this? I hope it will.

  2. But does a wrestler always have to be in character? I’m not arguing with you; I’m just asking as someone who has never followed wrestling and doesn’t know what’s expected. Surely everyone gets to be ‘just themselves’ when at home with the family. Some people can’t do the compartmentalization involved, I get that, but I thought it was always an option.

  3. Peg, me, too. I’ve always thought that, for instance, Ozzy Osbourne’s show was the best anti-drug campaign ever. People drink and do drugs because it’s fun; they normally don’t think about ending up a dottering old fart before their time.

    And the truth is that steroids do work. They can make you bigger and stronger and more muscular, but you’re also fucking with your brain chemistry and, in doing so, putting the people you love in serious danger. I hope kids take that to heart.

  4. Oops, sorry, nm. You snuck in on me. I don’t think it’s always a job requirement, but a lot depends. There are luchadors in Mexico who never go out in public without their masks. They are always in character, even when not in the ring (though one might argue that the mask then allows them to compartmentalize and to have some level of normalcy when they do take it off). I think that wrestlers who are obvious characters are not expected by fans to be in character when they aren’t in the ring.

    But Benoit’s character was that he was Chris Benoit. And, his case is unique in that when he was in the WCW, he had a storyline in which… Okay, let me see if I can do this justice.

    Kevin Sullivan was a booker with the WCW when Benoit wrestled for them. A booker is someone who comes up with the storylines and motivations for matches. He also loosely dictates how the match will go. This clearly happens behind the scenes. He also had an onscreen presence, which we’ll call “Kevin Sullivan.” Kevin Sullivan was married to Nancy, who was, onscreen, known, I believe at the time, as Woman.

    Kevin Sullivan (who I think has some issues) booked a storyline where Woman was “Benoit’s” valet (the person who accompanies him to the ring and hangs out there causing trouble) and, in the story, Woman and “Benoit” begin to have an affair, which was supposed to fuel “Benoit” and “Sullivan’s” in-ring rivalry. So thoroughly was Sullivan committed to making this storyline seem real that Benoit and Nancy were required to travel together and even appear to share a hotel room. So, in real life, they also began to have an affair.

    Sullivan’s real-life marriage broke up and Benoit and Nancy became open with their real-life relationship. This was contentious backstage. When Sullivan was promoted to head booker, Benoit and Guerrero (also now dead), Malenko, and Saturn all left for the WWF.

    All this is just to say that the lines of real and non-real in Benoit’s case were blended in a way that they aren’t for most other professional wrestlers.

  5. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » Chris Benoit, murderer or hero?

  6. And this is the woman he evidently killed? Yes, I can see how that’s more complex than the non-fans here realize.

  7. Not splitting hairs here… but has it been decided that Chris blew up like that?

    Is the other story about his wife suffocating the kid, and him killing her in retaliation discredited? And how was it discredited?

    Seems to me that folks may have a vested interest in this being spun one way or another. I just wonder if we’ll ever know what happened… and thus I am reluctant to cast aspertions.

  8. Who is this guy?
    I know, just being mulish.
    But, you know, he did ALLEGEDLY kill his family which falls into the the old DV thing for me.
    Just because he was a celebrity I’m sort in the club oh “Shit” another Domestic Violence victim. And this is not of the good
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/World/2007/06/26/4292058.html

    Just saying.
    Hard to be sympathetic.
    DV is DV.

    I hope someone can prove all of this wrong on this one.

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