Column I wrote for Gerweck.net
Chris Benoit was my professional idol. There, I said it. It’s something that no one except my close friends know. In a way, I’m ashamed of this even though no one could have predicted the horrific events that occurred six years ago this very day. I remember where I was when I heard the news about the murders. I had just gotten out of class and my friend Reid call me and said: “I have something to tell you and you should sit down.”
Of course, I didn’t heed his advice since I was trying to catch the train. Reid told me that the Benoit family was found murdered in their home and the first thing I asked him was if it was a work. That question is kind of morbid now that I think about it, but I assumed that it was tied into that evening’s episode of Raw which was scheduled to be Vince McMahon’s funeral. Reid told me how all the major news stations were covering the story and I became dizzy, I became numb, and my heart was broken.
When you train to become a wrestler, you learn things as your mind is opened up to a whole new world. You begin to realize how good some wrestlers are and gain a deep level of professional respect for how they apply their craft. I honestly can’t think of another wrestler in that decade who had more influence, or another wrestler who more wrestlers borrowed from than Chris Benoit. I didn’t just watch his matches, I studied them, I analyzed every facet of his mechanical application.
I recall this one time where borrowing from his repertoire helped me through a tough training drill. Steve Bradley made a surprise visit to our school and ran training that evening. He had us drill giving and taking headlock takeovers. I was good at giving them, but not much good at the taking part. To me, it was an awkward position to put my body in. I kept botching take after take and became very frustrated that I couldn’t get it right. I took a step back, and assessed the situation.
Then I thought about how Benoit took headlock take over as he tucked his arms under the person’s body with a supinated grip, where your palms point inwards and rolled over. I mimicked his approach and my takeover was as smooth as silk! The entire class popped and Bradley had me do it again and again because it looked so good. That night, I fancied myself a student of the game and was proud of what I accomplished.
To this day, I can’t watch his matches and quickly change the subject whenever his name is mentioned. Hell, even typing his name in this post makes me a little uncomfortable. We all have heard the different arguments and opinions on the matter so I’m not going to rehash the details. In my opinion, you’re not wrong no matter whether you choose to revere or despise Chris Benoit. I choose to despise him because he made the choice to not ask for help. So today, my thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and Daniel, not on the man who took their lives.