It was only about ten years ago that I got back into watching wrestling. As a youngster, I would watch incessantly, but during high school, I grew out of it, only to be pulled back in a good six years later by my friend Rich. It was 1997, and WCW was picking up a lot of steam with their storylines. Let's face it, 1990s-WCW had a lot of crap, but it was some of the smaller stories and midcard wrestlers that held my attention.
Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, and a slew of others kept me entertained, either with their wrestling talent, hilarious plotlines (mainly due to being able to get away with crap because they were under the radar. But one man I could always count on to have a great match was Chris Benoit.
He was born in Montreal and raised in Edmonton. He made his mark in Stampede Wrestling down in Calgary. Soon, he was one of the top independent wrestlers in the world. Everywhere he went, he pulled off great matches. New Japan Pro Wrestling as the masked wrestler Pegasus Kid. ECW where he got his nickname of the Crippler. WCW as part of the Four Horsemen and the awesome best-of-seven series with Booker T. And when he came to the WWE, the biggest stage in wrestling? That's where he really made his mark.
I'll be honest, he's not the kind of guy you stick a mic in front of. It wasn't charisma or that it-factor, he got my attention by wrestling. He was one of the best technical wrestlers that ever stepped into the ring. And he was from where I live, which made it even better.
Right now, the circumstances surrounding the death of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their child are looking bad. Seriously bad. As in, "every single thought you about about your personal hero is shattered" bad. But I'm not going to focus on that, not until this absurd case is closed. If it does go the way that police are speculating, well, then Chris Benoit was dealing with demons I couldn't even begin to imagine...
But I choose to focus not on these deaths, but the life I've been given through the matches that Chris Benoit has given me. The Smackdown taping here in Edmonton where he gave "Stone Cold" Steve Austin something like ten German suplexes as the hometown crowd counted them out with fervor. The Backlash 2004 main event, again in Edmonton, where he defended his World Heavyweight Championship by making Shawn Michaels tap to a sharpshooter. Every time Benoit would wrestle in Edmonton, he was treated like royalty, and I made every attempt to see him live as often as I could.
My thoughts go out to the extended families and friends of Chris Benoit and his wife. If my circle of friends, adoring Benoit fans, are being rocked by the news, it must be a million times worse for those people who knew the man. My prayers go out to everyone as we try to figure out what exactly happened this weekend, as we try to make sense of this tragedy.
Chris Benoit, you will be missed.