Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Volume 2, Number 20: Benoit Tragedy Details Emerge

Earlier this afternoon, an Associated Press story disclosed the causes of death for the Benoits, citing a source close to the investigation: Chris strangled his wife and smothered his son before hanging himself in his weight room.

I was just thinking: Benoit, from what I've heard and read, was a quiet man who kept to himself. He also had a violent temper, according to reports I've read about a 2003 incident that led Nancy to file for divorce. Those two factors alone occur in a lot of violent criminals.

In addition, at age 40, he fell in the middle-aged white male group--the same group as Mark Barton and Michael Waleskowski (see links in my previous blog entry for more details), and such mass murderers as James Oliver Huberty (San Ysidro, California, 1984) and George Hennard (Killeen, Texas, 1991).

Here's where the Benoit murders don't make sense, though. Unlike Barton, Hennard and Huberty, Benoit was much more successful. Unlike Waleskowski, Benoit had no known debt problems. Hell, Benoit was rich enough to buy a gated mansion. One could argue that Benoit had just been demoted when he was moved from Smackdown to ECW (assuming WWE sees the latter as a "developmental" brand, as opposed to the envelope-pushing promotion it was under Paul Heyman), but that does not begin to explain anything.

I imagine that World Wrestling Entertainment is in an awkward position. Not just because one of their own employees committed such a heinous crime, but because they decided do a Benoit tribute show before all the facts came to light about exactly what happened in that house. Cancelling the live show in Corpus Christi was an excellent gesture--it proved that Vince McMahon is willing to sacrifice money out of respect for his business--but the decision to air a tribute show featuring Benoit's greatest matches was, at best, hasty, and at worst, flat-out stupid.

What would have been so hard about waiting another week, if not longer? The extraordinary circumstances of Benoit's death--the bodies of his wife and son found in the same house, the unexpected failure to appear at two events due to what Benoit vaguely called "personal reasons," the text messages he sent to co-workers Sunday morning--should have screamed out "Hey, doing a tribute show right now might be risky, like playing Russian Roulette."

During last night's tribute show, various "superstars," including John Cena, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Edge, CM Punk, and even Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie said all sorts of things about Benoit as a hard-working family man as well as a great wrestler. Worse still, videos of these statements were posted on WWE.com after the show, although thankfully, they have since been removed. Still, on the whole, if WWE was playing Russian Roulette, the tribute show was like filling all six chambers with bullets.

The man who is regarded as the voice of the WWE, Jim Ross, will post his thoughts on the murders on his blog shortly. A WWE announcer since 1993, and an announcer for the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) for several years before that, J.R. speaks his mind a lot on everything from wrestling to Oklahoma Sooners football to BBQ grilling. I look forward to reading what he has to say on the matter.

UPDATE 6-26-07 10:46PM: Ross' blog entry regarding the Benoit tragedy is here. Also, I was pleased to see Vince McMahon do a little backtracking at the opening of tonight's ECW program. He didn't apologize for last night's tribute show, but he at least implied that he wouldn't have done it if he had to do it all again.

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