You can’t delete reality
Known by the average Joe as the red headed step child of sports, professional wrestling has been the fantasy land of cargo short wearing 40-year-old’s who live in their parent’s basement. Now while the mainstream media may dub it as “Fake,” the wrestling business has just as much reality as other American pastimes.
Yes, pro wrestling is essentially a scripted form of entertainment, think of it as a live action soap opera with wrestling matches deciding the outcome of feuds and rivalries.
In the mid to late 2000’s WWE performer Chris Benoit was exiting the pinnacle of his wrestling career. After 12 championship reigns in WWE Benoit’s career and life came to a gruesome and tragic end.
On the Sunday afternoon of June 23, 2007 Chris Benoit, along with his wife and son died in their Fayetteville, Georgia home. Their bodies were discovered the following day after WWE officials had received text messages from Benoit’s phone saying he would not be able work on Monday, which is when WWE airs RAW, the company’s flagship show at the time.
Fayetteville police entered the Benoit family home on a “welfare check” after Benoit had missed several scheduled appoints for WWE. Chris, his wife Nancy and son Daniel were found dead in what investigators deemed a murder suicide.
I remember it clear as day; I had just come home from my Boy Scout troop meeting, turned on the TV and saw “In memory of Chris Benoit 1967–2007.” Vince McMahon wore a brown sports coat and spoke as earnest and straight forward as I could possibly remember.
From that moment on WWE began to blot out any trace of Benoit from their programming; whether he being featured on past documentaries, lived or taped TV shows and now including their on demand and live streaming video archive, WWE Network. This is mostly due to the scrutiny they came under due to the results of Benoit’s autopsy which supposedly led to him murdering his family and eventually himself.
Traces of multiple anabolic steroids and prescription pain killers were found in his body. Xanax, hydrocodone and elevated levels of synthetic testosterone remained inside Benoit following the investigation. Shortly after news broke out, CNN began piecing together a documentary. “ Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling,” which highlighted Benoit’s tragic death and the history of steroid and prescription drug abuse in the wrestling industry.
CNN’s documentary argued that Vince McMahon’s eagerness to promote wrestlers will bodybuilder type physiques lead to many WWE talents using steroids. They also speculated that the theory of “Roid rage,” played a part in the double murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family. But it wasn’t until former WWE wrestler and founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation Christopher Nowinski suggested that Benoit’s brain be examined for damage. Nowinski is on record saying, “Chris told me he had more concussions than he could remember,” which prompted him to ask for Benoit’s remains days before his to be burial.
Julian Bales, department chair of neurosurgery at West Virginia University conducted the study of Benoit’s brain and found sever trauma which led Bales to conclude that he had suffered greatly from CTE. “Benoit’s brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.”
Since Vince McMahon’s tribute address on June 26, 2007 no mention of Benoit has ever been made on WWE programming.