Chris Benoit Death – Suicide
1967-2007 (age 40)
Chris Benoit was a professional wrestler with a storied career. He was born on May 21, 1967 in Montreal, Quebec. His parents were Michael and Margaret Benoit. Chris grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. Benoit was fluent in both English and French. His career in wrestling spanned twenty-two years and he wrestled for a number of different promotions – most notably in the WCW and WWF.
Over the course of his career, Benoit held a staggering twenty-two titles. It is a legacy that still stands, but it was mostly tarnished by the shocking news about his death. The Chris Benoit death story turned the wrestling world upside down. Yet again, mainstream media coverage heavily scrutinized sports entertainment.
In his personal life; Chris was married twice. He and his first wife Martina had two children. He had a rocky relationship with his second wife Nancy that was marked by domestic abuse. Benoit was known to be good friends with Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. The three wrestlers were close enough to be called the “The Three Amigos”. Chris was devastated by Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 and it would be an eerie precursor to the eventual Chris Benoit death.
Early Career (1985-1995)
As a kid and a young wrestler Chris Benoit was a big admirer of Bret Hart. It isn’t surprising that Benoit began his professional career by training at Hart’s family gym. In 1985, he made his professional debut with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion. Teaming with “The Remarkable” Rick Patterson he won his first tag team match. Benoit’s first title was the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship in 1986. He feuded with Johnny Smith. During his time with Stampede Chris won four International Tag Team titles and three other British Commonwealth titles.
Early in his career, two decades before his suicide: a young Chris Benoit takes on Biff Wellington for Stampede Wrestling (1987)
In 1989 Stampede Wrestling went out of business. Like many other wrestlers, Benoit spent time in Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). He made his debut in Japan under his own name in 1986 but, by 1989, he started wearing a mask and calling himself The Pegasus Kid. The Pegasus Kid proved to be a reliable and exciting performer. Benoit took part in a number of well received matches against wrestlers like Jushin Thunder Liger and El Samurai in the junior heavyweight division.
In August of 1990 The Pegasus Kid won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He twice won Best of the Super Juniors in 1993 and 1995. In 1994 Benoit won the Super J Cup Tournament.
Chris Benoit joined World Championship Wresting in June of 1992. Getting television time with WCW helped Benoit start to make a name for himself. He suffered a loss at Clash of the Champions XIX. In January of 1993 Chris won Clash of the Champions XXII. Then Chris lost to 2 Cold Scorpio at Superbrawl III. Benoit formed a tag team with Bobby Eaton but they lost at Slamboree.
After that loss Chris spent some more time in Japan before joining Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1994. During November 2 Remember, Benoit accidentally broke Sabu’s neck. While Chris was upset by the possibility that Sabu would be paralyzed, the ECW decided to take advantage of the incident and call him Crippler Benoit.
By October of 1995 he was known as Canadian Crippler Benoit. Chris teamed with Dean Malenko and they won the ECW World Tag Team Championships in February of 1995. Benoit, Malenko and Shane Douglas were teamed to create the Triple Threat stable. Together they held all three of the ECW championships. Chris feuded with The Steiner Brothers before leaving the ECW when his work visa expired. He spent more time touring in Japan.
Land of the Rising Sun back to the WCW (1995-2000)
Chris returned to Japan in 1995. He was part of a talent exchange. He advanced to the semifinals in the Super J Cup: Second Stage but lost to Gedo. Because of the ties between NJPW, Benoit was able to return to the WCW in 1995. He teamed with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman in their Alliance to End Hulkamania and feuded with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
Chris also feuded with WCW booker Kevin Sullivan. This feud really heated up when Benoit and Sullivan’s wife Nancy gave the appearance of having an affair. The fake affair turned real and ended the Sullivan’s marriage. It is certainly possible that this beginning to Chris and Nancy relationship played a role in the violence in that relationship and helped lead to the Chris Benoit death.
In 1998 Chris and Booker T began a long feud over the WCW World Television Championship. Booker ended up winning that championship. In 1999 Chis teamed again with Dean Malenko and won the Tag Team Championship. Benoit also won the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Chris was part of The Revolution, a group of heel wrestlers, who formed their own nation. He began to be unhappy with the WCW. After a notable match against Bret Hart in October of 1999 to honor Owen Hart, Benoit ended up leaving the WCW in January of 2000.
On Top of the World Wrestling Federation (2000-2007)
Benoit joined the World Wrestling Federation in 2000. His time at the WWF was an important part of his career. He joined The Radicalz stable. Benoit beat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 2000 – winning the Intercontinental Championship and beginning a long feud. Jericho defeated him in the Royal Rumble in January of 2001.
Chris would go on to win the Intercontinental title three times between April of 2000 and January 2001. In 2001 Benoit left the Radicalz and teamed up with Jericho. He feuded with Kurt Angle, beating him at Backlash and stealing his Olympic Gold Medal. Angle beat Benoit at a Judgment Day PPV match. When Benoit and Jericho challenged Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H they became Tag Team Champions. They went on to challenge Austin for his world title and Chris received a neck injury that sidelined him for the year. In spite of the neck injury Benoit seemed to have a promising future with the WWF with no hint at the Chris Benoit death to come.
When Chris returned to the WWF in 2002 he was billed as a heel. Chris teamed up with Kurt Angle at No Mercy on October 20, 2002 and they won the WWE Tag Team Championship. Benoit was building a storied career and no one suspected his looming death.
The year of 2003 was a busy one for Benoit. He lost to Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble but received a standing ovation for the match. Chris teamed with Rhyno and Los Guereros for WrestleMania XIX. They lost to Angle and his team. In April Benoit feuded with John Cena. Chris took part in the WWE United States Championship. He lost his final match to Guerrero at Vengeance. For personal reasons, WWE General Manager Paul Heyman kept Benoit from having a shot at the WWE title.
The year 2004 was one of success for Benoit. In January he won the Royal Rumble by eliminating Big Show. Chris was only the second WWE wrestler to win the Royal Rumble as the number one entrant. He also managed to use a loophole that allowed him to go from SmackDown to Raw. Benoit challenged Triple H for WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He won a Triple Threat Match against Shawn Michaels and Triple H. On March 14, 2004 Chris beat Triple H at WrestleMania XX by forcing him to tap out. Benoit defended his title against Shawn Michaels at Backlash. Then he teamed with Edge and together they won the Tag Team titles. Edge and Benoit would later go on to feud.
Benoit was back with SmackDown by June 9th. He defeated Eddie Guerrero at One Night Stand. In July he lost at The Great American Bash. Chris won at SummerSlam in twenty-five seconds.
Benoit was devastated on November 13, 2005 when his friend Eddie Guerrero was found dead. He took part in a tribute show for Guerrero and was emotional when talking about his friend. Chris beat Triple H in a match that was a tribute to Guerrero. Guerrero’s death was an emotional blow that possibly contributed to the Chris Benoit death.
In spite of his grief, Chris stayed busy in 2006. Benoit teamed up with Booker T for a “Best of Seven” series of match ups. Booker won three matches. Benoit won the fourth match at Armageddon. Booker had a groin injury and was replaced by Randy Orton. Chris beat him twice. In the final match Orton beat Benoit with help from Booker. At No Way Out Chris beat Booker. Benoit went on to beat Orton in a Smackdown match. Benoit and John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) fought two matches designed to allow JBL time off to have surgery. First Benoit kayfabe broke JBL’s hand. At WrestleMania XXII JBL won. Then JBL beat Chris in a steel cage match using illegal methods. Benoit lost to Finlay at King of the Ring. At Judgment Day he beat Finlay. Chris then received fake injuries in the ring at Smackdown that allowed him to take a real break to heal a shoulder injury. His return after that break was the beginning of the final stretch of matches before the Chris Benoit death.
Benoit made his return to the ring on October 8th at No Mercy. He beat William Regal. Chris then won his fifth United States Championship from Mr. Kennedy. He then feuded with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. Benoit beat them in a title match. Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) challenged Benoit at WrestleMania XXIII and lost to him. Chris beat MVP again at Backlash. Benoit lost his title to MVP at Judgment Day. On the June 11, 2007 episode of RAW Benoit teamed up with CM Punk after being drafted to ECW. They won their match. On June 19th he won his final match against Elijah Burke. After that it was only a short time until the Chris Benoit death.
Final Days and the Chris Benoit Death
After the June 19th match, Benoit missed the weekend house shows. He told WWE officials that his wife and son had food poisoning.
On June 25th, 2007 the police were sent to Benoit’s home. They entered to discover the bodies of Chris and Nancy Benoit and their son Daniel. The evidence showed that Chris had murdered Nancy and Daniel. He then committed suicide. Nancy was bound and strangled. She was wrapped in a towel and there was blood under her head. A Bible was placed next to her body. Daniel was strangled in his bed. A Bible was placed next to him. These murders apparently happened over several days. Chris hung himself from a weight machine. He placed a Bible on the weight machine.
Chris’ father speaks out on Nightline:
All three had varying levels of drugs in their system. Nancy had Xanax, hydrocodone and hydromorphone at prescribed levels in her system. Daniel had been sedated with Xanax before being killed. Chris had Xanax, hydrocodone and high levels of testosterone. The high testosterone was caused by a synthetic hormone given to him. This was given to him because of low levels of testosterone due to steroid abuse.
Like many other wrestlers, Chris had taken steroids. There is no indication that the events of the Chris Benoit death were “roid rage”. Many people do believe that a combination of steroid abuse, brain damage caused by wrestling injuries, problems in his marriage and personal losses, like the death of Eddie Guerrero, were the cause of Benoit’s actions. It also seems that Nancy may have wanted a divorce because Chris was abusing her. However, there is no way to be certain about what set Chris off.
The Benoit family home was sold after the murders:
The evidence that the deaths were a murder/suicide is clear. Despite that evidence a number of conspiracy theories have cropped around the deaths. One started when the Wikipedia article on Chris was updated to say his wife had died shortly before the bodies were found. There was a lot of debate of the origins of this update. It was eventually traced to a person who was not connected to the WWE. He posted the update because of rumors about why Chris missed the weekend matches before his death. The person heard about Benoit saying his wife was ill and made the post.
The tribute that the WWE ran shortly after the family was found also caused controversy. Many believe that the WWE knew what had happened in advance despite a lack of real evidence that anyone in the WWE was aware of the details of the deaths in advance. It seems that the Chris Benoit death was so shocking that people couldn’t accept that a wrestling idol like Benoit would kill his family and then himself.
Chris Benoit was cremated. Presumably his ashes were given to his parents.
Have an opinion about the Chris Benoit murder/suicide? Despite the tragedy, do you think Benoit should be put into the WWE Hall? Sound off in the comments section below.