Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Honor a Murderer?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Honor a Murderer?

On Monday, June 25th, I posted an honor to the late Chris Benoit on The Beast's Lair. I do that when people I respect pass away. In the subsequent days after my post, the preliminary police report saying that Benoit murdered both his wife and son before taking his own life has been confirmed. Chris Benoit, the man who I honored, is a double-murderer.

Since the confirmed report I have had a couple of people ask me what I thought about keeping my honor on the Lair. Should I take it down? The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) canceled their Monday Night Raw program and presented a 3 hour tribute to Chris Benoit after the news of his death. This was before the reports of the murder and suicide. After the confirmation of the report, the WWE removed all tributes of Benoit from WWE.com and owner Vince McMahon issued this statement before the Tuesday night wrestling program:

"other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit tonight. On the contrary, tonight's show will be dedicated to everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident."

I do not blame the WWE for their actions. But what about the rest of us? Should the name Chris Benoit from this point forth only be uttered with an inflection of shame? There can be no doubt that whatever legacy he has left has been in some way tarnished. Perhaps more for some than others. We will be asking the question, why? Why would a reported loving father and husband, a man respected above all others in the industry he loved, all of sudden snap and do something so horrific? My friend James Aaron called to tell me the news. If he would have said to me, "Phil, guess which WWE superstar killed his wife and son and then committed suicide?" I would have put the name Chris Benoit at the very bottom of the list. I don't understand his actions and he, of course, has lost much of why I respected him.

Nevertheless, should his last days of complete tragedy and confusion wipe away all the good he did as a wrestler? Even if we want it to, it can't. We can from this day forth frown on the name Chris Benoit and strip him of the respect and pride he used to hold with dignity. We can tear his pictures out of the WWE catalogs and burn his merchandise. We can fast forward his matches on the WWE DVD collection. But we can't erase the fact that he was one of, and arguably the best wrestler in the world. We can't erase the fact that many wrestlers struggling to break into the business are sweating and bleeding at night because of Chris Benoit. We can't erase the fact that he was the World Heavyweight Champion, holding the title high above his head at Wrestlemania 20. And we can't erase the fact that for all those years, day in and day out, he treated people with respect and love.

So, my honor to Chris Benoit remains. Not because of his life choices in the end and certainly not because of the evil, unnecessary tragedy for which he is guilty. But because I would be a hypocrite if I failed to recognize that this was one of a very select few people who made me stand up, lift my hands in the air, and scream at the top of my lungs for the flying head butt and crippler crossface.

I think, finally, the best words to sum up this post on the Lair comes from my very favorite police detective, Lieutenant Columbo. This is what he said to a gathering of ladies in honor of "Abigail Mitchell" who was a world-famous mystery writer and a real life murderer:

"And I'll tell ya something else. . .even with some of the murderers I meet, I even like them too. Sometimes I like them, and even respect them. Not for what they did, certainly not for that. But for that part of them that is intelligent, or funny, or just nice. Because there is niceness in everyone, a little bit anyhow. You can take a cop's word for it."


Anonymous Paul, in Bethel Park said...

I am just as confused as you about his actions and can only pray for any surviving relatives he has.

I enjoyed watching him "rassle" for the entertainment that it was. As for "wrestling", that's another story.

Kurt Angle went to high school where I lived outside of Pittsburgh. When he won the Olympic gold medal...that was wrestling. When he blew up after starting the steroids and getting into the entertainment field...that was rassling.

I have mixed feelings because those men did not get big on Wheaties and whole milk. And the subtle message it sends to young men about physical development is questionable.

This not withstanding, I am sad for his survivors and what must be going through their heads about where he probably is now.

June 27, 2007 5:43 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...


I agree with your comments concerning the subtle message this sends to adolescents. We are on the same page there.

I hope by distinguishing between "wrestling" and "rassling" you are not slighting the athleticism of the WWE Superstars. You will be hardpressed to find more gifted and talented athletes.

This really is a mind boggling case, and as always, thanks for your comments.

June 27, 2007 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Rexwilder said...

But it seems to me you can't deny the steriods issue is a real difficult one. If these performers/wrestlers lead kids to want to become performers/wrestlers, those kids will quickly find out that there is really no way (or at least extremely unlikely and no way in the short term) to get those bodies, etc. without steriods or othe designer drugs, which slowly destroy the body. Obviously, this is an issue in all sports (see the baseball/Barry Bonds issues)...but WWE type wrestling, which stongly appeals to young males, makes it nearly a requirement.

June 27, 2007 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Paul, in Bethel Park said...


I am not slighting them at all. In fact, I started watching wrestling as a young boy.

I still remember being at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena when Ivan Koloff beat Bruno Sammartino for the first time. The place was rocking so hard, people were so angry, the promoters had to bring Bruno out to calm the crowd...the crowd lifted him up and passed him up to the ring!

June 27, 2007 9:19 PM  

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