Sunday, 29 June 2008

Benoit

Happy Anniversary!

This week is the one year anniversary of Chris Benoit becoming so furious at his demotion to ECW in last year's draft that he slammed the Crippler Crossface onto both his wife and son. Neither tapped out and the result was disastrous for the public image of professional wrestling. Because this is hardly a comedy goldmine, don't expect this post to be too heavy on humour.

Having not showed up to take part in his match at Vengeance the night before citing 'family problems', it was revealed the day after that Chris Benoit and his family had been found dead. On hearing the news on that Monday afternoon, it was decided that instead of the normal Raw broadcast for that night, they'd have a show in tribute to the recently deceased Benoit made up of his greatest matches.

However, as the details of the circumstances surrounding Benoit's death became more apparent and more grisly, WWE looked to distance themselves from the whole gruesome affair. The following day, WWE released a press statement condemning Benoit and countering the buzz in the press that Benoit had killed his family in a fit of 'roid rage' - a newly-coined term to describe the red mist that periodically descends over steroid users. In countering the claim that steroids had anything to do with the deaths, WWE painted Benoit as a cold-hearted killer by stating that the nature of the deaths pointed to a calculated and pre-meditated attack.

Rather hastily, all previous mention of Benoit on WWE's website was removed. The last thing WWE would want other than to be associated with a murderer would be to be associated with a murderer who was on steroids. WWE's treatment of the whole affair should be considered despicable. There was a huge frenzy and media circus surrounding the whole story, and rather than try and calm things down, WWE's panicky reaction just made them look suspicious.

It was a case of life imitating art. In the weeks prior to Benoit's death, WWE were running one of the biggest storylines of recent years where Vince McMahon died in a limo explosion and his offices were being searched by the FBI. The irony that Benoit's death triggered an investigation into the company by the US government became all too apparent. When 11 wrestlers on WWE's books were named as customers, oh sorry, 'patients' of Signature Pharmacy, they were suspended immediately by the WWE under their Wellness Policy guidelines. A policy that was brought in after the premature death of Eddie Guerrero but only apparently employed and taken seriously after the death of Benoit.

All kinds of media outlets were publishing lists of wrestlers who'd died young in recent memory. However it must be said that their digging up of these deaths to make pro wrestling look bad is morally bankrupt. Where were the huge stories and witch hunts after each of the wrestlers on their lists died young? Oh yes, that's right, they didn't kill anyone else so it isn't that tragic.

It's unbelievable that despite the incredible amount of bad press that's wrongly been directed at WWE for steroid use that people like Gene Snitsky don't get fired. I'm convinced the guy's beaten up 50 teenagers and stolen their acne just to cover his own back with.

In summary, WWE hasn't learnt its lesson from all of this. The heat's died down on the whole Benoit-steroids thing and gone more onto the diagnosis that he went mental because of all of the concussions he's suffered over his career. But WWE still push huge, muscular guys who must struggle to keep in shape naturally.

You'd think, or at least keep a distant hope that tragedies like Benoit's would change the world. His and his family's deaths seem to have been in vain.

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3 comments:

rock said...

I knew that WWE wasn't going to change when they started removing Benoit from their past programming. That was typical Vince. "If I say it didn't happen, there never was a Chris Benoit." Instead of dealing with the problem, the WWE went into spin mode and damage control. The saddest thing to me is the way that Benoit's dad has been treated as he's just seemed like someone who wants to get the facts about his mindset, and WWE has deflected everything away from themselves. They have refused to consider the Nowinski studies about concussions, and the steroid tests to me still aren't independently done. It's like they were content when the results came back and showed that Benoit was on testosterone to go "see no roids, he was a nut-job" and go on their merry way. I mean, how long did Mike Knox stay off tv when they found roids in his former house? He was back on within two weeks. Sorry for the length of the comment, but it's a heavy subject. Good post BTW.

Joe K said...

Good post Leigh - tough getting laughs from this, but the acne line was great.

Leighsus Christ said...

Thanks for reading Joe. Double thanks for posting a comment. Especially one of praise!