TRAGEDY Chris Benoit was a wrestling icon until he shockingly killed his family and committed suicide

Chris Benoit is a name that is hard to talk about.

While many fans will remember him as one of the elite workers of his generation – quite possibly one of the best ever – the tragedy in June 2007 has blackened the family name permanently.

A whole generation of fans today barely know about the Rabid Wolverine, whose name will never enter the WWE Hall of Fame.

No matter how great his career was, he murdered his wife, his seven-year-old son and then killed himself over one weekend.

And still to this day, no one really understands why.

A recent documentary from Vice’s ‘Dark Side of the Ring’ series had people close to Benoit and his family go into detail about what happened leading up to that terrible incident.

Wrestling legends like Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Jim Ross, Chavo Guerrero, in addition to close family, all opened up about the tragedy for the first time in 13 years.

“Chris was always very much a great father. Very much about his family,” Jericho said.

So how did he come to kill her and his son years later? It seems like there were several factors, as discussed in the documentary.

The actual murders and suicide took place over a three-day period. First, Benoit strangled Nancy and with alcohol found in both of their bodies, it was suspected Benoit acted in a rage.

The next day, he smothered Daniel with a pillow having administered Xanax to him.

Then, a day after that, Benoit went downstairs to his home gym tied a cable around his neck, put it on the highest weight and let go, breaking his neck instantly.

He did this after making two final searches on his home computer. The first was a passage from the bible where a son is resurrected and the second was the fastest and least painful way to break your neck.

So why? The documentary expands on a few theories.


Hardcore Holly speculated in his autobiography that alcohol played a bigger role in the tragedy than many might believe.

Holly, who travelled with Benoit a lot, said the grappler always drank more when he was having domestic issues with his wife. At the crime scene, police found multiple wine bottles half drunk or more.

Holly has since said in interviews Benoit was one of the ‘kindest human being you would ever find’.

“I don’t know what happened, I just honestly couldn’t tell you what happened. Chris was one of the kindest, politest people. I never saw the guy get mad, not one single time. He didn’t get upset about anything.

“When I was writing the book and reflecting back on him, it was kinda hard because then I started thinking about it again, and it’s almost like it’s hard to believe that he’s not here anymore. Me and him were pretty close; we confided a lot in each other. It was very tough, just thinking about it and talking about it.”


This has been a theory for a lot of people, but as Jericho mentions in the documentary, no one has ‘roid rage’ over a three-day period.

However, it’s common knowledge Benoit had taken steroids for virtually the entirety of his career. It wasn’t until Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 that WWE really got strict with their drug testing.

Prior to the deaths, police found texts between Benoit and his wife where the latter complained about having to tolerate his roid rage.

However, Jericho said Benoit had to have stopped taking steroids by then: “After Eddie died, WWE’s drug testing was super strict – it went through the roof. You couldn’t even take a high-powered aspirin unless you had a prescription. And I’m not kidding, the drug testing was so strict. This ‘rampant steroid use..’ dude, you can’t! You can’t go snort cocaine or smoke weed or anything!”

It’s noted that Nancy Benoit thought WWE’s Wellness Programme was a ‘joke’ and Matthew Randazzo V, an author on the murders, has suggested wrestlers were still able to find ways to take steroids despite Jericho’s claims.

Benoit passed all tests leading up the to the murders despite having nearly 10 times the amount of testosterone in his body compared to the average man.

WWE chairman Vince McMahon said “It’s impossible to think this had anything to do with steroid abuse or roid rage. This was an act of deliberation over a three day period, not an impulse.”

Brain trauma
Former WWE superstar Christopher Nowinski, also a Harvard graduate, studied Benoit’s brain after the tragedies and they found he had the mind of an 85-year-old suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Benoit’s brain tissue showed severe CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) to all four lobes of the brain and its stem. It’s speculated

that was the result of years of concussions and unprotected chair shots, something WWE would outlaw shortly thereafter.

Now, concussions are taken far more seriously in professional wrestling and wider sport, but at the time, a WWE statement dismissed the idea his in-ring work and thus, brain damage, had affected his actions as ‘pure speculation’.

Such was the damage to Benoit’s brain, he was on course for early dementia. There’s no telling what state his mind was in or how he was truly still functioning.

Eddie Guerrero’s death
According to the Dark Side of the Ring documentary, this seems to have been the beginning of the end for Benoit.

Guerrero was Benoit’s best friend and road partner. When Guerrero suddenly passed away in his hotel room at the age of 38, the Canadian Crippler was devastated.

Both he and his nephew Chavo were going to meet Guerrero that morning and Chavo recalled breaking the news to Benoit.

“I said ‘hey man, are you sitting down?’ He says ‘yeah’ and I said ‘Eddie passed away this morning.’ And all you hear is, from a guy with no emotion whatsoever, you hear a wail. This wail from deep down, like a heart break. If you’ve ever heard one, this was a heart break.

“It affected all of us, but I think it affected Chris so much more. It affected Chris like a spouse or something,” Chavo explained.
Vickie Guerrero said she would have Chris sob to her uncontrollably in private and she wondered if the CTE issues with his brain meant he couldn’t control those emotions anymore.


While intense and quiet, those close to Benoit always maintained he was a loving family man throughout. He appeared to stray away from that and become more insular when Guerrero died.

From that point, it was a toxic cocktail of alcohol, steroid abuse and the severe, serious brain damage he had that culminated in one fateful weekend.

His son Daniel Benoit, even in the most recent documentary, still refers to him as ‘my hero’ and wants to wrestle under the name Chris Benoit Jr one day.

He says the man he knew wouldn’t have committed these terrible crimes, but sadly for him, the name Benoit will be remembered for those horrific actions.

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