In the ring, Chris Benoit could do it all. The Montreal native was a technical marvel, considered the best in-ring technician of the generation. His name was mentioned with the all-time greats like Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr., Harley Race, Ric Flair, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.
Benoit was so good, he was crowned World Wrestling Entertainment world champion on the company’s biggest stage in the world’s most famous arena when he beat Michaels and Triple H at Wrestlemania XX at Madison Square Garden in 2004.
But, Benoit destroyed any legacy he might have enjoyed over the weekend when he murdered his wife and young son before hanging himself. Nancy Benoit, 43, was found in an upstairs den at the family's suburban Atlanta home with her wrists and feet bound. His son Daniel was in his bed. Originally authorities leaked that the seven-year old was smothered with bag but Fayette County district attorney Scott Ballard switched gears Tuesday and said he believed Daniel was killed with a choke hold -- a sick twist to an already senseless story since one of Benoit’s many moves in the ring was a choke hold.
Hysteria took over. This was not Bobby Cutts Jr. This was Chris Benoit, a man loved by millions across the world and universally respected in an industry that almost breeds contempt among co-workers.
“I can't begin to even understand what could drive somebody to do this,” Bret Hart, whose family helped train Benoit to become a pro wrestler, told the Calgary Sun. “The sad thing about it is I never saw Chris lose his composure and I never saw him get angry. He was always a very solid, sound, logical kind of guy. It’s totally the last thing you'd ever expect to come out of Chris Benoit. I think that's why everyone's having such a hard time coming to terms with this.”
Fayette County Sheriff's Lt. Tommy Pope said steroids were found at the house and it was later revealed that Benoit received drug deliveries from a Florida business that sold human growth hormone and testosterone on the Internet.
Whole, toxicology tests won’t be available for weeks World Wrestling Entertainment issued a statement Tuesday saying steroids "were not and could not be related to the cause of death." The company noted that Benoit passed a drug test on April 10 and that “the physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage."
However, Dave Meltzer, publisher of the industry watchdog Wrestling Observer newsletter, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that medication is a part of the pro wrestling culture. "I know [his wife] was concerned about the drugs -- painkillers and the steroids," Meltzer told the newspaper. "That was a problem."
Meanwhile, former pro wrestler and concussion expert Chris Nowinski told the New York Times that he believes Benoit’s problems may be directly related to repeated brain injuries suffered as a wrestler. “He was one of the only guys who would take a chair shot to the back of the head which is stupid,” Nowinski said. “Part of me hopes there was something wrong with his brain. The Chris Benoit I knew was always more concerned about everybody else’s well-being than his own.”
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