On this day: Chris Benoit’s 19 year crawl to reach the top ends when he reverses a blood-soaked HHH’s Pedigree into the Crippler Crossface, forcing Hunter to tap and earning Benoit his first World Heavyweight Championship and a celebration with longtime friend & WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. (3/14/04)
Randy Orton becomes the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history
People who wear ‘I’m a Chris Benoit guy’ tees are the lamest of the lames. You’re not edgy bro, you’re that faux-edgy douche who thinks he’s shocking people but he’s really just causing them to roll their eyes so far back into their heads they can check themselves for brain tumors.
Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit
- WWF Smackdown Early 2001 Intro
Randy Orton defeats Chris Benoit on August 15, 2004 at SummerSlam and becomes the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in WWE history at the age of 24.
Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling (by Exist2InspirePro)
A CNN documentary from November of 2007, following the Benoit murder-suicide tragedy. The documentary had unprecedented access to the WWE, filming backstage, speaking to several wrestlers as well as Vince and Linda McMahon themselves. That type of thing is rare, but given that WWE was obviously in desperate need of positive press at this time they probably viewed this as a chance to say their piece.
The documentary doesn’t touch on anything that you probably haven’t heard before but it’s an interesting watch. It covers the history of young deaths in wrestling, the steroid issue, Benoit’s spiraling mental health following the death of Eddie Guerrero, whether or not concussions wore down his brain and more. It’s interesting to see CM Punk focused on as a straight edge ECW champion. I didn’t make the connection when he first won the title, but realistically that was a smart move by WWE, at a time when they were most under fire.
One of the most infamous moments, and one that proves why all documentaries should be viewed with a critical eye, comes in the scene with John Cena being asked about steroids. CNN took heavy criticism for editing the clip and making it look like Cena dodged a question about steroids, but a leaked full version of his interview indicated that he absolutely denied steroid use. This version of the documentary that I’m posting has been edited to be less shady, but you can click here to see how it originally aired, as well as a comparison to his unedited comments. In the version that originally aired in November 2007, CNN edited out Cena saying “absolutely not” and left in a clip of him saying “I can’t say that I haven’t, but you’ll never be able to prove that I have.” When you watch the unedited interview, it’s clear that Cena’s comments were taken out of context and CNN were blatantly tampering with his comments to paint him in a bad light.
Another note on this is that Chris Kanyon, a former WCW star, talks to CNN about being a “survivor” of the pro wrestling industry, having survived a suicide attempt a number of years earlier and now being in good health. In 2010, three years after filming, Kanyon killed himself after years of battling with bipolar disorder and depression. He was very active in lobbying to get WWE to address concussion issues in wrestling.
Insane Clown Posse - Chris Benoit
Welp, it’s ICP - I can’t really say I’m surprised. The actual song and video isn’t really about Benoit, but just the general theme of craziness, Benoit is namedropped several times though and is essentially a not-so-subtle euphemism for wanting to crazy and kill people.
There are brief flashes of images of Benoit at different stages in the video, presumably pictures in the public domain as there is no way in hell they were given these by WWE or the Benoit estate.
What many had written off as a goofy match with contrived rules, Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly’s MMA style “Hybrid Rules” fight has been called excellent by those in attendance and watching on iPPV. Cole in particular is said to have given a star making performance, being brutalised by his former partner in a very violent contest. While the match struggled early due to ROH fans intolerance of the MMA style rules, the two young wrestlers won around the crowd with their brutal, stiff exchanges. Cole reportedly lost two front teeth during the match, suffering the effects of O’Reilly’s deadly kicks. The war ended with O’Reilly tapping out to Adam Cole’s figure four leglock, to a huge reaction.
Coming on the heels of the five year anniversary of Chris Benoit’s death however, and with all we know about how Benoit’s wrestling style affected his mind, perhaps wrestling fans and the wrestlers themselves should be asking how much physical abuse they are willing to put themselves through just to win around the fans. It’s a hard line to walk, but sooner or later people will have to figure out a way to get over without taking years off their career in the process.