As I write this the comments are still not back on. The PW Thunderbirds suspect that it’s because I’m so far over my bandwidth limit — like 300% over the last few months. Could be. They may be back on when you read this in the morning.
Like everyone, I’m shocked and saddened by the Benoit tragedy. For those who don’t know, Benoit was the inside wrestling fan’s wrestler, a skilled technician whose passion and prowess made him an internet darling. He won it all at Wrestlemania XX in NYC a few years ago, a great night for technical wrestling (workrate) fans. He celebrated in the ring with Eddie Guerrero, who has recently won the other belt. Both were outsiders from Vince McMahon’s WWE stronghold who had reached the top through sheer charisma and talent, not connections or mere size and steroids.
And now they are both dead.
I remember Benoit being chosen by Bret Hart to wrestle a tribute match to his brother Owen Hart, who fell to his death during a gimmick gone wrong. Bret himself was sidelined by a head trauma, and doesn’t wrestled any more after suffering a stroke. The sadness piles on sadness.
The Benoit tragedy is one of those mind boggling things. If the early news reports are true it is beyond the imagination of the sane how this tragedy could have unfolded. One wrestling board made reference to this article which says that repeated head trauma can lead to depression and insanity, We’ll probably never know what really happened but clinging to such a thing to explain how someone loved by so many, who gave pleasure for so long, could come to this desperate, hopeless sick act…it doesn’t help really, because the thing he loved may turn out to be the cause of it all. But we don’t know, Everyone wants to speculate, to find something to cling to. In the end we can only cling to our own sense of optimism.
Only a few days ago I wrote this:
Also, I love pro wrestling, but the injuries and death are beginning to get me down. Believe it or not, for a “real bloodsport” MMA is a lot safer than wrestling. There are injuries and broken bones here and there, but nothing like the wholesale physical destruction wrestlers deliberately subject themselves to. I was greatly saddened by the death of Sherri Martel just the other day. She was only 49, and the cause of death is not known but any way you slice it, that’s way too soon.
I wish to hell it weren’t so true.
UPDATE: A friend of ours in the wrestling biz wrote the following. The above was written in the throes of shock, but it is well to remember the following:
I was a little upset when I saw that you posted that stuff about head trauma causing depression in the Benoit blurb. I think there’s enough of people making excuses for him right now. Even if that was the case, how many people do you know who have suffered from depression? Probably a lot. And how many of them killed their kids? It just shouldn’t even be brought up because it makes it sound as if somehow this was beyond his control. Not only that, but you make it seem as if wrestling is to blame. This is probably the one wrestling death in a long time that had nothing to do with the business. Do you realize how common murder-suicide is? The numbers I’ve read are around 1,500 year. Yet this is the first in pro-wrestling. It’s far more common in law enforcement officers, but we’re not going to go around saying that being a cop makes you kill your wife.
Certainly, your site isn’t hard journalism and you’re free to post your opinions, whatever they may be. But I think by making this out to be a result of wrestling when there’s been nothing to indicate that yet, you’re crossing into irresponsible territory and stigmatizing a whole industry of people who are just trying to deal with the absurdity of this situation right now. If they find that there were drugs involved, or if the autopsy reveals that he did have the brain abnormalities associated with trauma, then the discussion of the wrestling ties can be opened up. But right now it seems like speculation and sensationalism.