*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.
The Canadian Crippler
The Pegasus Kid
The Rabid Wolverine
The Best Damned Technical Wrestler in the Whole World
Chris Benoit was a Canadian wrestling superstar and still remembered to this day as the greatest technical wrestler in the world. In 2007, Chris committed a double-murder suicide against his wife and 7-year-old son. Was it steroids, brain damage, or a fear of losing his wife that made him commit this awful crime?
Chris was born May 21, 1967 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was huge fan of wrestling as a child. He followed it religiously and he particularly idolized wrestler “Dynamite Kid” and Bret Hart. His father bought him some weights to teach him discipline, and by the age of 12, he started preparing himself to try to become a wrestler, and eventually he began attending the Hart Family Dungeon, which was like a wrestling gym/school that was located in the basement of the Hart Family mansion. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the wrestling world, the Hart family has a long lineage of wrestlers and they trained people in their “dungeon” and produced some of the most successful professional wrestlers of all-time.
By 1985 at age 18, Chris was getting his career started in Stampede Wrestling, and he adopted his style of fighting from his idol, Dynamite Kid, using moves like the flying headbutt. Which became his signature move and it is exactly what it sounds like– Like if a guy was on the ground, Chris would climb up on the ropes and dive down with his arms out like spread eagle, and literally just dive with his forehead slamming into the other guy’s head. He even was billed as “Dynamite Chris Benoit” in his first fight.
Chris was known as kind of a gentle giant. Chris Jericho said that there was a fight where he was supposed to kick his opponent but of course like a stunt like he would just bump the guy’s face, and make it look real. But I guess he didn’t do it right. the audience didn’t even notice but Chris was super disappointed in himself for not getting it. Jericho found afterwards in the locker room doing squats, and he just said that he had to “do 500 squats”. Jericho was like “whos making you do that?” and he was like “nobody I’m just doing it”. Like he was disciplining himself for his mistake.
Even as a newcomer, Chris quickly started getting noticed. He was very focused and he took his work really seriously. He went to Japan to fight in the New Japan World Wrestling and trained there for a year. It was in Japan that he would start wearing a mask and using the name Pegassus Kid. It was also in Japan that Chris would meet Eddie Guerrero, aka Black Tiger.
Eddie Guerrero was a Mexican wrestler, and at first, he and Chris weren’t all that fond of each other. It’s said that their first fight together was SO INTENSE, like two guys fighting over money. Like both of them were not willing to let up. Before long, the two really started to kind of respect each other, and they became best friends. Like they were seriously adorable, they laughed together and posed in pictures together. It was like a brotherhood.
In August 1994, Benoit began working with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in between tours of Japan. He was booked as a dominant wrestler there, gaining notoriety as the "Crippler" after he put Rocco Rock out.
At November to Remember, Benoit accidentally broke Sabu's neck within the opening seconds of the match. The injury came when Benoit threw Sabu with the intention that he take a face-first "pancake" bump (landing flat so that the weight is distributed evenly throughout his body) but Sabu attempted to turn mid-air and take a backdrop bump instead. He did not achieve full rotation and landed almost directly on his neck. After this match Benoit returned to the locker room and broke down over the possibility that he might have paralysed someone. Paul Heyman, the head booker of ECW at the time, came up with the idea of continuing the "Crippler" moniker for Benoit. From that point until his departure from ECW, he was known as "Crippler Benoit". When he returned to WCW in October 1995, WCW modified his ring name to "Canadian Crippler Chris Benoit". In The Rise and Fall of ECW book, Heyman commented that he planned on using Benoit as a dominant heel for quite some time, before putting the company's main title, the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, on him to be the long-term champion of the company.
This kind of entertainment wrestling has a lot of gimmicks. Remember with this kind of wrestling, a lot of what’s happening is staged or scripted. These guys know how to make it look like they’re getting hit harder than they are, but they still gotta get hit a little, especially the really proud ones. For example, when they take chair shots to the face, they were really getting hit in the face. Like they would grit their teeth and tense their body and anticipate a chair to the dome. And this was like a badge of honor.
Have you guys seen GLOW? The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling? I know it’s random but it’s on Netflix and i highly recommend it. I just remembered that show because there’s all these characters learning to do “stunts”, like rehearsing their fights. That’s probably a terrible reference to learn about wrestling. But if you’re kind of girly or dainty like I am, you might just have 0 interest in actually watching wrestling right now. So I stand by my recommendation. Go watch GLOW. Plus it’s also really funny :D
In 1997, Chris caught the attention of Kevin Sullivan who was a wrestler and also a booker, and he started booking fights with him and Chris against each other. Kevin worked closely with his wife, Nancy, who was a model and his valet in the ring and the two of them had these “satanist” personas. (and by satanists i dont mean like the Laveyan followers, I mean like the campfire story, exaggerated satan-worshipping image, it was all a gimmick). Nancy was one of a kind– she brought a real performance every time. She was known as the Fallen Angel, before she adopted the persona, Woman.
For some reason, Kevin decided to book a fight with him against Chris and they ended up kind of including Nancy into the theatrics of their fights. Like he kind of made this storyline where Chris was going to take his girl. Basically, this was the beginning of an affair between Chris and Nancy, and it was scripted. it wasn’t real. supposedly. but he made them hold hands in public and go over to each other’s hotels and everything to keep up the act.
The problem came when it became real. Nancy ended up leaving Kevin for Chris.
Nancy and Chris released this like video– or rather, this was WCW making the videos– but it’s Chris and Nancy revealing that she’s leaving Kevin for him. Nancy implied that Kevin may have been abusive. Nancy’s sister, Sandra, has corroborated this with her own experiences. She says that Nancy has called her on occasions when she was fighting with Kevin, and seemingly trying to get out of his way. Sandra also said that one day Nancy and Chris showed up and Nancy had a black eye. According to Sandra, the black eye was from Kevin, and Chris was kind of being the knight in shining armor.
Chris was also in a relationship at this time, he was actually married and his wife was pregnant with their second child. But apparently they were having some marital troubles, as were Nancy and Kevin, and when this fake affair started and Nancy and Chris started spending more time together, Nancy started opening up to Chris more and kind of calling him when she was having problems with Kevin.
I will say, however, that Kevin Sullivan denies that he ever abused Nancy. He explained in an interview that there was only 1 incident of domestic violence, and it was actually Nancy who supposedly assaulted Kevin, and he forgave her. When asked about Nancy’s black eye, he says that he’s never even seen her with a black eye and has no idea what that’s about. Apparently at the time they staged the fake affair, he and Nancy had already been falling out of love and not even really living together for the past 6 months. They had two homes and they just each started staying at opposite homes up until she officially became a couple with Chris.
This started some tension between Chris and Kevin. They would have fights that were supposed to be staged, and ended up becoming real life “i’m gonna knock you out”. Chris ended up punching Kevin’s side of the head, just wailing on him, and it resulted in Kevin’s eardrum rupturing.
Benoit did, however, admit having a certain amount of respect for Sullivan, saying on the DVD Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story that Sullivan never took undue liberties in the ring during their feud, even though he blamed Benoit for breaking up his marriage. This continued for over the course of a year with Sullivan having his enforcers apprehend Benoit in a multitude of matches. This culminated in a retirement match at the Bash at the Beach, where Benoit defeated Sullivan; this was used to explain Sullivan going to a behind-the-scenes role, where he could focus on his initial job of booking.
Nancy and Chris got together and had a baby boy named Daniel in 2000. As an infant Daniel was the best man at their wedding. Chris had a son from his previous marriage named David who was about 13 when Daniel was born, and he says that Nancy treated him like her own child. They didn’t use the word “stepmother” or “stepson”, they were just a family. Daniel and David were super close, they dreamt of wrestling together as a tagteam.
Chris was a very loving father. It really bummed him out when he had to miss holidays with his kids. He took his sons to see him wrestle and just absolutely doted on them.
Nancy also became best friends with Vickie Guerrero, who was the wife of Eddie Guerrero, so the four of them were like a group of best friends who considered each other like family.
Eddie was in a lot of pain around this time and would try to mask it with alcohol and drugs until he started falling into a downward spiral. He started getting DUIs and crashing his car, and overdosing. He showed up to work really high one day and they let him go for being unable to perform. He had hit rock bottom. So he was sent to rehab and little by little he got clean and got rehired from WWE. He was in the best shape.
By 2003, Chris and Nancy’s marriage started to go downhill. Nancy filed for divorce and a restraining order, alleging that he subjected her to cruel treatment and put her in reasonable fear for her safety and that of a minor child.
On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room at the Marriott Hotel City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. In a 2020 interview for the documentary Dark Side of the Ring, Chavo explained that Eddie had passed out in the hotel room bathroom with a toothbrush in his hand, and was barely clinging to life when Chavo discovered him. Eddie Guerrero was pronounced dead upon the ambulance arriving at the scene. He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure.
Chris called Chavo and was like “hey man I’m downstairs”.
Chavo told him that Eddie had died, and Chris let out a wail.
WWE RAW did like a tribute to Eddie and they interviewed a few people to talk about Eddie, and Chris is sobbing like, his face soaked with tears.
Chris Jericho saw Benoit at Eddie’s funeral and Benoit went to give him a hug and just held him super tight and cried into his shoulder.
Just a couple months after Eddie’s death, Victor “Black Cat” Mar, Benoit’s best friend on Japanese tours died. And then like a month later, Johnny Grunge died, another friend who calmed Chris down after arguments with Nancy, also died. All these guys were in their 30’s and they died within like 3 months of each other.
Chris was a wreck. He felt lost without Eddie. And Nancy started to get concerned because it was really affecting him, he was depressed and it wasn’t fading.
And then he and Nancy started fighting about things that she didn’t understand.
Nancy and Vickie decided to get Chris a journal where he could write to Eddie, and eventually he would start writing that he would “be with Eddie soon”.
According to Sandra, Chris was growing paranoid and started looking for new routes everywhere, like the gym they had taken the same route to for years., so that his movements couldn’t be monitored.
He was monumentally grief stricken. Everywhere he went he’d be like “this place reminds me of Eddie” or “last time i was here was with Eddie.”
On Friday, June 22, 2007, Chris Benoit snapped.
That afternoon, he had a barbecue by the pool with Daniel. That night he got into an altercation with his wife Nancy, and attacked her. She tried to fight him off, but was overpowered by the 220lb wrestler in an upstairs bedroom. He bound her limbs and laid her on her stomach, and then wrapped a cord around her neck. He pressed his knee into her back and pulled back on the cord, strangling her. He then wrapped her body in a towel and set a bible next to her. Her body would stay there in the house for 3 more days.
The next day, (Saturday) at 3:30PM, Chris called up Chavo Guerrero, who was Eddie’s nephew, and he left a voicemail saying he missed his flight to Beaumont TX where Benoit was scheduled to wrestle. Chavo sensed something was wrong, so he called him back, and Chris told him that he had a stressful day because his wife and child were sick with food poisoning. He told him he would get on a flight and see him tomorrow. The phone call ended with Chris telling Chavo “Hey man.. I love you.” which was uncharacteristic. Chavo says it was weird, kind of eerie. But he was just like “ok.. Love you too…”
Benoit still hadn’t shown up for his flight. So a coworker called him and he told her that Nancy and Daniel were sick with food poisoning, Nancy was vomiting blood.
It’s unclear exactly when Daniel died, but based on his decomposition it’s estimated to have been between Saturday and Sunday.
First, he sedated Daniel with a dose of Xanax first so he was likely unconscious when this happened. Benoit suffocated Daniel using the Crippler Crossface, a famous chokehold. He then left a bible by the boy’s body, as well.
The following morning (Sunday) around 4am, Benoit sent 5 text messages to coworkers, from his and Nancy’s phones. They said things like “our address is ….” “our dogs are in the enclosed pool area, side door is open”... the next few texts were identical, just sent out from Nancy’s phone. He just kept sending it to people.
Then Chris googled a couple of things. One was the bible story of Elijah about resurrecting a child. The other was how to break his neck the quickest and easiest way.
He went to his gym and made a noose out of the cord from a pull-down workout machine. He then added weights to the machine, approximately 240 lbs, and then wrapped a towel around his neck, tied the towel to the machine’s handle, pulled down and released the weights, snapping his neck instantly.
The next day, nobody could reach chris. He didn’t show up to work again, nobody knew where he was, and now everybody had received these concerning text messages from Chris and Nancy. So the police were called for a welfare check.
When the officer’s went to Benoit’s house for the welfare check, the dogs were out barking like crazy. A neighbor was outside and I guess she offered to put the dogs away, she said that they were familiar with her apparently. So the cops were like “yea cool, you do that”. She took the dogs inside and all of a sudden she ran back outside screaming.
Officer’s went in and found the bodies. There was no suicide note found at the scene, but later on, a box of Chris’ personal belongings would be sent to his ex-wife, and she found a bible in which Chris had a handwritten note on the pages that read “I’m preparing to leave this earth”.
The WWE got word of Chris’ death, so Vince McMahon went and informed Chavo that Chris was dead. Chavo was in shock, he started crying like “what do you mean??” But it was true, Chris was found dead in his home.
At the time, the WWE didn’t know this whole story, they just knew that Chris was dead, and his family too. But nobody knew that Chris was the killer, nobody had any answers.
So Vince McMahon felt it was right to address Chris’ death and pay tribute to him, and they also probably wanted to be the first people to cover it. They dedicated their entire Monday Night RAW programming to Chris Benoit.
It’s unclear when the WWE found out that Chris actually murdered his family, but some have said that Vince McMahon actually found out during the Monday Night Raw performance, but of course he can’t just like stop this funeral/tribute thing right in the middle, Monday Night Raw was like 2-3 hours long. So then Vince McMahon was like “oh I fucked up.” After that, he basically was like “ok, fuck that guy– nobody utter the name Chris Benoit ever again.” They banned the Crippler Crossface move. They removed all the footage and any mention of Chris on the WWE website.
But then they got the full story– Chris murdered his wife and son before killing himself.
Chris, who dreamt of being a well known wrestler, was now like he who shall not be named.
In the aftermath, not a single person from WWE checked on Nancy or Chris’ families or gave them any support. The only people who checked in on David Benoit were Chavo Guerrero and Chris Jericho.
Steroids were found on the drug scene, so the media’s initial response to the murders was “roid rage”.
In the months leading up to the murders, Nancy had sent Chris numerous texts telling him to quit using steroids, that she was sick of it and she was going to leave if he didn’t stop. She also said “we both know the wellness program is crap.”
So the wellness program was this program that was supposed to like promote the health of the wrestlers and shit. *supposedly* this was a way to make sure the wrestlers were being tested properly. But it had a lot of loopholes and shit. Also what Vince McMahon was doing was referring some of the wrestlers to a doctor and a pharmacist that would give them steroids.
When Benoit died, he had an enormous amount of testosterone, like 10 times the normal amount of testosterone for a human in his body. It was clear that he had been using steroids excessively.
And yet, he had passed all of his wellness tests leading up to his death. Needless to say, the tests were a joke.
So Vince McMahon, gots on tv and basically says “there’s no way this was steroids or any kind of rage– this was a clearly premeditated murder”.
It’s like he’s trying to say “i didnt give anybody steroids but if i did they wouldn’t have made him do this”
They’re like “”steroids have nothing to do with this”
If I had to guess, I would say that was because it would prove that the Wellness Program was bullshit.
Regarding whether or not Nancy and Chris ever fought enough for Nancy to threaten leaving him–
Vickie Guerrero and sandra both said that they witnessed the two fighting. One time he broken the windshield of the car, and another time it seems he struck her. Nancy got a restraining order against him but it wasn’t long before he begged for forgiveness and they got back together.
It may also be worth mentioning that Nancy Benoit had filed for divorce way back in May 2003, allegedly after domestic abuse from Chris, but had withdrawn it a couple months later.
In February 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported that Nancy may have suspected her husband of having an affair with a female WWE wrestler, and that they may have also argued over a life insurance policy. The AJC claimed the source was a recently released report from the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.
But is there another explanation?
We’re gonna get scientific here for a minute.
There’s another WWE wrestler named Chris Nowinski who retired from wrestling after having way too many concussions. He didn’t acknowledge that they were concussions until it was too late. So after retiring he decided to read up on everything he could find about concussions and that ended up becoming a book.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive brain condition that's thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head and repeated episodes of concussion.
When Nowinski heard about Chris Benoit, he remembered a moment he shared with him in a locker room. Chris asked him about concussions, and about how many he had had. Nowinski replied “I think 6 that I can recall.” Benoit replied “I’ve had more than I can count.”
He gave Nowinski his number and asked him to call him. He did call him about a week later and Chris sounded like he was in an argument and was like “nows not a good time, can i call you back?”
So after Chris died, Nowinski had to know if Chris had CTE. He called up Chris’ father and told him his theory, and he agreed to allow them to examine Chris’ brain.
Within a month, they found that Chris had a severe case of CTE. It was shocking. His brain had the damage of a person with alzheimers. There was damage in places that could influence his emotional behavior. Nowinski believes that the degeneration of his brain changed who he was.
Chris was known for flying headbutts and taking chair shots. Now you’ve gotta wonder how many wrestlers probably have CTE.
The “flying headbutt move” was invented by Harvey Race, and then warned everyone not to do it, it fucks up your back. But then Dynamite Kid repeated it, and he told Chris Benoit “don’t do it bro”, and then he ended up in a wheelchair. But then Chris did it anyway, and he lost his mind.
Ultimately it seems like Chris’ fate was sealed when he decided to do whatever it takes to be a champion– and I think that losing Eddie really fucked him up. Maybe that made him use more steroids, or it made him fight with his wife more, or both.. The whole thing is just heartbreaking.
In my personal opinion, I don’t think he would’ve gone this far if not for the CTE.
The paranoia before the murder plus the looking up of the bible story, plus the scans of his brain, are enough to convince me that he was not right in the mind.
Don’t misunderstand me though, Chris did a horrific thing. But a lot of times, monsters are made. That’s like a running theme on this podcast.
HE WAS LITERALLY BROKEN BY THE LIMELIGHT YOU GUYS.
Chris’ son, David, loves him so much and speaks so highly of him. Its kind of sad actually– David and Chavo and all these people who loved Chris so much, they miss him so much and like they’re proud of him, he was their hero; but his name’s literally banned. His legacy was like erased. People talked shit about David and bullied him for defending his family.
It really bugs me because it was found not to be roid rage, it was brain damage that he didn’t even know he had. So the reality is that he had a work related injury that made him lose his mind, and his employer/pusher/enabler did nothing but say “well that couldn’t have been steroids!” and now fifteen years later they still won’t make any mention of him on their website or elsewhere.
I have a lot of opinions about people who use their bodies for performing, like athletes and singers and actors and such, and how much they actually have to sacrifice for their craft. And they’re encouraged to, they’re expected to. Pressured to. It’s like (simone byles? The gymnast?) people expected her to perform when she was clear about not being in the right shape to perform. What is this world where these employers don’t give a fuck what happens to our bodies?
What is this world where they not only turn a blind eye to their employees when they’re dependent on drugs, but they actually encourage it and fuel your dependency?
And the sad thing is that if one person stands up and says “I’m not doing this”, the employer always knows that there’s some poor sap who will do it, and for less money.
Like when Adele had a concert scheduled here in Las Vegas and the cheapest tickets were like $2000, and some local performers were cast to sing choral parts in the show and they were PAID SO LOW, it was ridiculous. But of course people were like “ok but I get to put singing with Adele on my resume”....
It’s heartbreaking. People in these industries are totally taken advantage of.
Speaking of which one of my sources is another podcast that totally had the same conversation except it was an actual conversation–
-Mourning Murders Podcast
-Dark Side of the Ring, S2 Episodes 1&2uj
-Last Podcast on the Left
WE HIT 10,000 DOWNLOADS!!
**I gave a shoutout and I butchered the name :(
Thank you Ellen Temple Fagan for being such a supportive fan. You are an absolute angel and I owe you another shoutout. Thanks for being so understanding <3