Jones Outlook

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The destruction of a hero

One of my wrestling heroes, Chris Benoit was found dead, and is believed to have killed his wife and son before taking his own life. It is very sad to hear that he was dead.

Benoit was a personal favorite of mine as I was growing up. He wasn't the best looking athlete or the most well spoken wrestler, but man could he wrestle a technical match like no other in the make-believe world of pro wrestling.

When I was starting high school wrestling, seeing Benoit I worked to learn as many moves as possible to be as technically sound as him. I looked up to him because he proved that hard work did pay off.

There has been very little information given out yet, but it is believed that he begged off a pay-per-view he was supposed to articipate in, citing personal reasons, and then killed both his wife and seven year old son by strangulation before hanging himself from his exercise equipment. I don't know if it is true, I personally don't want to believe that, but I will wait to see what the investigation shows.

People talk about a steroid rage or something else. I don't know what to think but my heart does go out to the friends and family - their tragedy is played out in the public arena.

Believe what you wish but respect the fact that three people are dead and the families and friends are hurting from the loss. It is not a storyline.

Yes, Benoit was an entertainer in the public eye, but he was still a human being behind the character.

I have had the privilege to see him wrestle, and his skill was what always amazed me. He didn't have have these big flashy moves as chracters like Hulk Hogan did, but even though his holds used during a pro ring career were scripted, they still looked quite effective to me.

I remember that a few years ago, one of Benoit's closest friends passed away, Eddie Guerrero, and everyone then had outrageous specualtions on his death, which turned out to be false. He died of heart failure.

As an admitted wrestling fan, I do realize it's fake. So are most other shows, but people do become attached to a character and may cry when a character in a show dies off. When a wrestler dies, it isn't just a character in a script that is lost.

Growing up watching these people perform every week on TV and at some live events, one must appreciate the talents they act out in the ring every night. We cheer them on and buy their merchandise and are loyal to them and boo their enemies. Their world is simpler than real life - straight-up good vs. evil entertainment.

I have lost a person that I respected and looked up to. I never personally met the man, but having seen him for years, I'm still a little saddened that he should end like this.

I hope that media doesn't overblow this either. Benoit was nicknamed the "Canadian Crippler" and there are some media outlets capitalizing on that name and placing murder into the same title. Isn't a tragedy bad enough without that?

The bizarre situation will certainly change the legacy of a man who has entertained millions and millions. I have listened to the speeches from his wrestler peers about who he was, and for once, they ring genuine.

The show will go on, and new generations of kids will grow up cheering and booing the characters. One wrestler who was close to Benoit said, "This makes me want to go home and hug my family and tell them I love them."

On that point at least, pro wrestling is real.

* Reach Jeff Jones at jjones@stormlake pilottribune.com