There are several dates in recent professional history that are unforgettable like January 23, 1984 (Birth of Hulkamania), November 9, 1997 (The Montreal Screwjob) and now June 25, 2007. That was the day the world learned of the murder-suicide in an Atlanta, GA suburb which took the lives of Nancy and Daniel Benoit which turned former World champion Chris Benoit from a hero to millions into the villain of the whole world. Since that day wrestling and mainstream media, wrestling fans and even members of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) have struggled trying to find out what happened in the Benoit’s home and what caused what was seemingly a normal family man to murder the two people he apparently loved most in this world and then hang himself. ECW Press asked four writers from their roster; Steve Johnson & Greg Oliver (Wrestling HOF Series), Heath McCoy (History of Stampede Wrestling) and Irvin Muchnick (Wrestling Babylon) to contribute essays on the tragedy. The work is entitled Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror that Destroyed a Family & Crippled a Sport (160pp, $14.95 US, 16.95 CDN).
The essays include a mini-bio on Benoit (written by Oliver and McCoy separately) and the former Nancy Toffoloni-Sullivan (also by Oliver) to taking the mainstream media to task for the way they covered the incident (written by Johnson) plus the overall pop culture influence wrestling has obtained (written by Muchnick.) While none of these essays will give the reader an answer to the reasoning behind the murder-suicide or trace the steps that led Benoit to his fate (that’s coming soon with Muchnick’s book Chris & Nancy: the True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide & Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death) it will give the average person who only knows what they saw on Larry King or Nancy Grace some insight into the world of a professional wrestler. Johnson’s essay on the media coverage is great as it shows what people in that industry have known for years, murder and controversy equals big ratings and advertising dollars. Johnson provides almost a show-by-show ratings increase and how many former WWE wrestlers were brought to the forefront to defend or attack the promotion. The most chilling essay comes from Oliver who had an e-mail correspondence with Benoit after the death of Eddie Guerrero in 2005.
The book accomplishes what it set out to do, give the reader a broad view of the business of pro wrestling and reminds you that these men and women maybe superhero-like in the ring but they all too human outside the ropes.
This book is on sale at local bookstores, online shops and www.ecwpress.com