Tuesday, 26 June 2007

R.I.P. Chris Benoit and family

R.I.P. to Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and his 7-year-old son. The news reports sound appalling. Benoit was one of the few wrestlers to make a hard-hitting, no-frills technical style work in the Attitude era, and one of the only small guys to get over as a main-eventer in the WWE. His ruthless ring-style and personality-free promos made him a natural old-style heel (as did being a Canadian). But his work ethic, speed, toughness and versatility also made him a successful favourite with casual fans as well as with grap geeks like myself, which is a substantial achievement, whichever way you slice it. A damn shame his legacy of awesome feuds with Jushin Thunder Liger, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Bret Hart, the Rock and Kurt Angle will be overshadowed by perhaps the grisliest demise in an industry blighted by violent and untimely deaths.

Most of the early tributes have focused on Benoit's career, but his wife should be respected and remembered as more than an apparent victim in this situation. As Robin Green and Woman, was one of the most illustrious and versatile managers of the 1990s, changing up her style to work memorable series alongside the Steiners, Ric Flair, Kevin Sulivan and the Sandman.

A lot of the comments I've read come from people who, like me, stopped following wrestling three or four years ago. I guess that has something to do with the average age of bloggers, and with the marked decline in WWE product after the brand split. Apparently Chris had just been drafted to ECW and was booked to win the title. Whether that would have reinvigorated the division we'll never know, but Benoit rarely disappointed as a main-eventer, even when he really shouldn't have been wrestling. It's dispiriting (not to say pretty tasteless) that the only thing that brings folks like myself to think about wrestling is the passing of the likes of Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Mike Awesome.

Here's the legendary Benoit-Bret Hart match in tribute to Owen Hart - one of the most intense and emotional bouts I've ever seen.

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