Christopher Michael Benoit was born on the 21st May 1967 in Montreal Canada. As a young child Chris loved wrestling and idolised famous wrestlers Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington and Bret Hart. When he was 12 years old he went to a wrestling event and said the two performers, ‘stood out above everyone else.’ From that moment on he was determined to be a professional wrestler and eventually trained in the Hart Family Dungeon as well as being trained personally by legend Stu Hart.
He began his career at 18 and starred in Stu Hart’s Stampede. In his first ever match he attempted the move called the diving headbutt. He hadn’t practiced the move or knew how to land correctly so when he performed the move it knocked the wind out of him. His style was reminiscent of that of Billington and he used many of his moves such as the snap suplex and diving headbutt. He also created his character name in homage to his hero calling himself “Dynamite” Chris Benoit. His first ever title win was the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship.
In 1989 Stampede officially closed down and Chris continued his career with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. When he arrived in NJPW he spent a full year training alongside other young wrestlers. The training involved strenuous exercises and taught him many basics that he hadn’t learned at Stampede. He had a successful career at NJPW winning many title matches and remaining on the roster for some 8 years with many different characters such as The Pegasus Kid, Wild Pegasus and self titled Chris Benoit. While performing with NJPW he dabbled in other tournaments and would occasionally wrestle in both Mexico and Europe. He performed for a brief stint in WCW and would return many times over the coming years for various matches and appearances.
In 1994 he joined Extreme Championship Wrestling and was booked as a regular dominant wrestler. He was quickly gaining fame and was given the nickname “Crippler” after he knocked out a fellow wrestler. That same year he also accidentally broke another wrestler’s neck within the short opening seconds of the match. After the move had gone wrong and the match ended Chris broke down in the locker room fearing he had paralyzed his fellow wrestler. Following the incident Paul Heyman who was the booker of ECW at the time wanted to keep the “Crippler” nickname for Chris to make him seem dangerous and renamed his character “Crippler Benoit.” WCW then adopted the character and named him “Canadian Crippler Chris Benoit.”
Between 1995 – 2000 he was a regular on WCW and would have lengthy matches nearly every show. He impressed many higher ups in the industry most famously Ric Flair who approached him and asked him to join the group Four Horsemen. This eventuated his character into a feud against Kevin Sullivan. In the storyline Chris was having an affair with Sullivan’s wife Nancy who was both his both on-screen and real life partner. The two were forced to spend time together to promote the feud however very quickly this blossomed into a real affair and eventually Nancy left her husband for Chris. In the year 2000 Chris and Nancy had a son named Daniel together and later that year they were married.
Chris eventually joined the famous WWF, later changing its name to WWE, the largest wrestling corporation in the world run by the well known businessman Vince McMahon. When he began the show he was already an established well known wrestler with many fans and was considered to be a veteran in the industry. Many believed he was on track to become one of the all time greats in professional wrestling due to all of his years of experience and his consistency in his performances over his long career.
On the 23th of June 2007 Chris left a voicemail on fellow wrestler and close friend Chavo Guerrero’s phone saying he missed his flight and would be late for their performance that night in Texas. Chavo called Chris back noting that he seemed groggy, tired and something was off. Chris stated both Nancy and Daniel were sick with food poisoning and it had been a stressful day. Another phone call around this time was made to WWE talent relations which turned out to be Chris stating he was at the hospital as his son had food poisoning and that he would be late arriving at the scheduled matches that weekend. The next morning at around 3:50am five text messages from both Chris and Nancy’s phones were sent to co-workers including Chavo. Three of the messages were simply the couple’s address, one was a message to Chavo stating, ‘I love you,’ and the fifth was a message saying their dogs were enclosed in the pool area on their property. Chris Benoit didn’t show up to any of his matches that weekend and no more calls or text messages were sent.
On Monday 25th June after reviewing the text messages and noting that the long term wrestling veteran was out of character in missing his appearances WWE called the local sheriff’s department and requested a welfare check on their property. Once searching the property police immediately ruled it a major crime scene. Nancy’s body was found in a bedroom upstairs wrapped in a towel. She had been strangled with a cord and had marks on her back from being held down on the ground. Seven year old Daniel Benoit’s body was found inside his bedroom. Toxicology reports showed he had been sedated and was likely unconscious at the time of his murder. His cause of death was ruled as suffocation. Chris Benoit was the last to be found and they discovered that he had died by suicide hanging from a weight machine. On his computer they found a search for “the quickest and easiest way to break a neck.” He used a towel around the handle of the machine and held it down with a heavy weight. Doctors believe it would have broken his neck instantly. A bible was layed next to each of the bodies and the one next to Chris had a note in his handwriting which said, ‘I’m preparing to leave this earth.’ It is believed that Chris had murdered Nancy in their home in a fit of rage. He then called work claiming his family were unwell in order to think of a plan of what to do next. Ultimately he then decided to murder his son and send the text messages to his co-workers before taking his life too. Chris and Nancy were known to argue and she had previously filed for divorce as well as filed a statement against Chris for domestic violence. The same year Nancy withdrew the divorce and the statements. The couple stayed together for the next four years until their deaths.
On the night of the discovery of the bodies without any information on how the deaths occurred WWE announced the news to it’s fans and scheduled a 3 hour long Raw show that same night in tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. The show featured past matches, segments from his DVD, snapshots of his career and comments from fellow wrestlers and announcers. The next night after more information surfaced on the murder suicide Vince McMahon released a recorded statement on their next broadcast where he stated, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Last night on Monday Night Raw, the WWE presented a special tribute show, recognizing the career of Chris Benoit. However, now some 26 hours later, the facts of this horrific tragedy are now apparent. Therefore, other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit’s name tonight. On the contrary, tonight’s show will be dedicated to everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident. This evening marks the first step of the healing process. Tonight, WWE performers will do what they do better than anyone else in the world entertain you.” After this broadcast all mentions of Chris Benoit’s name was removed from all past shows and paperviews. The special tribute episode was pulled and never again aired or released to the public.
At the time of the murder suicide Chris was known to be on testosterone replacement medication from the years he was on steroids in his wrestling career. The steroid use had interfered with his body naturally creating hormones and he relied on this medication to help with side effects. It is also well known that steroid abuse can lead to aggression, altered moods, depression and suicidal thoughts.Throughout his long career Chris’ signature move was the diving headbutt and he was known to be one of the only wrestlers to take a chair to the back of the head. He often had repeated concussions throughout his career many of which he left untreated. After his death neurological testing was done on his brain and it revealed that it was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85 year year old Alzheimer’s patient. The doctor concluded the severity of his concussions could have easily lead to dementia and was very likely to create severe behavioral problems. WWE have since stated that his injuries and steroid use leading to the tragedy is pure speculation and it can not be determined to be the cause of his actions. Since the tragedy the WWE have created a strong policy against the use of steroids and have implemented strict guidelines toward performing with injuries.