Anyone familiar with professional wrestling from the mid to late 90s to the early 2000s will recognize the name, Chris Benoit.
What made Chris Benoit such a popular figure in American Professional Wrestling was that, at 5’11 220 lbs, he wasn’t some larger than life superhero. What made the WCW a success- along with the New World Order- was its promotion of a weight class outside of heavyweight and a more realistic, technical approach to wrestling. It’s important to note the climate of professional wrestling at the time Benoit rose to fame. In the mid-90s the WWF was more focused on the theatrics and heavyweight gladiators of the professional wrestling world. WCW’s breaking from the norm allowed the new kid on the block to challenge for pro wrestling supremacy and few embodied the WCW approach better than Benoit.
For a man who fought for a living, and regularly took metal chairs to the back of the head, concussions are a part of the job. Tests conducted on Benoit’s brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, showed, “Benoit’s brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.” Other tests showed severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and damage to all four lobes of the brain and brainstem. To be perfectly clear, the purpose of this piece is not to condone or justify Chris’s actions. The man committed a horrific act, however erasing him from existence- largely the approach WWE has taken- doesn’t sit well and seems disrespectful to Nancy and Daniel. While the NFL has taken, albeit forced to some degree, steps to remedy the brain trauma its sport has had on its participants the WWE simply swiped the tragedy of Chris Benoit under the rug.
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