Even if you’re not a fan of professional wrestling, the chilling events that led to the death of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and their child Daniel in 2007 required that you take a closer look into the bizarre world it encompasses.
Picked up by all the major networks, Benoit’s murder suicide was apparently caused by “roid-rage,” due to the grizzly wrestler’s dependence on them throughout his near 20-year career in the ring. After a week or so however, the networks slowly stopped covering the story. Nevertheless, the legacy of Benoit was forever tarnished by the mainstream media and as a result, professional wrestling, already suffering from a lag in viewership, sunk even further in both reputation and pop culture significance.
However, the real story isn’t so cut and dry.
Through Matt Randazzo V’s book “Ring of Hell,” the Benoit disaster and the industry is exposed more so than any other book written about it previously. With an exhaustive source list and fiery passion, it’s impossible to ever think the same way about professional wrestling ever again after reading.
A veteran of the sport, trained in two of the toughest training schools in the history of the industry, The Hart Dungeon and the New Japan Dojo, Benoit saw things done to human beings that many of us could never dream of. He was also tortured in ways that would shock even the worst of society- all for “respect” among the other guys in the locker room. Maintaining and even fostering the carny atmosphere throughout, Benoit became a slave to the business. Finding his only true friends in the sport, he was forced to watch as they slowly destroyed themselves. Before long, he too was lost in a web he could not escape.
The fact that Benoit began wrestling in the late ‘80s, amid tumultuous change in the sport, gives Randazzo V a chance to not only tell Benoit’s life story, but also give inside-looks into every promotion he was ever a part of. This makes the book so much more than the story of a man who dedicated his life to a sport that never cared about him. In the end, it’s a book that describes the demise of ECW, WCW, the corrupt nature of the sport in Japan and the fall of Vince McMahon’s WWE. As a result, it is a must-own for anyone looking to get an unauthorized look into the business that, according to Randazzo V, the complete opposite of what it portrays itself to be.
Not scared to use foul language or share his opinions either, Randazzo V gives a gritty, raw portrayal of Benoit’s life and the culture of the business, putting his fall from grace in the type of perspective an avid reader will truly enjoy. Full of depth, the book has dozens of high-quality sources that bring legitimacy to the story, which otherwise would be full of Randazzo’s thoughts on wrestlers’ ability and his thoughts on McMahon as a person. As a result, there’s a solid blend of high-quality story-telling and potty-mouthed name-calling, giving the book plenty of answers to questions you might have about Benoit and even more questions towards the people who watched his slow-demise and did nothing to help him escape.
Overall, “Ring of Hell” is the type of book that you don’t need to be a wrestling fan to enjoy. It’s all about sex, drugs and addiction, the type of novel anyone with a spice for drama can appreciate. However, given all the specifics of the industry and all the personalities involved. It’s something that a true fan of the sport will truly enjoy.