“I’m probably not the only one who can see and we both know the wellness program is a joke.” – Nancy Benoit to Chris Benoit via text, May 9, 2007
Through the years, the WWE has suffered tremendously unfavorable events that have altered the general business flow and added a plethora of negative media attention. The biggest misfortune in the history of the WWE is the Benoit family tragedy. In late June of 2007, wrestling legend Chris Benoit murdered his wife and his young son Daniel. The immediate reaction was, naturally a social shaming of Benoit and the company itself, with numerous media outlets holding WWE responsible. Legally prescribed steroids, drugs and alcohol were found at the crime scene, adding to the negative media frenzy ultimately spewed at the WWE. As time passed in 2007, reasoning for this horrific calamity became apparent. Years of blows to the head, concussions and other forms of terrible trauma declined Benoit’s brain to that of an eighty-five-year-old Alzheimer’s patient. The Benoit tragedy caused a safety uproar and extreme drug testing within the WWE. But, what if this terrible act of human tragedy never happened?
The immediate response in the act of losing someone is an intense feeling of absence. A presence once felt in someone’s life is gone forever. If you had the opportunity to “bring” that person back from wherever we as humans go once we leave this earth, the urgent answer would be yes. When it comes to Chris Benoit, there is not a shadow of a doubt that his fans, family and fellow wrestlers would absolutely want Chris and his family back. If the tragic murders, were never to occur the entire landscape of the WWE and American society would be altered.
In a Butterfly Effect-like way, everything would be turned upside down. Through storyline, at Vengeance 2007 the masses of wrestling fans would witness a new ECW champion. The ultimate dream match of Punk vs Benoit would be seen. Chris Benoit would have been a WWE hall of famer, and most likely would have retired in the following five years. The effectsof the direction of the wrestling industry following the murders, is critical. Abstractly, if Benoit never committed the atrocities, a legitimate wellness policy would have never been created. It’s quite possible, that as a result of the Benoit death, lives such as Scott Hall and Jake Roberts were ultimately saved.
The majority of the WWE locker room would have continued to use illegal substances and worsen their health. Chair shots to the head and other incredible real-life violent “spots” would continue to occur, creating a plethora of brain damage for more WWE wrestlers. This could result in even more tragedies, suicides or more murders based on the effects of C.T.E (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) could have taken place. Superstars the likes of Edge, Daniel Bryan, Christian and more concussion-riddled wrestlers would continue to damage their brains, resulting in inevitable tragedies.
While the Benoit tragedy is the biggest shock to hit the WWE, in a weird way it helped more than it hurt. The potential lives and well beings of numerous professional wrestlers are maintained by the wellness policy to this day. Unprotected strikes to the head are now banned, and the concussion treatment is becoming advanced. Benoit was one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. What he did in late June of 2007 changed the lives of everyone affected and the sport he loved more than himself.