Friday, May 2, 2008

PS - Benoit voicemail messages

Yesterday (I think it was, or Wednesday), messages found on Chris and Nancy Benoit's answering machine by investigators during their investigation, from the days before and weekend of the double-murder-suicide, were released. I'm not going to link to them here; you can find them at TMZ or almost any other wrestling news site, they are not hard to find (although if you find they are, PLEASE let me know; I only listened to them the third time I found them in the space of a half hour though so I'm assuming they're out there and easy to get one's hands on). But PLEASE listen.

And I hope anyone who thinks of Chris Benoit as nothing but a roided-up, drugged-out monster listens too. Because this man - and the man that all these people are speaking to - is who we wrestling fans remember. He leaves a loving message for his wife and son; his son leaves HIM an adoring message (one that wouldn't be left by a child to a parent who had ever hurt them); a couple of calls from "Anne at the office" who, despite the fact he was no-showing a PPV, spoke with nothing but warmth and concern checking up on her colleague and friend.

My husband and I have always said that while we'll have trouble ever forgiving Chris Benoit for what he robbed his family of - their lives, their daughter, their grandson - he robbed us wrestling fans of something too; not just himself, but the ability to ever look at his spectacular oeuvre of work in the same way again. In one fell swoop, a gentleman of integrity, with a sincere handshake, a once- and future-world champion with a lock on the hall of fame, washed all of that away. In a way it was a triple-murder-suicide: he killed his wife and his son and himself, but he also killed the man we all thought him to be ... and that loss makes the other losses so much harder to comprehend, mourn, and get past.

If Chris Benoit had lived and had been given a chance to a trial, I'm sure his mental state would be a source of compassion; the rigours of the road, the drugs he took, the toll taken by his job would make him almost sympathetic, a third victim, although less literally than he is now. I have felt guilty saying that, like somehow acknowledging that I loved this man's image and felt him to be a caring father, whose love for his family seeped through any 'Crippler' character, takes away from what he became, and what he did to his family. And it does, and I will never quite look at him the same way again. But perhaps these phone messages can remind us too that he was at least human - albeit a terribly, tragically flawed one - and at the end of the day, he was a victim too.


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