Every wrestling fan has their own Mount Rushmore of the best in the world. Mine would contain Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Macho Man Randy Savage and Chris Benoit.
There was a glorious time when other fans would nod, perhaps suggest I remove one and add Stone Cold or perhaps The Rock, but everyone respected my choices. And then the tragedy happened. Benoit, known for being a very private family man murdered his wife and child and then killed himself in one of wrestling, hell – life‘s, worst days.
Because of this, rightly or wrongly, that‘s an argument for another day, the WWE has practically erased Benoit from history. Take for example their recent Ruthless Aggression series on the Network. It‘s great but there is a big Benoit shaped hole. Like covering the Stanley Cup and putting a white line through the Kings. Again, I know why, but it still feels wrong.
There is an official WWE documentary DVD titled Hard Knocks, which looks at the career of the Rabid Wolverine, but obviously you will not find it in HMV now. So, if you want the story of Benoit in the ring, as WWE would normally produce such things, Part 1 of DSOTR‘s documentary should now be your goto.
Here is Jim Ross, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, big names talking about Benoit in a way we no longer hear – ‘just‘ as the wrestler, one of the best ever. There‘s even Benoit‘s other son telling of his perfect childhood growing up and how his dad was/is his hero and you would have to have a heart of stone not to feel for this kid, knowing what the future brought, after all those glories.
Part 2 brings the side of the tale you might know if you only heard of Benoit through the TV news after the tragic event. Yet it is not a tabloid look at events, it features Nancy Benoit‘s sister, more heartbreaking footage of Benoit‘s surviving kid and how little help he got from the WWE after the event and wrestlers who, even all these years later, seem unable to fathom what happened that awful night.
The hero of the piece is Chris Jericho, who brings together a sister and a son split by tragedy and seeing them reconnect is a warm ray of sunshine in an otherwise (obviously) cold tale.
Dark Side Of The Ring has started its second series with a winner and I will be making sure I don‘t miss any of its other deep dives in the weeks to come.