The Dogs Are In The Yard and The Garage Door Is Open

The physical address of the house is 130 Green Meadow Lane, Fayetteville, Georgia, 30215. The house is brown with white trim lining the windows and doors. It is a big house with a freshly mown lawn. The grass on the lawn is very green. A massive gate fences off the house from the rest of the neighborhood. In the yard, there are two German shepherds lying on their stomachs. One of the dogs is asleep. The other one is awake and panting because he is thirsty.

Behind the house is a pool. A fence separates the pool from the rest of the yard. There is a diving board in the pool. Next to the pool is a garage. The garage is connected to the house. Inside of the garage there are pool toys, hockey sticks, and a red Sport Utility Vehicle. Inside of the garage there is a door that leads into the house. This door is open.

The house has three floors and a basement. There are lots of rooms inside of the house. A bedroom is at the top of the stairs on the second floor. It is the bedroom of a seven-year-old boy. The walls in the boy’s bedroom are painted white. Two posters of a professional wrestler cover the walls. The boy is in the bedroom, lying facedown on his bed. The boy is dead. The boy has no bruises on his body. He looks like he is sleeping. A bible is lying on the dresser next to the boy’s bed. The bible is closed. On the windowsill there are professional wrestling action figures. The sun is coming in through the window, casting shadows over the action figures that are looking at the bible and the dead boy lying facedown on the bed.

Upstairs from the boy’s bedroom there is another room. This room has wooden floors. Papers and files are scattered around on the floor. Against the far wall of the room there is a large desk with more papers on it. Some books and computer games line a shelf that is sitting on the desk. A computer screen is turned off in the middle of the desk. A leather swivel chair is pushed back from the desk. Something is sitting in the chair, wrapped in a towel. A woman is underneath the towel, sitting on the chair. The woman’s hands and feet are tied together with thin white pieces of twine. Her head is slumped forward, her hair hiding some blood drying on the back of her head. An extension cord is wrapped around her neck. The woman has bruises underneath the cord and some more on her back. Another Bible lies at the woman’s feet. This Bible is also closed.

The kitchen of the house is big. It has large beige tile floors and is very clean. Two cell phones are sitting on the granite countertop. The screens of the cell phones are lit up because they both have new voicemail messages. Under the counter there is a cabinet. In the cabinet there is a blue garbage bin. Ten crushed and empty beer cans are piled at the bottom of the blue plastic bin.

In the living room of the house, there are two black leather couches, and a large fireplace. On top of the fireplace sit a few framed photographs. Some of the photographs are of the dead boy and the dead woman when they are alive and smiling, and not dead, rotting in rooms in the brown house with white trim that they used to live in.

In the basement of the house is a room with a blue carpet. The walls are covered with mirrors. A white metal rack is in the middle of the room; it has a bunch of black weights stacked onto it. Other weights and dumbbells are on the floor. There are half dozen weight machines in the room. An empty bottle of wine is lying on its side next to one of the machines. This machine used to have a bar attached to a wire attached to some weights. The bar has been taken off and is lying on the floor, next to the wine bottle. The wire of the machine is wrapped around a man’s neck. The man is hanging from the wire by his neck. The man is being held up by 240 lbs of weight. There is no bible on the floor. There is no note. There are only the weights and the sound of the dogs barking outside because it is 2:30 in the afternoon and they haven’t been fed yet.


The Braindead Megaphone’s

This is a true story about what happened to the three bodies in the brown house with the white trim. The man is former World Wrestling Entertainment Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit. The woman is his wife Nancy, and the boy is their seven-year-old son Daniel.

The quiet outside the house at 130 Green Meadow Lane did not last long. Soon the police arrived and found the bodies, declaring the house a major crime scene.

Like Africanized bees, they came, the National news media, with their satellites and trucks and suit jackets. With their microphones and fake smiles and chemically treated hair. A media circus descended on the house, the whirlwind of worldwide noise. They were broadcasting all over the country and all over the world. The pain that gave way to two murders and a suicide was used as fodder, puffed up and propped up beside the rest of the infotainment trash, the Jon-Benet Ramsey’s and O.J. Simpsons of the world. They even gave it a name, “The Benoit Family Tragedy."

The story belonged to them now, and they had no use for truth. The media came to the gates of the house and spoke out through telelvision sets and computer screens to millions of innocent Americans. They held their microphones and looked into the camera lens and distorted and speculated and assumed and tried to pass it all off as the objective truth. They are liars. There is no truth. There is no higher meaning to be found in the Benoit house, no life lessons that we can take home. We will never understand what went on in that house, at least not until we go to meet our maker.

But our media, of course, always has the answers. They are voracious in their quest for truth-telling. That last sentence was sarcastic and an inside joke. To borrow a phrase from George Saunders, the American media is braindead and they are carrying a megaphone to a large party. They are loud and confusing and they demand our attention. It is too much. There is no subtlety, there is no tact. They drop the truth into shark infested waters and allow the pundits and talking heads to rip the truth the shreds. What follows is a sampling of the words that appeared on television and the newspaper in the days and weeks following the murders. This is the news, you may sort through it if you like, or you can skip ahead to try and find some real truth.


BENOIT MAKES MARKS WITHOUT WORDSCOPS: WRESTLER KILLS WIFE, SON, THEN HANGS SELF Awaiting toxicology results: Did steroids Play a role in the Murder-suicide of Benoit’s family? Call 1-877-NANCY01 WRESTLE MANIAC'S 'ROID RAGE - INSIDE A KILLER'S DOOMED LOVE TALE Like everything in the world of professional wrestling, the ill-fated love affair between golden-boy grappler Chris Benoit and his wife, Nancy, started out as bogus hype. There has been a clear correlation between steroid use and abuse and violence, and there is a term for it road rage, and there have been studies on this.” In the wrestling world it’s not that easy for a wrestler to go with out being paid. It’s mortgage payments and bills like everybody else. Really important, just like everybody’s job to keep that steady income. I did a piece on professional wrestling, a three part story and I never got anybody to admit over the course of several days that professional wrestling is even staged. PROBE: STEROIDS FOUND IN PRO WRESTLER’S SYSTEM!Report shows steroids and other drugs in body of pro wrestler Chris Benoit. The WWE is not who we are focusing on. We believe Chris Benoit killed his wife and his child. – DA FEDS NEW WRESTLER CHRIS BENOIT WAS BUYING STEROIDS Just in: Chris Benoit’s Mother says he might still be alive if DEA agents acted sooner. Next: Mom Stabbed To Death Have you ever tried GHB? The Date Rape drug? We are getting reports that Chris Benoit tried GHB. He carried his son on a pedestal, he loved that boy. He as the politest person I’ve ever met, it was always yes m’am no man, he wasn’t rude to anybody, he was always talking about his kids DID WRESTLER KILL HIS FAMILY? Born in in Montreal in 1967 Wrestled for more than 20 years Has 2 children from previous relationship She was a professional wrestler and she went by the stage name woman. What happened in that home and what to you make of reports that he might have sent text messages to other staffers and people at the world wrestling enterprise and whether or not hat prompted calls to authorities and eventually what they found was what they believe to be a double murder crime scene. It’s all very mysterious. Also remember the You Tube cell phone guy? Posted his number said hey if you’re lonely give me a call. Thousands of people called him including one special caller. We’ll have an update on that story coming up after this. No motive 360’s Raw Data WWE’s Power 2006 Revenues: $400 MillionEst.: 20 Million Viewers/Week TNA WRESTLER KEVIN “BIG SEXY” NASH WRESTLING SHOCKER BENOIT A HERO TO FANS, COLLEGUES In professional wrestling's shadow world, where a "baby face" is a good guy, a "heel' is a villain and a "tweeter" vacillates between the two, Chris Benoit is remembered as a solid citizen who vacillated for no one. I’ve heard things on some of these newscasts that say the son had track marks in his arm and that he was injecting steroids into the son. Steroids are not taken intravenously, they are taking inter muscularly, it’s taken in the fat. There is so much misinformation in general out there. All this is speculation until Chris’ levels come back. Along with everything else, I just think it’s so sexy. It’s such a media craze, you know, steroids were involved steroids were involved. Until the toxicology reports come back and his levels are above four to one, we WWE® Shocked At Latest Developments In Benoit Tragedy, Concerned By Sensationalistic Reporting WWE is concerned with the sensationalistic reporting and speculation being undertaken by some members of the media following the press conference held by the Fayette County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney. Do you think the wrestling pros and the association should be required to testify before congress because there is some sort of legislation that they bring up, that you’re any sort of example to these high school and college kids that are out there? Do you have any responsibility to follow the law? Or should we just let your industry off the hook because you’re merely entertainment? You’re doubting my credibility, I have taken steroids, I haven’t seen ‘roid rage. I know that’s not what you want to hear. In the days before pro wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and child and hanged himself, the couple argued over whether he should stay home more to take care of their mentally retarded 7-year-old son, an attorney for the wrestling league said Wednesday WWE AND USA WRESTLE WITH FALLOUT FROM CHRIS BENOIT CASE WRESTLER SNAPS OFFICIAL: CHRIS BENOIT’S SON INJECTED WITH GROWTH-HORMONE Later this Hour: Larry Birkhead Speaks Out About Raising Anna Nicole Smith’s Daughter BENOIT JUICING HIS SON WWE OUT OF CONTROL SPORTS FINAL EDITIONTINY SON GOT ILLEGAL BOOSTS?. WRESTLER WAS JUICING BOY WITH GROWTH-HORMONE DRUG – OFFICIAL THE BENOIT FAMILY TRAGEDY: Wrestling remains big draw on TV; 'Male soap opera' has faithful fans Wrestler and wife argued over care of retarded 7-year-old son in days before murder-suicide FINAL EDITIONWRESTLER'S RAMPAGE HINTS AT DEMONS IN PROFESSION DID STEROIDS PROPEL HIM TO; KILL HIS WIFE, SON, SELF? Death on Wikipedia before police knew In what was either a poorly thought through prank or an eerie forewarning, someone apparently reported the death of Chris Benoit's wife on Wikipedia - the online open source encyclopedia - more than 14 hours before police discovered her body, along with her son's and husband's, at the pro wrestler's Fayette County home Benoit's dad: Tests may help explain why wrestler killed self Pro wrestler Chris Benoit's father said Friday that he was eager to see whether chemical tests can help explain why Benoit killed his wife and son and committed suicide, acts that the wrestler's father said he had no clue were coming. Benoit Case Uncovers a Lack Of Understanding of Steroids Hardly a hero: Wrestler was a bully and a killer God bless you, Chris Benoit. You will be missed. And yet, in a grand sense, you will always being among us. You infuse the very essence of professional wrestling. Whenever children sit in front of a television to watch a fake sport, you will be there. Whenever people think it's entertaining to see one-man body slam another, or perhaps hit him over the head with a chair, you will be there. You will be there as long as people believe mindless violence and brutality are cool - and pass that faith onto their young. Maybe pro wrestling has lost control of the script Benoit's behavior may be attributed to `date-rape drug' GHB THE GRANDPARENTS of pro wrestler Chris Benoit's son said yesterday they had no idea 7-year-old Daniel had a genetic disorder similar to autism. Benoit tragedy could inspire a wrestlers' union Killer’s Brain athlete who the world respected for his incredible ability inside a wrestling ring, a beautiful woman who was a diva long before WWE came up with its assembly line of manufactured eye candy, and an innocent, special-needs child who loved his parents and was his dad's biggest fan. Somehow, now, the memories seem so distant. There's a fine line between fantasy and reality in the world of wrestling. Sometimes that line gets blurred. But ultimately the good guy always wins. In this real-life tragedy, however, the finish went totally against script, and there was no happy ending. Killing spree "There's a way in which the culture kind of excuses him - actually idolizes him - for his use of violence," Bathrick continued. "He's not been required to look at himself in the way he uses his power, particularly in terms of this relationship." However, Fayette District Attorney Scott Ballard said late Monday that family members who reviewed the child's medical records say he did not have Fragile "Reports from Daniel's educators likewise contradict? The claims that Daniel was physically undersized," Ballard said. "The educators report that Daniel graduated kindergarten and was prepared to enter the first grade on par with the other students.” A lot of people got caught up in the idea that Daniel had Fragile X syndrome," Davis said from the company's headquarters in Stamford, Conn. "We were just as caught up as everyone else. The WWE has no information to contradict Ballard's statement, Davis said. WRESTLER MA RAGES AT FEDS. SEZ STEROID BUST COULD'VE PREVENTED SLAYS Exploited pro wrestlers deserve our sympathy, too Death of WWE Star Chris Benoit Continues to Drive Record Web Search Activity; Top iPhone Searches Include iPhone Accessories & iPhone Reviews; Diets, Wimbledon and eMule, Big Search GainersRep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said 89 wrestlers had died before the age of 50 between 1985 and 2006, and he called on Congress to investigate. REP. SOUNDS STEROID ALARM. WANTS PROBE OF WRESTLING DEATHS “This abnormally high number of deaths of young, fit athletes should raise congressional alarms," Stearns said. "Congress needs to investigate the recent events and find out how big of a problem steroid use is in professional wrestling. Steroid use is a major public health problem that deserves Congress' full attention." Wrestler's death, murders overshadow merchandise Steroids Found in Wrestlers body Pro wrestler Chris Benoit had a steroid and other drugs in his system when he killed his wife and young son last month and hanged himself in the family's home, investigators said Tuesday. Benoit's body contained 10 times the normal level of testosterone, as well as amounts of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone, authorities said. The testosterone, a synthetic version of the primary male sex hormone, is considered an anabolic steroid. The state's top medical examiner said it appeared to have been injected shortly before Benoit died. Benoit had high steroid level; GBI: Analysis shows that the wrestler's 7-year-old son was heavily sedated before he died. BENOIT STRANGLED UNCONSCIOUS SON – DOC Committee asks WWE for drug policy information following wrestler's death was it the worst sports month ever? Joe Camel on steroids Slickly packaged pro wrestling provides poor role models for youth Inheritances tied to Benoit death details; Whether wife or son died first plays key role in who gets wrestler's estate, so in-laws question initial findings Deaths in professional wrestling can be traced to 'wrestling cocktail'

No one ever stopped to think about professional wrestling. Why do people do it? Why do people like it? How is being a professional wrestler any different than being an actor, or an athelete, or a shopkeep, or an accountant? The media never took the time to ask these questions, they were too busy calling the wrestlers names, dragging their livelihood through the mud. Wrestling is regularly referred to as a “noisy sideshow” “a seedy diversion”, and a “freak show;
It’s practitioner’s, “puffed-up characters out of cartoon-strips.” The media would rather relegate wrestling to the fringes of our society. That is not where it belongs. Wrestling, in some form or another has been a part of nearly every culture of people to ever walk this earth. Did Nancy Grace or Geraldo Rivera ever stop to think about that? The answer is, quite simply, no, they didn’t.


At Our Most Primal

Every fifth year, in the shadow of the great Temple of Zeus, the ancient world crowned its heavyweight champion. The Olympic games, in Elis Greece, were the Wrestlemania of the ancients. There were no gold-encrusted belts, no bronze, slilver or gold medals; the reward of for victory at the ancient games was a simple crown of olive branches and a lifetime of respect. To seize the crown and the glory, it was necessary to throw your opponent, three times. An old poem tells the story of Milo of Croton, humanity’s first great wrestling champion.

When none adventured in the Olympic sun
The sight of boisterous Milo to withstand

The unrivalled chief advanced to seize the crown.
But mid his triumph slipped unwary down

The people shouted and forbade bestow
The wreath on him who fell without a foe.

But rising in the midst he stood and cried,
Do not three falls, the victory decide?

Fortune, indeed, hath given me one, but who
Will undertake to throw me the other two?”

There was nothing fake about wrestling in those days. It was a bloodsport, the life of the losing combatant was ended. There were few men more feared than the great Milo. On the day of his wrestling event, he would show up at the colisieum with an ox. Before his matches began, he would strangle the animal with his bare hands. As competitor after competitor fell before his feet, Milo would feast on the raw meat of the dead oxen. The corpse of the animal, lying in the dust, was stripped of all flesh before sundown. The strength of the man was legendary, it was said that with one hand he could throw a 300 pound man 20 feet, he could balance a full chariot on his head, Milo could uproot trees and kill a man with a single blow to the sternum.

The story of Chris Benoit, the story of Milo of Croton, these are nothing new. Wrestling is a sport that is nearly as old as time itself. The Egyptians wrestled, the hieroglyphics of their battles etched into the limestone interiors of the Pyramids. The Greeks, the Romans, the Turks, the Brits, they all wrestled. In 858 A.D. the Japanese chose their new Emperor based on the outcome of a wrestling match. Nearly every culture on the planet has taken part in this highly ritualized, tragically innocent form of violence. Wrestling appeals to human nature at it’s most primal, most instinctual form.

We’ve hardwired wrestling in our history, into our great literature. Odysseus and Ajax wrested to a draw in Homer’s Aenid. In Chaucer’s rhyme of sir Thopas, the knight and the miller wrestle for a golden ram. Beowulf wrestles Grendel to death. In the bible, Jacob wrestles an angel. Wrestling is a part of us, a part of what it means to be human. The stories are woven into the very fabric, the very foundation of our culture.

We make our wrestlers out to be immortals. Like Milo, we give them legendary strength and ability. They are heroes, gods even. With a single, ruthless, modified headlock, Chris Benoit became immortal, making legend of his legacy. His name joins the overflowing list of humanity’s champions and challengers, heroes and villains, echoing down through the vast emptiness of time.


Professional Wrestling is Fake, Duh

Professional Wrestling is a strange and vibrant piece of the patchwork quit of American society. Birthed in the carnivals and vaudeville shows that made their living criss-crossing the country, professional wrestling has been a vital part of American culture for the better part of a century. Set up in fields and fairgrounds, audiences paid good money to see the men go at it. Eventually, the fighters found that they could avoid the weekly bruises and black eyes if they went out and faked it. In those early days, the brawlers had to be careful, every punch, kick, and throw had to look as real as possible. The audience would riot if they knew the contests weren’t on the level.

Over time the craft was groomed, refined, and improved. From the get-go, professional wrestling proved itself to be a business that made money. The scripted nature of the contests allowed promoters to doctor the cards, creating bouts that were guaranteed to be huge hits for the crowd. The wrestlers slowly got the hang of the tricks, and began using their movements and mannerisms in the ring to create complex back-stories for their characters. The matches then strung together to form larger narratives. The culmination of each narrative resulted in huge pay-outs for everybody involved. The practice grew exponentially throughout the 1930’s and 40’s, and professional wrestling soon cut ties with the carnival. The growing industry could no longer be contained under the big-top, it grew to command full houses in auditoriums, arenas and stadiums. Wrestling was no longer just a part of the entertainment, it was the entertainment.

A good wrestling match should tell a story. It is a simple story, a story humanity has been telling since the dawn of time. At its most basic level, a professional wrestling match is a battle between good and evil. Wrestlers are presented not as themselves, but as caricatures, offered up to audiences for either praise or persecution. The formula is simple. The heroes, known as babyfaces are honorable, rule-abiding, and good-looking. The villains, or heels, are evil, cheating and ugly. There is justice inside of the wrestling ring. Eventually the villain will be caught, and he will be punished.

Chris Benoit would never forget the air, the way it hung inside of the auditorium, the night that he first discovered the world of professional wrestling. A cloud, heavy and thick with sweat, made hazy by the light of a single spotlight suspended above the ring. It wasn't just the way the fog looked, it wasn't the way it smelled, it was the way it felt, smothering the noise, stalling time, slowing each and every minute movement down to a blurry slideshow of moments.

Sitting in seventeenth row of the Kinsmen Field House in Edmonton, Alberta, through the haze and the heat and the muffled noise of the crowd, 11 year-old Chris Benoit was getting the first taste of a drug that would eventually consume his life. It was a biting, bitterly cold January night, and the Dynamite Kid and Bret Hart were working the ring. From that moment on, Chris Benoit had devoted his life to professional wrestling. Twenty years later, he would headline Wrestlemania XX in front of a sold-out crowd, in the most legendary arena in the United States.


The Showcase Of The Immortals

“We are all mortals. Our bodies, though strong, can’t defy time. One day, we will die. What matters most is the legacy we leave behind. Did we become all that we are capable of becoming? Did we make the difference we came here to make? Did we pursue our dreams when all around us thought we were chasing illusions? Only those that dare to rise are able to lift themselves above horizons. Only those bold enough, to chase dreams, are the ones who catch them. Wrestlemania. The Showcase of the Immortals.”
-Promotional material for Wrestlemania XX

This is it. This is the spectacle of excess. This is Wrestlemania. This is the big time, the granddaddy of them all, the global phenomenon. The spiraling summit of a pseudo-sport.

This is the culmination of 365 days on the road of near constant travel by the men and women who have earned the right to call themselves professional, professional wrestlers. This is the finale, the capstone of their performances in arenas across the country and across the world. Wrestlemania is their reward for taking right hands in Topeka, and for dishing them back out in Tucson. Wrestlemania is a thank you for the cheap heat in New York City and the big spot in New Orleans. Wrestlemania is the reason for the razor blades in Vegas, the chokeholds in Orlando, and the chops in D.C. The promise of Wrestlemania keeps them awake nights in limos and buses, from Biloxi to Memphis, it is where their thoughts drift at night in Minneapolis, staring at the ceiling of small hotel room. Wrestlemania had absolutely nothing to do with the drunken plane ride to Mexico City. It had everything to do with the concussion in London and the painkillers in the airplane bathroom on the way back home. Wrestlemania is the result of that promo in Green Bay, and the mixed tag match in Kansas City, the Cage in Philadelphia and the double count out in Houston that almost caused a riot

This is it. The road ends here, right in the center of Madison Square Garden, New York City. This is Wrestlemania XX, “The Showcase of Immortals”.


“I was there.”

Those words were in the minds and on the lips of the 20,000 professional wrestling fans descending upon New York City one fateful Sunday in March. They took the city by storm, they were on every street corner, in every bar, restaurant, and parking garage.

They came from everywhere, from near and from far. There were two guys from London, England, who had sold their old car to pay for their tickets and their flight out of Heathrow. A black man from Brooklyn carrying a large gold replica title belt, the words, “King Waldo” engraved on the nameplate. A couple who made the drive up from Nashville, they had bought each other Wrestlemania tickets every Christmas for the past eight years. They’d seen every Wrestlemania since 1992 when Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart to win his first ever World Heavyweight Title in a 60-minute Iron Man match. A boy in a mask was perched on his father’s shoulders, high above the sprawling crowd. There were the four guys from Ypsilanti, Michigan who, dressed as their favorite wrestling characters, had driven 16 hours straight in an old green Ford Escort station wagon. They’d parked their car a few blocks from the Garden, opened the trunk and sat on the bumper polishing off a handle of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. They sang Hulk Hogan’s theme song to themselves and to the New York City streets as they stumbled their way towards the Garden, towards Wrestlemania.

“I am a real American.
Fight for what’s right, American”

Outside the arena, the line was wrapped all the way around the block. People wore costumes and face paint; some wore wrestling t-shirts, some held title belts, some carried homemade signs.

20,000 people of all races, creeds and colors flowed into that building, cramming into the concrete cavern of Madison Square Garden. They walked through the labyrinth of tunnels and stairs deep in the bowels of the arena. They bought t-shirts, hats, and programs. They bought popcorn, they bought beer, they bought bratwursts.

The 20,000 made their way to their seats. It was 40 bucks a pop for one of the nosebleeds. At face value, ringside seats were just a shade under a thousand dollars, but guys were selling them online for ten times that.

Once inside, it didn’t matter how much the tickets cost. People looked at themselves, and they looked at each other. Some of them couldn’t believe that they had made it. The lights went down, and the fireworks went off, they all knew that they were one entity now, a strange mix of humanity unified by this one moment in time that they will each call their own.

The focus of all the attention, all the excitement, all the energy, is a small wrestling ring- a 20’ X 20’ piece of blue canvas in the middle of the hollow shell that is the Garden.

* * * * * *

The lights go out, cue the fireworks. They come blazing down from the rafters, along the entrance ramp, shooting from the ring posts themselves. The official Wrestlemania XX theme song blares from the loudspeakers.

1, 2, 3 - Go!
Yeah, you've been living on the edge of a broken dream.
Yeah, that's the only thing you'll ever take away from me.
I'm never gonna stop,
I'm never gonna drop,
Ain't no different than it was before.
So take some good advice,
You better stop and think twice,
Before you take your first step,
Out that door.

A man shouts over the chaos,

“This is the pomp, the pageantry, and the passion, known as Wrestlemania XX!!”

Jim Ross, or Good Ol’ J.R. as he’s known to wrestling fans, handles the telecast. A mush-mouthed Oklahoman in a black Resistol Cowboy Hat, J.R. has been the voice of World Wrestling Entertainment for nearly a decade. There are few in the game better than him.

“Welcome to the sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York City. Where tonight, Raw and Smackdown Superstars have the chance to earn they way into immortality.”

Hello everybody, I’m Jim Ross, alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. King, I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready than I am tonight for Wrestlemania XX…”


Over the next two hours, the wrestlers, or Superstars, as they are known, will perform Wrestlemania XX for the crowd. They do what they do best, that is, they pretend to beat the living shit out of one another. They slap, claw, slam, choke, whip, knee, kick, punch, chop, and toss each other from one end of the ring to the other. They hit each other with chairs, they jump at each other from ladders, they smash one another through tables. They put their bodies on the line for the approval of the crowd.

That night, in the main event, “The Crippler” Chris Benoit squared off against “The Heart Break Kid” Shawn Michaels and “The Game” Triple H in a Triple Threat match for the biggest prize in the wrestling business, the World Heavyweight Title. Twelve Wrestlemania matches, including seven title defenses, made it a long night for Good Ol’ J.R. He was hoarse as he made the call.


“Benoit has locked in the Crossface! Benoit has gotten him in the Crossface! Triple H is desperate, the sense of urgency is overwhelming. The champion is reaching for the ropes. When will Triple H tap? Can Benoit do it? Triple H is fading away, as Benoit is this close to winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Triple H is being tortured by the Wolverine. He is torturing the champion with the Crossface! Will he tap out? Will the champion tap out?”

J.R.’s voice was a rasping yell as Benoit continued to wrench Triple H, trying to remove Triple H’s head from the rest of his body.

“The title is on the line! Benoit is ripping the champions head off!”

It’s too much for the champ. He raised his hand and slapped it back on the mat.

Triple H tapped out, said “uncle,” given up.

J.R. is still going,

“It’s over! It’s over”

Howard Finkel comes over the P.A.

“The winner of this bout, and NEWWWW World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit!”

In the middle of the ring, Chris Benoit lay facedown on the canvas. He was crying. Not just crying, sobbing. His tears mixed with the blood and sweat that stained the blue canvas. The ref walked over to Benoit and handed him the belt. Benoit held it with both hands. And for a moment, just a moment he became what he once was, a skinny fifteen-year-old kid from Edmonton, Alberta with a dream.

J.R. did not stop shouting.

“This sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden has erupted! Chris Benoit’s eighteen year odyssey has culminated by winning the World’s Heavyweight title at Wrestlemania XX!”

As Chris Benoit rose to his feet, the years visibly, rapidly, piled onto his shoulders. He was no longer the skinny kid from Edmonton. He had packed over two hundred pounds of muscle mass onto his small frame. He was losing his hair, he was missing a tooth, he had lost most of the feeling in his right arm, and a year earlier he had to have his neck surgically fused back onto his spine.

But as the new champion raised his title in the air, the illuminated Wrestlemania XX logo looming behind him, it was clear that this night belonged to Chris Benoit.

“Benoit, so many times, has been so close. Year after year, mile after mile, continent after continent. But Benoit never gave up, he never gave up. Benoit has done it. Benoit is living his dream. Finally, finally, by God, finally. Chris Benoit has become the Heavyweight champion of this world!”

As J.R. continued his call, another man entered the ring. Benoit turned around. It was his best friend and fellow wrestling champion, Eddie Guerrero. Nobody outside of the professional wrestling universe can understand the places that these two men had seen together, the sacrifices that they, together, had made for this sport. They had battled and bled across continents, across countries. They’d fought each other in Japan, a match that ended in darkness after Benoit knocked Guerrero out cold after a vicious snap-suplex. Together they’d moved on to Mexico, where Guerrero would teach Benoit the traditional, native, high-flying and fast-paced Lucha Libre style of wrestling. From Mexico they went on to Philadelphia, taking incredible punishment and pulling insane stunts for a rabid group of misfit wrestling fans in a small rundown Bingo Hall. Benoit sat shotgun in Eddie’s car as they criss-crossed the country, logging mile after mile, Guerrero reciting his favorite bible passages. Nobody told bible stories better then Guerrero. They listened to each other, they helped each other, they watched out for each other. They were soul mates of sorts, united by their passion for professional wrestling.

This night, this moment, was theirs and theirs alone. They had reached the pinnacle of their journey, the respective high points of their nearly twenty-year careers. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, wrestling champions both, sharing the ring at Wrestlemania XX, in the heart of Madison Square Garden.

The fans watched as Guerrero moved toward Benoit. They cheered as the two men hugged, Benoit’s eyes welling up with tears.

Not even a professional like Jim Ross could keep it together. With his voice cracking he shouted through millions of television sets,

“Eddie Guerrero with a heartfelt embrace on his friend Chris Benoit. These two men have traveled the world over so many times, and they are both shedding tears of joy, because Chris Benoit can say ‘I won the Heavyweight Championship of the World in Madison Square at Wrestlemania XX”

Eddie Guerrero lifted Chris Benoit’s arm victoriously in the air, as confetti fell from the ceiling and into the ring.

The moment became a part of Wrestling’s mythology. It became an iconic image of the sport, of the culture, of the industry. As the camera faded out, as the 20,000 fans made their way back out into the New York City night, the official theme song echoed in the background.

You had your chance to walk away.
Live to see another day.
And now you've crossed that line...
You must be out your mind.



Chris Benoit woke up alone, covered in sweat, staring at the white plaster ceiling of his Charlotte, North Carolina hotel room. He blinked twice. He did not know what time it was, but he knew it was early.

Light had just begun to sneak through the off-white polyester curtains. He had been dreaming, not really dreams, nightmares. They came hard and fast, one after another. As soon as he managed to toss his way out of one, he was dragged into the next. They were fever dreams, vivid and hot. The sheets were soaked, the gaudy floral print comforter lying in a pile at the foot of the queen sized bed. Chris Benoit’s dreams were all about wrestling, in some way another. He rarely dreamt of anything else. He lay there for a few moments on his back, looking up at the ceiling. He thought about his last dream, the one about Eddie.

The two of them were riding in a big blue conversion van, driving through deserted, dusty roads somewhere in the American southwest. They stopped at these really out of the way places, rundown desert towns and gas stations in the middle of nowhere. Each place they stopped they found a wrestling ring baking in the hot desert sun. They got out of the van and wrestled one another in the ring. There was never anyone in the stands, no cheering children, no beer-swilling adults. It was just the two of them, Chris and Eddie; just the two of them and the dust and the sun and the ring. They kept driving, thousands of miles in circles, wrestling each other over and over.

They wanted to stop but they couldn’t, they were trapped, like action figures in the hands of a small boy. They kept driving and they kept wrestling, they never slept, they never ate, they never saw anyone else. They wrestled until bags formed under their eyes, till their hair grew long and greasy. There were tears in their eyes and they cried and they wrestled and they cried some more because they knew that they would never be able to stop.

Chris Benoit sat up in bed, the air cooling the sweat on his skin. He reached his hands to his face, rubbing his eyes awake. There was no point in staying in bed, he would toss and turn for another hour, sleep for a minute here, a minute there before being startled awake, sweating, in the middle of another nightmare.

It was three years after Wrestlemania XX and Chris Benoit was a broken man. Eddie Guerrero was dead. And 24 hours later Chris Benoit would return to his suburban Atlanta home and kill his wife, then his seven year old son, and then himself.


Another Dead Wrestler

Eddie Guerrero

He was born Eduardo Gory Guerrero Llanes and professional wrestling was in his blood. It was the family business. His father was a wrestler, his uncles, his brothers, his cousins. Everyone called him Eddie and he started wrestling in matches with his cousin, Chavo, when he was fifteen years old. Eddie Guerrero did not stop wrestling until the day he died, on a cold and windy night in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Alone in his hotel bed, Guerrero’s heart may well have exploded in his chest. It was just too much to bear, the drugs, the drinking, the uppers, the downers, the painkillers, the growth hormones, the steroids. Eddie had tried his best to get clean, for the sake of his marriage and his three girls. Eventually Eddie found faith and salvation in the arms of the Lord and repented for the sins of his past. Eddie Guerrero was a proud, born-again Christian, and he wore that title like a belt around his waist. But Eddie Guerrero made a career out of portraying a liar and a cheat and it was the lies that eventually would kill him. Guerrero used his newfound religion and sobriety as a blindfold, to hide his one secret. He couldn’t shake the steroids. There were still secrets in his soul. The growth hormone HCG and the steroid stanozolol, which he continued to take until the morning in the Marriott City Center when his cousin Chavo tried to blow life back into his lungs. It was too late. It was over.


It’s No Wonder Your Head Hurts, Your Finishing Move Is A Flying Headbutt

It’s been said that our bodies tell our stories, and Chris Benoit’s body most certainly told his. Swinging his legs over the end of the bed, Chris Benoit stood up slowly. His muscles were body still aching from the night before, and he made his way slowly across the brown carpet and into bathroom. Flicking on the light, he moved to the toilet in the corner of the room and releived himself. Finished, he flushed and stepped over to the sink to wash his hands. He looked up into the mirror.

The lights in the bathroom were bright, and they framed Chris Benoit's reflection in hard, white, light. Casting no shadow on the man's face, offering no place to hide from the ice-blue eyes that stared back at out him from the mirror, the light made him feel small, vulnerable and exposed.

There was something innocent about his face, an almost childlike quality that was swallowed up by the dark circles that surrounded his sunken eyes. In this light, Chris Benoit looked every bit of his forty years. His skin was pale and loose, his short brown hair receding from the wrinkles that knitted his already prominent forehead. Leaning forward, he lifted his fingers to his brow. He traced the nearly invisible, small, white, self-inflicted scars that criss-crossed his skin just below his hairline. There were too many of them to count. The skin that stretched over his forehead had a grown sickly, paper thin. The slightest bump or bruise would turn him into a bloody mess.

Chris Benoit reached down and turned the faucet on. He splashed cold water on
his face. Though he does not know it, though he will never know it, Chris Benoit is suffering from a neurological disorder called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. He is a man with a severely damaged brain. It is not unlike the brain of an 85 year-old Alzheimer's patient. It looks like swiss cheese. There are holes, gaps where there should be neurons. There are neurofribrillary tangles, tau protiens that are insoluble, that cannot be broken down, that have latched onto the remaining neurons. The tissue of his brain is scarred. There is extensive damage in every part of Chris Benoit's brain. This is not normal. This is not OK.

It must've been the light that set him off. It was so bright in that small bathroom, so stark and hard. It penetrated into his eyeballs, seeming to shine directly onto his brain, burning the sensitive membrane. The daggers of light stabbed incessently, just above his eyebrows. He doubled over in pain, using his hands to steady himself on the sides of the sink. He reached up and flipped off the lights. He tried to breathe. Slow deep breaths, one after another. He wanted to scream, wanted to rip and claw at his forehead, wanted to tear out the pain that was boring through the front of his brain like a termite through a two by four.

Instead, he clenched his teeth and focused on his breathing. A deep breath in, a deep breath out, a deep breath in, a deep breath out.

Chris Benoit tried to keep quiet about the headaches, but they had been getting worse, becoming more frequent. He didn't know what was happening to him, he didn't know where they were coming from. It was his brain. His horrifically damaged brain was responsible for everything, the headaches, the nausea, the anxiety, the loneliness, the depression, the mood swings, the aggression. Chris Benoit's life was slowly collapsing around him. He felt as though he had nobody to talk to, nobody he could trust. So he did what he'd be doing for years, he internalized it, keeping his pain and emotions a secret, holding them close to his body. He didn't want to burden anyone, he didn't want anyone to see how bad he had gotten.


Another Dead Wrestler
Bam Bam Bigelow

People called him Bam Bam and he was big and bald and had a spider web tattooed on the top of his head. He wore a jump suit with flames on it and for twenty years he traveled the globe and participated in the main event in nearly every professional wrestling promotion in the world. I wonder if it made him proud to know that people of all nationalities paid money to boo and throw garbage at him. I wonder if the boo’s were still ringing in his ears the night that he was drinking and driving 90 miles an hour on a motorcycle. It was October and the motor cycle crashed and he came close to dying but he lived. A few months later cocaine, benzodiazepine, diabeties and a bum heart would finish what the motorcycle started. Some of the fans that booed Bam Bam Bigelow drew pictures of him with pencils and sent bouquets of flowers to his funeral.


MTV True Life: I’m a WWE Superstar

Chris Benoit spent that day in a gym with no windows, just machines and mirrors and blue linoleum tiles. There were other people in the gym, some friends, some coworkers, but Chris Benoit preferred to lift alone. He’d been this way his whole life, ever since his father bought him his first weight set for Christmas when he was fourteen. For Chris Benoit, weightlifting was a serious business, and over the years he had developed little patience for those who didn’t treat it as such.

He spent a good 15 minutes stretching himself out before he began. He started at his neck, moving down through his body, loosening his shoulders, shaking out his arms, and bending his wrists. Lying down, he worked through his legs; his quads, his hamstrings, his butt and his groin. He did a few stretches for his back, and then stood up. It was time to hit the machines. He liked to do the bench press first. One lift, one time. Just to see how much weight he could still put up. Chris Benoit put two one hundred pound weights on either side of the bar. He lay down on the black padding. He reached up, gripping the sliver bar, feeling the groves of the metal roughly on his hands. Letting out a grunt he lifted the bar, guiding it down until it tapped his sternum. Pushing back upwards, arms shaking, he replaced the bar on the machine. He sat up, then smiled. Four hundred pounds wasn't bad for an old man.

Chris Benoit went through the rest of his routine. He was all business, watching himself in the mirrors as worked, lifting, pushing, squeezing himself through his sets and repetitions. Toiling through his circuit, Chris Benoit made sure that he hit every machine three times, before finishing up at the bench press. Again, he placed two one hundred pound weights on either side of the bar, and again managed to lift the 400 pounds of weight down to his chest, then back up to the rack.

After the workout he had a quick shower and then was driven by limo to a large mall just outside of Charlotte. For two hours Chris Benoit signed autographs in the lobby of the FYE store. The line streaked around racks of CD’s and DVD’S, eventually spilling out into the hallway and ending a hundred yards away in front of Kay-Bee Toys. Benoit signed his name on action figures, DVD’s, and T-Shirts; on title belts, posters, and 8X10 glossy photographs of himself. He shook hands and smiled and flexed his muscles as he posed for pictures. He tried to treat everyone with respect. He listened to their stories, he nodded and smiled and said a few words. Eventually their faces and their hands blurred together in his mind, the permanent marker in his hand taking on a life of it’s own, mechanically swooping out the words “Chris Benoit” on everything placed in front of him.

From the mall, Benoit was shuttled again by limo to the Uptown Arena, the home of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. That evening, 20,000 people saw Chris Benoit finish his workday in the center of a wrestling ring, working a nine and a half minute match with the young Elijah Burke. When the referee counted to three, it was over and done. Benoit acknowledged the cheers of the crowd, raising his arms and beating his chest as he walked down the aisle and disappeared through the curtain.


Another Dead Wrestler
Sensational Sherri Martel

She wanted to be a clown and ran away from home to join the circus. She became a professional wrestler instead. She wore black fishnet tights and too much make up and she was one of the most hated female managers in WWE history. She used her pointy heels as weapons to Shawn Michaels and Macho Man and The Million Dollar Man to victory. I used to think Sensational Sherri was the ugliest woman in the world, but I was still sad that she never woke up from the OxyCodone that she took in her mother’s house in McCalla, Alabama. Sensational Sherri Martel was dead and people were shocked and Jake “The Snake” Roberts wrote a poem about it on his MySpace page.

You glistened when I met you in 1974
33 years of sharing, shards of time.
Your friendship, fellow wrestler, lovers,
and a hell of a lot more.
Forgive me, but why didn't you wait for me?


He Wasn’t The Kind of Guy That Said I Love You

On a folding chair in the visitor’s locker room, Benoit sat watching his friends and coworkers perform the rest of the show on a small closed-circuit television mounted high in the corner of the room. The locker room was crowded, people were laughing and joking with each other, playing video games and cards. Benoit was oblivious to all of this activity, as he sat quietly unlacing his boots. He peeled off his spandex wrestling tights, wet with sweat, and tossed them into a laundry bag lying on the floor. Grabbing a towel from the rack he walked into the shower.

He turned the faucet hard to the right, as hot as it would go. The scalding water felt good as it burned his skin, the heat burrowing into his body, into the soreness and stress that he always carried in his back and shoulders. He soaped, shampooed and rinsed. Pausing for a moment, head down, he took one last moment to enjoy the blistering heat as it ran down his face and body. Then he turned the faucet back to the left. The water gradually got colder and colder, shocking his tired muscles, his tired eyes, and his tired brain alert. He kept turning the handle, turning until the water was too cold for him to bear. Standing underneath the frigid stream, Benoit was gripped by a sudden wave of depression. This was a routine he'd been performing for twenty years. What did he have to show for it? A myriad of injuries, a surgically repaired neck. Sure he'd made some money, he'd done some traveling, but what was the point? What good was money when most mornings he didn't even have the energy to get out of bed? Chris Benoit shiverred, sighed, and turned off the water. Toweling off, he put on a fresh set of clothes and tossed his dirty laundry into his duffel bag and zipped it closed.

Said his goodbyes to some of the boys, shouldered his duffel bag, and headed for the door. His friend Chavo Guerrero stopped him at the door.

“So I'll meet you at the airport tomorrow morning?”

Chris Benoit was miles away. His response was distracted,

“What? Oh, right, uhh, yeah, sounds good, I'll see you then,”

Chavo looked concerned. Placing his hand on the other man's shoulder, he leaned in a little closer,

“Are you feeling alright man?”

Benoit stopped for a second, before shaking his head and smiling,

“Yeah, yeah, sorry. I'm just tired I think, you know, nothing to worry about.”

“Alright Chris. Take care of yourself tonight, try and get some sleep in the limo. I love you, man.”

“I love you too.”

The two men hugged, and Chris Benoit turned and walked out of the locker room.

He walked towards the back of the building, pushed through a thick metal door, ending up outside in the loading dock. He found his limo and his driver got out and held the back door open. He climbed into the backseat, tossed his bag on the floor and settled in. He tilted his head backwards, resting it against the headrest. He took a deep breath as the driver got into the front seat, turned the car on, and headed for home.


Another Dead Wrestler

Big Bossman

Big Bossman was an actual corrections officer in Georgia before he came to World Wrestling Entertainment to play a police officer with a mean streak. I always wondered why he was so good at twirling a baton. He had a southern accent and sweated a lot while he worked the ring. The Undertaker hung him with a noose after their Hell In a Cell match, and I was scared and uncomfortable as Big Bossman hung there his feet dangling fifteen feet from the canvas. But the noose didn’t end the life of the Bossman, a massive heart attack got him at his home in Spaulding County, Georgia. They have still not released the cause of Bossman’s heart attack, and I hope that his two daughters grow up because it would suck for your dad to die at forty-two.


Chris Benoit Should Have Changed His Middle Name to Magellan

Sitting in the back of the limousine Chris Benoit was ready to go home, he needed to go home. It had been two weeks since he'd seen his wife or his son. He missed them and he needed them near him during those nights spent by himself in hotel rooms, alone with his thoughts.

His voice sounded scared and nervous as he leaned forward, poking his head through the divider to give instructions to Jimmy Baswell, his limo driver. Benoit asked to take the long way home. The limousine was to criss-cross it’s way out of Charlotte, turning often and using side streets whenever possible. The limo was not to pass through any major cities, not even Atlanta. The detours, though lengthy, were, in Chris Benoit’s mind, absolutely necessary. He did not want to be recognized. He did not want to be followed. Even at that late hour Benoit was terrified of being found, of being seen.

He did not know where the paranoia came from. It had been happening on and off for the past four or five years. Seemingly out of nowhere, waves of anxiety would cascade over his body, turning him into a shaking, nervous wreck. At times he felt as if there was some sort of conspiracy against him. Some person or group was plotting to harm him and his family. They had appeared to him in dreams, a shadowy network of men determined to ruin his life, to kill his wife, his son, his parents, his friends. In his dreams, Chris Benoit watched as everybody he loved died.

He had become distrustful and suspicious of others. The already reserved Benoit had drawn further inside of himself, building both emotional and physical barricades. A massive fence now surrounded his entire 8.5 acre property. He rarely opened up to his coworkers on the road, preferring to travel alone, or with one or two other close companions. The crazy routes home assured that he wasn’t followed, assured that he would be safe.

The limousine hit interstate 77, when he was sure that the car was not followed out of Charlotte, Chris Benoit allowed himself to relax. He could feel the exhaustion and soreness settling deep inside of his bones. Sleep had not come, it would not come, until he made it home safely. He chewed on pieces of his finger as he looked out of the tinted windows of the car, his eyes nervously rolling between every headlight and streetlamp that he passed.

He was sick of the road. The endless highways that always lay sprawled out in front of him. When he first started his career he loved the road, loved all the travel. He got to go places he never dreamed he’d go, see things he'd never dreamed of seeing. But as the years dragged on, the novelty wore off. All the different places ended up looking the same. He didn’t know if he was in Louisville, Kentucky or Nashville, Tennessee. Frankly, he didn’t care. In the past three and a half months, he had traveled, by land and by air, over thirty-four thousand miles. His life was an endless stream of highways, airport security lines, and limousines. Living out of his suitcases, he ate in restaurants and off buffet tables laid out in arenas. He never stopped, he was always moving, an average distance of 400 miles a day. In a year, Benoit and his colleagues traveled far enough to circle the planet five times.
All that travel meant sacrifices, and it was his wife Nancy and their young son Daniel who suffered. Chris couldn’t be there for birthdays, for parent-teacher conferences, for t-ball games. He didn't like to think about the distances between himself and his family. He could hardly bear not knowing what they were doing, how they were feeling. He loved and treasured his wife and son. The thought of being without them left an ache in his stomach that he couldn’t ignore


Another Dead Wrestler
Crash Holly

Crash Holly was 34 and they found him dead, passed out in a puddle of his own vomit, next to a fifth of whiskey and an empty bottle of perscription pain medication.


The Eternal God Is a Dwelling Place

As North Carolina whizzed past the windows, Chris Benoit zipped open his duffel bag and pulled out a small leather-bound notebook, it was brown and had the word “Forever” embossed on the cover. It was a gift from his wife. A pen was clipped to the elastic strap that held the book closed. Opening the book, he skimmed through pages and pages of handwritten notes, until he came to the first blank page, where he stopped and began to write.

Dear Eddie,

I know that you are gone, but I still feel like I’ll be seeing you on the road next week. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a friend as good as you. I could talk to you about anything in my life, and you always helped me to make sense of things or change my perspective. Whatever I was going through, whatever issue I had, you never pointed the finger. It is because of you that I believe in God. I don’t know the bible like you do, I can’t quote scripture like you can. I remember when we’d be on the road and you’d open up your bible and read passages and apply them to whatever we were talking about. You used them to make so much sense of everything.

There is a quote from Ester M. Clark, it writes.

“Give me one friend, just one who meets the needs of all my varying moods”

This is soooo you. You are my spiritual guide, Eddie. Whenever I read Job I think so much about you. All the tragedies that happened to you. When you came out of rehab with nothing but the clothes on your back. You had physically, mentally and emotionally and monetarily, hit rock bottom. You lost your family, Vickie, and the kids. Instead of becoming bitter, you became better. You overcame the odds. I learned so much from the examples you set, and I am doing my best to make you proud while I am still here.

Sometimes I wonder why we do it. Sometimes I wonder why I stay in this business. It is so demanding, physically, mentally, and emotionally in every possible way. But I do love it. And I know you loved it too. I don’t think I’ll ever find someone that I bond with better than you. I am not looking forward to staying on the road, not that I ever did, I hate the road, but it’s so much harder without your company and camaraderie.

Like always I love you, and I miss you. The road isn’t the same with out you. I feel lost and confused and I don’t really have anyone I can talk to. It is killing me to be apart so much from Nancy and Daniel. They are the only ones I need right now. Nancy is so beautiful and she is my best friend. And you’d be so proud of Daniel, he’s such a sweet and smart little boy.

I want you to know that I have been reading a passage from Deuteronomy 33:27. “The Eternal God is a Dwelling Place”. It is comforting to me to know that the lord is holding me in his arms.

I love you so much my friend, and I’ll see you soon. Goodnight, Eddie.

He snapped the book shut and sighed. Leaning to his side, Chris Benoit rested his head against the cool glass window of the limousine. “Almost home,” he thought, “almost home.”


Another Dead Wrestler
Road Warrior Hawk

He spent his days snacking on danger and dining on death. People called him Hawk. What a rush. Hawk was a Road Warrior and he lived hard on fast on the highways of America and then he had a heart attack and he died somewhere in Florida.


The Gates to Heaven Itself

It was 3:45 on Friday morning, and it was dark outside. Chris Benoit was almost home from work. He had been in the car for nearly five hours. The limousine pulled off the interstate, and was now just a couple of miles from Benoit’s Atlanta home. The car made a right onto Green Meadow Lane, the headlights throwing light onto a row of massive white pillars, the ghostly ribcage of a large white plantation-style mansion housing the Whitewater Country Club. The gravel road crunched under the tires and small stones kicked and rattled off the sides of the limo. Otherwise, the night was quiet.

Making another right turn, the limo pulled into the driveway of a large brown house with white trim around the windows, and the eaves. The path to the house was blocked by an enormous iron gate. If made of gold, it would look like the gates to heaven itself. Thick, black, iron bars rose into points, forming an arc in the middle of the driveway nearly eight feet above of the ground. Chris Benoit was home.

“You know what Jimmy? I think I’ve got it from here”.

He leaned forward, calling through the open divider.

Jimmy looked at him through the rearview mirror. He raised an eyebrow, “You sure? I don’t mind.”

Chris Benoit shook his head slowly. “No. No, don’t worry about it.”

Jimmy shrugged, “You’re the boss”. He threw the car in park, hopped out, and opened the door. Chris Benoit stepped out of the car. He raised his arms over his head and stretched, groaning as he leaned to his left, then his right, to his front, then finally putting his hands to his hips and stretching out his lower back. His joints and muscles were stiff from the long ride in the car. With each stretch he could feel his muscles screaming protests, the soreness radiating outwards from nearly everywhere in his body. Chris Benoit knew they would be screaming even louder tomorrow morning.

Benoit reached into the car for his bag, drawing a sharp breath through his teeth as he bent down.

Jimmy Baswell had been Chris Benoit's driver for the past year and a half. Try as he might, Chris Benoit could not hide his discomfort from his driver. Placing his hand kindly on the other man’s back, the Jimmy spoke gently,

“Buddy, please. Let me.”

Benoit, a proud man, was reluctant to back away. Jimmy did not move his hand.


Chris Benoit took a step backward. Though he would never say it, he was grateful for the help.

Jimmy grabbed the bag and handed it off. Chris Benoit took the bag, slung it over his shoulder and offered his hand.

“Thanks for the ride. I appreciate it”.

“No problem,”

Jimmy smiled, taking his outstretched hand,
it’s my job.”

Chris Benoit nodded again, turned, and slowly made his way to the gate.

The driver paused before getting back in to the limo.

“Hey Chris, just a bit of advice,” he called, “go inside and get some sleep. It looks like you've earned it.”

For the first time since he’d left Charlotte, Benoit allowed himself a small smile,

“Thanks, I’ll try.”

Jimmy got back in the car and backed out, leaving Chris Benoit alone in the middle of his driveway. He lingered there, watching until the early morning blackness swallowed up the taillights of the limousine. Benoit sighed, and cinched his duffel bag further up his shoulder. He turned and walked toward one of the large stone pillars that framed the gate on either side of the driveway. Two antique looking lamps hung from the sides of the pillars, their light glaring off the dark pavement, slick from the damp air and the dew that had already begun to gather on the ground.


Another Dead Wrestler
Johnny Grunge

At some point during the nineties Mike Durham probably listened to Kurt Cobain while he was making friends with Chris Benoit. At some point during the nineties, Mike Durham changed his name to Johnny Grunge and used the bodies of other men to shatter particleboard tables for the cheers and admiration of a bunch of misfit young people crammed into a Philadelphia Bingo Hall. Then the nineties were over and Johnny Grunge didn’t really have a career any more because he didn’t change his name to Johnny Boyband or Johnny Emo or Johnny Hiphop. So Mike Durham moved to Georgia and lived a few blocks away from Chris Benoit and in a few years Mike Durham was dead but it wasn’t the Chris Benoit who killed him. Mike Durham died from a lack of life goals, too many movies and video games and sleep apnea. Mike Durham had two boys and the video games didn’t kill them and they spent time with Daniel Benoit before Daniel Benoit was murdered by his father.


Chris Benoit Is Sore and Depressed and Symptoming on his Front Porch and if He Opens the Door to his Home He Will Not Come Out Alive

A small rectangular keypad, no bigger than a pack of cigarettes, was attached to a brick in the stone pillar on the right side of the driveway. Chris Benoit shifted the duffel bag on his shoulder, and punched in his six-digit passcode. The lock on the gate buzzed open, the loud mechanized drone disturbing that quiet stillness that hung heavy in the air.

The big gate swung slowly open and Chris Benoit started walking the 60 yards to his front door. The air was warm and a slight breeze blew through the front yard. Chris Benoit sniffed the air. He could smell the rain coming. His body knew it too, and he could feel the moisture in his stiff, creaky joints. He would be sore tomorrow. The aches were always worse when it rained. He looked up towards the sky. The half moon was partially hidden behind a cloud, and there were no stars.
The windows of the house were dark. All the lights were off, except for the light on the front porch. This light was on for a reason. Nancy left it on, she knew he was going to try and make it home tonight instead of spending another night alone, laying on his back, staring at another hotel ceiling. The light made him forget the aches and pains, forget that it was four in the morning and he hadn’t slept yet. Nancy left it on because she knew. She knew, and she cared. Benoit shook his head slightly. God, he loved that woman, and he missed her so much sometimes. He was glad to be home.
Once his shoes touched the white-painted wooden stairs, every good feeling he had vanished from his mind, every happy memory evaporated into nothing. Chris Benoit climbed the stairs and stood in the center of the porch, staring at the bright white lightbulb inside of the light fixture mounted next to his front door. Chris Benoit stared at the only light in the house that was on, and he remembered that it was 4:00 in the morning and he was exhausted and sore and alone.
He rubbed his face with his hands. He just needed a little fucking sleep. He pulled open the screen door, balancing it open with the blue duffel bag resting on his left thigh. Benoit reached into the pocket of his black leather jacket, found his keychain, and felt around for the front door key. When he found it, he pulled the chain out of his pocket and held the key up to the light, making sure it was the right one. He put the key in the lock and grabbed the iron door handle, pushing his shoulder hard into the thick wooden door. The big front door swung open and Chris Benoit was home. He stepped into the house and shut the door behind him.


Another Dead Wrestler
Owen Hart

When Owen Hart was the Blue Blazer he wore a mask and a blue cape and told kids to drink their milk and say their prayers. The Blue Blazer must have forgot to say his that night at the Kemper Arena in St. Louis. Owen Hart was afraid of heights, but the Blue Blazer always entered from the rafters. As he sat amongst the scaffolding I wonder what he was thinking about, I wondered if he thought about his brother Bret, or Martha or the kids. And when he started his descent I wonder what he thought about when the harness snapped and he plummeted chest first into the cold blue steel of the ring post. And I wonder if he heard the fans cheering and clapping like crazy because they thought the whole thing was a stunt. And I wonder what the other wrestlers were thinking about when the show had to go on, and they had to land back first onto the canvas still stained red with the blood of their dead friend.


Vince McMahon is Dead

Vince McMahon, Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, walked through the hallway like a zombie, slowly and without direction. His head was up, his eyes facing forward, but his mind was half a million miles away. Something was not right. Over the past few days the usually brash Mr. McMahon had become disturbingly withdrawn. He was having strange thoughts, unsettling premonitions about his of his own demise. Visions of billowing black clouds and bizarre monologues bounced through his brain.

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil… ashes to ashes, dust to dust!”

McMahon said none of this aloud; he walked silently past his employees, the shirtless men and scantily clad women lining the hallway of the Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania . Their eyes followed the Chairman suspiciously as he made his way through the hall. McMahon was in a foul mood, and they knew better than to test his legendary temper. The looks they gave him spoke volumes, the stares betraying their disdain. McMahon pretended not to notice, paying them no mind as he pushed open the heavy blue metal doors and stepped out into the cool summer night.

A slight breeze blew across the empty parking lot and McMahon paused, breathing it in deeply. He had just finished performing in the WWE’s weekly “Monday Night Raw” television show, and he was tired. That night’s show was to have been his “defining moment,” an entire evening dedicated to honoring the man he respected most, himself. However, “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night,” as it was called, was a disaster. Former employees returned to give their thoughts on the man and his career, and not a one of them had anything remotely positive to say. The whole show had been a fiasco, an embarrassment that only served to darken McMahon’s already bleak disposition. McMahon headed across the deserted parking lot towards his limousine. Stopping, he frowned and turned back towards the door. He should march right back in there and fire them all, every single damn one of them. He built this company single-handedly, he paid all their salaries, he’d made them all into stars. They’d be nothing without him. This was the thanks he’d gotten? They turned him into a laughing stock on live television.

No, McMahon shook his head, resuming his solitary walk. He’d had enough for one night. All he needed now was a stiff drink and a good night’s sleep. He arrived at his large white limousine, which was idling next to two WWE production trailers. McMahon bent slowly, reaching for the door of the limo. He let his hand linger on the handle for a second, hesitating, his fingers motionless on the silver-chrome. Finally, he pulled the door open and entered the limousine. With one foot still on the black top McMahon hesitated again before drawing his leg into the car and slamming the door behind him.

An enormous explosion ripped it’s way through the limousine sending a shower of sparks and sound into the quiet evening. The entire vehicle was engulfed in flame. There was no sign of Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

******This Article is Fake*******

June 12, 2008
Feds probe crime scene
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. WWE.com has learned that United States federal agents have arrived at the crime scene in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where Mr. McMahon was presumed dead less than 24 hours ago. As rumored, given the severity and nature of the explosion, by law, federal authorities have taken full control of the investigation.
As first speculated in previous reports by WWE.com, federal authorities confirmed that a body was not recovered from the limousine’s blackened remains. Investigators believe that Mr. McMahon’s body could possibly have been incinerated in the blast.

With the initial stages of the federal investigation underway in Pennsylvania, authorities have closed the crime scene to check for DNA evidence that may lead to additional information on last night’s shocking events. Forensic experts are scouring the scene and are expected to comb through the wreckage for the next few days in an attempt to find even the most minimal trace of Mr. McMahon’s body.

In addition, explosives experts have arrived in Wilkes-Barre to thoroughly examine the limousine and determine what type of device may have been used in connection with the incident. In the earliest stages of probing, authorities are analyzing each fragment of debris and gathering clues to build their investigation.

At approximately 11:07 p.m. ET last night, the WWE Chairman left the Wachovia Arena and stepped into his stretch limo, which almost instantly combusted before the eyes of millions watching Raw on TV. The sight of the explosion with Mr. McMahon inside the limo drew an eerie hush to an audience that had been wound with excitement just moments earlier during the live WWE Draft. This incident is the first of its kind on U.S. soil since the mid-1970s.

Instants after the blaze was controlled by firefighters in the late morning hours, the charred vehicle was scoured for the Chairman’s remains. Rescue workers and authorities were puzzled by what they found: nothing. Federal agents shared this perplexed state this morning, confirming that a body has yet to be recovered within the melted heap that was once Mr. McMahon’s limo.
Earlier today, WWE.com reached out to representatives of the McMahon family. These representatives stated that the grief-stricken family of the Chairman had no comments to offer at this time, but told reporters that something may be forthcoming in the near future.

As more details become available, continue to check back with WWE.com for exclusive coverage of one of the most shocking events in history. June 12, 2007

******This Article is Not Fake*******
Vince McMahon’s hoax goes up in smoke

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Did Vince McMahon, who’s bluffed and blustered his way into the ringmaster’s role of the testosterone-fueled soap opera that is professional wrestling, really fall for the old bomb-in-the-limo trick?

Though World Wrestling Entertainment would have you believe otherwise, the answer is no.

“No one was in any danger,” said Steve Poremba of Monday night’s WWE RAW spectacle at the Wachovia Arena, though he would not elaborate until WWE had sent out a news release. Despite articles on the wrestling federation’s Web site that firefighters and federal agents are investigating, workers at the Luzerne County 911 Center confirmed that it was “a stunt” and that no emergency vehicles were called to the arena on Monday night.

FBI officials have not yet returned a call.

But fans from across the country have been contacting local media to confirm reports that McMahon, the chairman of the board of WWE, was blown up in a fiery limo-bombing on his very own “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night,” which was televised on USA Network. McMahon had walked out of the building to the waiting vehicle, so fans inside the arena saw the same televised live scene.

Only it was wasn’t live. Supervised by Zenith Pyrotechnology, based in Deer Park, N.Y., the explosion was actually filmed at the arena late Saturday night, the footage of the burning hulk taped Sunday night and the whole mess spliced together, said Andy Kratz, the township’s zoning officer.

“They did it, I believe, at 11 o’clock at night until 3 a.m. so no one would be around,” he said, adding that it was done in a section generally blocked from public view by the building and surrounding land features.

The pyrotechnics company had to get permits, which Kratz said they did about a week ago. “We have pyrotechnics shows in the arena all the time” for wrestling and ice skating, among other things, he said. “They say they do this quite a bit,” but usually not outside.

Representatives of the pyrotechnics company have not returned calls for comment.

The stunt seems to be part of an ongoing story of McMahon’s spiral into insanity, which wwe.com has been supporting with repeated updates of the faux-bombing story.

WWE representatives have not yet returned a call for comment.

Vince McMahon, as the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader revealed, did not die in a limousine explosion. It’s called kayfabe. Pronounced kei-feib, the word comes from carny slang, meaning, “protect the secrets of the business.” Kayfabe refers to planned events that take place within the professional wrestling universe. These events are staged, but they are presented to audiences as real. Kayfabe functions as the imaginary barrier that separates the real world and the world in the ring. It is the cloak of secrecy that is draped over the wrestling business, the code of silence that protects professional wrestling from the outside world.

Vince McMahon’s death took place in kayfabe; it was “a work.” A work, as it is used in professional wrestling, is a term that also claims its roots in the carnival. It means, “working the crowd” and is the way carnies, and now wrestlers, are able to hype and promote their attractions and shows. By faking his own death, Vince McMahon was working to garner attention, and hopefully ratings, for his company and their products. Professional wrestling has been using the same simple formula for decades; controversy creates cash. Anything that draws interest, positive or negative is good for ratings. The more cutting-edge, controversial, and edgy, the work, the better. McMahon’s stunt, if you’ll pardon the pun, worked. The Lycos 50, a service that tracks internet search trends, reported that in the week following his “demise,” searches for “Vince McMahon” saw a whopping 9,800 percent spike in searches from the previous week. This dwarfed the next largest gainer, “The Sopranos” by 9,581 percent. Additionally, “WWE
became the second most popular search, finishing second only to recently jailed hotel-heiress and socialite Paris Hilton. McMahon, by faking his own death, the stunt, though crass and perhaps a bit off-color, was a great way to earn attention, ratings and cash.


The Ironman

On Sunday, June 24th, the boys in the back of the Toyota Center were worried. They knew something was wrong. Chris Benoit was missing. No one had heard from him since the wee hours of the morning, when Chavo and Steven Regal received a strange series of text messages from the cell phones of both Chris and his wife Nancy. They had tried to call back, had been trying to get a hold of him all day. There was no answer. Nobody knew where Chris Benoit was, or what he was doing.
The boys feared the worst. Wrestlers are no strangers to tragedy; they are no strangers to death. It comes with the territory. In the past decade, anywhere from 60 to 100 of their number have passed away before reaching the age of fifty-five. When Chris Benoit went missing, they prayed that he was safe, but deep down they had to have known that something was wrong. They had seen it happen too many times before.
The notion of Chris Benoit missing a show was unheard of, almost impossible to imagine. Across his twenty year career, Chris Benoit had never no-showed an event. He prided himself on his attendance. He was the Brett Favre, the Cal Ripken of professional wrestling. He was the iron man, a consummate professional. Nothing short of death could keep Chris Benoit from the wrestling ring.
That night in Houston, Texas, few could believe that Chris Benoit was missing the show, it was scheduled to be a big night for him “The Rabid Wolverine” had returned to Extreme Championship Wrestling. Benoit was gunning for the ECW Heavyweight championship, currently wrapped around the waist of an up-and-coming young Chicagoan, C.M. Punk. It was the type of bout that Benoit lived for.
The fans were upset when the ring announcer informed them that Benoit wasn’t going to be performing. They booed Benoit’s replacement, the sneering pretty-boy Johnny Nitro, as he walked down the aisle and into the ring. For the duration of the eight minute and three second match, the fans chanted for Benoit. It started slowly at first, but soon the whole arena was echoing. “We want Benoit! We want Benoit!”
Soon they would all know what was inside of the house, soon they would know about the bodies.