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.