Chris Benoit was known as Crippler when he was a professional wrestler, and the shocking death of him and his family in the summer of 2007 would have damaged almost the entire industry. For the wrestlers, the legacy of Benedict is what has had the deepest fractures in their heads since shortly after this summer. They learned to forget the career of a man who was once one of the favorite stars of the sport. Part of this negligence is due to the fact that the WWE destroyed Benedict’s legacy, and part was chosen by them because Benedict ended his life and the grim way he left the country.
But because the first of the second season on the dark side of the ring appeals to some, others are unable to conquer this man, his family and the spirit of his career so easily. This two-hour documentary tells a haunting story about family and friends who, more than ten years later, are still trying to cope with a heinous crime.
The audience is moved by the emotions of the roller coaster ride as the filmmakers try to discover what led to the fateful nights of June 2007 in Georgia, when Benoit killed his wife Nancy, Daniel’s son, and eventually himself.
The filmmakers did a good job by telling the story of a person who too often falls out of the story because the focus is on her husband’s horrible act: Nancy Benoit. Nancy, who became one of the greatest icons of battle in the 1980s and 1990s and has spent most of her career as a woman.
We see someone who was ahead of her time and changed things by physically taking part in competitions where other women in the industry were simply used as a feast for the eyes. Her involvement in the industry eventually led her to Chris, and the reason for this relationship is that Chris then became a hero to Nancy and saved her from an alleged forced marriage to wrestler Kevin Sullivan. But when we get to the second part of the film, we’ll see how marriage deteriorates when the couple are about to divorce as a result of a terrible murder-suicide.
Much of the first part was also used on the occasion of Benedict’s close friendship with Eddie Guerrero and his death in 2005. The friendship between the two men is well known, and long time fans of the fight will remember the last scene of WrestleMania XX at Madison Square Garden, where both Benoit and Guerrero competed as WWE World Champions. It was one of WrestleMania’s most memorable moments at the time.
That night in the garden will finally be the highlight of his career. The documentary highlights Guerrero’s death in a hotel in Minnesota in the fall of 2005. Chavo Guerrero Jr. describes the place where he discovered his uncle’s body. Benedict was also at the hotel that day and they describe his reaction to the death of his best friend and how he struggled with it for the rest of his life. It is a heartbreaking paraphrase, and it is presented as a possible trigger for what needs to be done.
As the documentary enters its final hour, the second part is a heartbreaking account of the murders and suicides, with detailed explanations by Fayette County (GA) Sheriff Larry Alden, his family and writer Matthew Randazo V (Ring of Hell). No detail is spared, including police photographs of the crime scene taken from the inside (the body has not been photographed, but there are some horrible artifacts).
It also tells how WWE employees heard about the events and how Vince McMahon and his talent first met Vince McMahon. On the night of the news broadcast there were videos from the WWE Raw Tribute Show, which has long since been deleted from the WWE history books. Chris Jericho, the narrator of the documentary, decided not to participate. Chavo Guerrero Jr. struggles with what he said that night, and Jim Ross describes the experience as one of regret, although he justifies it by saying that the company simply didn’t know the whole situation at the time.
Benoit’s friends and family (including Nancy’s sister Sandra Toffoloni and Chris’ surviving son David Benoit) are still struggling to come to terms with what happened and why it happened throughout the program. David, of course, still worships his father, and Toffoloni remembers the times when she could have intervened.
A lot of time is spent on the steroid angle, which was widely used by the media during the crime. But we also hear that WWE has intensified its drug testing program since Guerrero’s death. Or was it them?
There are controversial stories here where Chris Jericho says you can’t take a high-performance aspirin without failing the test, while Randazo and Nancy’s words until his death make the drug testing program much less thorough. Randazzo explains that Benedict survived the process despite the enormous amount of testosterone present in his body at the time of his death.
Depression and possible alcoholism are also affected, but former wrestler Chris Novinski excels here by studying Benoit’s brain in relation to the neurodegenerative disease of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). We now know that the ETC is considered to be the cause of much violence with former professional athletes, and if this terrible situation has a positive outcome, it is the increased awareness of the ETC and the positive impact this awareness has had on the sports world.
Finally, an inspiring conclusion of the program shows that despite so many dark and terrible moments in the history of this sport, the fight for the prostate can still serve as a catalyst to unite us all.
When Chris Benoit Dark Side Ring gives a clue, the second season of the series is again mandatory for television. The series manages to weave some of the positive threads of some of the darkest stories in the history of the sport, even though it is difficult. The story of Benedict’s tragedy is certainly one of the most difficult moments in the history of combat, but the latest scenes prove that there can still be positive moments in the darkest conditions.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The dark side of the ring: The premiere of Benedict on Tuesday the 24th. March at 9:00. and on VICE TV. The first part of the episode is now available on YouTube.
What do you think of the documentary? Let us know in the comments section or tweet me on Twitter @ryandroste.
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