8 years have passed since wrestling's darkest hour and for me this is one situation where time is not a healer. My colleague Jamie today wrote an article which you can read here where he pondered entering Chris Benoit into the Hall Of Fame and separating the man pre and post-ECW Title. As far as I'm concerned Benoit should never be considered and WWE are right to remove him from programming and merchandise as much as physically possible.
Like Benoit, I was a Dynamite Kid obsessive as a youth and then became a Benoit fan as it was impossible not to if you loved Dynamite. When you watched Benoit, you were in fact watching The Dynamite Kid. Benoit had obsessively trained to be like his hero and it was this obsessive nature which would contribute to his downfall. After the events that occurred I, like many, sought answers. I have read just about everything there is to from the fantastic "Ring Of Hell" by Matthew Randazzo V (which I highly recommend to all wrestling fans) to doctors reports to bizarre conspiracy theories. The fact is with a dead murderer you can never get all the answers you want or need.
What is certain is that Chris Benoit and Nancy were having marital problems, Nancy sought divorce and was granted a restraining order in 2003, and he eventually murdered his wife during an argument. Interestingly he would not have have been eligible for the death penalty at this point which does exist in Georgia. Even so one could understand why he would commit suicide after such an act to avoid the consequences and stigma of being the killer of the mother of your child. But what is not known is why he would choose to murder his seven-year old son, an act he deliberated on for hours.
In situations like this with the murderer dead people will sometimes look for something or someone living to blame and at the time WWE did find itself under the microscope. Even though WWE have upped their game significantly more recently in terms of support for ex-pros I still think they could do more to help the active roster in terms of giving wrestlers annual holidays and even allowing the introduction of the trade union CM Punk was desperate to introduce. There is however nobody else to blame in this situation other than Chris Benoit. And given what we know about Benoit's obsessive personality it is quite possible, in fact it is quite likely, that no amount of extra help would have made any difference. Benoit wasn't even honest with his doctor, a close friend, about the extent of his issues so there is no chance he would have opened up to an outsider.
There are a whole host of logical options that could have been selected to change the end result. Benoit could have sought out help and treatment at any time. He could have asked for more time off. He could have ended his unhappy marriage amicably. He could have quit wrestling and gone back in a year or two or not at all. He could have got a job as a wrestling trainer for WWE or anywhere else for that matter. He could have opened his own wrestling school, with his reputation he would have people travelling from all over the world. His house was worth close to a million dollars, he could have sold it and bought a place for half the price and retired. He had many choices but he chose to kill.
I appreciate some may be upset about such a sad end to a legendary wrestler's career. But if you look at the big picture, who he was and what he did have no relevance anymore. Anything Chris Benoit did before that fateful day 8 years ago has been tarnished beyond recognition forever.