Looking back, Benoit was one that had an immediate impact for me as a fan, when I saw him on an early episode on WCW Monday Nitro and he was making his debut again Eddie Guerrero and the intensity that followed. I had known about him and have saw some of his matches prior to this, but it was this match and that particular powerbomb that he gave Guerrero just hit me and I was a fan.
I didn't think a few years later he'd would go on to become a main event guy who would go on to headline Wrestlemania XX. That match would be THE match on the show. I remember how excited we were when he got Triple H in the Crossface and screaming at the TV for him to tap. And how excited everyone was when he eventually did tap. We were happy, this was a guy who, along with Guerrero, would never thought that they would reach the pinnnacle of the business, winning the World and WWE titles, becoming the guy that leads the company. It was such a happy moment....
Then came that fateful Sunday.....
It was just before a PPV, he was not there due to a "family emergency". I had hoped for the best, hoped he and his family were going to be ok. Then came word all had passed. At this point, with Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero passing prior, I had become relatively numb to wrestlers I like passing at a young age.
The next day, RAW was cancelled and they did a tribute to him. During that, word started to trickle down of the details of what actually happened and you had the wrestlers giving their comments on it. Many of whom were shocked by it.
On Tuesday's ECW, if memory serves correctly, they ran their regular show, but to open it, Vince McMahon came out and mentioned because of what was released,
And since then, they haven't.
To be honest. To this day it still shocks me. I haven't watched a full Benoit match since that tragedy. He was a talented performer, could be considered one of the best of all time, but it's hard to separate the man from his work. And at this point its probably the only way I would watch, and now, it's still kinda hard to. But others who can and that's their perogrative.
If there is something that can be a positive that has come from all of this it's this. It's has brought the subject of concussions to the forefront of sports and sports-entertainment. Look at the NFL and how they're acting upon the subject. And taking away guys getting chairshots to the head have been a positive. That's not needed. Wrestlers can still tell their epic stories, fans can still be wooed, all the good things that can come from wrestling can still be done without doing things like chairshots to the head. It's just sad it took a tragedy like this for it to come to the forefront. But if it prevents another from happening, then there's that to be content with.