Tuesday, June 26, 2007

R.I.P. Benoit

I am a big fan of the WWE. I know it's not a sport - technically. But there are some things they get right.

Renowned WWE wrestler, Chris Benoit, was found dead in his Atlanta home along with his wife and seven year old son. The deaths are being investigated as a murder suicide.

I'll admit I cancelled my errands Monday evening to see how WWE would respond to the passing of Benoit. Monday Night Raw was supposed to be a "tribute" to Vince McMahon, who supposedly perished in a auto explosion. The WWE had already announced on Monday evening that the show would be dedicated to Benoit instead. Still, it was unclear what would happen to the McMahon death storyline.

Well, the WWE totally scrapped the McMahon storyline. In fact, WWE totally cancelled the arena show that was to be held in Corpus Christi, TX. Vince McMahon stood in the middle of an empty ring with red eyes and talked to the TV audience about reality.

The WWE may be full of extraordinary athletes, but it does not tread in "reality." They are notoriously loyal to the story, even about mundane things like injuries. But they are notoriously loyal to the audience. There are no holidays, no reruns in the WWE. The WWE superstars travel all over the world every week to bring the fans an A-list show. They are dedicated professionals. My favorite wrestlers don't take games off. My favorite personalities don't disappear for weeks out of the year to play golf.

For the WWE to cancel a show, much less scrap a whole storyline, it was like cancelling the Super Bowl.

You may not be a wrestling fan, but I hope you can be empathetic to the grief that the wrestling community will be expressing in the coming days. What happened to Chris Benoit was tragic, but the feeling is bigger than Chris. WWE is a community of a few dozen wrestlers and a few million fans that depend on each other. As a contrast to so-called legitimate sports, Tank Johnson was cut today from the Chicago Bears for a vehicular infraction. The Bears didn't show much regard to Tank. Far less regard to the fans that wanted to see the Bears succeed. The WWE has shown itself to be far more loyal through far worse or at least reconcile somewhere down the line. Disagreements can eventually be resolved. A place is found for "old" wrestlers. Talent is generally accomodated. Professional wrestling long pionerred the "gray" area of human capabilities. It's WWE, not NFL, NBA or MLB that's made me comfortable with dealing with the anti-hero.

So, Benoit, even if he was part of an organization that was rife with "storylines", he was part of an organization with a certain integrity. He was essential to that integrity. And that is the reason he will be missed most of all. He is the last of a dying breed.

And, so what, if I fell for an another storyline? I need something to believe in too.


MCBias said...

Responding to your comment: Yes! I'm always targeting you! And so are the voices in your head! Oh, wait, maybe not. :-p

On the Terrell Owens issue; you're attempting to balance coverage, and you've made that obvious from the beginning. That's definitely ok.

On some of the other athletes you've supported, though, yes, you probably do fall into the too much love for athletes category. If they find video of Vick fighting dogs tomorrow, would you then say "That's it, he should be punished?" I'm not so sure.

DP said...

good post.

As a fellow wrasslin follower, I was stunned by the Benoit news. One reason I always liked Benoit is because he seemed above the whole story line foolishness that pervades wrestling in its current constitution.

I, for one, was so disturbed by watching him hug his wife and son after winning the belt in the showing of Wrestlemania XX that I stopped watching the tribute show. I thought the irony was a little too much so early in the AM.

Of course the masses will blame it on the roids...but I think the lifestyle of a wrestler (especially a 20 yr one) didnt help any.

I will be curious to see how (if) the WWE deals with this long term.