Tonight, was not the night for ROH performers to be doing swandive headbutts and garotting spots. Photo by TSGT Lias M. Zunzanyika, USAF.
Today was the fifth anniversary of the suicide of Chris Benoit, who hung himself with his weight machine shortly after using a cord to strangle his wife Nancy to death before murdering his heavily sedated seven year old son Daniel days later, long rumored to be by way of a modified version of the Crippler Crossface.
There's definitely a debate to be had as to how we deal with Benoit's legacy, someone who was so gifted in the ring yet committed the worst atrocities in pro wrestling history, the need for which was perfectly articulated by our fan poster CJ Bradford earlier this week. However, I think most of us would agree that tonight was not the night to intentionally pay tribute to Benoit in the wrestling ring, at a time when the Toffoloni family's loss will be felt the greatest.
Unfortunately, that didn't stop Ring of Honor's (ROH) Mikey Mondo from rather foolishly using Benoit's patented diving headbutt in his impromptu match with Mike Bennett at tonight's (Sun., June 24, 2012) Best In The World iPPV. Worse was the reaction of the fans, who indulged him with the Benoit chants that he was likely seeking.
Benoit clone Davey Richards' behaviour was ill advised too, garrotting Kevin Steen with a chain in the main event and twice using his idol's throat slit gesture, symbolism that was best avoided on this tragic anniversary.
But instead commentator Steve Corino drew attention to it with his quip that "in other companies they fire you for this," referring to how Daniel Bryan was briefly fired in 2010 for choking announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie in an unscripted spot during the Nexus formation angle. As Dave Meltzer reported in the June 21st 2010 Observer in his lead story about Bryan's firing "that kind of choking was banned, as part of a residual effect of the Chris Benoit murder of himself and his son by choking and hanging". I don't think that kind of choking should be banned in general, but on the weekend of the murders themselves it would be in good taste to refrain from spots like that.
This just shows how stuck in the wrestling bubble Mondo, Richards, and their fans truly are. I know the dangerous cocktail of alcohol, bereavement, concussions, prescription painkiller abuse and steroids all contributed to Benoit's mental decline, but nothing will ever change the fact that he still committed those heinous acts. There's nothing wrong with watching his matches again and appreciating the artistry on display, but publicly paying tribute to him on the day he turned into a real-life monster is, quite frankly, embarrassing for the industry.
If the general public saw the chants for Benoit, then they would think that they are heartless bastards who care more about their junk entertainment than the fact that he killed his family. I would hope that is not true, but those fans need to be aware of the image they project and reconsider their reasoning for chanting for such an infamous child murderer.