Heading into his co-main event match against IWGP United States champion Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome tomorrow (Jan. 4, 2018), Chris Jericho posted the following piece of fan art to his Instagram. Jericho added a comment beneath the illustration of himself and two deceased friends he worked with in WWE, WCW and Japan, saying he would dedicate his New Japan match to “fallen brothers”.
The posting has resulted in online controversy because one of the wrestlers pictured is Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife and son before hanging himself in June of 2007.
Benoit, depicted along with Eddie Guerrero as a smiling ghost behind Jericho, is not mentioned by name in the caption, but the inference that Y2J would honor someone responsible for the deaths of 43 year old Nancy Benoit and seven year old Daniel Benoit has upset many. Others have defended Jericho, pointing out that he did not create the drawing in his post, and that his dedication would include many from a tragically high number of wrestling contemporaries who’ve died during his career, beyond Benoit or even Eddie.
Personally... I just don’t know. I probably wouldn’t have promoted that particular image, but I’m also blessed to never have someone I love do something as horrific as what Benoit did. If you’ve read or heard any of Jericho’s thoughts about what happened in Fayetteville, Georgia back in 2007, you know it’s something which wears on him mentally and spiritually, so I don’t believe the Instagram post was done flippantly or without mixed emotions on his part.
But the man himself isn’t commenting, and probably won’t. So people will continue to debate the dedication on the internet, and you’ll have to decide your own thoughts on it - just as we’ve all had to come to personal terms with the Benoit tragedy over the years.