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MY TAKE ON PEOPLE ATTACKING CHRIS JERICHO FOR HIS CHRIS BENOIT TRIBUTE

By Dave Scherer on 2018-01-07 10:00:00

I saw that Chris Jericho dedicated his match with Kenny Omega at WrestleKingdom to Eddy Guerrero and Chris Benoit.  I saw that it made another wrestling reporter basically lose his mind and attacked Jericho for including Benoit considering what he did to his family.  What is your take on the issue?

My immediate take is that it’s a very complex issue for someone like Jericho, certainly much different than it is for you, I or whoever the reporter was that lost his mind (I didn’t see what you are referring to).  You, the reporter and I can look at it from afar while Jericho has a lot of direct personal history to reflect on.  If someone forms an opinion without taking that history into account they are not being fair.

In Jericho’s case, he knew Benoit for years.  They worked around the world together and had a relationship that we, as fans, were never privy to.  Benoit was also someone that Jericho looked up to as he was breaking into the business as Benoit was a few years older than him and something of a mentor.  Benoit certainly was a role model for Jericho as they were both light heavyweight Canadians that traveled the world to make a name for themselves, at a time when guys their size weren’t given a lot of opportunity to get to the top of the card in the WWF or WCW.  After going to places like Mexico and Japan (where it should be mentioned he made a huge name for himself), Benoit went to ECW, then WCW.  Jericho followed that same path.

In Benoit, Jericho knew a man that was his friend and brother.  He was someone that he looked up to, was very fond of and had a relationship with.  That man later killed his family, and then himself, but it's fair to say that wasn't the same man that Jericho had known previously.  I know a lot of people in the business that still have problems reconciling the Benoit that they knew with the one who killed his family.  To a lot of those people, the Benoit that did those horrible acts was not the man that they remember.  Benoit was always tough, and some would say gruff, but his friends certainly never saw a mass murderer in him.  Many of them believe that the repeated head trauma that Benoit inflicted on himself, and received, damaged his brain and thus changed the man that they knew into one that they didn’t.  There is enough post mortem evidence out there to back that theory, for sure.  So for Jericho, it’s a tale of two men, the one he loved and the one he didn’t know anymore.  For him, it’s an extremely complex situation, in no way black and white.  Anyone that can’t see that just isn’t being fair.

Jericho is well aware of what Benoit did at the end of his life.  He doesn’t support that in any way, shape or form.  I would bet that it troubles him to even think about what became of his friend and the actions he took at the end of his life as I know it would for anyone that has shown themselves to be as caring and generous as Jericho (he has contributed to many, many wrestling related causes, without fanfare, over the years).  I can also understand that he believes his friend was suffering from CTE and wasn’t himself at the end.  He remembers the man he knew before the brain damage took hold, and I understand that. My take is that his tribute was to Chris Benoit, the wrestler and man who made a huge name for himself in New Japan and that tribute was given to his “fallen brother”.

I respect his decision to make the statement that he did.  He had to have known it would make some people, as you said, lose their mind, but he did it anyway.  As I say all the time, anyone can make the easy stand.  Only the select few can make the hard one and I respect that he did what he felt was right.

In my own view, I didn’t know Benoit the way that Jericho did so it’s impossible for me to feel the way that he does about the man.  Personally, I can’t watch Benoit’s matches any longer because of what he did.  I also am sure he knew he was wrong to kill his family since he called in to WWE and made an excuse about missing a house show.  But I am also reasonable and realize that science has determined that his brain was damaged by CTE so it’s entirely possible that led to him committing the heinous acts that he did.  I also understand that there could have been moments of lucidity that occurred as well, which would explain the phone call and later decision to hang himself.  So personally, I can’t watch a Benoit match and ignore what I know he did, even if I realize that it very well could have been the result of brain damage that he had suffered. 

But, I didn’t have a relationship with him.  I didn’t think of him as a brother.  If I were in Jericho’s situation, and someone that I have loved and considered a brother all my life changed and committed the acts that Benoit did, turning into a person that was a stranger to me, I would hope that I would have the courage to remember my friend as he was, even though I was appalled by what happened at the end.  It’s a very complex situation.  In short, my take is that I respect what Jericho did and why he did it.  I wouldn't condemn him for it because I can see where he was coming from.

As for whether he deserved the vitriol from the reporter, which again I didn’t see, all I can say is that if that person responded in shortsighted, knee-jerk fashion, without thinking about the deeper circumstances, that person is part of the bigger problem that we have as a society.  Too many people react quickly without considering all facets of an issue and that leads to nothing positive.  I think we all could do better as a society by taking a second and consider where someone else is coming from before passing judgment on them, condemning them or "losing our minds".  Had that reporter taken a moment to think about this from a deeper perspective, maybe they could have understood the situation instead of reacting to it.  Then again, maybe the reporter was just looking for clicks.  That is another problem we have as a society, but I will attack that one on another day.

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