In an unbelievably surreal moment, Vince McMahon stood in the middle of the ring at the beginning of Monday Night RAW and announced that Chris Benoit had died. What was scheduled to be a tribute to the “presumed dead” McMahon instead turned into a numbing tribute to the fallen former champion.
Benoit, 40, was found dead along with his wife and seven-year-old son in their Fayetteville, GA, home on Monday around 2:30 p.m. No details are being released, but the Fayette County sheriff’s office reported that the deaths are being investigated as homicides. However, a detective allegedly told an Atlanta television station that the events are being investigated as a murder-suicide with Benoit murdering his son and wife sometime during the weekend before ending his own life on Monday.
On Sunday, Benoit was scheduled to take on CM Punk for the ECW Championship but was replaced by Johnny Nitro for what Jim Ross called “personal reasons.” Before arriving in the ECW via the draft a few weeks back, Benoit had already carved out his legacy in championship gold as he is one of the few wrestlers to hold titles in the original ECW, WWE, and WCW. But The Rabid Wolverine’s crowning moment came at WrestleMania XX when his crippler crossface forced Triple H to tap out, giving Benoit his first and only World Heavyweight Championship title reign in the WWE.
There was no flair in Benoit’s style; he was a strategic, methodical, no-nonsense, in your face, beat down machine. Benoit was one of the few guys who didn’t need a gimmick; he walked to the ring and his reputation did all the talking that was needed. Whether it was from the fans or the wrestlers, Benoit earned respect from each and every person who saw him perform inside the ring. His passion and intensity were palatable and the WWE and its fans will sorely miss his old school skills in a business obsessed with the next big thing.