These days, it’s become a media staple to look back on somber anniversaries and ask what’s almost become a clichéd question: what have we learned since? Whether they are moments where society at-large can’t help but to avoid the remembrances of or the passing of time of an intense, but localized, tragedy, there’s a tendency to wonder what has changed since tears were shed and anger was thick in the air. More than anything, these “what since” write-ups also bring us back to those moments to either re-invoke the emotions or shed a retrospective light on something we might have missed.
In the case of these words, it’s on an anniversary most in the mainstream have forgotten over the last five years because … well, most of you couldn’t care less about “sports entertainment.”
Five years ago this weekend, Chris Benoit – a surprising and enduring star in the unforgiving wrestling industry – killed his wife, Nancy, his son, Daniel, and eventually took his own life.
If you remember the news and the subsequent media cycle that fed upon them back then, you probably feel a knot in your stomach. If you don’t, then maybe you’ll recognize how it amplified a couple of sports’ greatest controversies.
The reactions when news initially broke were fast, furious and ferocious. Most, if not all viewers of three-hour WWE Monday Night RAW that June 25th were probably thinking that this was an attack on the Benoit family that ended in such unimaginable ways. However, as details were presented towards the final hour the broadcast, it was as if everything wrestling fans ever knew about “The Wolverine,” the highest regarded technician of his era … the too-short-for-main-event-status grappler turned champion … the star of very humbling beginnings … was about to be thrown out of the window.
In order to distance itself from the crime and the man while placating a seething public, the WWE essentially pulled a page from the NCAA and scrubbed any and all inklings of Benoit from its active media as if he didn’t exist. Yet, that wasn’t all as the aftermath slowly forced some adjustments; one large in scale such as upgrading its Wellness Policy, others a bit more subtle like banning chair shots to the head from the belief that CTE was the culprit in Benoit’s destructive final days.
Jason is the editor-in-chief here at TSFJ. In addition to a past life as a research analyst in advertising, television and online media, he spent seven seasons as the New York Beacon’s beat writer for the New York Giants. Jason has written for Yardbarker, Dime Magazine, Decider, Awful Announcing and The Week. He is also a member of his high school’s 4th period gym class floor hockey champions.
He shares more of his perspectives at jasonclinkscales.com.