Review by Dan Skip Allen
The world of wrestling has its highs and lows. The toll that being the best in the ring and an entertainer out of the ring year after year can be a detriment. Trying to compensate for the pain and suffering can be hard. Drugs, painkillers, and steroids are quite often the solution until they become the cause of the problems. Chris Benoit was dealing with a lot of pain after the death of his long time friend from both in the ring and out of the ring, Eddie Guerrero. All of this caused him to do the unthinkable, kill his wife and young son in their home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Chris Benoit was a big fan of wrestling ever since he was a little kid. He idolized Thomas Billington, who would later become The Dynamite Kid. This would get him to become a wrestler. He would wrestle in various wrestling organizations including New Japan Wrestling. He was considered one of the hardest working wrestlers in the business and became known for using one of the most realistic styles. This led him to rivalries and later friendships with Eddie Guererro, Dean Malenko, and Chris Jericho.
After being pushed out of the spotlight because of their size, Chris, Dean, Eddie, and Chris all left WCW and joined WWF (World Wrestling Federation) now WWE. They all would reach the heights of their careers. Everything seemed great for these guys until Eddie started on a downward spiral from painkillers which would lead to his death. The death of Eddie was the final straw that sent Chris over the edge. In 2007, Chris Beniot would deliberately murder his wife Nancy and their son in their Fayetteville, Georgia home. He then hung himself from his weights, committing suicide. Was this roid rage or was this tragic event premeditated? That is the biggest question.
Talking heads, including David Benoit (Chris's son), Chris Jericho, Jim Ross, Vicky Guerrero (Eddie's Wife), Dean Malenko, Chavo Guerrero (Eddie's Brother), and Sandra Toffoloni (Nancy Benoit's sister) lend their opinions to the two-part documentary. Usually, too many talking heads can be a detriment to a good documentary. This one had a lot of archival footage from back in the early days of Benoit's career through WCW and WWF. This footage, combined with the talking heads painted a very vivid portrait of this story. This is one of the best documentaries of its kind. Vice went the extra length to get the most incisive and informative information available about this man and the world he inhabited.
As a wrestling fan from way back in the 1980s, I can say this story was as tragic for me as it was for the world. I was not surprised to see this happen though because the wrestling world has had many tragic deaths throughout its existence. From suicides to drug overdoses to death by enlarged heart, death has been a regular occurrence in this world. Benoit was one of my favorite wrestlers until that tragic weekend in Atlanta. Benoit, Guerrero and Jericho and the like will always be the best the business had to offer. This business will never see guys like this ever again. It's not the most popular opinion because he murdered his wife and son, but I will always love Benoit as a wrestler and entertainer.
Dark Side of the Ring airs on Viceland on Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT.