Chris Benoit’s legacy – Justified or singled out?
Chris Benoit is possibly the one name that evokes strong reactions from fans all over the world. The greatest tragedy in the history of professional wrestling happened many years ago, when one of the most respected and revered individuals turned into a villain in a matter of days. In a grotesque turn of events, Chris Benoit allegedly killed his wife and his son, and proceeded to hang himself, sending the wrestling fraternity and the fans around in the world into frenzy.Since then, many theories were put forward – some, in true Sherlock Holmes esque fashion, determined that it was in fact Kevin Sullivan who masterminded the whole ordeal, while the others, including Hulk Hogan, alleged there were greater forces in play. Unlike anything the wrestling business had endured in the past, the Chris Benoit double murder – suicide casted a dark shadow over the industry, and threatened to erase the business from its existence.Looking back, there were superstars/personalities who were inducted into the Hall of Fame with criminal records – some as far as to committing murders, or at least aiding and abetting in murder, rape and the likes!In this article, we take a look at four such personalities, whose past was forgotten when they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
#1 Jimmy Snuka
“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka is considered to be one of the most underrated performers in the history of the WWE. The image of Jimmy jumping off a cage is still fresh in the minds of the wrestling fans, and the iconic sight of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper breaking a coconut on Snuka’s head during an episode of the Piper’s Pit has in many ways revolutionized the professional wrestling industry.
Jimmy Snuka was also the first ever ECW World Heavyweight champion, and is credited to have introduced the high – flying style of wrestling in the WWE. Snuka, who was one of the fan favorites purely based on his style of wrestling, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 1996. However, WWE chose to ignore an incident which happened in Snuka’s life, which occurred during his tenure with the organization.
Back in 1983, hours after he wrestled on a WWE show, Snuka placed a call for an ambulance, stating that his then girlfriend, Nancy Argentino needed medical attention. The medical personnel who tended to the emergency call found Nancy injured, and she soon passed away due to traumatic brain injuries. The autopsy later revealed that there were bruises and gashes all over her body, which is a sign of domestic abuse. The Deputy County coroner then notified the district attorney of possible homicide, but charges were never pressed against Snuka.
The case however has been reopened, and has been turned to the grand jury. Snuka was alone with his then girlfriend in the hotel room, which implies a possible homicide. Although this happened in 1983, WWE chose to ignore the incident while inducting Snuka into the Hall of Fame.
#2 Mike Tyson
“Iron” Mike Tyson is a legendary figure in sports.. Mike is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, or at least next to Mohammad Ali. Mike was also a multiple time world champion, winning all the three major titles, and thus becoming the undisputed Heavyweight champion of the world. Tyson drew record numbers with his fights, and held the record for the most PPV buys in boxing till ’07, along with the gates.
He was considered to be ruthless in the ring, and that is how he wanted to portray himself. Almost everyone has heard about the Tyson – Holyfield saga, when in the midst of their second fight, Tyson proceeded to bite off a part of Holyfield’s ear and infamously spat it on the mat. Tyson was banned from professional boxing for a while, and during this time, he appeared on WWE TV, leading up to the Steve Austin – Shawn Michaels bout at WrestleMania 14, and was paid nearly 3 million dollars just for one appearance at WrestleMania – the highest amount paid for any personality at that time.
He was also a part of a huge controversy during his heyday in boxing. In 1991, Tyson was taken into custody when an 18 year old Desiree Washington alleged that he had raped her in his hotel room. In the trial that ensued, Tyson was found guilty, and was sentenced to a prison term of 6 years, and was released after 3 years of imprisonment. Mike Tyson, although defended himself vociferously during his hearing, was guilty of raping an 18 year old, and Vince McMahon brought him to referee the marquee match between and Shawn Michaels years later at WrestleMania. He was later inducted into the celebrity wing of WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.
#3 Scott Hall
Scott Hall took the wrestling world by storm during his gimmick as the “Bad Guy” in the WWE. At a time when the heels were meant to look dastardly, Hall made being bad look good, as the fans cheered for the bad guy over the faces. With his patented look, which he borrowed from the character of Tony Montana from the film “Scarface”, Hall, who was repackaged as Razor Ramon, made quite a splash in the WWE. He was pushed into the main event scene not long after, and his ladder match with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 10 is considered to be one of the greatest and iconic matches in WWE and professional wrestling.
Hall then jumped ships to WCW, and was a part of the New World Order, along with Kevin Nash and ‘Hollywood’ Hogan. The trio took WCW to the top, beating WWE in the ratings war for over a year and a half. He is also considered to be one of the greatest names in the history of the WWE to have never won the ‘big one’, although there were indications in the early part of his career of him winning the WWE championship.
But before any of that happened, Hall was involved in an altercation during his time as a bartender at a nightclub. Hall, who confronted a man creating havoc in the vicinity, wrestled him to the ground, and when the victim proceeded to take out his gun, Hall wrestled it from him and proceeded to shoot him in the head, killing him instantly. Hall was initially charged with second degree murder, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence, as Hall said he shot him as an act of self defense. WWE inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year.
#4 Carlos Colon
Carlos Colon, who is a legendary wrestler and promoter in Puerto Rico, is better known to the WWE audience as the father of Carlito and Primo (currently known as Diego of Los Matadores). As one of the owners of World Wrestling Council (WWC), he held the top title of the promotion a record 26 times. Carlos also wrestled the likes of Ric Flair, beating the then NWA World Heavyweight champion twice (although the first match was unrecognized). After beating Flair for the second time, he was named the Universal Heavyweight champion.
Carlos Colon’s contribution to professional wrestling however wasn’t all positive. In one of the most shocking incidents to have ever occurred in the industry, the Bruiser Brody saga polarizes all those involved in the business. Brody, known on – screen as a savage brute, feasting on the flesh of the other competitors with a thirst for blood, was considered a kind hearted human being off camera. However, his way of dealing with the promoters often made him hard to work with, but with Brody being a big name, the promoters often went along with it.
But back in 1988, that came back to haunt Brody, when during an event in Puerto Rico, Jose Gonzalez, known as Invader I, who was also a wrestler and booker, invited Brody into the shower area to “work things out”. In front of the entire locker room, Brody got up and got into the shower, where he was stabbed multiple times and was murdered. Although most of the wrestlers witnessed the incident, along with Jose holding a knife with Brody’s blood, they were allegedly threatened by Carlos Colon, Jose and Victor – the other owner of WWC, and fearing for their lives did not testify in the court.
Carlos Colon then testified against Brody, and with lack of evidence, primarily due to the wrestlers not showing up to testify in the court, Jose was acquitted of all charges, and proceeded to have a successful career in the promotion. It is also alleged that the wrestlers who did not testify against Jose and Carlos, and were still with the promotion were given massive pushes, along with lucrative contracts. Carlos’s testimony in the court played a huge part in Jose and Carlos himself being acquitted of all charges, and he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year.