Defending Chris Jericho's "Controversial" Wrestle Kingdom Tribute
Whether the WWE or anybody else in the wrestling business like to admit it or not, the industry will forever be defined by Chris Benoit's actions on the night of 24th June 2007. In a horrific incident, the troubled Benoit would go on to murder his wife and infant son before taking his own life.
A tragedy such as this has come to define the business and call into question the safety of performers, with a focus on concussion based issues causing a whole host of early and maybe even pre-mature retirements.
No one wants another Benoit incident.
This goes double for Benoit's closest friends, chief among them Chris Jericho. However, Chris Jericho, who is set to face Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12, could not shy away from paying tribute to Benoit (along with the deceased Eddie Guerrero) on the eve of the match.
Along with the duo, Jericho has travelled the world including Japan during their wrestling heydays. The premature passion of Guerrero was a huge blow for him and especially Benoit, another factor that escalated the deterioration of his mind.
While Eddie is still celebrated in the Big 'E, Benoit has practically been erased out of existence from the history books. Call it a corporate decision to present a clean image or call it an act of retribution against the mans heinous final crimes. Either way, the WWE refuses to acknowledge the in-ring accomplishments of the Rabid Wolverine.
Jericho is well-aware such a tribute could not fly under the WWE umbrella. His friends were always there for him and as such, Jericho's return to Japanese wrestling warranted an acknowledgement of their support.
Of course, such a decision, especially one so public was bound to attract controversy. Fans in the wrestling world have been in heated debate over whether Jericho's actions were right or not.
Yes, Benoit's last actions will define and condemn him. Yet as a wrestler, Benoit's legacy shouldn't be eradicated. Yes, Benoit prior to the incident was a very tortured and troubled individual. Yet it is also true that nobody possibly knew him more than Jericho.
Sit down and think of this, all the fans calling out Jericho. Imagine you have this friend, you've grown with him, both of you have travelled countless miles together in making your lives and careers and one fine day he snaps.
Your friend ends up killing his wife and child and then himself.
It's harsh, you may feel bitter, betrayed but hurt as well. Jericho has felt that and tenfold, he has often mentioned the burden he carries regarding Chris Benoit and his final actions. Actions mind you that have defined a friend of his for over a decade, a friend he knew in his happiest moments;
When he married his wife or when he held his newly born child in his arms and especially when he wrestled. Jericho chooses to remember that Benoit, and who are we to say that's wrong?
After all, do we want to be defined by just our last moments or by our entirety?
What Benoit did was wrong, but a decade later should we not take a step back and see that it was the system that messed him up just as it has countless others.
He had his faults like anyone, but Chris Benoit should be pitied for those faults not hated. As wrestling fans, we should also celebrate the good that Benoit gave us, in the ring. Let us at least remember him for that.
If we can't do that, then the least we can do is to not condemn Jericho and question his memories.
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