On December 2nd 2011, it was told by comingsoon.net that SRG Films had announced that they were to adapt the Matthew Randazzo book "Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry” into a feature film entitled Crossface.
Now, ask most knowledgeable wrestling fans what happened to Chris Benoit and they’ll usually give the same answer: he’s the wrestler that went mad, killed his wife and son, then hanged himself. However, some details aren’t as well-known.
The most popular theory of the cause of the Benoit tragedy is Roid Rage. Though this reason can be confirmed as one of the factors to Chris doing what he did, there were many others that contributed to it.
The second most popular theory to what helped push Benoit over the edge is the considerable amount of brain damage he had. Benoit’s autopsy report revealed that his brain was that of an 80-year-old schizophrenic, hardly surprising considering the amount of blows to the head he had taken throughout his career.
If you watch his matches, it’s rather disturbing to see how many chair shots to the head he took, how hard his head would hit the mat and how often he would use the diving headbutt as his finishing manoeuvre. The continuous attacks on his head resulted in multiple concussions.
But yet, there are still more theories of how bad a physical and mental state he was in. For instance, Benoit was addicted to coffee. Yes, we all like to enjoy a nice cup of joe now and then, but according to former WWE superstar and close friend of Benoit–Chris Jericho, he was really addicted to coffee.
It turns out that under extreme circumstances, the side effects of excessive caffeine intake can result in psychosis, delusions and even violent behaviour.
Another issue Benoit had to deal with was how many colleagues of his in the business had died. Between 1997 and 2004, Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Davey Boy Smith and Ray Traylor (Big Bossman) had died—all of whom Benoit had considered friends. It got worse however, as three of Benoit’s closest friends—Eddie Guerrero, Johnny Grunge and Black Cat Victor Mar (his trainer from Japan)—all died between November 2005 and February 2006.
We’ve all lost friends and family. The difference is we usually have someone to talk about it with. Many people who knew Benoit would all say the same thing; that he would keep his personal feelings to himself, and he would keep his emotions locked inside for as long as he could.
He suffered many tragedies, and after a divorce and the relationship of his second marriage starting to crumble, it got to be too much for him.
Some of you will have known all of these facts already. However, I wished to go through them just so you can understand what SRG Films are dealing with. The book on which the film Crossface is based doesn’t really go into too much detail on the actual events of Benoit’s death, but more on his life.
Ring of Hell has some mixed reviews. Many think it a worthy “tribute” to the accomplishments of Benoit, others are resigned to the fact that the author, Matthew Randazzo, is someone who doesn’t appreciate the business of Pro Wrestling.
Professional Wrestling journalist Eric Cohen had this to say about Randazzo’s attitude in the book:
“His contempt for the wrestlers, fans, promoters, and business spews from most of the pages in this book. When confronted with the opportunity to take the high road, the author usually chose to take the low-road and in too many cases uses gutter language to describe things.”
I have not read the book but Randazzo has been quoted as writing:
"The voluntary choice to pursue a pro wrestling career is fundamentally too stupid, irresponsible, and silly to ever allow for victimhood.", that Stu Hart's dad "had the personality of a wild-eyed medieval peasant" and that the Stampede area fans are "stupid redneck audiences".
I know there is no way to exonerate Chris Benoit from what he did. The man lived as a skilled technical wrestler who was admired and respected by many, and died as a monster.
However, I am willing to accept that there were many factors towards his crime, some that were out of his control, and that if just a few of these problems hadn’t occurred, he never would have resorted to such a horrible way out.
What I am afraid of is if Crossface is going to be based on a book written by a man who acts like it was his dream to be a wrestler but was rejected when he was teenager for not being skilled enough, then I think it would result in an unfair representation of the Rabid Wolverine.
People need to understand that Benoit loved his friends and family, especially his children.
If the man was in a right state of mind, he never would have done what he did. It seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people think “oh it’s just another guy who pumped too much steroids into himself to look good so he could pretend to fight”.
IMDB.com states that the storyline of Crossface is “WWE superstar Chris Benoit struggles to maintain a life with his wife and young son as the pressures of wrestling spiral him out of control.” Now this at least gives me hope that the film is going to be made properly and go into all the details that lead to those fateful few days in June 2007. And if not, I’ll be disappointed, but if people are willing to know more about it, they can always read the chapter on Benoit in Chris Jericho’s autobiography Undisputed.
So tell me Bleachers, should the film be made, or should we merely leave the memory of Benoit’s death swept under the rug?