[[caption-width-right:350:The Canadian Crippler (left) with best friend [[Wrestling/EddieGuerrero Latino Heat]]. No moment in Wrestling/WrestleMania history is HarsherInHindsight than this.]]

The name '''Chris Benoit''' invokes one of two images: that of one of the greatest professional wrestlers ever, or that of a man whose final days were spent committing some of the most horrific acts in wrestling.

The third to receive Cauliflower Alley Club's Future Legend Award, Christopher Michael Benoit grew up in Canada idolizing such wrestlers as [[Wrestling/BretHart Bret "The Hitman" Hart]] and [[Wrestling/DynamiteKid the Dynamite Kid]]; in 1985, at the age of eighteen, Benoit debuted in Canada's Stampede Wrestling. From there, Benoit went to various overseas promotions for a number of years (mainly in Japan), then made his debut in Wrestling/{{ECW}} in 1994. It was in ECW where Benoit earned the nickname "The Crippler": during a match with Wrestling/{{Sabu}}, he performed a back body drop, but Sabu landed right on his head and broke his neck. Though this was an accident, Benoit's "Crippler" nickname stuck with him for the remainder of his career.

In 1995, Benoit returned to Wrestling/{{WCW}} (he had a short run there in 1992 and early 1993), and after impressing management with his in-ring work, Wrestling/RicFlair had Benoit become a member of the Wrestling/FourHorsemen stable; it was during this time that Benoit would feud with Wrestling/KevinSullivan, who was also a WCW booker at the time. The angle was that Sullivan's on-screen valet (his wife Nancy) was having an affair with Benoit; to keep the angle steeped in kayfabe, Benoit and Nancy were forced to spend time together to make it appear that they were having an affair. The end result, however, was that Chris and Nancy actually did have an affair, and Nancy left Kevin Sullivan to marry Benoit.

For the next few years, Benoit would go on to win fans over with his in-ring work, but would never break through to the main event level until Wrestling/VinceRusso and Ed Ferrara came into WCW in 1999 during the Wrestling/MondayNightWars. However, when the two were suspended and Kevin Sullivan was placed back on the booking team, Benoit and a number of other wrestlers revolted and delivered an ultimatum to management: he goes, or we go. To attempt to appease this group of wrestlers, Benoit was booked to win the [[http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wcw/wcw-h.html WCW World Heavyweight Championship]] at ''Souled Out 2000''. This was not enough to please them, however, and Benoit - along with Wrestling/EddieGuerrero, Wrestling/PerrySaturn, and Wrestling/DeanMalenko - were granted their releases after the event.

Weeks later, the four men would show up on ''[[Wrestling/{{WWE}} WWF Raw]]'', coming out from the crowd to attack several wrestlers. Calling themselves "The Radicalz", Benoit and company would end up signaling the beginning of the end of WCW; a little more than a year after their debut in the company, WCW folded and was purchased by WWE.

The next four years saw Benoit slowly built up into a main event caliber wrestler, producing classic matches with the likes of Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin, Wrestling/KurtAngle, Wrestling/EddieGuerrero and Wrestling/{{Edge}}. His time on ''[=SmackDown's=]'' tag division in 2002 resulted in the classic trio of teams known as the "[=SmackDown=] Six"; teaming with Kurt Angle, Benoit would face the team of Edge and Wrestling/ReyMysterioJr at ''No Mercy 2002'' in what was easily a Match of the Year candidate and arguably one of the greatest tag team matches ever.

In 2004, Benoit had arguably the best year of his career: he won the Royal Rumble by lasting the entire match (over an hour after having entered #1), went on to ''[=WrestleMania=] 20'' to win the World Heavyweight Championship in Madison Square Garden in another Match of the Year candidate by making Wrestling/TripleH tap clean to the Crippler Crossface, and he retained the title the next month at ''Wrestling/{{Backlash}}'' by making Wrestling/ShawnMichaels tap to the Sharpshooter in Canada (a symbolic apology to the Canadian crowd for the Wrestling/MontrealScrewjob). Following that, Benoit stayed near the main event for the rest of the year, feuding with Edge, Wrestling/RandyOrton, and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship (Orton defeated Benoit to earn his first reign with that belt at ''[=SummerSlam=] 2004'').

After 2004, Benoit was shuffled back down to the midcard as WWE decided to use his skills to help push new talent up the card. He won the United States Championship several times and feuded with up-and-coming star Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) for months. In 2007, Benoit was placed on the ECW brand and was considered a top contender for the brand's championship; at ''Vengeance: Night of Champions 2007'', Benoit was scheduled to go up against indy darling Wrestling/{{CM Punk}} for the vacant ECW Championship.

He would no-show the event.

[[PaterFamilicide And then we all found out why]].

The next day, UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}} police found the bodies of Chris, Nancy, and their seven-year-old son Daniel in their home; it wasn't revealed until later that evening -- and a number of fans would not find this out until ''after'' WWE had already run a Benoit tribute show -- that Benoit had ''strangled his wife and son before hanging himself'' in his home gym over the course of the previous weekend.

From that point forward, controversy about Benoit's life and career erupted. Were steroids to blame? Did he go insane due to multiple concussions he suffered over the years? Is it right to bring him up when discussing the best wrestlers ever in light of his actions -- and is it right to even remember him as a great wrestler?

The debate about how to properly remember Chris Benoit continues to this day, but not a single person can deny that June 25th, 2007 was the darkest day in professional wrestling history.
!!'''Tropes associated with Chris Benoit:'''

* ArchEnemy: Wrestling/KevinSullivan, both onscreen and in RealLife. Their never-ending feud in WCW ensured Benoit was never going to move up the card (Sullivan was head booker at the time). In fact, it was Sullivan returning to WCW as head booker that caused Benoit to finally jump ship to the WWF.
** Oddly, he was still made WCW champion while Sullivan was supposedly holding him back.
* AscendedExtra: Benoit's second WCW run saw him start out in the Cruiserweight Division; eventually, he was made one of the Four Horsemen.
* BigBrotherMentor: According to his book ''Undisputed'', Wrestling/ChrisJericho considered Benoit this. [[Wrestling/LondonAndKendrick Paul London and Bryan Kendrick]] described him as this and a SternTeacher in a shoot interview, and named Jamie Noble as another of Benoit's charges. Wrestling/CMPunk also seemed to consider him this, judging by his memorial message to him on the tribute show.
* BreakupBreakout: Benoit (and Wrestling/EddieGuerrero) following the breakup of the Radicalz.
* BroadStrokes: If it were up to the Wrestling/{{WWE}}, he wouldn't exist. But since he's won so many titles and was such a great wrestler, they can't undo the past.
** In an interview with ''WWE Magazine'' in 2009, Wrestling/VinceMcMahon stated that he took the O.J. Simpson approach when it comes to mentioning Benoit: it's not okay to promote him, but they can't ignore his accomplishments.
-->'''Vince [=McMahon=]''': "It's not right to pretend he didn't exist. It's one thing to include him as part of a historical perspective, which I believe is OK, and it's another thing to promote him, which is not OK. The situation is very similar to that of O.J. Simpson - despite his controversy, O.J. was still a part of the NFL scene. You can't deny that he existed."
* BrokenPedestal: A very sad case of this after how his life ended.
* TheBully: Benoit was the locker room leader for Raw during the days of the brand extension and one of the leaders of [[KangarooCourt Wrestler's Court]] and if he liked someone he had no problems helping them and getting them over. ''However'' if he didn't like you then all the exact opposite would come into play.
** TheMiz, on one of his best worked shoots talked about how he was excommunicated from the WWE Locker room for over six months because he spilled some crumbs all over a ref's bag. [[note]]The person whose bag he spilled said crumbs was actually Benoit's, who was also the one who actually banished him, first just from House show locker rooms, then from TV locker rooms, then from '''ALL''' locker rooms. WWE had Miz change it from Benoit to JBL, who had also hazed him mercilessly, for obvious reasons.[[/note]]
** [[Characters/WWECommentators Matt Striker]] would go on to talk about how he was bullied by Benoit for no other reason than to make an example of him for the others to follow. Benoit had actually complimented Striker for his commitment to wrestling as a whole but told him that in front of others he would treat him like trash.
** [[Wrestling/MikeBucci ECW Wrestler Nova]], who wrestled in WWE as Simon Dean once told a story of how Benoit and JBL pounded on ring announcer [[Characters/WWECommentators Justin Robert's]] hotel door so violently that he prayed Justin was not in there because he was afraid what they would do to him.
* CaptainErsatz: His Pegasus kid run inspired inspired Human Entertainment to start putting them in ''Videogame/FireProWrestling''.
* CatchPhrase: Surprisingly enough, Benoit never had any; his mic skills weren't exactly stellar, so he let his in-ring work do the talking.
** He ran with the line of challenging others to prove him wrong, though.
** Earlier on in the original ECW, he was working a sociopathic gimmick, and he would call back things his opponents would say, then calmly state that "he disagreed".
** In 2004, he began declaring that he was "for real" (his tights and t-shirts would render it as "[[XtremeKoolLetterz 4-REAL]]").
** Before that, he was all about "toothless aggression."
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Still hasn't been mentioned on camera to this day, leading to a joke between fans that he never existed. (Chris Benwho?)
* {{Curse}}: Some like to point out the fact that in one storyline in one of the Smackdown Vs. Raw games, Wrestling/EddieGuerrero was involved in a storyline with Wrestling/TheUndertaker that ended in him buried alive. The weekend the game came out... well, Eddie died. A game later, Undertaker said "Your grieving family will have no one but you to blame when the inevitable occurs." to Benoit. The next year, Chris.. well, [[FunnyAneurysmMoment you know...]]
* DeathOfAThousandCuts: The number of concussions he received over his career were believed to have contributed to the circumstances leading to him killing his family and taking his own life.
* DemotedToExtra: Benoit's career following 2004 could essentially be seen as this, especially his move to ECW in 2007.
* DespairEventHorizon: It's theorised that [[Wrestling/EddieGuerrero Eddie's]] death sent Benoit across this.
* {{Determinator}}: Broke his neck during a TLC match taped on 05-21-2001, continued wrestling ''for over a month'' until the ''King of The Ring'' event on 24-06-2001.
** Unfortunately, it can be debated that this determination was also what possessed him to wrestle through concussions, abuse painkillers and steroids, and any other destructive behaviors that led to that infamous weekend in Atlanta.
* DownerEnding: To his career and [[TearJerker his life.]]
* {{Expy}}: Started as one of the Dynamite Kid, even calling himself "Dynamite" Chris Benoit.
* FallenHero: To some fans in RealLife.
* FinishingMove: Benoit's most famous were his diving headbutt and the Crippler Crossface submission hold. (Following Benoit's death, the Crippler Crossface has been used by other wrestlers, and in WWE, it's referred to simply as The Crossface.)
** Earlier in his career, he would use a Dragon Suplex or a high-speed release powerbomb referred to as the Wild Bomb.
*** And of course, he would use the [[Wrestling/BretHart Sharpshooter]] as a ShoutOut to his background.
** And while it wasn't a finisher, Benoit popularized the usage of multiple German Suplexes in a row (infamously testing [[Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin Steve Austin's]] surgically repaired neck with an unthinkable 10 Germans in a row in one match).
** Ditto the diving headbutt off the top rope, which -- taking nothing away from the tragedy of his death -- can't have been good to his head when coupled with the steroids and depression over Eddie's passing.
*** Odds are, you'll never see the diving headbutt used again by a major wrestling organization after that tragedy. Wrestling/HarleyRace has gone on record as saying he wished he'd never invented the move.
*** Wrestling/SantinoMarella uses a standing variant, but he barely connects with it.
*** Wrestling/DanielBryan uses the diving headbutt as a signature move, though he does it safely and never actually connects with his head on the bump.
** Benoit himself fell victim to the Crossface in a Wrestlemania match with Wrestling/KurtAngle. As the two men grappled, Angle eventually caught Benoit in the Crossface, and Benoit got him back a few moments later when he caught Angle in the Angle Lock.
* GameBreakingInjury: Benoit did this quite well, on both ends of the spectrum.
** Best example: someone injured his arm with a chair during the first-ever Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 21. He almost won anyway...until Edge hit his injured arm with a chair when he was at the top of the ladder under the briefcase.
** And, of course, there's the time he and Chris Jericho tore Triple H's quad. Definitely a ''[[JustForPun Game]]'' [[JustForPun Breaking Injury]].
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero are the second most remembered example in pro wrestling, behind ShawnMichaels and TripleH, especially in real life. When Eddie died, Benoit looked like he lost his brother. In fact, some friends say he never got over the depression of losing his best friend, and may have contributed to losing his own life.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: A lot of the long-term injuries in Benoit's brain and neck were derived from Benoit's signature diving headbutt and his penchant for taking and giving German Suplexes. In the wake of his death, the WWE began to phase out the German Suplex maneuver in the same way it did for the traditional piledriver.
* KangarooCourt: Was a member of Wrestling/TheUndertaker's "Wrestler's Court".
* KeepTheReward: After winning the vacant WCW World Title at the ''Souled Out'' 2000 PPV, Benoit forfeited the title and left WCW along with Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn due to Kevin Sullivan's promotion to head booker beforehand, Benoit due to the "Woman" storyline and the other three for fear of being collateral damage.
* LargeHam: Subversion, and possibly the only wrestler of his popularity and success level who wasn't a large ham, and didn't have a manager.
** Benoit had managers throughout his career, just not as a main eventer -- with the possible exception of his brief run with Wrestling/ShaneMcMahon in 2000 as a challenger to the WWF Championship.
* LivingEmotionalCrutch: Eddie Guerrero. Chris was never the same after Eddie died. It's generally agreed upon that Eddie's death is a big part of why that weekend in Atlanta happened, though how much in comparison to the multitude of injuries, drug abuse, and deaths of other friends of his that also played a part is something we'll never really know.
* LoopholeAbuse: After winning the Royal Rumble, Benoit (A member of the [=SmackDown=] roster at the time) proceeded to jump to Raw to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at [=WrestleMania=] rather than stay on [=SmackDown=] & challenge for the WWE title, citing that the Royal Rumble contract didn't specify that he ''can't'' do that. Every year afterwards, this has been part of the official stipulation for the Rumble.
** [[ItMakesSenseInContext He might've done that to avoid challenging best friend]] Wrestling/EddieGuerrero, allowing for a program where both would hold the World Titles following WrestleMania XX.
** His kayfabe motivation for the switch is strongly believed to be to get away from Paul Heyman, then-GM of Smackdown, whom guaranteed that Benoit would never get a title shot as long as he was on the show and had intentionally put Benoit as the #1 entrant to give him the least chance of winning.
* MustHaveCaffeine: Was noted by many people who knew him for his enduring love of[=/=]addiction to coffee. He also constantly gnawed on coffee straws, according to Wrestling/ChrisJericho. He even had his 25.5 second match against Orlando Jordan at Summerslam 2005 play on a split-screen while he prepared a cup of coffee.
* PaterFamilicide: One of the most infamous cases in recent history.
* {{Pegasus}}: Wrestled in Japan and Mexico for a time under the names Wild Pegasus or the Pegasus Kid.
* PowerStable:
** (in ECW): [[Wrestling/ShaneDouglas The Triple Threat]]
** (in WCW): The Four Horsemen (part of the mid-90s/[=nWo=]-era version with Wrestling/RicFlair, Wrestling/DeanMalenko and Wrestling/SteveMcMichael) and the Revolution
** (in WWE): The Radicals (Wrestling/DeanMalenko, Wrestling/PerrySaturn, Wrestling/EddieGuerrero)
* TheRival: Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle.
* RuleOfThree: One of Benoit's later signature moves was three German suplexes in a row.
* RunTheGauntlet: When the Radicalz crossed over to the WWE, Benoit took on and defeated Saturn, Guerrero and Malenko one after another in a Gauntlet match.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: After he won the RoyalRumble, he jumped from SmackDown to Raw in order to get away from Wrestling/PaulHeyman who had made his life difficult. This was before the winner could choose who he would challenge, as the Brand Extension was in full force, and the only way to appear on another show was via the Draft.
* SlasherSmile: Just watch his entrance video. Quite unnerving, considering what happened...
* SquashMatch: In the summer of 2005, Benoit had a series of these with Orlando Jordan. The first, which lasted 25 seconds, cost Jordan the United States Championship; the subsequent rematches lasted 23.4, 22.5, and 49.8 seconds. This led to a small RunningGag in which Benoit would test himself on whether he could do something (such as make a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom) faster than he beat Orlando Jordan.
** The reason this happened is because WWE had Jordan beat Benoit semi-cleanly (he used an exposed turnbuckle bolt, but didn't have any outside help). The fan reaction was very, very negative; Jordan hadn't really connected at all, and no one believed that he was anywhere near Benoit's league, so WWE made the decision to give the fans what they wanted.
* TakeThisJobAndShoveIt: The day after he won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, he asked for his release alongside Eddie Guerrero, Dean Makenko and Perry Saturn. Legend has it that he even went as far as dumping the title in the trash (though by that point its prestige had fallen so far that many considered it little more than a fancy prop) to show how much he wanted out. WCW was going down the drain by that point, a literal hell for anyone who wasn't Hulk Hogan or Kevin Nash. However, what really incited this decision from Benoit was the news that Kevin Sullivan was returning as head booker -- the rest, being his close friends, followed him out of fear of being collateral damage.
* TraumaCongaLine: Benoit had ''twenty'' of his friends within the wrestling business die young. Before Eddie, there was Wrestling/BrianPillman (Benoit's original tag partner in WCW) and Wrestling/OwenHart (who had been one of Benoit's friends dating back to his days in the Hart Family Dungeon). Mike "Johnny Grunge" Durham had been a next door neighbor of Benoit's, and had more or less become Benoit's best friend after Eddie's passing. He would also go over to the Benoit home and break up arguments between Chris and Nancy -- and he died in 2006, less than a year before The Tragedy.
** Benoit's old tag team partner from Stampede Wrestling, Biff Wellington, died on the same day, but his death was overshadowed, obviously, by that of Benoit.
** It's been mentioned several times, especially on Chris Jericho's podcast, that Benoit broke down when he heard that BigBossMan had died(they'd met in WCW), crying to the effect of "I can't stand seeing all my friends die anymore"!(Another friend of his and Eddie's had also died a few months prior to Bossman in Mexican wrestler Negro Casas)
* {{Unperson}}: The nature of Chris Benoit's death has caused WWE itself to essentially erase Benoit from history (except in situations where they cannot avoid having his name come up, such as event results and title histories).
** Title histories don't stop them. In a magazine chronicling every ''[=WrestleMania=]'', while every other match lists who wins the match, the entry for [=WM20=] states that TripleH lost the World Heavyweight Title in a Triple Threat Match.
** Not only did Montel Vontavious Porter win the United States Championship from Chris Benoit just a month before his passing, but he held on to it long after, all the way until April the next year. This whole time however, it was never said just who Porter won the championship from, just that "he won it in a 2/3 Fall Match at Judgement Day".
** Wrestling/TripleH and Wrestling/ShawnMichaels use the Crippler Crossface from time to time, and several wrestlers still occasionally use the diving headbutt.
** WWE has since advertised the main event of ''[=WrestleMania=] 20'' as a match '''featuring''' ShawnMichaels and TripleH to avoid mentioning Benoit anywhere on the cover.
*** In a similar move, when WWE released the initial match listing for the Elimination Chamber anthology DVD, the listing for the third Elimination Chamber match - which Benoit was involved in - only mentioned that TripleH won the match. An updated listing from weeks before the DVD's release showed that the match was listed in full (with Benoit's name), and UK retailer Silvervision confirmed that the match was included in its entirety, making it the first WWE DVD since Benoit's death to include one of his matches. Several lines from the commentary team that painted Benoit in a positive light were edited out (and since Benoit was a face for much of his WWE career, ''all'' of the comments were technically positive unless one of the commentators was playing a heel), but beyond that, no substantial edits were made.
** The Best of Smackdown DVD set has a video summary for the Fatal 4-Way TLC match from May 2001. Aside from a very short shot at the beginning, Chris Benoit was edited out. He was Tag Champs with Wrestling/ChrisJericho at the time. And on top of that, they won the match. The package almost makes you believe that Wrestling/ChrisJericho beat [[Wrestling/TheDudleyBoys the Dudleys]], [[Wrestling/MattHardy the]] [[Wrestling/JeffHardy Hardys]], and Wrestling/{{Edge}} and Wrestling/{{Christian}} all on his own.
*** Likewise, when the inaugural Money in the Bank match is highlighted either during WrestleMania season or in July for the Money in the Bank PPV, Benoit is completely absent from the video packages, with some bizarre camera angles used to ensure his presence is minimized. If you know what color tights he is wearing, you might be able to catch a frame or two where his legs are visible.
** Benoit IS included in the most recent edition of the ''WWE Encyclopedia,'' though his entry ends with Wrestling/RandyOrton defeating him for the [[http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wwe/wwe-world-h.html World Heavyweight Title]] at [=Summerslam=] 2004.
** As of February 2014, Benoit matches are available unedited on the WWE Network, preceded by a {{content warning|s}} [[note]] which is strange, [[HitlerAteSugar as if the matches themselves are somehow offensive now]], when it's the ''subtext'' that's disturbing [[/note]]. However, you will have to know which shows Benoit appeared on to do so, as the search engine doesn't acknowledge his name. In addition, every Benoit match lacks a jump-to shortcut when watching an event on the Network.
** Unexpectedly, a more recent book by WWE that chronicles its history, not only has a blurb mentioning Benoit, but the blurb explains his death by murder-suicide.
** Even the fans tend to not acknowledge him. On some forums he'll be referred to as 'Crispen Wah' or 'Kris Penwa' so as not to use his name. Other name replacements include '''[Redacted]''', [[Wrestling/BobHolly Hardcore Holly]] and Wrestling/StevieRichards.
* WorthyOpponent[=/=]TheRival: Wrestling/KurtAngle and Wrestling/ChrisJericho.
** WhatCouldHaveBeen: At ''Vengeance 2007'', Chris Benoit was slated to win the ECW Championship and later work a program with Wrestling/CMPunk. When he no-showed, Wrestling/JohnMorrison (then called Johnny Nitro) took his place.
* WrestlingPsychology: Benoit was hailed as one of the best in the business in this area.