Three years ago, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guererro embraced in the middle of a wrestling ring, confetti streaming down, fans rapturous in applause. They had worked their entire lives for that moment, standing tall at Wrestlemania 20 the World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Champion respectively. In that one defining moment, all was beautiful and wrestling fans could dream again.
One-and-a-half years ago, Eddie Guererro was found dead in his hotel room. Cause of death: side effects from his substance abuse years ago. Though he famously overcame his addiction and found Christianity, the demons from the past caught up. He was scheduled to win his second WWE Championship that night.
Two weeks ago, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon filmed a stunt where he was supposedly killed in a limousine bombing. How lame was it? Even my father, the naivest and most earnest of wrestling fans, could tell it was a hoax. However, WWE played it to the fullest; they ran tribute videos, engaged 'federal investigators' to appear on-screen and even held the revered ten-bell salute.
The storyline received much criticism for being distasteful, more so with the subsequent real-life passing of 'Sensational' Sherri Martel, a former female wrestler. Undeterred, WWE announced that tonight's programming would feature a 3-hour 'memorial service' for Vince McMahon.
This morning, Chris Benoit was found dead in his residence, along with his wife and 7-year-old son. Cause of death: alleged double-murder-suicide. Investigators say that over a period of three days, Benoit murdered his wife and son, then killed himself. The wrestling world is in utter, utter shock.
He was scheduled to win his second World Title last night.
The Vince McMahon memorial service will now be replaced by a Chris Benoit tribute show.
Vince McMahon is scheduled to appear, putting an end to his laughable 'alleged death'.
As for me, wrestling's fond memories have slipped so painfully far. Seeing Benoit and Guererro with their belts lifted proudly back then; it gave me faith. Simple faith that even small, smiling men could take their place among giants.
We'll always love you, Chris Benoit.