Championship's a family affair for Benoit
SCOTT ZERR - Edmonton Sun
It was a dream come true for Chris Benoit when his hand was raised in victory in a triple-threat match for the WWE's world heavyweight title at Wrestlemania That moment was something his loved ones will never forget either. When the cameras were turned off, it was time for a family moment inside the Madison Square Garden ring.
"It was so overwhelming. Words can hardly describe the moment," said his wife Nancy, who had Chris's sons David and Daniel in tow.
"The roar of the people went right through us. The people were giving their gratitude to Chris not just for winning the match but for how much all three of those guys (Triple-H and Shawn Michaels) had put into it.
"Everything was happening in slow motion. His dad was hugging me and his grin was so huge. I've never seen a prouder dad."
Well after the lights had gone down, the feelings were still overpowering.
"It was the most amazing thing I've ever felt," said Nancy, a former valet in WCW and ECW. "My body was still vibrating when Stephanie (McMahon) came by and hugged me. An hour later, she came by and asked me if I was OK now. I told her that I thought I'd stopped shaking and she smiled and said, 'No, you haven't.'
"I had no idea it would be like that."
At the age of 13, Benoit decided to become a wrestler after watching his idol, the Dynamite Kid, in action at the Edmonton Garden for Stu Hart's Stampede promotion. After juggling trips to Calgary and training in the infamous basement "dungeon" of the Hart mansion with working at his father's air filtration business, Benoit decided to make it happen on a full-time basis. His first match was in December 1985 and now, with 18 years in the books, a life's goal had finally been realized.
"It was something else," said his father, Michael Benoit. "All that confetti falling, it was a real snowstorm. I was walking down the ramp and I was more worried about getting down to the ring without slipping. There could have been one person or 20,000 there, I was just concentrating on getting to Chris in the ring and then I tripped on the mat around the ring."
With the ultimate prize obtained, all that matters now to the senior Benoit is his son's health in such a rugged occupation.
"Watching the match on the monitor, I was just holding my breath," said Michael. "Having his neck broken once, you get hit the wrong way it could happen again, which is what happened to (Kurt) Angle. That's the scary part of the business.
"People think it's fake but that was a real surgeon who was operating on him. He's had torn ligaments, he's had his nose broken numerous times - his fair share of injuries. These guys work hurt so much. For two weeks he was working in the ring with a broken neck."
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