SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
  April 16, 2000



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

SummerSlam


Kevin Steen


Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fan Fest


Raw in Miami


Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame inductions


WWE Battleground


ROH in Detroit







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT




READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Benoit wrestles with fame
Chris 'the Canadian Crippler' Benoit makes time for family



By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun
 It's Saturday morning and Chris Benoit, like most dads, wants to spend a little time with his son.

  The two of them head down to a Sherwood Park fitness centre, lift a few weights, shoot some hoops and then play racquetball for a while. All rather standard stuff.

  But when seven-year-old David goes back to school on Monday, the tale becomes much more exciting to his friends. To him, it was just some much-needed quality time with his father. To his pals, David spent the weekend with the World Wrestling Federation's Intercontinental champion.

CRIPPLER CRIB SHEET

NICKNAME: The Canadian Crippler.
HOME TOWN: A proud son of the City of Champions.
BEST DESCRIPTION: "A rabid wolverine.''
CURRENT STATUS: World Wrestling Federation's Intercontinental Champion.
SIGNATURE MOVE: The Crippler Cross-Face (next on the agenda - a visit to the chiropractor).
HE'LL ALSO BEAT YOU WITH: A diving head-butt off the top rope (like a hammer smashing into your chest).
WATCH OUT FOR: The rolling German suplex (three of these and you won't even know your own name).
HIS POSSE: The Radicals - (the Man of a Thousand Holds) Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and (Latino Heat) Eddy Guerrero.
RESUME:
- STAMPEDE WRESTLING: Four-time Commonwealth Mid-heavyweight champ; four-time International Tag-team champion.
- JAPAN: IWGP Junior title; Super J Cup champion; Top of the Super Junior Tournament champion.
- ECW: World Tag-team champion with Dean Malenko (defeated Taz and Sabu, Feb. 25, 1995).
- WCW: Three-time World Television champion (defeated Booker T., April 30, 1998; defeated Booker T., May 2, 1998; defeated Ric Steiner, Sept. 13, 1999); two-time World Tag-team champion (with Dean Malenko, defeated Barry Windham and Curt Hennig, March 14, 1999; with Perry Saturn defeated Dallas Page and Kanyon, July 18, 1999); two-time United States Heavyweight champ (defeated David Flair, Aug. 9, 1999; defeated Jeff Jarrett, Dec. 19, 1999); World Heavyweight champ (defeated Sid Vicious, Jan. 16, 2000).
- WWF: Intercontinental champ (defeated Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho, April 2, 2000).
 Chris Benoit gets back home to Edmonton about once a month to see his family. Unfortunately, that's all that his extraordinarily busy schedule will allow. It is the lone drawback to being a WWF superstar.

  "The biggest thing is we have no off-season," said Benoit, who also has a three-year-old daughter, Megan, and a two-month-old son, Daniel.

  "A lot of our popularity is being noticed on TV so once you're involved you want to continue to be on TV and make all the shows ... because out of sight, out of mind. It's very demanding in that way on your personal life."

  But Benoit, who moved to Edmonton from Montreal at age 12 and graduated from Archbishop O'Leary high school in 1985, wouldn't change his life for anything. He's doing what he always wanted to do since the first time he walked into the old Sales Pavilion and watched his idol, Dynamite Kid, in the ring. Though he never wrestled as an amateur, Benoit's love for the show blossomed immediately.

  After seeing that first show, Benoit became a ringside regular at Stampede shows in Edmonton. One night after the matches, he met his idol and told Dynamite Kid that he wanted to become a wrestler - at the tender age of 14. Benoit caught the attention of the Hart family and when he turned 18, he would work during the week then hop on a Greyhound every Friday for the ride to Calgary and weekend training sessions in the famed Hart "dungeon."

  "Walking down there is very intimidating," Benoit recalled. "I always imagined going down there when Stu was in his heyday. It must have been a scary place. He made me scream a few times."

  Under the guidance of Stu, Keith and Bruce Hart, along with Stampede veteran Mr. Hito, Benoit spent six months learning classic holds and manoeuvres. Finally, he was booked for his first bout - a tag-team affair matching him with Leatherface against Jason the Terrible and Mike Hammer.

 Now 32, Benoit is on top of the wrestling business. The Canadian Crippler has hit the big time but, unlike many of his fellow competitors, his in-ring character is virtually identical to who he really is and that's what his loyal fans truly appreciate.

  When the music blares and his name goes up on the Titantron, Benoit strides down the walkway just as he walks into any room. And when the announcer bellows out his name, there's no glitter or goofiness attached to it. Plain and simple.



  He's a home-town-boy-makes-good headline strapped to a five-foot-10, 220-pound mass of stacked muscle and he's pumped to make his first appearance in the City of Champions since his Stampede Wrestling days on May 28 when the WWF returns to play Skyreach Centre. (Tickets are now on sale.) "Every time I come out and hear my name announced and they're saying from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I'm very proud of that," said Benoit, regarded by many insiders as the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world. "I'm proud of where I came from, proud that Stu Hart trained me.

  "Growing up, my dream was if only I could become a Stampede wrestler that would be everything - I would have made it. I've surpassed all that and it's all icing on the cake now.

 "It's a childhood dream and a great way to make a living. Part of my job is to go to the gym, work out and take care of my body, which I enjoy doing. I've seen a good part of the world and been paid very well to do it. I have a nice car, I have a nice home, but it's very demanding."

  Not long ago, Benoit was wondering if the wrestling business had anything left for him. In 1999, World Championship Wrestling - the Atlanta-based operation owned by media mogul Ted Turner and Time Warner - was spiralling towards oblivion. After dominating the WWF in TV ratings for well over a year, WCW's act had grown painfully stale and the company's younger talent - highlighted by Benoit - and newer stars like Bret Hart and Bill Goldberg weren't being used in favour of pushing tired acts Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger.

  In a short time, WCW was getting slaughtered by the WWF which adopted racier storylines and promoted a new crop of stylish athletes, including the Rock and "Stone Cold'' Steve Austin. The attitude in the WCW locker room hit rock bottom.

  "I'm a huge wrestling fan and I stopped being a fan and watching altogether which is really sad," said Benoit. "I'd show up for work, wrestle and leave. Here's the company I worked for and I wouldn't watch our own product."

  With Hart and Benoit, WCW could have easily sold a tour of Western Canada. It never happened. A familiar tune was playing.

  "It's a bitter feeling in the way that I had a lot of promises made to me and they never attempted to give me any leash to run on," Benoit said of his former bosses.

  "I felt like a dog on a two-foot leash with a three-acre yard. There were so many things, blatant things, that they could have done that they didn't."

  So Benoit and longtime companions Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddy Guerrero burst into the front office and demanded release from their contracts. After a few weeks of negotiation, the foursome - soon to be known as the Radicals - made its first appearance in the WWF, which needed four more young studs to complete its stable - one which doesn't need a rest-break halfway through a 10-minute match.

  "I've become a fan again," said Benoit, who is likely to start up a feud with fellow Canuck Chris Jericho, another once-overlooked WCW commodity.

  "Once you stop being a fan of something you love, there's something wrong, but I've found that passion again.

  "I'd like to be in this business as long as I can contribute. I feel guys like Hogan aren't contributing to the business any more and that's a big problem in WCW.

  Hogan has literally made millions and millions in this business and springboarded into movies and some other things, but he doesn't want to give back. It's all, 'it's about me, it's about me.'

  "So many guys take advantage of this sport and that's what hurts it. WCW is a great example of that. I want to be around as long as I have something to offer. When I can't, I'm going to step back."

  But that's certainly many years down the road, provided his body can withstand the constant punishment of piledrivers, powerbombs and chair-shots. There is big money out there with Benoit's name on it. Fifteen WWF superstars made over $1 million US last year and Benoit has the skill and determination to join that group, perhaps by his first anniversary with the corporation.

  Though he's been in the ring for 14 years, Benoit once again has to prove himself. He has several people to impress, but there are specific ones at the top of the list.

 "The bottom line is the fans sign my cheque. Right now, it's signed by Vince McMahon but, in all reality, the people who turn on the TV and buy the shirts and come to the shows sign my cheque.

  "If you screw them, you screw yourself. I feel very lucky to make a living doing something I love doing. A lot of people work nine to five and pay their good hard-earned money to come out to the shows and if they get screwed that really turns me off."

  And who would want to make the Crippler mad?

More on Chris Benoit




Know someone who might be interested in this page? Just type in their e-mail address to send them the URL.

Destination email address:


Your email address: