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Chris Benoit is living his dream


By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

 Welcome home, Chris Benoit!

 Welcome back to the City of Champions - right where you belong.

 The Canadian Crippler made a triumphant return to his home town last night, just as he had always dreamed of doing the day he made it big in the world of professional wrestling. For most shows the World Wrestling Federation puts on, it's The Rock who receives the biggest pop from the audience and, to be fair, the People's Champion, Too Cool and Rikiski and the Dudleys drew rousing approval from their legions of supporters.

 But this night - before over 14,500 at Skyreach Centre - belonged to Benoit, the Archbishop O'Leary grad who became the WWF's Intercontinental champion.

 "The last time I wrestled here was for Stu (Hart) and there was maybe 1,000 people," recalled Benoit prior to his glorious return.

 "Not that I haven't wrestled in front of that size of crowd before but it's great to be coming home to that kind of crowd. I hope that I'm able to please them all.

 "I'm more sentimental about it than feeling nervous. I've got a lot of memories when I was a kid and attending Stampede Wrestling and dreaming of someday becoming a pro wrestler. Here I am in my home town in front of a big crowd - it's an awesome feeling.''

 No doubt about it, Benoit delighted the throng as he marched to the ring with the championship strap over his shoulder and an Edmonton Oilers jersey on his back. And he didn't fail them when he grabbed the microphone.

 "I'm from the City of Champions and I'm going to give you a good Northern Alberta (derriere)-kickin'," barked Benoit to his opponent, Winnipeg-born and Calgary-trained Chris Jericho.
Edmonton native Chris Benoit delighted the fans at Skyreach Centre yesterday. - Robert Taylor, Edmonton Sun


 Benoit disappointed no one with his performance. He administered a few of his famed suplexes and locked Jericho into the patented Crippler Crossface before finally winning the bout with a diving headbutt off the top turnbuckle.

 Benoit's journey home, however, was a whirlwind. He flew in late Friday night, then took care of some business Saturday before driving to Calgary for a show at the Saddledome. Yesterday, he spent some time with family and friends before trekking down to the arena where he proudly inspected the ring with his father and son at his side.

 "It's definitely a show that will be marked in my career and marked in my mind as being one of the more meaningful shows of my career," said Benoit.

 Although she didn't make to the show, opting instead to care for her newborn at the Benoit home in Strathcona County, Chris's wife, Nancy, knew exactly what this night meant to her husband - one of the newest sensations in the WWF.

 "Chris is such a credit to his art and he carries himself with such dignity and honour," said Nancy, who takes care of her husband's business affairs from their home outside Atlanta.

 "I'm proud to know him not just because I'm his wife but because he's my best friend. If anyone gets the chance to shake Chris's hand, they'll know they're shaking the hand of a person who loves his work. It is his passion."

 It was obvious from the response of the crowd and from Benoit's own efforts within the squared-circle that the mutual affection runs deep.

More on Chris Benoit




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