Mick Foley On The Chris Benoit Tragedy

Mick Foley

WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley has addressed his journey upon learning of the traumatic events surrounding Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel in June 2007.

The Benoit family tragedy flipped the pro wrestling landscape on its head once authorities detected what had happened over the weekend of WWE’s Vengeance: Night of Champions pay-per-view. Chris Benoit had ended not only his own life, but those of his wife Nancy and their seven-year-old son Daniel.

It’s a story as sickening as it is sad. Chris Benoit had interior motives for carrying out the heinous crimes, motives that Mick Foley tried to work out. Speaking on his Foley Is Pod podcast, ‘The Hardcore Legend’ addressed how something immediately felt off about the situation when Benoit failed to show for the Vengeance pay-per-view:

“It was just that rumbling, we didn’t know where he was. And so at that point, I had quite a bit of seniority. So when I spoke, people tend to listen, I remember saying, ‘One thing’s for sure. If Chris Benoit is not [at] a pay-per-view, something’s wrong.’ Like, something major. I was thinking that he had some type of health problem, but he was not the type of guy who would miss a match at all.

Now, the next day, after that talk with Mr McMahon, still no sign of Chris Benoit, but Vince understands how offended I am by that angle. And he says, you know, you don’t want to be part of it, go home. So he sent me home. And on that night, there was just awful weather throughout the southeast and the southwest. Flights being cancelled and delayed.

So I’m sitting in the Corpus Christi airport, [I’m] trying to think, this was 2007, the Internet was around but I didn’t have access to it. I would not have had a tablet or anything like that. I probably just had a flip phone but I start hearing rumblings. Maybe it’s from local news that there’s been this tragedy and I can’t get more information. And because my flight is delayed and I’ve been rerouted, it’s one of those situations where you end up in Atlanta four hours after you’re supposed to be there.”

Mick Foley continued, explaining how Benoit felt upon the passing of his close friend Eddie Guerrero two years prior:

“One thing you know, when I say I was struggling, I think a lot of us in the industry are struggling in the aftermath of that tragedy. Our personal appearances were cut down dramatically. Nobody wanted to book a pro wrestler for a period of time. And the few things I did do, I remember going to Six Flags over Texas, and you just feel like every eyeball is upon you like, ‘Oh, you’re one of those guys’.

Looking back, Conrad [Thompson], after Eddie Guerrero’s death. You know, all of us were sad, but Chris was devastated. There’s that clip of him and he’s just bawling his eyes out. And so I thought, you know, a writing side of me might try to understand it and write a fictitious but in a sense, historically, you know, inspired book called Letters to Eddie, in which you see a human being losing his grip on reality, and succumbing to his demons through his own words.

And I never followed through with that, I think it would have been really interesting, but I have no doubt. I don’t want to say don’t have any doubt, but it would not surprise me, and I think it’s…I’m almost sure that Eddie’s death played so heavily on Chris’ mind having lost his very best friend that he was never quite the same.”

Mick Foley added analysis of Chris Benoit’s physical condition at the time, addressing how Benoit regularly dove off and through the ropes, despite having had surgery done to his neck:

“You compound that with the style he had that was relentless. He wasn’t one of those guys who changed gears as he got older, learned how to make audiences laugh, learn to connect another way, he never did that. He was just going to give you everything you had every single match. And he was, you don’t come back after neck surgery and still drop that butt off the top rope, you don’t do that. I wish somebody had pulled him aside and said you got a lot of moves, you got to come up with something different.

I don’t care if Tommy Billington did it or not, you need to stop coming off the top rope with a surgically repaired neck, but some of these guys push themselves so hard. I believe Chris was always, you know, small by wrestling standards. He continued to use, you know, enhancers, even while he was recovering from his neck surgery. So it was sad, it was really sad. He was an intense guy by nature anyway, I think he was greatly affected by the loss of his friend.

I do not know what was going on behind the scenes in his marriage. I mean, I’ve never found out for sure if Daniel had Fragile X syndrome. I don’t know what the situation was. I just didn’t know it was tragic. And one of the worst things that’s ever happened to us. And it really set WWE and wrestling back away, because it came across so negatively in the media.”

Chris Benoit wrestled his final match on the 19 June 2007 broadcast of ECW, defeating Elijah Burke. He was due to face CM Punk for the vacant ECW World Championship that weekend.

H/T to Inside The Ropes.