Christopher Michael Benoit (IPA: [bə'nwɑ]) (May 21, 1967 – June 24, 2007) was a Canadian professional wrestler who performed in Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and World Wrestling Entertainment. He was regarded as one of the best technical professional wrestlers of his time.
Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their Fayetteville, Georgia home on June 25, 2007. Subsequent investigations confirmed that Benoit murdered his wife, then killed his son before hanging himself in the house's weight room.
Benoit idolized the Dynamite Kid growing up, and styled himself after him. This prompted him to be a wrestler, so when he began wrestling, he wrestled as "Dynamite" Chris Benoit, as a tribute to the Dynamite Kid. He also began using the Diving Headbutt and the Snap Suplex, some of the Kid's trademark moves.
It is believed Stu Hart was not the first one who knew about Chris Benoit, but rather Bruce Hart who brought him to the Hart house. After years of strenuous training in the legendary Hart family "Dungeon", Chris Benoit began his career in 1985 in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion. His debut match was a tag team match on November 22, 1985 in Calgary, Alberta, where he teamed with "The Remarkable" Rick Patterson against Butch Moffat and Mike Hammer. During his tenure in Stampede, he won several International Tag Team and British Commonwealth titles, and had a lengthy feud with Johnny Smith that lasted for over a year. In 1989, Stampede closed its doors later that year, and with a recommendation from Bad News Allen, Benoit departed for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Upon arriving in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Benoit spent about a year training in their "New Japan Dojo" with the younger wrestlers to improve his abilities before debuting, wearing a mask and assuming the name The Pegasus Kid. While with NJPW, he came into his own as a performer in matches with luminaries like Jushin Liger, Shinjiro Ohtani, The Black Tiger, and El Samurai.
In 1990, he won his first major championship, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, from Jushin Liger. He eventually lost the title (and his mask) back to Liger, forcing him to reinvent himself as Wild Pegasus. He went on to win the Super J Cup Tournament in 1994, defeating Black Tiger, Gedo, and Great Sasuke in the finals, solidifying his status as one of the foremost junior heavyweights in the world.
Benoit eventually left New Japan to compete in Mexico and Germany, where he won a few regional championships including the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.
After controversy surrounding a US title defense against Booker T, Theodore Long set up a "Best of Seven" series between the two. Booker T won three times in a row, due largely to his wife's interference, and Chris Benoit faced elimination in the series. Benoit won the fourth match to stay alive, but after the match, Booker suffered a legitimate groin injury, and Randy Orton was chosen as a stand-in. Benoit defeated Orton twice by disqualification. However, in the 7th and final match, Orton defeated Benoit with the help of Booker T, Sharmell, and Orlando Jordan, and Booker captured the US title. Benoit feuded with Orton for a short time, only to compete against Booker for the US title. Benoit was given one last chance at the US title at No Way Out 2006 and won it by making Booker submit to the Crippler Crossface, ending the feud. Soon after, Benoit defeated Randy Orton in a No Holds Barred match on Smackdown via Crippler Crossface.
The next week on SmackDown!, Benoit (kayfabe) broke JBL's hand (JBL actually needed surgery to remove a cyst). A match was set up for the two at WrestleMania 22 for Benoit's title, and for the next several weeks, they would attack each other. When it came time for their match, JBL won the match with an illegal cradle to win the title. Benoit used his rematch clause two weeks later in a steel cage match on SmackDown!, but JBL again won with illegal tactics.
Benoit entered the 2006 King Of The Ring tournament, only to be defeated by Finlay in the opening round, after Finlay struck Benoit's neck with a chair and delivered a Celtic Cross. At Judgment Day 2006 Benoit gained some revenge by defeating Finlay with the Crippler Crossface in a grudge match. On the following edition of SmackDown!, Mark Henry attacked Benoit during a match, giving him back and rib injuries. Benoit then announced a sabbatical to heal nagging shoulder injuries. On October 8, Benoit made his return at No Mercy, defeating William Regal by submission in a surprise match. Later that week, he won his fifth United States Championship from Mr. Kennedy also by submission.
Benoit then engaged in a feud with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. He wanted answers from the Guerreros for their rash behavior towards Rey Mysterio, but was avoided by the two and was eventually assaulted. Benoit retained his United States Championship at Survivor Series 2006 and Armageddon 2006, both times defeating Chavo Guerrero. The feud finally ended after a match with no-disqualification rules in play, which Benoit won to retain his United States title.
After defeating Guerrero, Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) claimed that he was the best man to hold the US title, so he challenged Benoit for the title at WrestleMania 23, where Benoit retained. Their rivalry continued with similar results again at Backlash. At Judgment Day, however, MVP gained the upperhand and the title in a two-out-of-three falls match.
On the June 11 edition of RAW, Benoit was drafted from SmackDown! to ECW as part of the 2007 WWE Draft, after losing a match to Bobby Lashley. Benoit won his ECW debut match teaming up with CM Punk and defeating Elijah Burke and Marcus Cor Von by disqualfication.
On June 19, 2007, Benoit wrestled his last match, defeating Elijah Burke in a match to determine who would face CM Punk for the vacated ECW World Championship at Vengeance. Benoit missed the weekend house shows, telling WWE officials that his wife and son were vomiting blood due to food poisoning (see below). When he failed to show up for the pay-per-view, viewers were informed that he was unable to compete due to a "family emergency," and that he would be replaced in the title match by Johnny Nitro. Nitro went on to win the match and became ECW Champion.