On June 25, 2007, professional wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their Fayetteville, Georgia, home at around 2:30 p.m. EDT. The Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff's Department is currently investigating this case.
Police entered Benoit's home on a "welfare check" after several missed appointments, and found three dead bodies. Investigators confirmed that Benoit murdered his wife and son and committed suicide over a three day period.
On Friday, June 22, Benoit killed his wife, leaving her bound at the ankles and wrists and covered with a sheet in a room in their home. A bible was left by her body and she died of asphyxiation. She had bruises on her back and stomach consistent with Benoit pressing a knee into the back while pulling on a cord around the neck.
It was later revealed that Nancy filed for divorce in May 2003, allegedly after domestic abuse from Chris, but withdrew it in August 2003, according to the County's district attorney Scott Ballard.
Between the two killings
At about 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 23, a co-worker (later confirmed to be Chavo Guerrero) received a voice message from Benoit stating he missed his flight and overslept and would be late for that night's house show in Beaumont, Texas.
According to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) website, the co-worker called Benoit back and Benoit sounded tired and groggy as he confirmed everything he had said in his voice message. The same co-worker, "concerned about Benoit's tone and demeanor," called him back twelve minutes later. Benoit did not answer the call and the co-worker left a message stating, "just call me back".
At 3:44 p.m. EDT, Benoit called the co-worker back, stating he did not answer the call because he was on the phone with Delta Air Lines changing his flight. "Benoit stated he had a real stressful day due to Nancy and Daniel being sick with food poisoning," the WWE Web site said. According to WWE.com, a co-worker who often travels with Benoit called him from outside the Houston airport and Benoit answered. "Benoit told the co-worker that Nancy was throwing up blood and that Daniel was also throwing up."
Between the two killings, Benoit later called WWE's "Talent Relations" office, stating that his son was throwing up and that he and Nancy were in the hospital with their son, and that he would be taking a later flight into Houston, but would make the live event in Beaumont.
Daniel was suffocated by Benoit in his own bedroom, killing him. A Bible was left by the boy's body. However, it was revealed on June 27 that Benoit may have killed his son with a choke hold. Scott Ballard said, "the boy had internal injuries to the throat area, but showed no bruises", indicating he may have been locked in the crook of his father's own arm. The time at when this happened is not yet known. Daniel had needle marks in his arm, suggesting that he had been given growth hormones because Benoit and his family considered him undersized; which was theorized to be most likely the result of him suffering from Fragile X Syndrome.
However, District Attorney Scott Ballard released a statement saying that a source having access to Daniel's medical files reviewed said files and found that they mention no pre-existing mental or physical ailments. Likewise, Daniel Benoit's educators report that Daniel was on par with other students and not about to be held back as previously thought.
Between 3:51 and 3:58 a.m. EDT on June 24, 2007, five text messages were sent to Benoit's co-workers (among which was Chavo Guerrero) from both Benoit's and his wife's phone. The first, third, fourth and fifth text messages stated: "My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane, Fayetteville Georgia. 30215" (except the fifth message omitted the word "physical").
The second text message which, according to Scott Ballard, was believed to have been sent to his neighbor to get someone to find their bodies after he committed suicide (although Chavo claims to have also received the message), stated: "The dogs are in the enclosed pool area. Garage side door is open". WWE officials were notified of the text messages sent to the co-workers two hours before the bodies were found.
The perpetrator, Chris Benoit, according to Scott Ballard, died of asphyxiation and was found hanging by the cord of a weight machine in his basement. When Benoit released the weights - about 240 pounds (110 kg), which weighed more than he did - it caused his strangulation. Ballard said the pull-down bar had been removed and Benoit was found seated against the machine.
There is no evidence that Benoit left a suicide note of any kind, making it difficult to understand any possible motives for his actions if he indeed did them.
WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt appeared on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams on July 17, 2007 said that Benoit was prescribed testosterone as part of a treatment for testosterone replacement therapy, which McDevitt said was a common medical practice for people who had used steroids in the past, and had suffered testicular damage as a result.
Former wrestler and Harvard graduate Christopher Nowinski, who has since gone on to be a groundbreaker in the field of sports-related concussion trauma and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), along with the writing of the book Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis, has come out and claimed that Benoit may have been suffering from repeated, untreated concussions throughout his wrestling career, ultimately leading to an unstable mental state. Nowinski has been quoted as saying that Benoit "was one of the only guys who would take a chair shot to the back of the head...which is stupid."
HeadlinePlanet.com stated that after the death of his friend Johnny Grunge in 2006, Chris Benoit refused to attend his funeral and he would not attend church anymore due to a hatred of religion. He would not let Nancy Benoit go out past 6 p.m. and he would not let Daniel Benoit go outside because he felt that someone was watching his family and paranoid that someone was stalking him. This behavior is consistent with Late-Onset Schizophrenia, however it should be noted that the diagnostic criteria for Late-Onset schizophrenia is still a subject of some debate, and paranoid behavior does not necessarily indicate that someone has schizophrenia. Anything could have happened.
Responses to the killings
Initial WWE response
It was first reported to fans of WWE on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to their official website soon after. On their website, World Wrestling Entertainment released the following statement:
"World Wrestling Entertainment is deeply saddened to report that today Chris Benoit and his family were found dead in their home. There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities. Tonight’s Raw on USA Network will serve as a tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy."
WWE canceled the scheduled three hour long live RAW show on June 25, and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring his past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers. It wasn't until the program was nearly over that reports surfaced that police were working under the belief that Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself.
The next night, after the details of the deaths became concrete, WWE aired a recorded statement by Vince McMahon before their ECW broadcast hinting towards regret for the previous night's special and stating that Benoit's name would not be mentioned other than during McMahon's comments.
Since then, the company has quickly and quietly distanced itself from Benoit. With the exception of past match results and listings in WWE's title history (though the summaries of his title reigns have been removed), WWE's website (and their splinter merchandising site wweshop.com) removed all past mentions (including all news articles relating to the killings) and merchandise of Benoit. The WWE also has decided to edit out all matches that contained Benoit from rebroadcasts of matches from their extensive video library.
Many superstars past and present commented on the death of Benoit including Lex Luger, Marc Mero, Ted DiBiase, Lance Storm, Hulk Hogan, Steve Blackman, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho.
When the news was released about Benoit's death, most mainstream news outlets covered the death, including MSNBC and Fox News. ECW Press announced on July 16 that noted wrestling writer Irvin Muchnick would publish a book on the Benoit case, due out in 2008. At The Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav in the summer of 2007, Jimmy Kimmel commented "Chris Benoit is a better father than Flavor Flav", to which the crowd reacted shocked.
Steroids were found in the home, leading some media organizations to hypothesize that a steroid-induced rage may be the cause of Benoit's actions, as some doctors have linked steroid use to uncontrollable anger, among other psychological issues which include paranoia. WWE released a press-statement, hitting out at the "roid-rage" claims. One part of the statement reads:
"The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife’s feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage."
Prosecutors in New York have been investigating the deliveries Benoit received from Signature Pharmacy and MedXLife.com, which sold steroids and human growth hormone over the Internet. Terence Kindlon, who is the lawyer for MedXLife co-owner Dr. Gary Brandwein, denied allegations that his client's company sold steroids to Benoit.
Brandwein has pleaded not guilty to six counts in New York state court related to the criminal sale of a controlled substance. According to a report from Sports Illustrated, three packages sent to Benoit were from Signature Pharmacy with the first one sent in December 2005 to San Antonio, Texas.
The second package was sent on February 13, 2006 to a address in Peachtree City, Georgia and the third package was sent in July 2006 to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This followed eleven superstars that were announced in a Sports Illustrated steroids investigation that began March 2007, which included Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Oscar Gutierrez, Randy Orton, Adam Copeland and Shane Helms, with both Copeland and Helms receiving a high amount of steriods.
World Wrestling Entertainment attorney Jerry McDevitt has stated that "they believe the facts of this crime do not support the hypothesis that "roid rage" played a role in the murders." They cite evidence of premeditation in addition to the lack of a toxicology report, and the fact that the steroids found within Benoit's home were legally prescribed.
Dr. Gary I. Wadler who currently serves on the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Committee and has served on its Health, Medicine, and Research Committee agreed stating that "that was a premeditated act and that's not rage".
Investigators seized Benoit's medical record and they also have his wife Nancy's medical record. They also have medical records of the following: Mark Jindrak, Hardcore Holly, Lex Luger, Rey Mysterio, Buff Bagwell, and Johnny Grunge. All of them were patients of Dr. Phil Astin. The toxicology report on Chris Benoit's body was released Tuesday July 17, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
At the press conference held by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 2:30 p.m. EDT on July 17, 2007, it was announced that three different drugs were found in Nancy Benoit's system: hydrocodone, hydromorphone and Xanax. All three drugs were found to be at levels investigators considered normal for therapeutic treatment (as opposed to recreational use or abuse.)
A blood-alcohol level was found at 0.184. Dr. Kris Sperry added it was impossible to say whether any of the blood findings was due to ingestion of alcohol or the post-mortem process. It was also ruled out that Nancy was sedated by Chris before she was murdered.
Xanax was found in Daniel Benoit's system. Scott Ballard noted this was not a drug that would be given to a child under normal circumstances. It is believed that Daniel was sedated prior to being murdered, with Dr. Sperry ruling out that Daniel died of a drug overdose. However, The GBI said in the Press Conference that it could not perform tests for steroids or human growth hormones on Daniel because of a lack of urine.
Xanax and hydrocodone were also found in Chris Benoit's system, at levels investigators called consistent with therapeutic use. Elevated levels of testosterone cypionate were found in his urine; investigators believed that the level found suggested it had been taken recently. No artificial steroids were found in Chris's urine, nor was there evidence of GHB, contrary to speculation. Benoit also tested negative for blood alcohol.
Christopher "Chris" Michael Benoit (May 21, 1967 – June 24, 2007) was a Canadian professional wrestler who wrestled for Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and World Wrestling Entertainment. A World Heavyweight Champion in both WCW and WWE, he was widely regarded as one of the most popular and gifted technical professional wrestlers of his generation.
Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their Fayetteville, Georgia home on June 25, 2007. Investigators confirmed Benoit murdered his wife and son and later hanged himself.
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 was initially billed as "Dynamite" Chris Benoit. 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.
World Championship Wrestling (1992–1993)
Chris Benoit first came to WCW in June 1992, teaming up with fellow Canadian wrestler Biff Wellington for the NWA World Tag Team title tournament; they were defeated by Brian Pillman and Jushin Liger in the first round. He would not return to WCW until January 1993 at the Clash of the Champions, defeating Brad Armstrong. A month later, at Superbrawl III, he lost to 2 Cold Scorpio, getting pinned with only 3 seconds left in the 20-minute time limit. At the same time he formed a tag team with Bobby Eaton. After he and Eaton lost to Scorpio and Marcus Bagwell at Slamboree, Benoit headed back to Japan.
Extreme Championship Wrestling (1994-1995)
In 1994, Benoit began working with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in between tours of Japan. At "November 2 Remember '94" Benoit accidentally broke Sabu's neck within the opening seconds of the match. The injury came when Benoit threw Sabu with the intention that he take a face-first "pancake" bump, but Sabu attempted to turn mid-air and take a backdrop bump instead. He did not achieve full rotation and landed almost directly on his neck.
After this match, Paul Heyman, the head booker of ECW at the time, came up with the "crippler" moniker for Benoit, which Chris confirms on his DVD Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story. From that point until his departure from ECW, Chris was known as the "Crippler" Chris Benoit. However, when he returned to WCW in the fall of '95, WCW modified his ring name to the "Canadian Crippler" Chris Benoit.
Benoit and Dean Malenko won the ECW Tag Team Championship from Sabu and The Tazmaniac in February 1995. After winning, they were initiated into the Triple Threat stable, led by ECW World Heavyweight Champion, Shane Douglas. The team lost the titles to The Public Enemy that April at ECW's Three Way Dance.
World Championship Wrestling (1995–2000)
New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) had a working relationship, and because of their "talent exchange" program Benoit signed with WCW in late 1995/early 1996. He started out in WCW as a member of the cruiserweight division, having lengthy matches against many of his former rivals in Japan.
After impressing higher-ups, he became a member of the reformed Four Horsemen in 1995, alongside Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Brian Pillman. When Pillman abruptly left the company for the WWF, Benoit was placed into his ongoing feud with (booker) Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan booked a feud in which Benoit was having an affair with Sullivan's (real life) wife Nancy (also known as Woman).
Benoit and Nancy were forced to spend time together to make the affair look real, (hold hands in public, share hotel rooms, etc.) As fate would have it, this on-screen relationship developed into a real-life affair off-screen.
Because of this, Sullivan and Benoit had a contentious backstage relationship at best and Benoit defeated Sullivan in a Retirement match. Benoit did, however, admit having a certain amount of respect for Sullivan, saying on the DVD Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story that Sullivan never took undue liberties in the ring during their feud, even though he blamed Benoit for breaking up his marriage.
In 1998, Benoit had a long feud with Booker T. They fought over the WCW World Television Championship until Booker lost the title to Fit Finlay. Booker won a "Best-of-Seven" series which was held between the two to determine a Number One Contender. Benoit went up 3 to 1 before Booker caught up, forcing the 7th and final match on Monday Nitro.
During the match, Bret Hart interjected himself, interfering on behalf of Benoit in an attempt to get him to join the New World Order. Benoit refused to win that way and told the referee what happened, getting himself disqualified.
Booker refused that victory, instead opting for an eighth match at the 1998 Great American Bash to see who would go on to fight Finlay later that night. Booker won the final match and went on to beat Finlay for the title. This feud significantly elevated both men's careers as singles competitors, and both remained at the top of the midcard afterwards.
In 1999, Benoit teamed with Dean Malenko once again and defeated Curt Hennig and Barry Windham to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. This led to another reformation of the Four Horsemen with the tag team champions, Anderson, and Steve "Mongo" McMichael. After a falling out with the latter two, Benoit and Malenko left the Horsemen.
Later in 1999, he also won the WCW United States Championship before bringing together Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Shane Douglas to form "The Revolution". The Revolution were a group of younger wrestlers who felt slighted (both kayfabe and legit) by WCW management, believing they never gave them the chance to be stars, pushing older, more established wrestlers instead. Benoit's most notable match of 1999 was with Bret Hart on WCW Nitro on October 1999, in Kansas City, Missouri, as a tribute to Owen Hart, who had recently died due to an equipment malfunction.
By January 2000, they made their last try at keeping him, putting the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on him at Souled Out. However, due to disagreements with management and to protest the promotion of Kevin Sullivan to head booker, Benoit left the company the next day alongside his friends Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn, forfeiting his title in the process.
World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment
Along with Guerrero, Saturn, and Malenko, Benoit debuted in the WWF as a stable that became known as The Radicalz. After losing their "tryout matches" upon entry, The Radicalz aligned themselves with WWF Champion Triple H and became a heel faction.
Benoit would quickly win his first title in the WWF just over a month later at WrestleMania 2000, pinning Chris Jericho in a triple threat match to win Kurt Angle's Intercontinental Championship. Benoit then entered into a long-running feud with Jericho, who made fun of Benoit's demeanor by referring to him constantly as "Mr. Roboto" due to his cold personality.
Benoit and Jericho would meet on PPV four times in nine months, exchanging the title back and forth and culminating in Jericho defeating Benoit in a ladder match at the 2001 Royal Rumble. Benoit would win the Intercontinental Title three times between April 2000 and January 2001.
It was also in this time period that Benoit wrestled in his first WWF pay per view main events, challenging The Rock for the title in July 2000 and as part of a fatal four way title match in September. Both times, Benoit appeared to have won the WWF Championship, only to have the decision reversed by then-WWF commissioner Mick Foley due to cheating on Benoit's part.
In early 2001, Benoit broke away from The Radicalz (who had recently reformed three months earlier) and turned babyface, feuding first with his former stable-mates and then with Kurt Angle, whom he wrestled at WrestleMania X-Seven. The feud continued after Benoit stole Angle's cherished Olympic Gold Medal.
This culminated in a match at Judgment Day 2001 where Angle won a Two out of three falls match with the help of Edge and Christian. In response, Benoit teamed up with his former rival Jericho to defeat Edge and Christian in that night's Tag Team Turmoil match.
The next night on WWF Raw in San Jose, California, Jericho and Benoit challenged WWF Tag Team Champions Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H for their titles. Jericho and Benoit ended their reign and used the win as a springboard to challenge Austin for his world title (This was the night that Triple H suffered a legit injury by tearing his quadricep muscle while attempting to clothesline Jericho).
Benoit would get two title matches the following week, first losing via Montreal Screwjob in Calgary and then just barely losing to Austin in Benoit's hometown of Edmonton. Unfortunately, also in that time period came a four-way TLC match where Benoit suffered a neck injury that would require surgery with Dr. Lloyd Youngblood. Despite this, he worked through until the King of the Ring, where he was pinned in a triple threat match versus Austin and Jericho. Benoit would miss the next year due to his neck injury.
During the first WWE Draft, he was picked by Vince McMahon third to be part of the new SmackDown! roster, although still on the injured list. However, when he returned, he did so as a member of the RAW roster.
On his first night back, he turned heel again and aligned himself with Eddie Guerrero, and he would feud with Steve Austin briefly. He and Eddie Guerrero were then moved to SmackDown during a storyline "open season" on wrestler contracts, with Benoit taking his newly won Intercontinental championship with him. Rob Van Dam defeated Benoit at SummerSlam 2002 and returned the title to RAW.
After returning to SmackDown! in October, he was crowned the first winner of the WWE Tag Team Championship, alongside foe and partner Kurt Angle. They both turned face again by betraying Los Guerreros. The two made an impressive combination, but could not stand each other.
Angle won his third WWE Championship from The Big Show at Armageddon 2002, and Benoit faced him for the title at the 2003 Royal Rumble. Although Benoit lost the match, he received a standing ovation for his efforts after a very outstanding match. Benoit returned to the tag team ranks, teaming with the returning Rhyno.
At WrestleMania XIX, the WWE Tag Team Champions, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, put their belts on the line against Benoit and his partner Rhyno and Los Guerreros in a triple threat tag team match. Team Angle retained when Shelton Benjamin pinned Chavo.
Benoit feuded with John Cena and the Full Blooded Italians, teaming with Rhyno occasionally. In June 2003, the WWE United States Championship was reactivated, and Benoit participated in the tournament for the belt. He beat Rhyno in the first round and then Matt Hardy in the second, before losing the final match to Eddie Guerrero at Vengeance 2003.
The two feuded over the title for the next month, and Benoit's popularity ascended to an all-time high. He defeated the likes of A-Train, The Big Show, and Brock Lesnar by submission. General Manager Paul Heyman began a vendetta against Benoit along with Lesnar, preventing him from gaining a shot at Lesnar's WWE Title. When Benoit won a qualifying match for the 2004 Royal Rumble against the Full Blooded Italians in a Gauntlet Match, Heyman named him as the number one entry, but Benoit swore victory.
On January 25, 2004 Benoit won the 2004 Royal Rumble by last eliminating Big Show, and thus earned a WWE Championship title shot at WrestleMania XX. As a result of the long-standing Royal Rumble tradition that the winner receives a shot at the world champion at WrestleMania, being on the SmackDown! brand at the time, Benoit would challenge for the WWE Championship. Benoit, however, exploited a "loophole" in the rules and challenged World Heavyweight Champion Triple H.
This "loophole" clause has become standard storyline practice, with the Royal Rumble winner being free to choose which title he will challenge for. With this win, Benoit became one of only two men to enter at #1 and win the Royal Rumble (the other being Shawn Michaels at the 1995 Royal Rumble).
Though the match was originally intended to be a one-on-one match, Shawn Michaels, whose Last Man Standing match against Triple H at the Royal Rumble for the World Heavyweight Championship ended in a draw, thought that he deserved to be in the main event.
When it was time for Benoit to sign the contract putting himself in the main event, Michaels superkicked him and signed his name on the contract, which eventually resulted in a Triple Threat Match between Michaels, Benoit, and the champion, Triple H.
On March 14, 2004, at WrestleMania XX, Chris Benoit won the World Heavyweight Championship by forcing Triple H to tap out to his signature submission move, the Crippler Crossface. It marked the first time the main event of a WrestleMania ended in submission. (It happened again at WrestleMania 22 and WrestleMania 23).
After the match, an emotional Benoit celebrated his win with the then-reigning WWE Champion and best friend Eddie Guerrero. Four years after they came to WWE together, they stood in the ring at Madison Square Garden, both of them world champions. It is considered the biggest win of Benoit's 19-year career, as he won his second official World Championship in the main event of the biggest show of the year. The match was voted the 2004 PWI Match of the Year). This was Benoit's first World Heavyweight Title reign.
The rematch was held at Backlash 2004 in Benoit's hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This match was a Triple Threat match, which also involved Triple H and Shawn Michaels. It was Michaels who ended up submitting to Benoit's Sharpshooter, allowing Benoit to retain his title, once again proving he was worthy of the main event. The next night in Calgary, he and Edge won the World Tag Team titles from Batista and Ric Flair, making Benoit a double champion.
At Bad Blood 2004, Chris Benoit retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Kane. At The Great American Bash 2004, Chris Benoit retained the title against Triple H.
On RAW, Benoit defeated Triple H in a one-hour Iron Man match. Benoit scored the first fall with a pinning predicament out of a Crossface attempt. Triple H then rallied to take a 3-1 fall advantage by a Pedigree pinfall, spinebuster pinfall, and a count out decision. After Benoit evened the falls up 3-3 via Sharpshooter and Crippler Crossface submissions, he got the final pin in the match's closing seconds (due to the outside interference of Eugene) to retain the title.
On August 15, 2004, Chris Benoit was defeated by Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. This title change is notable because it is rare for a top face World Champion to ever drop the title cleanly to a heel. His reign lasted 5 months, and he gained 7 straight pay-per-view victories.
Benoit then feuded with Edge, leading to Taboo Tuesday where Chris Benoit, Edge, and Shawn Michaels were all put into a poll to see who would face Triple H for the World Heavyweight title that night. Michaels received the most votes and as a result, Edge and Benoit were forced to team up to face the then tag team champions, La Résistance, in the same night.
However, Edge deserted Benoit during the match and Benoit was forced to take on both members of La Résistance by himself. He still managed to win the World Tag Team titles. At Survivor Series 2004, Benoit sided with Randy Orton's team while Edge teamed with Triple H's team, and while Edge was able to pin Benoit after a Pedigree, Orton's team won. The Benoit-Edge feud ended at New Year's Revolution. The feud stopped abruptly, as Edge feuded with Shawn Michaels, and Benoit entered the Royal Rumble.
The two then continued to have matches in the following weeks until the two of them, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Kane, and Christian were placed in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21. Edge won the match by knocking Benoit off of and smashing his arm with the ladder. The feud finally culminated in a Last Man Standing Match at Backlash 2005. Edge won with a brick shot to the back of Benoit's head.
On June 9, 2005, Benoit returned to SmackDown! after being the first man selected by the SmackDown! side in the 2005 Draft Lottery, and participated in an ECW-style revolution against the SmackDown! heels. Benoit appeared at One Night Stand 2005, defeating Eddie Guerrero. At the end of the night he delivered a flying headbutt to his former WCW boss and former RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff.
On July 24 at The Great American Bash 2005, Benoit failed to win the WWE United States Championship from Orlando Jordan, but he faced him in a rematch at SummerSlam 2005. Benoit defeated Jordan in 25 seconds with the Crippler Crossface to win the title.
On the next two editions of SmackDown!, Benoit defeated Jordan by submission in 23.4 seconds and 22.5 seconds. Two weeks later, Benoit defeated Jordan by submission in 49.8 seconds. Benoit then started wrestling Booker T in some friendly competitions, but it was all a ploy, as Booker and his wife, Sharmell, cheated Benoit out of the US title on an episode of SmackDown!.
Chris Benoit appeared on RAW on November 14, 2005 for Guerrero's tribute show hosted by both RAW and SmackDown! superstars. Benoit was devastated at the loss of his best friend and was very emotional during a series of video testimonials, where he said that he loved Eddie and will never forget him, eventually breaking down on camera.
The same week on SmackDown! (taped on the same night as RAW), Benoit defeated Triple H in a tribute match to his fallen friend. Following the contest, Benoit, Helmsley, and Dean Malenko all assembled in the ring and pointed to the sky in salute of Guerrero.
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 upper hand 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 disqualification.
On June 19, 2007, Benoit wrestled his last televised 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.
Along with Daniel (born February 23, 2000), Benoit had two children from a previous marriage, David (born 1993) and Megan (born May 26, 1997) with his ex-wife Martina.
In 2003, Nancy filed for divorce from Benoit, citing the marriage as "irrevocably broken" and alleging "cruel treatment." She later dropped the suit, as well as the restraining order filed on her husband.
Benoit's lost tooth was usually credited to training or an accident early on in his wrestling career. It actually resulted from an accident involving his pet Rottweiler. One day, Benoit was struck with the top of the Rottweiler's head beneath his chin while play-wrestling with the dog, and his tooth "popped out."
Benoit became good friends with Eddie Guerrero following a match in Japan, when Benoit utilised an Enzuigiri kick and knocked him out cold. This started a friendship that lasted until Eddie's death in late 2005. He was also close friends with Dean Malenko as the threesome traveled from promotion to promotion together putting on exceptional matches.
According to Benoit, the Crippler Crossface was borrowed from friend Dean Malenko and eventually caught on as Benoit's signature hold.
On June 25, 2007, Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their Fayetteville, Georgia, home at around 2:30 p.m. EDT. Lieutenant Tommy Pope of the Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff's Department reported to ABC News that police entered Benoit's home on a "welfare check" after several missed appointments, leading to concerns. Pope also stated the police were not searching for any suspects outside of the house, as the instruments of death were located at the scene of the crime.
Detective Bo Turner of the Fayette County Sheriff's Department told television station WAGA-TV that the case was being treated as a murder-suicide. The station reported that investigators believe that Benoit murdered his wife and son over the weekend and hanged himself sometime on Monday.
It was first reported to fans of WWE on their WWE Mobile Alerts Service and posted to their official website soon after. On their website, World Wrestling Entertainment released the following statement:
“World Wrestling Entertainment is deeply saddened to report that today Chris Benoit and his family were found dead in their home. There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities. Tonight’s Raw on USA Network will serve as a tribute to Chris Benoit and his family. WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy.”
WWE cancelled the scheduled three hour long live RAW show on June 25, and replaced the broadcast version with a tribute to his life and career, featuring his past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers. However, once the details of the tragedy became apparent, the WWE quickly and quietly began distancing itself from the wrestler by removing merchandise and no longer mentioning him in any way, shape or form.
Toxicology reports released on July 17, 2007 revealed that at their time of death, Nancy Benoit had three different drugs in her system; Xanax, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone, all of which were found at the therapeutic, rather than toxic, levels.
Daniel Benoit was found to have Xanax in his system, which led the chief medical examiner, Kris Sperry to believe that he was sedated before he was murdered.
Chris Benoit was found to have Xanax as well as hydrocodone in his system. It was also revealed that in his body was an elevated level of testosterone, which is caused by synthetic testosterone and was the only steroid in his system. The chief medical examiner has considered this a mystery, but attributed it to Benoit possibly being treated for a testosterone deficiency caused by previous steroid abuse.
The examiner also ruled that the drug GHB was not present in any of the three bodies, and that there was no indication that anything in Chris' body contributed to his violent behavior that led to his death as well as his wife and son's, concluding that there was no "roid rage" involved.
Many of Benoit's close friends, including former WWE wrestler Chris Jericho defended the accusations of "roid rage", saying Chris was a quiet individual, and instead strongly believe Benoit was fighting a private battle with mental illness, which was most likely exacerbated by the death of Benoit's close friend and fellow WWE wrestler, Eddie Guerrero two years ago.
In 2003, Chris Benoit was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) Hall of Fame. As a result of Benoit's double murder-suicide, his induction will undergo a recall election in 2008. Benoit will be removed from the Hall of Fame if 60% or more of the WON Hall of Fame voters elect to remove him. This is similar to the policies of the Baseball and Pro Football Hall of Fames.