During the latest episode of Foley is Pod, Mick Foley spoke about the Chris Benoit tragedy back in 2007 and what it was like behind the scenes.
“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 that offended I am by that angle. And he says, ‘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 canceled and delayed.
“So, I’m sitting in the Corpus Christi airport, 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 started 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. It’s sinking in that this person I had known and respected for a long time in Chris Benoit and even more so Nancy, who had I known since 1990 – they’re not with us anymore. I’m devastated, and by the next day, the realization had come that this wasn’t a break-in, that this was something more complex. I start getting those phone calls from the different outlets and I’m not ready to talk about it yet.”
On how it affected the industry:
“By the time I got home, depression had sunk in that would stick around for a while. I had always been a proud, not just advocate but representative of wrestling and always stood up for it. This was something that just devastated us. It asked us to defend the indefensible in the aftermath. I think the only guy that came across well was Chris Jericho because Chris was wise enough to understand that nobody gains from a shouting match……when I say I was struggling, I think a lot of us in the industry were 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, after Eddie Guerrero’s death, 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, a writing side of me might try to understand it and write a fictitious but in a sense, historically-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. 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.”
“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. You don’t come back after neck surgery and still drop that headbutt 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 small by wrestling standards. He continued to use 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 know it was tragic and one of the worst things that’s ever happened to us. And it really set WWE and wrestling back a ways because it came across so negatively in the media.”
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