Remembering Nancy Benoit

Today marks 10 years since the terrible tragedy that struck the Benoit home. This article is not another piece to determine or speculate what had happened, as the reality is, we will never know. But what we can talk about is who Nancy was, her accomplishments, and how she, like far too many other women, died at the hands of the one she loved.

Nancy got her start by modeling for wrestling magazines, and doing “Apartment Wrestling” which is a niche in the women’s wresting market. From there she joined up with Kevin Sullivan and joined his stable at Florida Championship Wrestling. She had first done a short stint in WCW with Sullivan, but was most famous for her character in ECW “Woman”. That is where I first saw her. By then she had moved on from Sullivan and was working with The Sandman. She was devious. She was one you had to watch out for, and despite her “sexy sidekick” persona, she wasn’t just a valet, she was truly a great ringside manager. If you have opportunity to look back on these videos, you will see what I mean. She was always important to her story lines. Despite what her name led you to believe “Woman” was a integral part of The Sandman’s rise to the top of the company. She spent 4 years in ECW, then returned to WCW where she managed the current lineup of the Four Horsemen. Chris Benoit was part of the stable at the time, and at some point they started an on screen love angle, and he was feuding with her then real life husband, Kevin Sullivan, and wrestling turned to real life, when she left Sullivan for Benoit. During the feud she had some memorable moments standing up for herself, in a liberated woman kinda way.  Nancy left wrestling in the late 90’s. I think 97 or 98, I was working a lot back then, so all I remember is one day she wasn’t there anymore.

Nancy had their son, and then later married Benoit in 2000. In 2003 she filed for divorce and a restraining order alleging cruel treatment but later dropped both.  4 years later, she was found dead, after Chris Benoit had gone absent from TV, and the family was found by authorities. It was deemed a double murder suicide. It is probably one of the most horrific things to happen in wrestling history, but to womanhood, this is part of a problem far too many of us have faced, domestic violence. CNN put this article out on intimate partner violence last month, but here are some of the quick facts it contains:

Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, according to the United Nations.
According to a Global Study on Homicide, of all women who were the victims of homicide globally in 2012, an estimated half were killed by intimate partners or family members.
United States:
Each day –
Three or more women are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands on average, according to the American Psychology Association.
Each year – Over 10 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 1994 and 2011, the rates of serious intimate partner violence perpetrated on women fell 72%.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (and loveisrepect, its project for teens and young adults) answered 323,669 calls, chats and texts in 2016.

This is something we all need to be aware of in our own lives, and in the lives of those we love around us. Nancy filed for divorce, with a restraining order 4 years before her death. Whatever was going on between them, clearly had been going on for some time. We don’t know what steps they took, whether they went to counseling, whether Chris was aware of how bad his brain damage was from all of the hits, collisions and concussions he had faced. We know Chris and Nancy fought quite a bit, and as Cageside Seats Reported in 2010, the investigation was garbage.   What is sad is that we live in a society that doesn’t do more to save women in domestically abusive situations. Nancy did not make a ton of money off of her time in wrestling, though she did manage both of her husbands professional careers. Nancy made her own, often overlooked mark on wrestling. Despite her upper middle class status, and comfortable lifestyle she was not able to escape the abuse and her subsequent death, by the hands of the one she loved.

If you know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, reach out, lend support, don’t judge, help them if they need it, and if you know someone who has suffered from a head injury and is acting violently, please encourage them to get treatment as well. In order to prevent these things, we need to be vigilant.

Wrestling With Depression

I am writing this as not only an editorial, but a personal piece. Let’s be real, we have all either suffered from bouts of depression, or know someone who has. Depression comes in many forms, with many faces. Some are able to hide it, and smile and be active. Some folks hide in their beds. Others just barely are able to do the bare minimum to survive.

Depression can last a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, months or a whole lifetime, depending on what environmental and chemical factors are in play. Some folks do well on medicine, others are sick of being zombies, or guinea pigs  for the pharmaceutical companies. Some turn to “drugs” or alcohol to self medicate. Others are fitness junkies, workaholics, or seem to be addicted to something whether it be gambling, gaming, or sexual behaviors.

This is something we have seen in wrestling, but maybe have not recognized as being related to depression. Not only that but the link between tramatic brain injuries and depression. From

“…major depressive disorder (MDD) may be the most common and challenging mental health condition that patients encounter following a TBI—53.1% of TBI patients in the study experienced MDD at least once in the first year after their injury. Another study showed that suicidal thoughts and attempts are also common reactions to TBI—23% of the participants had thoughts of suicide, while 17% actually attempted suicide after their injury. These higher rates of suicidal behaviors may also be connected to MDD following TBI.”

How many of us have had TBI?  I know I gave myself a concussion for sure once, I have it on video… Botched sunset flip, I had never done one on a person my height before, and landed right on my head… Warning graphic video!

The night of this injury my head was severely swollen, but the roads were also incredibly icy. Power lines were down, it was late, and going to the hospital in a state I did not live in did not sound fun. So I went home with my friends, and stayed up all night watching cartoons with their cat, with ice on my head, propped up so I wasn’t laying down, as we looked up what to do in case of head injury. By the next day I felt better, but my head hurt, and was swollen and bruised. I took at least two months off from in ring work, and a couple weeks off managing, until the bruising went down.

The thing is, I never felt the same again. I have had issues with short term memory loss since then, something was never an issue for me before this. I also have noticed in the years since this happened, my anxiety issues grew, as did my depression. It became hard to do many of the day to day activities I had done in the past. It has become hard to interact with people, to be cheery, and even to feel that my work had any merit. I started to feel stagnant in my jobs, and went back to working with animals full time, training horses, teaching riding lessons, and other farm related duties. I also found solace in doing office work, and writing. But working with people became problematic, as I had developed even more social anxieties.

It took a while for me to notice how my interactions with other humans were becoming an issue for me. Sometimes I blank out, or can’t focus, sometimes my reactions seem rude, even if I do not perceive them as such. I seem short with people or even angry when I speak. I don’t mean to, but it just happens.
Learning to notice this is happening was not an easy task, and I still struggle with this at times, so I tend to limit my interactions with people when I am feeling stressed out, as no good can come from it.

When i started recognizing these issues, I also started reading more on TBI, and its effects on people in the long term, and there has been some research done on the potential for these issues to become worse over time. This makes me think of Chris Benoit who in 2007, shockingly killed his wife Nancy (Aka Woman) and his young son, before killing himself. This was shocking to not only wrestling fans, but the entire wrestling community. It was so horrendous, that WWE doesn’t list him on any of the WWE Network programming, nor is he mentioned on the website, his wins, championships, and all have been erased from the history books, as if he never existed.

At least 21 known professional wrestlers have committed suicide. This list doesn’t account for lesser known independent wrestlers who may have taken their own lives. Chris Kanyon was 40 when he committed suicide in 2010. He came out as gay in 2004, at first claiming it was a gimmick, then admitting it was true. Another notable suicide was that of “Sweet And Sour” Larry Sweeney in 2011. He suffered from Bi polar depression, and in 2009 had a breakdown, he was quite open about. Larry was not only a great wrestler, but an inspiring personality, and it seemed unreal to wrestling fans that a man who cut such engaging promo’s, was suffering from serious mental health issues.

Whether or not these suicides were the product of head injuries, or other issues can never truly be determined. What we can do is look for signs of depression, check in with each other. Also those of us who put ourselves into the ring, should think about wearing protective head gear during training at the very least, and should take an honest look at the danger we put ourselves in for what generally very little compensation. Even those who make it to the top, won’t be able to undo damage done to their bodies. We all need to look out for ourselves and each other.

A good resource to learn how to support those in crisis can be found through the Icarus Project at: