On Tuesday, March 24, wrestling docu-series Dark Side of the Ring returns for its second season with a two-hour special about the tragic double-murder suicide when professional wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son, Daniel, before committing suicide in 2007.
Chris Jericho is debuting as the narrator for season two, though he was hesitant to be involved in the Benoit episode. Ultimately, though, he was convinced it would be done the right way. Part one of the episode can be seen below; it was released early online. Both parts air back to back on Tuesday, March 24 beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Vice TV.
Jericho Says It Was ‘Very Cathartic’ For Him
In an interview with Uproxx, Jericho says that he didn’t want to be involved with the show about his late rival-turned-partner. But Chavo Guerrero, a fellow professional wrestler whose father, Eddie, was a good friend of Benoit’s, convinced Jericho to be involved.
“[Guerrero] told me, ‘Listen, this is gonna be done properly, with the right people involved, and guys that are very close to Chris, and if we don’t do it, somebody else will.’ So that kind of convinced me to go for it. I really… I’m not going to say enjoyed it. But it was very cathartic to be involved at that level. I’ve done podcasts about it, but to be able to get on camera, and knowing that the people close to Chris and Eddie Guerrero were involved as well, it just felt right,” says Jericho.
He adds in an interview with Complex that he loves Guerrero “like a brother and trust(s) him completely,” so he knew they would do an “excellent job.”
“I thought the story was done well,” Jericho tells Complex. “I think it will be very cathartic to a lot of people, but it’s also very heavy, a heavy subject to begin with. They did an excellent job and it’s a very informative and not sensationalistic show. A very honest portrayal of Chris and Eddie’s friendship, which led to both of them passing away very early.
Jericho is Calling for Nancy Benoit To Be in the WWE Hall of Fame
Something that sometimes gets lost among the tragic circumstances in which Benoit and his family died is that Nancy Benoit was a famous professional wrestler in her own right. As Jericho tells Complex, “I wanted to kind of talk about Nancy Benoit’s career ’cause she’s been forgotten, and [was] also a very tremendous performer and great at what she did.”
He tells Uproxx that there’s “so much baggage” around Benoit’s situation that Nancy is “kind of painted with the same brush.”
“I find it very unfair [that she’s not in the WWE Hall of Fame] because she was great at what she did. She’s kind of been forgotten in all of this, her career. She’s not just a victim. Much like Benoit, she had a whole career that needs to be talked about, and critically acclaimed. Not just the end of her life, but the whole life that led her to meeting Chris in the first place,” says Jericho, adding that he doesn’t know what it would take to get her into the Hall of Fame, but “she didn’t really do anything wrong … so why should we forget about her?”
Jericho Says the Benoit Tragedy At Least Got Wrestling to Pay Attention to CTE
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative neurological disease caused by repeated head injuries that has really come to the forefront of conversations about professional sports in the last two decades. In Benoit’s case, after the tragedy, Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute, who is also a former professional wrestler, began looking into whether Benoit’s repeated head injuries could have contributed to the crime.
“[I] really wanted to look into this case was because Chris had told me that, you know, we talked about our concussion histories, that he had more than he could count,” Nowinski told ABC News in early 2009.
Nowinski and his colleague, Dr. Julian Bailes, examined Benoit’s brain and found evidence of damage from “multiple traumatic injuries.” It was the same molecular results as they found in the brains of four NFL players who had committed suicide. The brains all showed signs of dementia similar to that in Alzheimer’s patients.
Bailes told ABC News that they believe it was CTE and not so-called “roid rage” that might have contributed to the family’s tragic deaths.
“There’s no consensus in the medical community that this issue of ‘roid rage — uncontrolled violence, precipitated by seemingly normal life stressors — there’s no consensus that that even exists,” said Bailes. “The changes that we see in his brain tissue were not caused by steroids. There’s no medical evidence or research that’s ever shown that anabolic steroids cause those dead neurons.”
In his interview with Complex, Jericho says that this is part of what started getting the professional wrestling world to pay more attention to CTE and head injuries.
“If you can say something positive about Chris’ death, is that it really led people down the road of studying CTE and figuring out what it is. … Chris put that in the forefront of the minds of athletes everywhere. I don’t know why some people have it, some people don’t,” says Jericho, adding, “We’ve stopped the chair shots to the head, we stopped going into the ring if you have a concussion, those days are gone. I think a lot of that stems from the Benoit tragedy. So if nothing else, we did learn something from it.”
The Dark Side of the Ring season two premiere airs Tuesday, March 24 in a special two-hour presentation from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET/PT on Vice TV; subsequent weeks air for one hour at 10 p.m. ET/PT.