A Modest Response

Welcome to a somber edition of A Modest Response in the wake of one of practically everyone’s (former) favorites, Chris Benoit murdering his wife and son. I’ll try and keep all the discussion of that towards the bottom of the column, so that you can get away into the more fun and escapist aspects of pro-wrestling for awhile. After that, I’ll explain, in AMR proper why you shouldn’t quit following the business right now and follow it up by Derek Kelley’s thoughts on the tragedy.

News of Honor

Austin Aries returned to ROH and signed a contract

For this and the rest of the Chicago Ridge Results (the second ROH Pay Per View) click here.

New ROH Video Wire

This one has a full Morishima match in it. Go watch!

Chris Hero signed with ROH

Hopefully he will be on most, if not all the shows now. He’s one of the best heels in the business and truly different in the ring.

Matt Sydal signed on with Larry Sweeney

Check the Chicago Results above.

Ring of Honor announced 15 of 16 participants for “Race to the Top” Tournament: Jack Evans, BJ Whitmer, Brent Albright, Delirious, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Davey Richards, Erick Stevens, El Generico, Kevin Steen, Hallowicked, Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, Matt Cross, Matt Sydal, and Pelle Primeau

The tournament will be held 7/27 in Deer Park, Long Island and 7/28 in Edison, NJ. There are some interesting match-ups here and I can’t wait to see what’s booked.

The third PPV taping will be 9/15 at Chicago Ridge

I doubt I’ll be attending, but Eric S will be and I’m sure it’ll be great. Look for Pulse Wrestling to continue to bring you the best Ring of Honor coverage.

ROH’s full Tokyo lineup is announced

ROH’s full Osaka lineup is also announced

Check back closer to the show for comments and predictions.

Chikara announces an interpromotional Tag Match as their champions, Gran Akuma and Icarus battle The Briscoes

This is must see and should be amazingly fast paced. For more on Chikara check out Andy Mac’s commentary on their Young Lions Cup, Night 1, Night 2, and Night 3.

In Other News

Jarrett will be champion again when he returns

Whoop + deedoo = turn off Impact already.

Low Ki asked for his release but was denied so he, Elix Skipper, and Chris Daniels can reform Triple X

Well, there were a lot less people watching back then and Triple X did work well together, but Daniels has evolved a ton as a character and Skipper was released. Oh well, if past history has taught us anything, it’s that if Ki keeps complaining TNA will get sick of him and cut him.

RVD is taking a few months off

That’s wise as his body has to have been put through the ringer the past few years and it’s not like WWE gives time off.

Waltman might be brought in to team with VKM

Now, where have I heard that before

This Week on Inside Pulse

Furthering our new focus on Chikara Big Andy Mac compares Chikara and ROH this week.

Not a True Ending, our games section, is back in force with great columns all over the site.

This week has Koudelka Reviewed by myself and Ed Schacherer and The Most Dangerous Gamer by the same two discussing BMUPs.

The Game Room has the staff’s roundtable style look at the issues of the day.

Our best writer, Alex Lucard reviews Pokemon Battle Revolution with our giant, in depth system.

Our feature reviews on every wrestling game ever made continue with Derek Kelley’s (more from him in just a minute) review of WWF Royal Rumble for the Genesis (sorry, the link is down for now, but should be up by the time this posts).

Lastly, rising star, Rye Sinclair bemoans Sega’s Stupidity, this time as it pertains to a Sonic RPG.

Sorry I didn’t have a Comics Nexus column this week. The server was being difficult due to all the traffic. Check out all the goodies on the rest of the site, however.

Broken Dial continues to rock the indy music world with great new music and exclusives galore.

And now, a special guest A Modest Response.

Two weeks ago I promised to try and review some matches using the new system. In light of recent events, it just isn’t the time to do those reviews, but one of the most commonly asked questions about the new system is “where do moves fit in.” Well, moves fit in under Ring Role. A guy who’s playing a technical mastermind had better use a style to suit, and most tough guys will rely more on punches or strikes than high flying. There is an element of difficulty and danger in certain moves, and for some reason there is a backlash against using fun or interesting moves, whether or not they fit in with the match. Derek Kelley, a friend and fellow independent wrestling aficionado has taken the liberty of writing up this response to the question “What about the moves?”

Derek Kelley’s A Modest Response: What about the Moves?

It seems to me that there has been an improper amount of backlash towards the use of a diverse move set in wrestling as of late. I’d like to take a moment to address this. Ideally, matches do two things: they tell a story, and they entertain fans. Despite the fact that entertainment value will always trump storytelling in the eyes of most fans, I want to focus mostly on the story aspect. People say that wrestlers use a plethora of different maneuvers in order to make the fans mark, so as to compensate for being unable to tell an interesting story in the ring. Yet, I don’t feel that this is always a case. If matches are stories, than wrestling moves and the movements of the
wrestlers are the words through which the story is told. The minimalist approach can work very well in story telling, just as it did for authors such as Hemmingway and poets like Frost. On the other spectrum of the literary world, however, you have the Romantic authors such as Hawthorne, the Bontës, Poe, etc. who painted rich stories with a wide usage of words. Then, of course, you have those in the middle, such as Twain and most contemporary authors. All of these artists are widely regarded and praised by critics of literature despite their vastly different approaches to the number of words which they use, as well as the complexity of them.

Wrestling is the same way. Minimalists, like the many “old school” style wrestlers, can tell riveting stories with very few moves. Someone like Alex Shelley, or the majority of Dragon Gate wrestlers, on the other hand, pull out complex moves one after another, often captivating fans with the beauty of the motion. Then, of course, you have the wide range of the performers who fall in the middle.

The style in which a wrestler chooses to fit should not make any difference in the way in which people view them. It is unfortunate, however, that such is not the case. Just like in the literary world, especially at the time when a new style comes about, there are critics who tend to lean in a more conservative direction in taste. In the modern wrestling world, that is a rejection of the style of the Alex Shelleys, in favour of the more median WWE style. Then, amongst elitist smarks, there seems to be growing a full out rejection of Romantic like wrestling, in favour of stark minimalism.

Again, I say to you, it is not the number of moves which is of importance, but rather the story which the wrestlers tell. It is how they use the moves, not the moves themselves, which matters in the world of story telling.

Yet, at the same time, the actually story which is told through the moves must be entertaining. If someone is boring in the ring, it does not matter how great a story which they attempted to tell might be in theory, because it in fact falls flat. This is true for all the different styles. Likewise, simple stories are not very entertaining. Just like an author will not, most of the time, strike it big for regurgitating a tried-and-true adventure tale at 20 pages in length, so too should those who are unable to tell interesting and fresh stories not fill up main events. When people wonder why John Cena gets boo’d, I believe that a large part of it has to do with the fact that he is not
presenting a fresh tale, but rather one which fans have seen before from the likes of Hogan.

Thus, when people become angry with fans who mark at complex moves, they should remember that such a style is just as legitimate as any other type of style. It’s all about telling an interesting story. Same goes for those who attack Hogan for not doing many moves in the ring (the better attack for Hogan is not being particularly creative). It really is about the story told in the ring, and whether the actions which make up that story go to entertain and excite the crowd. A wrestler who can tell an interesting, exciting, and entertaining story is a great wrestler, whether they do three moves or three thousand. Likewise, a wrestler who is uncreative, boring, and a black hole of
charisma in the ring is not a good wrestler, no matter what their move set is. And so I ask to you fans that, when you judge wrestlers on their ability to tell a story, you look at this aspect, and not what moves they do, whether they use armbars or shooting-star planchas.

Thank you, Derek. After this I, and Derek again, will be going into the Chris Benoit story. I will be going into this from the perspective of “How Can I support a business that causes tragedies such as this one?” Derek will be looking at mental illness and separating the man from his work. If you’ve had enough of hearing about the tragedy at this point, here’s where you stop reading, but be sure to check back Sunday for a full report by yours truly of IWA-MS in the ECW Arena.

A Modest Response: How Can I support and follow Pro-Wrestling?

Several writers have asked me just this question this week. I tend to fall in line with Chris Biscuiti’s thinking that this is not a Wrestling Story, but this is a story about the horrors a man committed who just happens to wrestle for a living. That Point of View is clearly not the only one to take.

The wrestling business seems to breed tragedy. Whether constant assaults, broken homes, early deaths, or all three the wrestling business has been plagued with shattered life after shattered life. Just before the Benoit tragedy Sensational Sherri and Beef Wellington died in their early 40s. Ric Flair, Edge and many others have broken up families and relationships through the business. We won’t even get into the ritualistic beatings that pass as hazing.

Chris Benoit, the latest life utterly ruined that was involved in the business (his life was the business according to many), went insane and killed his wife and seven-year-old son. How much of that can be attributed to the business? I have a hard time accepting that any outside circumstance can be attributable to such horrible actions, but the fact that so many wrestlers and ex-wrestlers are in such poor physical and mental health speaks volumes. If this is your breaking point in supporting the business, well, it’s awfully hard to blame you.

As a WWE Wrestler, you’re on the road nearly 300 days a year with no set off time, no vacation time and no medical benefits. The physical demands are extraordinary as are the demands to keep up physical appearance, usually by the use of a banned substance like HGH or Steroids. Without that physical appearance, you aren’t even given a shot and are left to toil in the indies or TNA, the former where only the biggest names can make a living. Retirement comes early and the spotlight fades fast, life on the road, often a substance filled ride, falls apart and wrestlers are left to a family they barely spent any time with, old injuries that never heal, no real regular source of income, and old addictions to feed.

Why on earth would you want to become a wrestler? As a consenting, somewhat rational adult, at what point does the fact that this lifestyle is unhealthy and dangerous kick in and you realize that you are doing yourself a disservice by continuing? Is it fear of the unknown? Love of the spotlight? This isn’t safe and if it is, it isn’t safe in the WWE.

Well, some people love the business, and apparently, either the business attracts those with deficiencies or causes the deficiencies within them. Chris Benoit was either a sane man driven mad by the wrestling business or an insane man and the business contributed to his malaise, whether by stress or drug use. If you truly believe that Chris Benoit’s employment of the WWE caused this tragedy you need to stop watching WWE wrestling right now until some changes are made. If you are on the fence, your only defense is that Chris Benoit as an adult who had already made it and made it big would have had the financial resources to get out if he wished. At some point it is his own choice and responsibility to continue despite (or because of) his deteriorating mental health. He is to blame, and as a responsible adult, you can choose to lie that entirely at his feet (and at the end of his life, he was a monster without any doubt) or you can say, that since the business has destroyed so many lives, this is just the final straw and walk away. Actually, at the start of this column I was firmly with Chris Biscuiti, but I think I’ve changed my mind.

I’m entirely done with supporting the WWE. If you can go on watching superstars that will likely be dead before their 45th birthday, there is logic for it, but I can’t take it anymore. The heroes of my childhood are dropping like flies and I don’t need to see it happen for another generation until some serious changes are made. The broken families and lives of those who had the misfortune to love someone cursed to work in the business are not an acceptable trade for entertainment. This has spread to, in a far too logical way, the death of a young boy who did nothing wrong but be born. And I’m done with it.

This is not the end of my support of the wrestling business. TNA works about 6 dates a month, while paying mid-level talent above a teacher’s salary. If said talent has the good sense to limit their independent bookings and live around Orlando for television tapings, there is no reason for them to repeat the previous generation’s mistakes.

Ring of Honor wrestlers are the biggest names on the independents and wrestle about 4 dates (two weekends) a month for that company. Most can make a living taking weekend bookings, giving themselves around four days of rest and recuperation and they are forced into no bookings. Many of ROH’s early wrestlers and trainees got sick of the business and went back to school. ROH’s two top talents, Nigel McGuinness and Bryan Danielson, along with much of the other talent, have college degrees leaving them equipped to handle life after wrestling. If ROH, with it’s current business model and history of taking care of hurt workers (Jimmy Jacobs, while hurt, is being flown too and from shows), can succeed maybe we can usher in an era where the stars aren’t going to be dropping dead at midlife.

Still worth supporting are the smaller independents, which are just weekend jobs for most workers. They go out one or two weekends a month and ply their trade, make some extra money and hope to be noticed, their lives hardly more at risk than a particularly talented intramural football league (unless you’re a pure death match wrestler, in which case, seek help).

These all are acceptable levels or risk by consenting adults and at the least, since this form is so new, we don’t know if it will destroy lives at the same rate as the territory system and the WWE system has. By the look of the set-up, they shouldn’t destroy lives at the same rate, and with media proliferation, if they are, for God’s sake, let us know. Tell someone, get help, and don’t let these tragedies keep occurring. Unfortunately, until the WWE changes its way of doing business and offers at the least health benefits, real mental and substance tests, and offers actual vacation or other off time, these tragedies will continue. I just won’t be there to support and see it. Goodbye WWE. Thanks for the last 20 years.

And now, a forum for Derek Kelley to say what he wants about the events of last weekend and the responses around the net.

Derek Kelley’s On Benoit, Mental Illness and a Call for Change

Over the last few days, the entire wrestling world has been turned upon its head. The darling of the Internet Wrestling Community, Chris Benoit, killed his wife, son, and himself over a three day period. A lot of people don’t know what to make of this. Message boards around the world, and columnists on every site of which you can think, have come out of the woodwork. They talk of Benoit having committed unspeakable acts, deserving to be erased from history, to never be
remembered by fans as anything. WWE seems happy to oblige, having removed his name from their DVDs, and there is talk of somehow removing him from the videos for good. In something straight out of 1984, he is to be vaporized.

To me, this is nearly as disturbing as Benoit’s own actions. I have read wrestling fans ramble about the media trying to attack wrestling, trying to make this about steroids, and, overall, going on the defensive. It has become painfully obvious to me why the world at large views wrestling fans as unintelligent. Columnists (including our own Joshua Grutman) and anonymous posters alike are choosing to both let one event supersede an entire life, and to, even worse, take a black-and-white approach to the world.

The ignorance towards mental health in this country is shocking. The actions of Benoit, to doctors and most reporters, have been taken as being that of someone who was insane. From the long lapse in time during which the murders took place, to the placing of Bibles by the victims, to the text messages speaking of a physical address: this case is a classic example of a lapse into insanity.

Our courts, rightly so, hold that those who are of mental defect cannot be held accountable for their actions in a court of law. They must be treated for their mental illnesses. We do this because it is right and it is humane. Yet, wrestling fans, much like the jury who sentenced Andrea Yates to death for drowning her many children due to postpartum depression, are blind to this. Thankfully, cooler heads did prevail in that case and that sentence was overturned.

I watched Nancy Grace on CNN Headline News last night to catch her interview with Bret Hart. Nancy is a former prosecutor, known for being overly aggressive. In fact, when she thought that a woman had killed her child, she attacked her on the show to the point that the woman
took her own life. In the case of Benoit, however, she was congenial and respectful. She did not launch accusations left-and-right. The fact that even she, a prosecutor known to be ready to lynch supposed criminals at the drop of a hat, has taken the side of insanity, should
say something to wrestling fans.

I do not believe that insanity excuses people for their actions in full. The way in which people now talk of Benoit, however, shows that they have no idea of what insanity is like. How it changes people, even those whom you love, to the point where they are no longer themselves. My own mother was once put on unneeded thyroid medicine, and the chemical imbalance caused her to lose her mind. She believed that people were trying to kill her, that she had been forced to murder
people while drugged, and even that she had sent the famed anthrax letters, causing a nation-wide scare. Take a moment to imagine your mother, in as much sincerity as if she were telling you the date, saying that she was a mass murderer. Had she not gotten to the hospital when she did, I have no doubt in my mind that, within the week, she would have taken her own life, and perhaps others as well out of paranoia. (Glazer’s note- prolonged steroid usage has been known to effect the thyroid).

It is plain to me, as I examine this case, and hear accounts on Benoit, that the man in that home was not the Chris Benoit whom you all claimed to love and respect. The facts are that Chris Benoit had no history of violence. He did not play with road kill like Jeffrey Dahlmer. He did
come out of an abusive and broken home like Adolf Hitler. He did not kill his wife and her lover over jealousy like OJ Simpson. When he committed his crime, he did so against the wind of opportunity. He was not scheduled to be at home, but rather went as an emergency. He did
not kill all at once, but over days at a time. He took no means to conceal his crime, nor to save himself.

By all statements, the Chris Benoit whom people knew was gentle, respectful, and loved his family. The bond between himself and his son Daniel seems to have been very tight, especially considering the amount of time for which they were apart. Near the little boys bedside, where
his father suffocated him, and left him looking as if he was simply asleep, stood an action figure of his daddy, so as to keep him close when he was away.

Whether the cause of Chris Benoit’s mental collapse was due to stress, some unknown mental illness which had remained hidden over the span of his life, or steroids: it matters not. Nothing changes the fact that three people are dead, including a seven year old boy. But the mental
state of Chris Benoit does change how you should look at this case. You should not view the man as someone who had always been a serial killer. Mass or serial murderers don’t wait forty years before their first attack, and they rarely start with humans.

These horrific days cannot change who Chris Benoit was for the other forty years of his life. They do not warrant that he be wiped from existence, nor that you should not be a fan of his wrestling. It seems apparent to all but wrestling fans that the man who committed these heinous acts was not the real Chris Benoit. And when you watch his matches, and remember him, you should remember that. You should remember him for what he gave to you over twenty years, and not to
where a mental illness led him.

Most of all, however, you should remember that Chris Benoit still has a son who is now fatherless. That son must now come to terms with what has happened, and he will have to understand why his father has done what he has done. In the end, he will forgive, and remember his dad as he truly was, and not as the unknown being whom mental illness had forged. I know that my mother was not the woman who said, with all her heart, that she was mass murderer, and I pray that Chris Benoit’s remaining family will do the same. I hope that you will do the same,
that you will listen to doctors, and to people like Chris Nowinski, and not keep your black-and-white outlook on the world. I hope that you remember Nancy, Daniel, and Chris in your prayers.

On another note, I hope that you don’t let the result of such a horribly misunderstood thing like mental illness deprive you of such an amazing wrestler. Send emails and letters to WWE, and don’t let them vaporize Chris Benoit as if this were Soviet Russia. Rather than run ignorantly behind your veil of naivety, forever cursing and wishing to forget the man, let something good come from this. Let us remember how concussions, steroids, and the way in which wrestling is run led to a man whom everyone loved and respected losing himself to the point to where he took three lives. Let us use this as a point from which we say that it is wrong that so many wrestlers have died at such a young age. Let us choose now to say that we will not take such a deplorable system anymore.

When Mike Awesome hung himself, we debated over suicide, but we made no call for change. When Davey Boy Smith passed due to a heart attack at 39 years old, we made no assertive attempt to get rid of steroids. When Eddie died, we cried, but we moved on. We moved on too quickly. We did not call for mental evaluations of wrestlers, despite his known panic attacks, and when we read of how pathetic the WWE “Wellness Plan” had become, we simply laughed and made fun. Wrestler after wrestler died in depression and addiction, as they have for as long as any can remember, and still we have done nothing. Now is when we should.

Don’t try to move on, like Vince McMahon has said. He wants you to forget because change is bad for him. He wants you to forget because he doesn’t want to have unions in wrestling, or off-seasons, because they would hurt his almighty profit. You don’t have to forgive Chris Benoit,
and you don’t have to respect what he became, but you do have to remember what he was and what he did for you. What he sacrificed for you. You have to remember that, and you have to call for change. You have to be the one to stand up and say that we have had enough. You have to be the one to say that this lifestyle, which has gone on for so long, is wrong. That it played a significant role in this tragedy, and had we amended it after all the past deaths, then this could have been avoided.

Too many wrestlers have died, and too many tragedies have happened. This might be the worst, but this is not the first. It’s time that we called for change, so that this never happens again. Don’t forget Chris Benoit, because the moment which you do is the moment in which we fall back into complacency. Then it is just a matter of time before another tragedy, and if you do nothing now, then when that next one occurs, your sorrow will mean nothing, and you will show how you never have really given a damn about your so-called heroes.

Again, thank you Derek and I couldn’t agree more. Below are all the pertinent links for the Benoit story.

Here’s our News Link in which you can find all the updates from the very first.

Mark Allen’s thoughts.

Scott Keith’s thoughts.

Kash Kerouac’s thoughts

Chris Biscuiti’s thoughts.

Mikey Fitzgerald’s thoughts which I agree with.

Joshua Grutman’s thoughts which I vehemently disagree with.

Eric S’s thoughts wonderfully well thought out.

The other columns are prior to finding out that Benoit was, in fact, the murderer and so will not be reposted. Thanks for reading, and, like King said, in the last WWE programming I will watch for a long time, make sure those closest to you know just how much you love them.

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