‘Dark Side of the Ring’ exposes truth of professional wrestling

I am a huge wresting fan. I got into wrestling when I was young watching it with my dad and have always enjoyed it. One of the newest shows I have seen lately is called “Dark Side of the Ring” on Vice on TV. The show looks into some of the tragic and sad times that have happened over the years in the wrestling world. Season 2 began late March and Episodes 1 & 2 were about the career and ultimate demise of Chris Benoit.

As fellow wrestling fans know, Chris Benoit was one of the most gifted wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots. He had it all but it all came to a sudden stop when in June 2007 he killed his wife Nancy and his 7-year-old son Daniel, and then himself in a murder suicide on the same night he was supposed to wrestle at a WWE pay- per- view. At first everyone around the world thought It was a tragic accident and the following night on “WWE’s Monday Night Raw” they did a Chris Benoit tribute show where all his fellow wrestlers shared stories and tributes. But toward the end of the show, fellow wrestler William Regal, seemed to know something happened since he lived in the same town as Benoit and his words were different. It was like he knew something was suspicious and it was no accident. The following day the tragic news came that Benoit had killed his wife and son, and then himself. That same day WWE wiped his name from their history and to this day he has not been mentioned again. This show did a great job of including some of Benoit’s closest friends from wrestling and beyond, including Chavo Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero’s wife, Vickie. But the two most important people  interviewed were Beniot’s oldest son David (from a previous marriage), and his wife’s sister Sandra. Those latter two were the closest to not only him, but also his wife and son.

The two biggest takeaways from this episode was what was his motive behind the tragic event and did CTE play a role in his actions. One reason they explored was whether he had a mental breakdown after the death of his closest friend, fellow wrestler Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero had died two years earlier in his hotel room the night before a WWE-pay-per view of an apparent heart disease. The sudden loss of his best friend obviously started a downward spiral on  his mental state as the episode shows he suddenly became extremely paranoid and feared for his and his family’s lives.

The other takeaway was that there was a chance he had CTE which could have came from all the unprotected chair shots he would take during wrestling matches over the years. One of his best-known moves was the diving head butt. When he missed the move, his head would slam into the mat which, like the chair shots, would be straight to the head. The Benoit tragedy did have a positive outcome in which it has made professional wrestling safer. No longer will you see unprotected steel chair shots to the head. Those are now few and far less between and if they are done, they are deflected by the wrestlers putting their hands up to protect from getting hit straight in the head.

In my opinion, this series is a must-watch if you are a big time wrestling fan like myself. Also, if you are a fan of documentaries because it looks into not only the sad and tragic times in the wrestling world, but it also has the behind-the-scenes stories of the people involved in them.

While most people say pro wrestling is “fake,” I would not say that. Professional wrestling is carefully choreographed and wrestlers follow a script, much like a tv show or a movie. I have always called it a soap opera for guys. But the injuries and wear and tear on the men and women’s bodies are 100 percent real – just like any other sport. For those who would like to see this show, it airs at 9 p.m Central time, Tuesdays, on Vice TV.

 

By Tyler Sutton Sports Writer