Troublesome scandals are unfortunately a fairly common occurrence in the world of professional wrestling, at least relatively speaking, but nothing disrupted the industry in quite the same way as the deadly tragedy caused by former WWE and WCW champion Chris Benoit. The WWE removed nearly all traces of Benoit from its record books, and though the case was an early potential indicator of CTE affecting athletes' behaviors, it remained shielded from the spotlight for many years, even in the age of the Internet. Until now, of course.
For the first time ever, the details of Chris Benoit's final days will be discussed in full for the Season 2 premiere of the acclaimed Vice TV docu-series Dark Side of the Ring, which is set to return in late March. It will be a special two-hour episode, considering the abundance of disturbing facts involved, but the producers also managed to bring in some surprising guests to talk about the controversial murder-suicide.
For a quick recap: Back in the summer of 2007, after Chris Benoit had missed several weekend wrestling appearances, police went to his house for a welfare check and discovered the bodies of Benoit, his wife Nancy and their seven-year-old son Daniel. It was officially determined that the wrestler had strangled his wife and son before hanging himself. Follow-up tests performed on Benoit's brain showed the extreme damage it had taken during his years as a wrestler, and he was reportedly dealing with dementia and depression before his death, leading some to believe the brain damage is what caused his violent actions.
Dark Side of the Ring will hone in on those heinous crimes with first-time interviews with some of the Benoit's family and friends, who will share their insights and personal feelings 13 years after it all went down. Some of the family members involved will be Chris Benoit's other son David, who is also into the world of wrestling, as well as Nancy Benoit's sister Sandra Toffoloni.
This quote from Sandra Toffoloni, as depicted in the press release, is a hint of the sad stories ahead.
I think I do, someday, want to forgive him… it’s not today.
Alongside Chris Benoit's murder-suicide case, Dark Side of the Ring has set up another wildly impressive group of subjects to tackle with Season 2. Having already detailed some high-profile scandals and disturbances in Season 1 – such as the Fabulous Moolah's troubling legacy, Macho Man's doomed relationship with Miss Elizabeth, and "Gorgeous" Gino Martinez's death – the show is once again delving into the problems and tragedies that befell even more beloved wrestling legends.
For one, the docu-series will look into the story of Owen Hart's shocking and untimely death fall during a pay-per-view event in 1999. (An event that stunned my 16-year-old brain as I watched at the time.) Other subjects that will be covered include those seen below.
The murder of legend Dino Bravo
The death of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka's girlfriend Nancy Argentino
Herb Abrams' attempts to turn upstart UWF into an empire
The dark story behind Road Warrior tag team partners Hawk and Animal
The rise of ECW badass New Jack
The controversial and injury-filled 'Brawl for All' tournament
David Schultz's assault on a 20/20 reporter in 1984
Check out the first trailer for Dark Side of the Ring Season 2 below.
Vice TV (which used to go by Viceland) also announced that Dark Side of the Ring would now be coupled with a new weekly after-show that digs deeper into the episodes. The new show will be hosted by comedian, conversational podcast host and wrestling enthusiast Chris Gethard, who will welcome a panel of guests – some from wrestling and some from elsewhere in the entertainment industry – to talk about each episode. The after-show will also included unseen clips and behind-the-scenes bits that weren't shows in the flagship episodes.
Kicking off with its extended look at Chris Benoit's murder-suicide, Dark Side of the Ring will return to Vice TV for Season 2 on Tuesday, March 24, at 9:00 p.m. ET.