Exclusive to Chinlock.com, I am pleased to present “From the Archives”, a collection of interviews I have done during my career at the The Kingston Whig Standard. The first piece we’ve decided to republish is an exclusive interview with the infamous Chris Benoit. Enjoy!
Originally Published: Saturday, April 10, 2004
Author: Jan Murphy – Kingston Whig Standard
Some guys might think about all the hard work they’ve put into their careers. Others might think about their wives, their children or their families. Some might even think about the fame and fortune that has just been bestowed upon them.
What was the first thing that crossed the mind of Chris Benoit when his 18-year career culminated into a World championship? Or should I say whom?
Stu Hart, the patriarch of the legendary Hart clan from Alberta.
“He was the first person I thought of after I won,” the World Wrestling Entertainment World champ told No Holds Barred.
It’s common knowledge in the wrestling world that Benoit’s roots can be traced back to the famous dungeon in the basement of the Hart family home.
That’s where Benoit’s wrestling career began.
But the Edmonton native’s passion for the business traces back to his home town of Edmonton.
“Edmonton is where it all started. I distinctly remember going to my first live event ever. It was at the old pavilion in Edmonton, where it was like that one light over the ring, [in that] smoke-filled arena and seeing the Dynamite Kid. [I remember] thinking, ‘man, that’s what I want to be.’ ”
It’s not the old pavilion and it’s not the Dynamite Kid. It’s Rexall Place and it’s the World champion, Chris Benoit. He’ll return to his home town to defend his title at Backlash against the men he defeated to earn it last month at WrestleMania XX. He’ll face former champ Triple H and the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels.
“Now I’m going back [to Edmonton] World champion,” Benoit said. “It has a lot of different emotions tied to it. I want to go back and just raise that belt above my head and say thank you to all the fans.”
Benoit’s fans aren’t limited to the Great White North. Au contraire. During his match at WrestleMania last month, the New York crowd was distinctly pro-Benoit.
“It was very fulfilling and very emotionally charging as well as physically charging. We feed off the crowd. When you get a crowd like [the one in New York City] you can feel the electricity. It’s the kind of stuff that’ll make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.”
WrestleMania was no doubt a proud night for Benoit fans and wrestling fans in Canada. But Benoit, the man often called the Canadian Wolverine, was a little overwhelmed when the bell rang to signify his victory last month.
“After the bell rang at WrestleMania and I had my hand raised, everything turned into slow motion,” said Benoit. “Even Eddie [Guerrero] coming into the ring. Everything was slow motion. It was very surreal and it was very emotional. By far the greatest moment of my career and the most emotional part of my career.”
Benoit solemnly recalled the last time he felt that overcome by emotions.
“The only other time I’ve cried in my career was after the the match I had with Bret [The Hitman Hart] in Kemper Arena in honour of [Hart’s late brother] Owen,” said Benoit. “And that was after the match backstage. I hugged Bret and I cried. I’m just not the kind of person who shows emotion that much and for me to cry like that in front of the world … I was very overwhelmed.”
Benoit, who’s as traditional a wrestler as yours truly has ever talked to, says he didn’t know he was going to be World champion until the bell sounded to end the match.
“A lot of people have their perception of what [wrestling] is,” Benoit said. “You wouldn’t believe how much the deck gets shuffled and how often it gets shuffled. Until Triple H tapped and that bell rang … I don’t believe it until it happens. That’s the way I operate my life.”
Benoit didn’t stop there.
“People say,’Chris Benoit, what are you going to be doing in five years?’ Hell I don’t know what I’m going to be doing next week,” he said. “I try to live in the moment and be happy today and be thankful for what I have at this moment today because no one knows. I’ve been doing this for 18 years and I’ve lost a lot of very good friends – Owen Hart was taken away at a moments notice. Gone. Brian Pillman … Kurt Hennig … Rick Rude … to name a few.”
Benoit’s philosophy is simple.
“I don’t take time for granted. I’m preaching right now but this is how I live my life and I do my damndest to do it. You have to try and enjoy the now because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. And yesterday is over. The only thing that we have that is real and is true is right. Live it.”
A great philosophy from a great human being and great World champ.