(Writer’s Note: For those of you that have been reading my columns from the beginning, you already know what this is. If you haven’t been by my side for long, let me paint the picture for you. Almost 11 years ago, I posted this column as part of a writing competition on this site, back in its Lords Of Pain days. I didn’t think much of it. It was posted, and that was that. Within hours, things were blowing up for me. I was receiving messages from all over the world, with people wanting to know the story behind it. I’m completely serious when I say this… I had several news stations hitting me up, wanting to dig a little deeper on the story and asking if I would mind being interviewed. There was even people in the wrestling business reaching out to me and looking to verify the authenticity of what I wrote. The whole thing blew my mind. I had to come out and say that the column was a work of fiction and just something I created. In the years since, a bunch of people have asked me to re-post the column, because it was wiped from the site during one of the resets that it went through. Now is as good a time as any to finally give the people what they want. I don’t think I’d say this is my BEST column, but this is certainly the one I’m “known” for. This isn’t my attempt at any sort of “commentary” on what happened at the end of Chris Benoit’s life. It’s just a column. Folks, I present to you, once again… A Silent Prayer.)
A little over an hour until WrestleMania begins. I’m antsy. There’s not much on television, so I’m flipping channels.
Cable access religious programming.
I have 700-something channels, and there’s not a damn thing on. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
As I continue flipping through the stations, my cell phone text notification went off. “I got big booty bitches… big, big booty bitches… I got big booty bitches… big, big booty bitches… ooo!” Almost immediately after it’s done, it goes off again.
By the time I stood up and walked over to my phone, it goes off two more times. It must be something important. I opened up the first text message that was from the homie, Shea.
“Dude, turn to CNN RIGHT NOW”
The next text message…
“Please fucking tell me ur watching CNN”
The next one…
“WTF. U watching the news?”
Assuming the other messages involved the same thing, I walked back to the room and grabbed the remote, changing the channel to CNN. When I saw the headline at the bottom of the screen, my jaw dropped, and my cell phone fell to the floor.
Breaking News: Murderer of former wrestler Chris Benoit & family arrested
It took several seconds for my mind to wrap around what it was looking at. The murderer of the Benoit family was arrested? Didn’t Benoit murder his own family before taking his own life? I sat down and turned the volume up. A press conference with Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard was about to begin.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank you for making it out here on such short notice. I won’t be taking any questions, but I’ll go over the information that we’ve received, leading to the break in the Chris Benoit case. At approximately 7:24 this morning, Kevin Francis Sullivan was arrested and charged with the murders of Chris and Nancy Benoit, as well as their son, Daniel. We’ve been following some tips and leads, and have had Mr. Sullivan here for questioning over the last few days. He confessed to the murders this morning, and is now being held, without bail, at the Georgia State Prison. Further details will follow, but for now, this is all I can share with you. Thank you for your time.”
There were tears welling up in my eyes, but honestly, I didn’t know why. Perhaps the sheer magnitude of the entire thing was crashing down on me. My phone hadn’t stopped going off the entire time, but I was too numb to pick it up and read anything. After all this time… nearly four years… it turns out that Chris Benoit isn’t the monster of a man that people have made him out to be. All of the questions people had… everything that people thought would never be answered… were being answered right before my eyes.
The CNN anchor said that Reverend Johnny Lee Clary would be joining him, via satellite, after the break. Reverend Clary used to be a pro wrestler, and through the years had been very outspoken about the entire Benoit situation. His comments would be very interesting to hear.
During the commercial break, I did my best to respond to some of my text messages, but once the break was over, my phone was shut off. I didn’t want to be distracted by anything.
“Reverend Clary, thank you for joining us this afternoon.”
“It’s my pleasure.”
“Let’s get right into it. What are your thoughts on today’s developments in the Chris Benoit case?”
“I really hate to say this, but I’m not surprised. From the beginning, when everyone began accusing Chris Benoit of committing these heinous crimes, I knew something wasn’t right. Something didn’t add up. After looking at things from a different angle, I began to dig through some clues on my own, and I had Kevin Sullivan in my sights almost immediately.”
“Well, it starts with the fact that Mr. Sullivan used to be married to Nancy Benoit, for one. When Sullivan and Benoit used to work for World Championship Wrestling, a storyline was created for Nancy, who was the valet of Mr. Sullivan on-screen, to leave him for Mr. Benoit. Mr. Sullivan is from the old school way of thinking in wrestling, and he wanted to take things even further to make wrestling fans think everything was more than just a storyline. Chris and Nancy would travel from city to city together. They’d share a hotel room on the road. They’d eat meals together. They were ordered to hold hands and be affectionate with each other while out in public. Somewhere along the lines, life began to imitate art, and Nancy really did end up leaving Mr. Sullivan. She began to date Mr. Benoit, and things went from there.”
“When did this storyline take place?”
“In the summer of 1997.”
“So why would Kevin Sullivan wait ten years to do what he did?”
“I was getting to that, actually. What a lot of people don’t know about Mr. Sullivan is that he’s a noted Satanist. Some reports even have him as one of the highest-ranking members of the Satanic Church. One of the key beliefs in Satanism is revenge. They believe in finding revenge in the most calculating way they possibly can, not just something they can do right away.”
“You’re saying that Satanism is behind the murders of the Benoit family?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. Look at the numbers. The weekend of the murders was the tenth anniversary of Nancy Sullivan leaving her husband for Chris Benoit. There’s that calculating method of revenge I mentioned. I believe Mr. Sullivan had this planned all along. He knew that he’d be one of the top suspects if anything happened to either Chris or Nancy in the days, weeks, and months following the divorce. He let things cool off a bit before picking his time and following through on the threat he said to Chris in WCW upon hearing that his wife was leaving him.”
“It has been documented that Mr. Sullivan threatened to kill Mr. Benoit one day, but nobody paid much attention to the threat. He was angry. He wasn’t in his right mind when he said it.”
“In the last few years, we’ve heard how the police think that weekend went down. They felt that Nancy was murdered, followed by Daniel being murdered the next day, with Chris Benoit taking his own life the following day. If Mr. Sullivan truly did commit these crimes, how do you think things went down on that particular weekend?”
“I think Mr. Sullivan entered the Benoit home by gunpoint, and that he had a few of his fellow Satanic Church members to help him out. He went right after Nancy, still angry with her for leaving him. With Chris and Daniel being forced to watch, Mr. Sullivan strangled Nancy Benoit to death. He had extra reason to be upset with Nancy. When they were together, Nancy was also a practicing Satanist, but since marrying Chris Benoit, she had become a Born Again Christian and had devoted her life to Christ. That, of course, infuriated him. He waited an entire day, letting Chris and Daniel remain tied up, suffering after witnessing Nancy pass away, before he set his sights on Daniel. As a Satanist, Kevin Sullivan probably hated Daniel Benoit more than anybody on the planet. As the only offspring of Chris and Nancy Benoit, Kevin Sullivan saw Daniel Benoit as everything ‘pure’ in the world. He probably took great joy in murdering Daniel, especially with Chris probably being forced to watch that, as well. As a form of torture, he made Chris Benoit spend another day thinking about what had taken place in the last two days. To end the weekend, Chris Benoit was hung in the basement of the home, with Mr. Sullivan going out of his way to make things look like a suicide.”
“Other than the obvious, what did Mr. Sullivan intend to gain by murdering the Benoit family like this?”
“Not only did he rid the world of the people he hated the most, getting revenge in the process, but look at what he’s done to the Chris Benoit name in the last four years. He turned one of the most respected men in the wrestling business into a pariah. People absolutely hated Chris Benoit after the news of the deaths broke. He murdered his wife and his own son? People were sickened by the entire thing. World Wrestling Entertainment has basically had to pretend that Chris Benoit never existed. They’ve deleted his matches from DVD sets. They refuse to even mention his name on television, on their website, or on anything that has to do with the company. His title history has been completely wiped out. Even some of Chris’ closest friends wanted nothing to do with his memory anymore. In other words, people were starting to see Chris Benoit with some of the same hatred and disgust that Kevin Sullivan had felt for an entire decade. He could have easily just murdered them and left it at that. He felt as though Chris Benoit ruined his life, so, even in death, he wanted to make sure that he ruined Chris Benoit’s life and everything that he spent so many years trying to build and accomplish.”
“What about the bibles that were reportedly found next to the bodies?”
“Things like that have come up in Satanism-led murders in the past. It’s basically a way for a Satanist to taunt organized religion. It’s the equivalent of telling someone that they spent all that time praying to God and trying to follow all of His rules, but when they needed Him most, He did them no good and they were still able to be murdered. Again, Satanists are incredibly cold and calculating. They don’t think like the human beings you and I would consider ‘normal.’ This has all the makings of Kevin Sullivan’s doing, as well as the Satanic Church.”
“So you think this confession by Mr. Sullivan is legit?”
“Oh, absolutely. To be honest with you, I don’t think these are the only deaths Kevin Sullivan has been involved with.”
“What do you mean?”
“Another name that Mr. Sullivan has been linked to through the years is Sherry Schrull, better known to wrestling fans as Sherri Martel. Like Nancy Benoit, Martel had managed Kevin Sullivan in wrestling, and had been linked to him in a romantic sense, as well. There were rumors that Martel had also dabbled in Satanism, but those rumors were just that… rumors. It was never declared official. Anyway, a little over a week before the Benoit family was murdered, Sherri Martel was found dead. Her death was declared an accidental overdose, as multiple drugs were found in her system, but everything was suspicious about it. According to everyone that knew her, she had everything going for her in life, and was as happy as she had been in years. She had been battling problems with alcohol, but never drugs, and all of a sudden, she dies of a drug overdose? It just doesn’t add up. I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever if Kevin Sullivan was behind her death, as well.”
“Reverend Clary, we’re running short on time, but is there anything else that you’d like to say before we wrap this up?”
“Yes, actually. I’d like to take this time to say to the wrestling fans watching that Chris Benoit’s name and legacy can be brought back into the light once again. You weren’t wrong to be angry with him. However, we’ve all made a mistake, and as the book of Proverbs, chapter 28, verses 13 and 14 say… A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance. Blessed is the man that reveres God, but the man who doesn’t care is in serious trouble.“
“Thank you for your time, Reverend.”
With that, they went to another commercial break. Another wave of emotion fell over me, and I began to sob uncontrollably. I just didn’t know how to process everything. A man that the entire world thought was a murderer for four whole years, and who had his entire legacy tarnished because of it, is actually innocent, and never did any of the crimes people accused him of.
I shut the television off, and I fell to my knees in a silent prayer. A prayer for myself. A prayer for the Benoit family. A prayer for Kevin Sullivan. A prayer for things to return to a sense of normalcy.
Weekly Power Rankings
- “Hangman” Adam Page vs Bryan Danielson: My favorite part about this match? That AEW pulled the old switcheroo on us. We built it up in our minds that we were getting another 60-minute match here, or at least a match that ends at something like 58:42, you know? Instead, the match was a shade under the 30-minute mark. That was also my favorite part of the Samoa Joe vs CM Punk trilogy in Ring Of Honor, where they had two 60-minute draws, so everybody was SURE the third match would be something similar, but it ended at a little over 31 minutes. Anyway, there’s not much for me to add about this match that hasn’t already been said. Another absolutely phenomenal performance by Bryan Danielson, but that’s not to take anything away from Adam Page, who has been able to hang (no pun intended) with Danielson for 90 minutes of in-ring action. Great, great stuff.
- Sammy Guevara vs Dustin Rhodes: Seeing what Dustin Rhodes is still able to do in the ring at nearly 53 years of age is incredible. He still doesn’t wrestle too, too often (only his 29th match on television or pay-per-view in his two-and-a-half years with AEW), but he’s putting in some of the better work of his Hall Of Fame career right now. Again, me praising him isn’t me taking anything away from Sammy Guevara, who is great, but even in a loss, Dustin Rhodes was the story here. While I don’t think there’s a chance that he wins the AEW World Title, I think he has earned a potential TNT Title or a Tag Team Title run in 2022. He’s on fire.
- Royal Rumble’s Top Title Matches: When it comes to the Royal Rumble event, the Rumble matches themselves are clearly the big selling point. If you’re buying tickets to attend or are tuning in on THE COCK to watch, it’s probably because of how fun the Rumble matches are and can be. Because of that, WWE has often booked “lesser” World Title matches on the shows, because the card didn’t need something of a major magnitude. You’ll see title challengers that have never had title shots before, and things of that nature. This year seems different, though. Brock Lesnar vs Bobby Lashley for the WWE Title? Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins for the Universal Title? Those are two huge matches. They’re WrestleMania main event worthy all by themselves. It’s looking like an epic show on paper.
- Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Keiji Muto & Kaito Kiyomiya: The third night of New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 16 show was a collaborative effort between the company and Pro Wrestling NOAH, with every match featuring the companies going head-to-head. Okada and Tanahashi are two of the biggest stars in all of puroresu. Muto is one of the biggest legends in the history of Japan. This match was something of an introduction, of sorts, to Kaito Kiyomiya. For the last few years, he has been one of the top wrestlers on the planet, and has been a mainstay in the NOAH main event scene, but he has still been largely under the radar. Of the four men in this match, I think he shined the brightest, and it has people searching out more of his work. After having him on multiple editions of my 30 Under 30 columns in the past, that makes me happy.
- Britt Baker vs Riho: These two have a lot of in-ring chemistry (more on that later), and it’s always fun when they square off. I dig the story going into the match. It’s tried-and-true. Doc Smiley was unsuccessful in two AEW Women’s Title matches, one in October 2019 and one in January 2020, when Riho was the champion. Two months ago, Riho was able to pin Britt in a non-title match. The “Riho has her number” narrative was in full effect. Even if you assumed this would end in a Britt Baker victory, it was still fun to watch them tear it down again. The champ is now creeping up on holding the title for eight months, and has elevated it a ton with entertaining match after entertaining match.
- Josh Alexander vs Jonah: In 2021, Impact averaged a little under 121,000 viewers per episode of their television show. Because of that, a lot of what they do can really go unnoticed by a lot of people. Something that has gone unnoticed is how big of a roll Josh Alexander has been on. He was elevated to the main event scene and would go on to defeat Christian Cage at Bound For Glory to win the Impact World Title in October. Yes, his title reign only lasted a few minutes because Moose cashed in the title shot he earned in the Call Your Shot Gauntlet earlier in the night, but he had still arrived. This was another really good match for him as he tries to return to the World Title picture.
- Jonathan Gresham vs Chris Sabin: If there’s one person I would love to see debut for AEW in 2022, I think Jonathan Gresham is right there at the top of the list. His in-ring ability can work anywhere, but his size (5’4″ and 160 pounds) doesn’t exactly give him high odds for success in WWE, but AEW seems like a place that will allow him to be himself and do what he does best. As the RoH World Champion in a time where Ring Of Honor’s future is cloudy, there are a lot of questions about what he’ll be doing in 2022, as well. If he keeps putting on matches like this, his profile will only continue to grow, and it will cause more and more people to hope we get to see him face the likes of Bryan Danielson, Kenny Omega, Adam Page (again), CM Punk and others on the AEW roster.
- Big E vs Seth Rollins: First and foremost, please stop whining that Big E is being “buried” because he lost this match after losing the WWE Title to Brock Lesnar and then in the Fatal Four-Way to earn a title shot at the Royal Rumble. Not everyone can win every match. On top of that, if Rollins is going to get the shot at Roman Reigns, he needs to pick up some big wins. Is it guaranteed that E will win the WWE Title again? No. Of course not. I’m just tired of people throwing around the word “buried” when they don’t have a fucking clue about what it means. Now, if E joins the 24/7 Title picture and gets pinned by Dana Brooke, then we can have the discussion. For now, he’s still in a prime spot on Raw every week, and he participated in this 18-minute good’n. Like I said, Rollins needs the momentum, so I’m glad to see him pick up a big win. He hasn’t had a televised singles win that wasn’t by disqualification since the end of November.
- Jake Atlas vs Adam Cole: Atlas looked ten times better than he did in NXT, which made this match a really surprising one. I wasn’t expecting a two-minute squash victory for Cole or anything, but I certainly wasn’t expecting Atlas to look like a major star coming out of it. Unfortunately, he would suffer a knee injury during the match, and is now scheduled to miss an unknown amount of time because of it, but he proved that he can be somebody in the company when he returns, whenever that might be.
- Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns & Paul Heyman: Would you rather see Lesnar vs Reigns with Heyman suspended above the ring in a shark cage or Lesnar vs Reigns in a Paul Heyman On A Pole match or Lesnar vs Reigns in a Ladder Match with full custody papers for Heyman in a briefcase above the ring? My answer? Yes. To all of it. All three men are playing their roles to perfection here, and I’m enjoying every second of it.
- Lucha Brothers vs Jurassic Express: Another entry that needs to be prefaced with something. Please stop being dorks and blaming Luchasaurus for the injury that Rey Fenix suffered here. It was a freak accident, and there’s nothing more to it. Luckily, the injury was nowhere near as bad as it looked on television. That means Fenix will be back much sooner than we initially thought. For now, kudos to Jurassic Express, who won their first titles in AEW and now look to carry on the tradition of greatness that the AEW tag division has built up.
- Hook: Good in-ring performances and stripper ass all up in his face. What more can he ask for?
- Ruby Soho & Riho vs Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter: As I said before, Britt Baker and Riho have a ton of in-ring chemistry, and they continued to show that here. Ruby Soho has been racking up the good performances since signing with AEW. Jamie Hayter has been tremendous since aligning with the Women’s Champion. They all had something to prove here, and it showed.
- Jade Cargill: As soon as we saw Jade was in the tournament to crown the first TBS Champion, most of us knew she was going to win it. Sure enough, she did. Her in-ring skills still don’t match up with how great she looks and the presence that she has, but she has time. Her debut match was ten months ago. She’ll be fine.
- Ultimate X: Congratulations to Tasha Steelz, Jordynne Grace, Chelsea Green, Rosemary, Lady Frost and Alisha Edwards for a train wreck of a match. The good train wreck, not the bad train wreck. You know what kind of match you’re going to get with Ultimate X, but the women really delivered here.
- Los Ingobernables de Japón vs Kongoh: Ten men. 26 minutes. More wrestling action than you know what to do with. This was a very nice showcase for some of the biggest stars in New Japan and NOAH.
- Trey Miguel vs Steve Maclin: It wasn’t the result I was expecting, but it was a really good match nonetheless. I continue to be amazed at how much Maclin has transformed since he joined Impact. As Steve Cutler in WWE, he was a Forgotten Son as a member of The Forgotten Sons. Jaxson Ryker and Wesley Blake got most of the attention in the group, but now that he’s getting a fresh start, he is making the most of it.
- Pete Dunne vs Tony D’Angelo: Is Pete Dunne the next member of the NXT roster to leave? He worked a dark match before last week’s episode of Smackdown, then wrestled on Main Event for the first time, and now, he lost this Crowbar On A Pole match to D’Angelo. Could we be seeing him on Raw or Smackdown soon? What if he goes back to the United Kingdom and re-joins the NXT UK roster? Maybe he’ll leave pro wrestling entirely and become a Dippin’ Dots franchisee. It’s WWE in 2022. Anything is possible.
- Alpha Academy: The brand new Raw Tag Team Champions. Sure, before winning the titles, they hadn’t won a tag match since they beat Jimmy Valiant and Manny Fernandez in the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament in 1986, but they’re the champions, and that’s what matters. Now, if only WWE can give Chad Gable a serious push behind this.
- Nikki ASH: When she first had the character change, I held out hope that it would do something for her. She deserved a bigger spotlight, and the character, as critically panned as it was, gave it to her. It gave her the most success she’s ever had, but crowds never really connected with her. Now that she has ended her pairing with Rhea Ripley by turning heel, will she go back to more of the SAnitY version of Nikki Cross or will she just be a heel version of the A.S.H. character? We’ll see, but at least there’s some added intrigue around her now.
- AJ Styles vs Grayson Waller: Seeing more main roster talents in NXT could be a lot of fun. It doesn’t necessarily match up with the “youth movement” that the brand is having, but it’s a great opportunity for fresh matches and for the younger talent to get the “rub” by working with the more established wrestlers. Waller got just that here. He didn’t win this match, but I don’t think anyone expected to see him win. Having verbal battles and then a 15-minute match with a two-time WWE Champion can only open more doors for him.
- Imperium: Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner have been so, so good lately. Now that WALTER has apparently moved to the United States to become a full-time wrestler for NXT, it only adds the missing piece to their puzzle. The trio works so well together, and I look forward to seeing what they do now.
- The Usos vs The New Day: I’ve said this before, but I think it’s impossible for any combination of New Day to have a bad match with The Usos. With that said, I think it’s time to move on from this feud. They’ve faced each other 19 times on television and pay-per-view in the last six years. That might seem like a lot, but that’s just counting straight up tag matches. It isn’t counting any variation of Usos vs New Day in singles matches, six-man tag, eight-man tag, three-team, four-team, etc. The last four years have seen 16 of those matches happen. We get it. They’re two of the greatest tag teams of all-time. That’s fantastic. Let’s move on. I know it won’t happen, especially with them being on the same show, but I’d like to go at least… AT LEAST… the next several months without seeing them face each other again. Give me until SummerSlam, if not the rest of 2022.
- Doudrop: She won the right to challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Title at the Royal Rumble. Did you know Becky and Doudrop have never faced each other one-on-one? In fact, they’ve never faced each other in any sort of match configuration, outside of a few Triple Threat matches (also involving Bianca Belair) during WWE’s tour of England this past November. A fresh matchup! Huzzah!
- Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz vs Daniel Garcia & 2point0: If I’m being honest with you, I think Daniel Garcia is being held back by his grouping with Jeff Parker and Matt Lee. It’s not that they’re terrible, as evidenced by them even being listed in a match here, but I simply don’t take them seriously in any way. Therefore, when they’re around Garcia, it’s difficult to take him seriously, too. He’s way too good for that. I’d love to see him become more of a singles wrestler in 2022. We’ll see.
This Week’s Playlist: “How Do I Make You Love Me?” by The Weeknd… “Take My Breath” by The Weeknd… “Out Of Time” by The Weeknd… “Best Friends” by The Weeknd… “Is There Someone Else?” by The Weeknd… “I Heard You’re Married” by The Weeknd & Lil Wayne… “Amor Pasajero” by Sebastian Yatra… “Steal My Sunshine” by LEN… “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden… “Everlong” by Foo Fighters… “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit… “The Best Is Yet To Come Undone” by Lit… “More Human Than Human” by White Zombie… “So What’Cha Want” by Beastie Boys… “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey… “Breakdown” by Mariah Carey, Krayzie Bone & Wish Bone… “Honey (Bad Boy Remix)” by Mariah Carey, Ma$e & The Lox… “Feel Right” by Mark Ronson & Mystikal… “Falling (Remix)” by Montell Jordan & Flesh-N-Bone… “Money Can’t Buy You Love” by Ralph Tresvant… “Return Of The Mack” by Mark Morrison… “I’ll Give All My Love To You” by Keith Sweat… “Make It Last Forever” by Keith Sweat & Jacci McGhee… “Twisted (Flavahood Sexual Remix)” by Keith Sweat & Kut Klose… “Nobody” by Keith Sweat & Athena Cage