Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry
Matthew Randazzo, V.. Phoenix Books, $25.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-1-59777-579-3
In June of 2007, the professional wrestling community was rocked by the suicide of wrestler Chris Benoit, after murdering his wife and seven-year-old son. In this wide-ranging expose, crime reporter Randazzo demonstrates that, among professionals driven to incredible levels of steroid, drug and alcohol abuse, Benoit was not unique. Benoit spent years in Canada and Japan enduring training that bordered on the medieval, eagerly employing steroids to achieve the industry's standard physique. As his star rose, so did the injuries and the chemicals; Benoit's signature move, a flying headbutt, was responsible for countless concussions. Culminating in a 2001 spinal injury that left him at risk of permanent paralysis, Benoit, like many other wrestlers, treated himself with copious doses of painkillers before returning to work for more punishment. Combined with a crumbling marriage, Benoit's life became a perfect storm of mental and physical anguish; unfortunately, Randazzo's broad biographical strokes (he saves details for pivotal matches) and wide focus on the industry's evolution make Benoit little more than a minor character in his own story. Wrestling fans will savor the industry gossip, but those interested in the how and why of Benoit's tragic murder-suicide will be disappointed.
Reviewed on: 04/28/2008