Chris Benoit is a ghost. His presence hangs over professional wrestling even though he has been gone for nearly 6 years. He will never be forgotten, yet he never seems to be remembered at all. The impact he had on professional wrestling is possibly greater than that of any other individual, but he will never go down as an innovator, instead, because of his actions, he is a horror story.
Despite massive amounts of research being down on the murders and Benoit's possible motives, there is still not a definitive answer as to what perpetrated his actions. Was it because of steroid abuse? Head injuries? Or did Benoit just somehow snap? Nobody really knows what the exact answer is, so all of those hypotheses have been treated by the wrestling community.
The most significant one is dealing with concussions and head injuries. Former WWE wrestler and head injury advocate Chris Nowinski, who studied Benoit's brain first-hand, helped conclude that due to the multiple concussions suffered by Benoit throughout his wrestling career, his brain had suffered severe deterioration. Benoit's brain was similar to that of an 85 year old dementia patient.
The possibility of concussions causing Benoit to do what he did, coupled with similar incidents coming from other athletes with histories of head trauma, has caused a huge wave of new policies on head injuries in all forms of sport. What used be just a minor inconvenience for athletes has turned into a major issue. 15 years ago, if you asked a group of athletes which injury would they rather suffer, a concussion or a broken arm, a majority would probably say that they would rather have a concussion. Now, I think that the answer would be significantly different, and most would take the broken arm.
The impact that the concussion revolution has had on the WWE is astronomical. Because wrestling is built on set storylines, an ill-afforded injury can sink an entire event or ppv. The WWE has sometimes allowed certain wrestlers wrestle when they may not have been 100% recovered from a concussion, an absolutely horrendous mistake.
In recent times however, the WWE, like the NFL, NHL and all other major sporting organizations, has taken a very large interest in concussion safety. The recent pulling of Dolph Ziggler from cards due to concussion issues has shown that the WWE is now much more committed to the long time safety of their performers, even if it ends up costing them a few bucks in the process.
The second major conclusion made in the Chris Benoit case was that steroids, or heightened levels of testosterone in Benoit's body perhaps caused his actions. Although the studies towards steroid use have been less conclusive then the one's being conducted on head injuries when it comes to Benoit, the potential of "roid-rage" still has not been ruled out.
Even if roid-rage was not the exact answer, Benoit did have elevated levels of testosterone in his body because it was likely that he was being treated for a testosterone deficiency in his body brought on by years of steroid abuse. Despite countless numbers of wrestlers dying at shockingly young ages, perhaps due to steroid abuse, the death of Chris Benoit (or perhaps more importantly, Chris Benoit's family) finally forced the WWE to re-establish its current puppet steroid policy in favor of one with some actual teeth.
The lack of steroid enhanced bodies in the WWE has created a different type of roster, one made up much more of quicker, lankier athletes as opposed to the bulk that made up most of the roster since the mid-80s. Chris Benoit's motivation for steroid use was often indicated to being that he would never be able to be a big name in wrestling if he didn't bulk up at an unnatural rate. The "new" WWE still has its favoritism of the bodybuilder types, but a slew of average looking Joe's, such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and others, have shown that smaller performers can achieve big time success in the WWE as long as they have the drive.
Since his double murder suicide, Benoit has seemed to be wiped from the memory of the WWE. Just associating themselves with such a character would have a degrading effect on the WWE's ever conscious PR image, therefore Benoit is non-existent in the WWE. Even though Benoit is never mentioned by the WWE, the impact he has had on the company is staggering, one that could fill several books and DVDs, and his spirit looms heavy over the WWE.