Chris Benoit’s name has become unspeakable in some circles but Dark Side Of The Ring hopes to give the people that lived through the ordeal a new voice.
Dark Side Of The Ring’s second season will premiere on VICE TV tonight, with the premiere episode looking into the double murder/suicide committed by Chris Benoit. Dark Side Executive Producer Evan Husney spoke with Wrestlezone’s Managing Editor Bill Pritchard ahead of the season premiere about the complicated nature of Benoit’s story and why it was the right time to air it now. Husney said they initially thought about including Benoit in the season one lineup but in hindsight, it was a good decision to wait. He noted that Benoit’s story was so big that they might not have been ready to tell it back then, but with a season of shows under their belt and the help of Chavo Guerrero Jr, it felt like it made more sense to look at it today as a way to help the people left behind.
“Months and months even before we knew we had a season two—we started developing the ‘Chris Benoit story’ as a separate documentary that we’d perhaps make somewhere else. We’d spent four or five months researching the story and through that, we thought that story was worth a reexamination.
“There are so many things in 2020 that we understand more than we did back in 2007—whether that’s domestic violence issues, mental health issues, physical and mental, or CTE—which plays a part in the story, and so that’s the original thought behind wanting to tackle the story. But then along the way once we started to talk to people involved with the story—and that all happened through Chavo Guerrero Jr—once we started talking we realized everyone wanted to tell the story. They’ve had this story on their minds, on their chest for a long time, whether they’ve been told not to talk about it or they didn’t have a platform to talk about it, because it’s such a complicated story.
It’s such a complicated thing to have someone that was your best friend, your brother-in-law, your father, that actually committed these crimes. How do you come to terms with that, how do you process that? We just felt like that coming together to tell the story could help in some way, like a cathartic way and hopefully have a positive conversation around it.”
Husney spoke about the names involved in the project like Chavo, Chris Jericho (who also serves as Dark Side Of The Ring series narrator), and Chris and Nancy’s respective families and the decision to limit how many people were asked to participate in the show. The show was screened for media and will air in two parts, the first looking at Chris as a wrestler and his relationship with Eddie Guerrero, while the second dives into the criminal acts and aftermath.
Husney agrees that wrestling fans had one relationship with Benoit and his actions were incomprehensible, but it was important for each part of the documentary to show things from the perspective of the people that knew him in the moment and talk to Chris’ inner circle.
“Chris Benoit all the way through his 1990s career and up until Eddie [Guerrero] passed away, leading up to the moment, it’s from the perspective of the people in the moment. And then what we wanted to do in part two is cover the crimes and what happened, the aftermath, and looking back into what led us here. You didn’t see too many tell-tale signs but then you look back in hindsight and you do see some signs or other things that you never knew because no one’s left to tell that side of it. That’s the experience we wanted to create with the episode.”
When asked if he thinks this episode will resonate more with a larger group of fans due to not only how recent it was, but how much of an effect it had on the wrestling world, Husney agreed and said Benoit’s story transcended wrestling.
“I do think it’s going to resonate more because it was such a massive event. It is one of those larger, controversial, tragic moments in wrestling that really transcended that world. It went far beyond that and opened up conversations. Chris Jericho in the episode talked about how it almost killed the industry, this was a massive story. It’s become taboo to talk about in certain ways, and it’s very complicated and triggering for a lot of people—mention his name, show a picture of him—it is very complicated. How do we deal with this, because it is part of the history, and how do we process it?
“I think one of the things that was very eye-opening to us throughout the whole process was that everyone we were talking to who was involved in the story is a victim in some ways too because they’re still here and they have to deal with trying to understanding this and trying to piece it together. Those are the types of people that outsiders or those of us as fans forget, and that’s something we didn’t want to do because when you put yourself in their shoes it’s pretty overwhelming to try and come to terms with something like that.”
The second season of Dark Side Of The Ring premieres tonight on VICE; listen to the full interview below:
Recommended viewing: Dark Side Of The Ring Season 1