WWE’s recent Very Best of WCW Nitro DVD is a must-see for any fan of WCW from 1995 through its demise in 2001. It features many of the crucial moments of WCW, especially some of the highlights of the nWo (back when it was good) including the backstage attack in which Rey Mysterio got lawn-darted into the production truck.
But what really struck me about it was as I was watching a tag team match between Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage against Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, suddenly there was someone I hadn’t seen in a WWE production in four years.
The commentary seemed to cut out to avoid his name being used, but there he was right in the ring. Chris Benoit footage was being shown. I nodded approvingly – despite the horrors of his final days I still remember the Chris Benoit I had been such a big fan of for over a decade. It seemed that WWE was finally able to show archive footage of Benoit’s career. (Also of note, his wife Nancy in her ring persona Woman was in Ric Flair’s corner for that match).
But then I saw something that shocked me. The Four Horseman reunion of September 1998 was there, uncut, in its entirety. Arn Anderson saying that Benoit had come to him. No name missing from the audio. Then the introductions were there and out came Benoit, front and center with his music playing and everything. I was amazed and quite pleased.
Benoit will never be in the WWE Hall of Fame. There will never be a retrospective of his life and career because it cannot be separated from the choices he made at the end of it. But wrestling history that he was a part of can be used and can be shown without drawing attention to him. A Wrestlemania box set can have the main event of WrestleMania XX in it. It happened. Maybe cut the celebration at the end, but put the match in. The WrestleMania 2000 match between Benoit, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho? Let the match be shown. Don’t call attention to Benoit – don’t let the focus fall solely on him and it can be brought back into the record books.
This DVD set looks to be the first step on being able to preserve wrestling history without the holes caused by the Benoit tragedy. And I am happy to be able to see that.