With a bunch of time passed now, the Benoit tragedy is, if not more easily understood, easier to grasp, to contextualize. Wrestling has certainly been thrust into the public eye again, and for every news program looking for a spin from competitors, past and present, it's been interesting to see who would show up, and what they would say. Brian Lawler was an early interview I saw, and he came off as nutty, even though his defense of wrestling was mostly spot-on. The best representative yet has been Chris Jericho, who has been quick to point out what's been obvious to everyone but the media and probably most of the public, that for whatever else it was, the Benoit tragedy was not an indication of wrestling itself, its past or ongoing issues, but of Benoit himself, and, based on how it's been taken, on the public and its perspective, warped as it is, on wrestling, which is a sport that, while sometimes wildly popular, can only ever truly seem to be understood by its fans.
Another recent statement came from Kurt Angle, a wrestler many have remarked as being as obsessed or if not moreso as Chris Benoit with the appeal of the ring. Angle made headlines last year when, despite efforts by WWE to retain the star by giving him time rest (and apparently to put him right back on the same full-time schedule as before, despite notable exceptions for this grueling commitment to past stars such as Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar), he jumped ship and right back into the ring for TNA, which is a promotion that demands less on the body with a lighter load of work. Some interpreted it as Angle refusing to give up on the thing that seemed to be, as with seemingly so many stars, killing him. In the Benoit statement, Angle only confirmed what many have been arguing, that the lighter schedule is exactly what he needed all along, and maybe what other stars do, too. Even though this doesn't seem at this point to have any real bearing on the Benoit tragedy (the guy literally made the schedule work for him, excluding the wear to his body), it marks the first time Kurt has acknowledged publically what the decision to join TNA has meant for him. It's that kind of honesty that will get wrestling somewhere, in the midst of all of this. It's just another barrier being shattered. That, and the exposure the drug culture is getting, perhaps at exactly the right time. WWE has already made a considerable commitment to cleaning up its act in the wake of Eddie Guerrero's untimely death. Now it's bound for the next and perhaps final step in the process.
Professional wrestling deserves respect. As incredible as it may seem to say so, the Benoit tragedy may be the moment people come to realize that, and it'll be thanks to stars like Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle that this triumph is attained.