Who plays Chris Benoit in Dark Side of the Ring? Produced by Viceland and premiering in 2019, the documentary series delves into controversial subjects from the world of professional wrestling. For its second season premiere, Dark Side of the Ring examined the Chris Benoit tragedy. Occurring over a three-day period in 2007, from June 22 until the 24th, Chris Benoit killed his wife Nancy Benoit and suffocated their seven-year-old son, Daniel, before hanging himself. Given the tragic nature of the case, in addition to Benoit being a veteran WWE superstar at the time it occurred, the case attracted widespread media attention as well discussions about the possible causes behind such a senseless act.
Narrated by Chris Jericho, who was a close friend to the Benoits, the two-part documentary doesn’t provide a definitive answer. It does, however, chronicle Benoit’s beginnings from newcomer to universally-respected performer. Featuring interviews with some of Benoit’s wrestling friends, including Dean Malenko, Vickie Guerrero, and Chavo Guerrero, Dark Side of the Ring examines the volatile and often abusive relationship between Chris and Nancy. The documentary likewise looks at how steroid abuse and severe CTE might have contributed to Benoit’s compromised judgement. Far from being merely sensationalistic, Dark Side of the Ring doesn’t forget the human cost behind all of the headlines.
This is most evident in the moments when David, Benoit’s son from his first marriage, appears on-camera. His recollections and thoughts are the most emotional, reflecting wounds that may never heal. Dark Side of the Ring also devotes a lot of time to the friendship between Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, noting that Guerrero’s death in 2005 hit Benoit particularly hard. To illustrate their friendship, and for other purposes, actors were used in reenactments. Tyson Dux, a notable independent wrestler, who has wrestled for WWE as part of the Cruiserweight Classic and at other events, portrayed Benoit. The reenactments, which tend to be filmed in a shadowy manner that obscures faces, are an element carried over from Dark Side of the Ring’s first season. Shadowy stand-ins for Vince McMahon and AEW’s Jim Ross are also seen.
Nearing its conclusion, Dark Side of the Ring does its best to end on a hopeful note. David is connected with Sandra Toffoloni, Nancy’s sister, and the two are seen supporting each other during a particularly difficult interview portion. Commenting on the documentary project, David has said that it’s helped him “let go of 13 years of pain.”
Dark Side of the Ring season 2 is slated to consist of 10 episodes. With two down, the rest of the season will explore memorable scandals like the murder case involving wrestling legend Jimmy Snuka and the death of Owen Hart during a televised WWE event. While the reenactments have been criticized by reviewers for straying from the tone of the documentary series, it should be interesting to see if other recognizable grapplers are involved with the docuseries going forward.
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