Benoit held 22 championships between WWF/WWE, WCW, NJPW, and ECW. He was a two-time world champion, having been a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE; he was booked to win a third world championship at a WWE event on the night of his death. Benoit was the twelfth WWE Triple Crown Champion and sixth WCW Triple Crown Champion, and the second of five men in history to achieve both the WWE and WCW Triple Crown Championships. He was also the 2004 Royal Rumble winner, joining Shawn Michaels as the only two men to win a Royal Rumble as the number one entrant. Benoit headlined multiple pay-per-views for WWE, including a victory in the World Heavyweight Championship main event match of WrestleMania XX in 2004.
Benoit murdered his wife and son on June 22, 2007, and hanged himself two days later. Research suggests depression and brain damage from numerous concussions are likely contributing factors leading to the crime.
Benoit was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Michael and Margaret Benoit. He grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, from where he was billed throughout the bulk of his career. He had a sister living near Edmonton.
During his childhood and early adolescence in Edmonton, Benoit idolized Tom "Dynamite Kid" Billington and Bret Hart; at 12 years old, he attended a local wrestling event at which the two performers "stood out above everyone else". Benoit trained to become a professional wrestler in the Hart family "Dungeon", receiving education from family patriarch Stu Hart. In-ring, Benoit emulated both Billington and Bret Hart, cultivating a high-risk style and physical appearance more reminiscent of the former (years later, he would adopt Hart's trademark "Sharpshooter" hold as a finishing move).
Benoit began his career in 1985, in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion. From the beginning, similarities between Benoit and Billington were apparent, as Benoit adopted many of his moves such as the diving headbutt and the snap suplex; the homage was complete with his initial billing as "Dynamite" Chris Benoit. According to Benoit, in his first match, he attempted the diving headbutt before learning how to land correctly, and had the wind knocked out of him; he said he would never do the move again at that point. His debut match was a tag team match on 22 November 1985 in Calgary, Alberta, where he teamed with "The Remarkable" Rick Patterson against Butch Moffat and Mike Hammer, which Benoit's team won the match after Benoit pinned Moffat with a sunset flip. The first title Benoit ever won was the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship in 1986 against Gama Singh. During his tenure in Stampede, he won four International Tag Team and three more British Commonwealth titles, and had a lengthy feud with Johnny Smith that lasted for over a year, which both men traded back-and-forth the British Commonwealth title. In 1989, Stampede closed its doors later that year, and with a recommendation from Bad News Allen, Benoit departed for New Japan Pro-Wrestling.