Chris Jericho has defended his recent Instagram post, ahead of his match against Kenny Omaga at New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom this morning, after he received criticism for featuring fan art of Chris Benoit, alongside himself and Eddie Guerrero.
Jericho had been a long time friend of Chris Benoit before the latter killed his wife and son in a murder-suicide in 2007. He was also close to Guerrero, who died in 2005, and all three spent time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, the company that Jericho will make his much heralded return to this morning.
In the build-up to this massive match against Omega, Jericho posted the fan art on his Instagram, saying 'I dedicate tomorrow’s match to the fallen brothers.'
The inclusion of Benoit and the description of 'fallen brothers' received a lot of backlash but Jericho posted a video response, saying 'I get a couple smartass remarks here for an Instagram post that I put up of this great fan art that somebody drew of me with kind of the spirits of Eddie and Benoit behind me and I said I dedicate the match to those guys.'
Yeah, I know, what Chris did. I think about it every single day. I was involved more than any one of you were. So trust me, I understand the horrible, horrible events that took place. I’ll never forgive it, I’ll never understand it - but I have my reasons for doing what I’m doing, so don’t anybody tell me, don’t anybody make smartass remarks about what I say and what I do...
Nobody tells me what to do, I have my reasons, and I think about the loss of Nancy Benoit and Daniel Benoit every single day. So that’s enough of that, I’ll never talk about it again.
To be fair it's a very nuanced issue. When we look at the recent findings in the NFL around CTE and the fact that tests carried out on Benoit's brain found him to have similar damage to that of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient, it somewhat complicates our kneejerk disgust at his awful actions.
Jericho also would have been very aware of the response he was going to get if he posted the drawing, and given how close he was to Benoit's whole family, you'd imagine he would be most cognisant of respecting Nancy and Daniel.