Nancy Benoit’s Sister: Her Thoughts On The Benoit Family Tragedy

Nancy Benoit Sister Interview

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Chris and Nancy Benoit
Chris and Nancy Benoit
Sandra Toffoloni, the sister of Nancy Benoit, was recently on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast.
 
Here are some highlights of their conversation
 
Her thoughts on Chris Benoit when she first met him:
 
“He was very quiet, as we all know. And my family, we’re Irish and Italian, so we’re very loud and we voice everything and I’ve cracked jokes almost constantly. I kind of don’t know what else to do if I’m not cracking a joke, so it’s sort of my default mode. And he was very reserved, as you know, from Edmonton [Canada] and sarcasm, one of my go-to in my bag of tricks. Sarcasm doesn’t translate too well to Canadians because they’re so nice! And they don’t really get when you, like, say something sarcastic.” Toffoloni continued, “after about six months of knowing each other, he just constantly laughed at everything that I said. So he was kind and considerate, very quiet, very focused, and just a driven guy, but caring. He loved my sister. He wanted to be around myself [and] my parents a lot. So it was kind of a stark contrast from the relationships she had in the past.”
 
On Chris & Nancy forming a relationship in 1997 While Nancy was still with Kevin Sullivan:
 
“I didn’t know about and coming right out of the Japan trip was Bash At The Beach in Daytona [Florida]. And that was my first actual physical meeting with Chris [Benoit]. Ironically, [it] was backstage at Bash At The Beach and I had been sitting with Kevin’s kids in the family section of that match and I didn’t know what was going so wrong during the match.” Toffoloni continued, “but I could tell something wasn’t right with the match. It was with Chris and Kevin. It was the retirement match. It wasn’t just what was usually choreographed and gone through. Everyone knows that you can seriously get injured doing wrestling and the worst things can happen. And I saw Kevin sort of lose his balance after a hit from Chris in the head. I didn’t know what was going on and he had boxed Kevin’s ear. They were going at it hard. And then, cameras cut off and they went back into the dressing rooms and Ric, came out, Ric Flair, had come out for just a moment and put his hand in the air and waved at myself and Kevin’s daughter and we got up and went back there. And they were fighting in the hallway. But someone was standing between them and Kevin said, ‘come on, we’re leaving’ and motioned to me and I started to walk toward him and Chris stepped toward me and grabbed my arm and he said, ‘your sister wants you to come with me’. And I said, ‘I don’t know’. I didn’t know him at all! I’m like, ‘umm, I’m going with my brother-in-law. What are you, crazy?’ He’s like, ‘no, I’ll call her right now’. And he did. He called my sister right then and there and I got on the phone with her. She was like, ‘I want you to leave with Chris right now. Get out of there.’ And that was my first introduction to Chris. It’s a weird, awkward situation, but he was very calm and kind to me when I was like, ‘what is going on?’, just freaking out about it. Then, once I got home with my sister and got the whole rest of the story, I understood a little bit more.”
 
She says that Chris Changed After WrestleMania 20:
 
“I think a little bit of that after WrestleMania kind of switched. I think it changed a little bit for him, getting recognized that much and [it] made him a little more self-aware of, ‘if someone wants to get to me this much, what about my children?’ and I think that was a little harder.” Toffoloni said, “what really became noticeable was a little bit more of a sense of unsafeness and paranoia for the family. Like, he’d constantly be checking the alarm at night, constantly be checking things, and for himself, like when we would go to the gym, and do things like that, he would take different ways every time. Yeah, different routes to the same gym all the time and around the same time everyday, sometimes twice a day.”
 
On Chris Benoit’s Extreme Concern For Security:
 
“[Nancy] chalked it up to part of the business. As [Jericho] knows, a lot of wrestlers have had near misses and weird things happen with kidnappings and stuff and their family. One wrestler did have his child kidnapped years and years ago here in the [United] States. It was a big deal a long time ago, so she had some concerns about that, but not to the point where I couldn’t take [Daniel] to Chuck E. Cheese’s or something because ‘what if something happens?’” Toffoloni recalled, “she kind of chalked it up to it being about that. After WrestleMania, Chris’s, I guess, the way he was perceived in the public, and him being able to be in public, went from us being able to have a half-way decent dinner with a few fans coming up to us not really being able to go anywhere. He was totally a legit celebrity.”
 
On What she feels were the reasons for The Benoit Family Tragedy:
 
“It was a combination of a lot of things. I think, again, just a huge boulder of weight from loss and grief. I think that it was a ton of medication altering his body chemistry and his brain chemistry, alcohol, everything that was going on at that time, and possibly, yes, a little bit of a brain issue from hitting his head constantly, over, and over, and over. Would it drive someone to murder? I don’t know.” Toffoloni reflected, “I know there were issues in the house that he was having with himself struggling inside with things, are privy to he and I and my family and my sister that I wouldn’t put on blast for everyone to know.”
 
She isn’t sure about Chris having Issues with his brain:
 
“I know that everyone talks about the concussion issue with Christopher, and I am certain that that maybe played a role as well. I don’t really wholeheartedly take the institute’s findings on his brain at 100% value either, but if it was maybe at MIT or Harvard, and not some school in West Virginia, or some house paid school in West Virginia, different story. But still, the autopsy never said, ‘he has Alzheimer’s – he couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag [and] he couldn’t remember people’. That wasn’t Chris! You know the things they’re saying that are linked to concussions, that wasn’t Chris. That wasn’t what I observed ever. That guy could get in and out of an airport in eight minutes flat and I mean any airport.”
 
She feels that Chris Benoit changed a lot over the years:
 
“What really became noticeable was a little bit more of — like a sense of — un-safeness and paranoia for the family. He’d just would like, be constantly checking the alarm at night, constantly be checking things, and for himself. Like when we would go to the gym and do things like that, he would take different ways every time, different routes, The way we would go in the morning is not the way we would go after dinner, and never ever before had that been. He used to be fairly laid back about stuff like that, there was never any issue like that, so when it did start happening I noticed immediately. It was a huge personality change, not crazy-huge where everyone else would notice, but people that was around him a lot would notice. I didn’t really understand what was happening and to be frank, I still kind of look back on it…was it a precursor to everything that happened — I don’t know.”
 
On what she feels pushed Chris Benoit over the edge:
 
“I think that it [drug abuse] was a huge contributing factor to what happened. The autopsy said so, I had seen it prior to that — the alcohol and medication, not just the steroids but everything else that had been going on — it was a huge factor. I know that everyone talks about the concussion issue with Christopher, maybe that played a role as well, the autopsy never said he had Alzheimer’s, that he couldn’t find his way, the things they are saying related to concussions wasn’t Chris and wasn’t anything I observed ever. That guy could get in and out of an airport in eight minutes flat, and I mean any airport. It wasn’t that, it was a combination of a lot of things. A huge boulder of weight from loss and grief, I think it was a ton of medication altering his body chemistry, his brain chemistry, alcohol, everything that was going on at that time. I know there were issues in the house that he was having, again, with himself. Struggling inside with things that are privy to he and I, and my family and my sister, that I wouldn’t put on blast for anyone to know. But that coupled with the facts of what I know from being there immediately after that weekend, and seeing everything, it wasn’t the act of someone with brain damage. It wasn’t, it’s impossible for that to have been the case. I understand the necessity to want to put it on something and say, ‘this is why he did it, this is the reason right here.’ Because the daily pain of not knowing why and not really knowing what happened, is crippling. I can’t put it on any one thing; it was a combination of many things, outside factors, and an inner struggle that he had been going through for quite some time after Eddie and everyone else…he almost had this look in his eye — it wasn’t more of who’s next, it was more of, am I next — in his eyes.”
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I've been watching pro wrestling since 1989 and quickly caught on to UFC when it first started - thinking it would be a different type of pro wrestling similar to Japan's UWFI! I also make industrial metal / alternative music - I play drums, guitars, bass and keyboards and produce.