Chris Benoit began as a face 1985-1989 in Stampede Wrestling, and this continued in NJPW from 1986-1994 and in WCW from 1992-1993.
This changed when he was in WCW from 1994-1995, where he became known as "The Crippler" after putting out Rocco Rock, and solidified the nickname at "November 2 Remember" when he broke Sabu's neck. Paul Heyman wrote in "Rise and Fall of ECW" that he planned to keep Benoit as a dominant heel for a long time.
Benoit returned to WCW in October 1995, building on his ECW nickname as "Canadian Crippler Chris Benoit" where he became a member of the Four Horsemen.
In 2002 he turned heel again, aligning with Eddie against Kurt Angle.