Sean Radican (Pro Wrestling Torch writer and radio host) emailed today. On November 5, Sean wrote on Twitter, “Everyone should read Chris & Nancy by Irv Muchnick. It is a very compelling read.”
Irv, I have been meaning to ask you and I don’t think it was addressed in the book. Once WWE management knew Benoit was most likely the killer before the tribute show aired, what should they have done in your opinion?
I don’t think the AP reported Benoit as the likely killer until after Raw was already on the air and one thing I’ve been thinking about is that WWE wouldn’t be the ones to break that news to the public.
Sean, you ask a good question, and you are right that CHRIS & NANCY didn’t address it. I was more interested in what happened than in what didn’t happen. Also, you’ll recall that I had some sympathy for those who would defend WWE against reflexive anti-wrestling critics who were always quick to use this or any other excuse to pile on. And I said as much on MSNBC on June 26, 2007. I really only focused on the phony tribute show after Meltzer strongly encouraged me to do so. Dave hadn’t made that big a deal out of it in his own contemporaneous coverage, and when it became apparent that he had been privy to virtual smoking-gun evidence, I found his muting of that story illustrative of a revealing characteristic of all the coverage.
The short answer to your question is, I don’t know what WWE should have done. I know they shouldn’t have published two timelines; had McDevitt tell the media that none of Benoit’s drugs were from Internet pharmacies; run fast and hard with the Fragile X diversion; or told AP that the Wikipedia edit preceded Benoit’s final text messages.
Though I didn’t write this in the book, some have suggested that they should have just canceled their programming that night. That’s what the Cincinnati Reds did when umpire John McSherry died of a heart attack minutes after the first pitch on Opening Day in 1996. That’s what the Chicago Cubs did after the St. Louis Cardinals’ Darryl Kile was found dead in his hotel room in 2002. That’s what the Los Angeles Angels did when Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver earlier this year.
Some of the people who made this suggestion didn’t even do so on humanitarian grounds, but simply because, for any business other than pro wrestling, it would be Discretion 101 not to say or do much of anything until more was known.
Here is Sean’s last word, and it’s a good one:
I’ve been trying to make sense of all of the information from your book and it’s a load to handle. I’m wondering why the issues you brought in the book weren’t pursued by the journalists that knew about them. I thought Meltzer’s coverage of the Benoit incident was strong. I thought the Torch’s coverage of the incident was very strong as well as it happened and in the aftermath. Dave’s reaction to your book seems odd and he does a hell of a job covering wrestling, so I’d like to see a concrete response from him about all of this at some point before making a judgment.
I think another story coming out of all of this extends down to wrestling ignoring all of the evidence of the damage of blunt-force trauma to the brain through chairshots and various moves where wrestlers get dropped right on their head. It’s a real shame there was no awakening in the industry as a result of the Benoit incident.
I’ve stopped rating matches where there’s an abundance of dangerous chairshots, head-dropping, etc.... I see it mostly in TNA and ROH. TNA is the worst when it comes to dangerous in-ring activity. Their wrestlers just about kill themselves in the ring. It’s a huge concern of mine.