Tuesday, August 31, 2010

‘Linda McMahon Picks Up Some More Baggage: Body Bags’ ... today at Beyond Chron

[posted 8/30/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Linda McMahon’s Senate Campaign Picks Up Some More Baggage: Body Bags”

by Irvin Muchnick

Beyond Chron


Story Behind Friend Judy of Linda McMahon’s New Campaign Commercial

[posted 8/29/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Even when Linda McMahon uses a character witness in one of her insipid Senate campaign TV commercials, the choice somehow reflects back on the atrocious occupational health and safety standards at her World Wrestling Entertainment.

Earlier her daughter, Stephanie McMahon Levesque, narrated a commercial with the punch line, “I just call her ‘Mom.’” Stephanie, wife of juicer wrestler Paul “Triple H” Levesque and herself a WWE executive, made seriously misleading statements in 2007 to the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. See “Did Linda McMahon’s Daughter Commit Perjury in Her Congressional Testimony?”, August 24, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/did-linda-mcmahons-daughter-commit-perjury-in-her-congressional-testimony/.

Now along comes Linda’s friend Judy Moorberg to assure the voters of Connecticut that the former CEO of WWE is a wonderful person. “She feels for people,” Judy says in the McMahon commercial, which is embedded in a post on the blog of Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green. See “Linda McMahon, WWE, Judy Moorberg and the U.S. Senate,” http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2010/08/linda-mcmahon-wwe-judy-moorber.html.

Green reports that Moorberg appears to be the ex-wife of a WWE employee; he links to a 2008 obituary of Robert DeBord, whom she divorced amicably in 1998. The obit notes that DeBord indeed worked for WWE.

Here’s the rest of the story.

On the November 19, 1983, edition of the then-World Wrestling Federation’s syndicated television show, Robert DeBord began a short and undistinguished run as the host of an interview segment called “Victory Corner.” DeBord was the editor of WWF’s Victory magazine, later renamed WWF Magazine.

“Victory Corner” replaced “Buddy Rogers Corner,” which was hosted by the wrestling legend of that name. The reason Buddy Rogers was dropped was that, in a comeback “angle” in a tag match with his protégé Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka (who, incidentally, earlier that year had killed his girlfriend in their Whitehall, Pennsylvania, motel room), the 62-year-old Rogers broke his hip. He was dropped by the McMahons and sued them – perhaps not in that order.

Irv Muchnick

Death Once Again Becomes the Linda McMahon Campaign

[posted 8/29/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

There are so many awful things about the way we do elections in this country, but there is at least one good one: the length of campaigns makes it very hard to hide.

On Friday yet another wrestler, “Luna” Vachon, died in Florida at the age of 48.

I have strong and specific suspicions about the relationship of World Wrestling Entertainment occupational health and safety standards with the other untimely deaths of Linda McMahon’s performers during the course of her U.S. Senate campaign in Connecticut. (Gertrude Vachon is No. 3, 4, or 5 – choose your methodology.) I have only very weak ones when it comes to Luna. So I decided to wait 48 hours on reporting the death and see if the quick succession of Lance Cade and Vachon, along with the sheer overall statistics, would promote critical mass in campaign coverage.

The answer to that question is yes. See “Another ex-WWE star found dead; autopsy scheduled,” Neil Vigdor, Connecticut Post, http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Another-ex-WWE-star-found-dead-autopsy-scheduled-635150.php.

Though very sorry for Luna Vachon’s family and friends and fans, I do not burn with visceral rage at this one.

I simply observe that for Linda McMahon, it’s a well-earned rough justice.

Moving forward, I don’t think the most important thing to watch is whether McMahon will overcome these black eyes to her image and win the Senate election over Richard Blumenthal. What I really want to know is whether the next Congress, with or without McMahon, will do its job and resume the investigation of the pro wrestling industry that was started in 2007, but not taken to the finish line.

Irv Muchnick

Great Moments in Email, Part 6

[posted 8/28/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Burt” at burth179@hotmail.com writes: “It’s a shame Vince put your uncle out of business but life goes on.”

My uncle, Sam Muchnick, sold out the St. Louis Arena for his last show on January 1, 1982, and retired, wealthy and happy, at age 76.

Later that year Vincent K. McMahon and his wife Linda bought the wrestling company controlling the Northeast territory from his father, Vincent J. McMahon, and Vince Senior’s partners.

You’re going to have to do better than that, “Burt.”

Irv Muchnick

Strong Piece on Connecticut TV on Linda McMahon vs. Chris Nowinski

[posted 8/27/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

On this evening’s WTNH news by chief political correspondent Mark Davis. Video and text at this link:


Friday, August 27, 2010

Linda McMahon’s WWE Talent Contract Death Clause

WRESTLER, on behalf of himself and his heirs, successors, assigns and personal representatives, hereby releases, waives and discharges PROMOTER from all liability to WRESTLER and covenants not to sue PROMOTER for any and all loss or damage on account of injury to any person or property or resulting in serious or permanent injury to WRESTLER or WRESTLER’s death, whether caused by the negligence of the PROMOTER, other wrestlers or otherwise.

- from the contract of former World Wrestling Entertainment performer Chris Klucsarits (“Chris Kanyon”), who committed suicide earlier this year. You can view the whole document at http://muchnick.net/kanyoncontract.pdf.

Here you can view the video of Chris Kanyon taking a frightening steel chair shot to the head from another wrestler, the Undertaker, in the former’s last appearance on WWE television in 2003: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzA3MDU0MTI=.html.

Here you can view the video of Lance Cade, who died earlier this month at 29 from “heart failure,” taking a serious of chair shots from Shawn Michaels, beginning with one to the head, on Raw in October 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7SxW_Jz0D8.

Irv Muchnick

ABC’s Mike Benoit Interview a Missed Opportunity

The best that can be said about the piece on Chris Benoit on ABC’s Nightline Prime last night was that it added to the general inventory of stories involving occupational health and safety at Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment.

The interview with Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, did not, however, advance the scholarship of research on brain trauma in contact sports and sports entertainment; it was basically a rehash of the things Mike first started saying publicly late in 2007. For example, Nightline reporter Martin Bashir failed to add information about the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy findings on another wrestler, Andrew Martin, who had murdered no one except himself (he OD’d on prescription pharmaceuticals). And never mind the most recent wrestler deaths: Eddie Fatu, Chris Klucsarits, Lance McNaught. Television documentary coverage is just not fast enough on its feet for anything so complex.

Still, the day of accounting for the human toll of WWE’s multinational marketing empire draws nearer, and the McMahon family’s bid for electoral power draws it nearer still.

Irv Muchnick

Author Muchnick’s Interview About Wrestler Lance Cade’s Death and Linda McMahon Campaign Now at YouTube

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, was interviewed August 25 on the Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio. The interview, which discusses the recent death of wrestler Lance Cade and its effect on the U.S. Senate candidacy of Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is now available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/a/u/0/2lolKpQ_Dms.

Other videos on Muchnick’s YouTube channel, http://youtube.com/WrestlingBabylon, include:

Irvin Muchnick Confronts Wrestling Legend Bret Hart
(CNN’s Nancy Grace, 6/29/07): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXmw7Fmhwgg

Irvin Muchnick Discusses Linda McMahon and Death in Wrestling on WTNH (news report by Mark Davis, 3/23/10): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/u/0/GHWU1eBJgyk

Irvin Muchnick Discusses Benoit on KRON 4 Evening News 10-4-09 (interview by Gary Radnich): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/a/u/1/hGuVVszpep4

Irvin Muchnick on French TV’s “L’Effet Papillon” (France’s Canal+ network, 5/25/08; script text translation at http://muchnick.net/FrenchScript.pdf): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/u/18/0KDqolTYGY8

Irvin Muchnick on “The O’Reilly Factor” (6/27/07): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/u/25/asTdiVWf4gM

Watch Chris Benoit’s Father Tonight on ABC’s ‘Nightline Prime’

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

A preview at West Virginia Metro News:


Irv Muchnick

Must-Read Blog by Ted Mann of New London Day — Follow-Up to His Story on Lance Cade and Linda McMahon

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“More on Lance Cade, McMahon and the fate of wrestlers”

By Ted Mann


Which “Eddie and Chris” was the late Lance Cade referring to in his recent podcast interview? Eddie “Umaga” Fatu and Chris Klutsarits (“Chris Kanyon”). Or Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit?

Mann: “Shocking, isn’t it, that the names ‘Eddie’ and ‘Chris’ can each refer to more than one wrestler who has prematurely died in the last few years?”

Irv Muchnick

Outrageous Death of Linda McMahon’s WWE Wrestler Lance Cade: A Resource Guide

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]


FAIR GAME — Linda McMahon Answers the Question of Systematic Death for Entertainment Industry Profits With ... Another Question


Concussion Activist Chris Nowinski Speaks Out on Linda McMahon


Late Lance Cade: ‘Addict’ (Linda McMahon’s Dismissal) Or Untreated Brain Trauma Victim (Plenty of Circumstantial Evidence)?


Keith Harris of Cageside Seats With More on Lance Cade


Mike Benoit (Chris Benoit’s Father) on Lance Cade’s Death


EXCLUSIVE: Chair Used to Batter the Late Wrestler Lance Cade Was Autographed by Shawn Michaels and Auctioned by WWE for $315


Linda McMahon’s Husband Lied to CNN in 2007 About WWE’s Elimination of Chair Shots to the Head


Did Linda McMahon’s Daughter Commit Perjury in Her Congressional Testimony?


Remember – Lance Cade Is the 4th Untimely Ex-WWE Wrestler Death During Linda McMahon’s Senate Campaign


Video of the Sick Head Chair Shot on the Late WWE Wrestler Chris Kanyon

Linda McMahon Lied, Dead Wrestler Lance Cade’s Father Tells Connecticut Newspaper

Irv Muchnick

The Hill: Dead Wrestler Lance Cade Story ‘Among Worst Yet for Linda McMahon … Hard for Her to Ignore’

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Father of dead wrestler targets McMahon“

By Shane D’Aprile

The Hill


“The story is among the worst yet for McMahon when it comes to her WWE past and it’s one that will be hard for her to ignore.”

More on Ohio Columnist B.J. Bethel And Chris Benoit

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Well ahead of the journalistic pack, B.J. Bethel of the Dayton Daily News penned a column headlined “Ex-CEO of shady WWE enters world of politics.” The piece was praised here on August 16 (“Ohio Columnist Cuts to the Chase on Linda McMahon, While National Media Fiddle,” http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/ohio-columnist-cuts-to-the-chase-on-linda-mcmahon-while-national-media-fiddle/), but I believe the link there to Bethel’s own words is no longer live.

Bethel told me his piece was prompted by having read another one by Mike Benoit several months earlier in the Hartford Courant. Bethel said Benoit’s comment “about the McMahons’ broken promises in regard to blows to the head was unsurprising given my experience in talking with her former employees. That the company would only stop the practice when McMahon declared for the race is typical of the family.”

Bethel added that he met Chris Benoit in the early 2000s when he was rehabbing from neck surgery in Cincinnati. “I was quite taken with his affable demeanor and his way of helping out other wrestlers. Many of the contracted WWE talent ignored the wrestlers who were there paying to go to Les Thatcher’s wrestling school, and had little hopes of stardom. These guys weren’t big, muscled dudes and were only there for their love of the sport. I remember coming into the building one night and spotted Chris working with this group of guys and it struck a chord with me. It was one of my favorite memories of covering the business.”

Irv Muchnick

Atlantic Monthly: Dead Wrestler Story ‘Devastating’ For Linda McMahon

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Dead Wrestlers Haunting Linda McMahon”

by Joshua Green

The Atlantic


“I’m in New London, Connecticut, where the screaming front-page headline in The Day, one of the state’s larger (and better) papers, reads: ‘DEAD WRESTLER’S FATHER BLASTS MCMAHON, WWE.’ The story is a word, devastating.”

New York Times: Debate Over Wrestlers’ Deaths Enters a Senate Race

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Politics, Wrestling and Accountability”

By Peter Applebome

The New York Times


“You can say the guys made bad choices. You can say it has always been Ms. McMahon’s husband, Vince, who was running the show. You could say we’re concerned about jobs and the economy. But you could also say that if the W.W.E. accounts for the millions of dollars fueling her race and her feel-good entrepreneurial story, it’s not really so irrelevant to want to know more about what kept the circus running and what the costs were to those pumped-up behemoths who kept millions entertained.”

Linda McMahon Lied, Dead Wrestler Lance Cade’s Father Tells Connecticut Newspaper

[posted 8/26/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Dead wrestler’s father blasts McMahon, WWE”

By Ted Mann


“[Lance Cade's death] McNaught’s has revived the primary question that has nagged McMahon as the Republican’s campaign for the U.S. Senate roars ever closer to Democrat Richard Blumenthal in opinion polls: Has the rags-to-riches saga of Stamford-based WWE come at the expense of the health and well-being of the wrestlers?”

Irv Muchnick

Wrestling Journalist James Caldwell Breaks Down the Head Chair Shot on Chris Kanyon

[posted 8/25/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“It’s frightening looking at that scene seven years later,” emailed James Caldwell, the assistant editor of Pro Wrestling Torch, in reference to the video linked at the last post of the Undertaker destroying Chris Kanyon with a chair in 2003.

Kanyon committed suicide this year. Lance Cade, who took the beatdown in a similar televised sequence with Shawn Michaels two years ago, just died of “heart failure” at 29; I suspect the forthcoming toxicology report will determine that a load of prescription painkillers helped Cade’s heart along to failure.

But, of course, as former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO and current $50 million “self-funded” Senate candidate Linda McMahon told CNN in 2007, studies of brain injuries “you know, have not been — they’ve not been proven, if you will.”

For those of you who demand a spoonful of semiotics with your soap opera content, Caldwell also offered this observation: “The unintended symbolism of that chair shot sequence is so strong. Commentary – “Kanyon is the sacrificial lamb,” which translates into Kanyon’s health being sacrificed for the angle with Taker and Paul Heyman. Heyman – “He’s a human being,” pleading with Taker for Kanyon.”

Irv Muchnick

Video of the Sick Head Chair Shot on the Late WWE Wrestler Chris Kanyon

[posted 8/25/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]


Thanks to David Bixenspan for the link.

The chair shots start raining down in the last couple of minutes of the seven-minute clip. The last one by the Undertaker on Chris Kanyon’s head used the unforgiving back of the steel chair, rather than the seat.

“A 9.5 on the Richter scale,” remembered a wrestling expert. The gruesome safety aspect of this incident was much discussed at the time by insiders, even though, in 2003, it came years before head trauma was a hot issue.

And this year Chris Kanyon committed suicide — just another “addict,” apparently, in Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s playbook.

Irv Muchnick

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Remember – Lance Cade Is the 4th Untimely Ex-WWE Wrestler Death During Linda McMahon’s Senate Campaign

My “It’s the Deaths, Stupid” tour resumed today with an interview on the Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio. The podcast will be available shortly at http://www.cpbn.org/program/colin-mcenroe-show. I’m on the first segment, which was taped on Monday; the rest of the hour is a rerun from a few months ago.

Linda McMahon has conceded that it is “fair game” to include in the narrative of her Senate campaign the toll of dead wrestlers in and surrounding her World Wrestling Entertainment. So let’s use this opportunity to underline that Lance McNaught (“Lance Cade”) is prominent death No. 3 just during the last eight months of her campaign; No. 4 if you include Tony Halme (“Ludvig Borga”), who had a short but intense run as a headliner a number of years ago (see the January 10 post here at http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/newest-wwe-casualty-tony-ludwig-borga-halme-47/).

On December 4, 2009, Eddie Fatu, 36, who wrestled as “Umaga,” died of a heart attack in Houston. In 2007 Fatu was among the many wrestlers who turned up on the customer list of the busted Internet steroid purveyor Signature Pharmacy. All of the WWE wrestlers on that list were suspended – except for one, Randy Orton, who happens to be a top-tier main event star and whose excuse from disciplinary action has never been explained. In testimony to Congressional investigators, WWE’s drug-testing contractor, David Black, would say, “Oh, sure, I would agree that that’s not good.”

In June 2009 Fatu was fired by WWE after refusing to go to drug rehab. But six months later he was in talks to return to the company when he died from what the coroner ruled was prescription drug toxicity. The autopsy showed that Fatu, 406 pounds, had an enlarged heart. Two years earlier WWE had announced that its “Wellness Program” now included cardiovascular screening.

On April 2, 2010, Christopher Klucsarits (“Chris Kanyon”) committed suicide in New York with a prescription drug overdose. He had had his own heart set on becoming the first mainstream pro wrestling star with the gimmick of being an openly gay man.

Chris Kanyon’s sendoff from WWE foreshadowed Lance Cade’s – with a little extra knife twist of homophobic taunting. On a 2003 edition of SmackDown, Kanyon came out dressed as Boy George and singing “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” before being attacked by the Undertaker. The beatdown was spiced with chair shots, including one especially stiff and sick one to the head. (If anyone has a YouTube link or the video itself, email me at tips@muchnick.net.)

Many believe, as they do with Cade, that Kanyon could have suffered a brain injury in that televised incident, if not from the simple accumulated damage of other cranial chair shots over the years. Before his burial last spring, there were attempts by medical researchers to contact the Kanyon-Klucsarits family to get his postmortem brain tissue studied for possible signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

The same thing has been happening over the last two weeks with the Cade-McNaught family in Texas. It is one of the many behind-the-scenes stories of the Linda McMahon campaign that are not being told, either well or at all, by the national, Connecticut, or wrestling media.

But to give them all due credit, they’re doing a superb job of pointing out how they noticed that Fox News’ latest interview of McMahon was a softball.

Irv Muchnick

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WWE Edits Auction Page of Lance Cade Death Chair

World Wrestling Entertainment has edited the page at its auction website of the October 2008 auction of the Shawn Michaels-autographed chair with which Michaels repeatedly banged Lance Cade — arguably setting him on course for his death at 29 earlier this month. The page, http://auction.wwe.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/ProductDisplay?prrfnbr=98779421&prmenbr=37460399&aunbr=99126131&cid=wwe_auction_HBKChair#1, no longer has the product description or the photo.

You can still view the unedited page at http://muchnick.net/cadechair.pdf.

Irv Muchnick

Did Linda McMahon’s Daughter Commit Perjury in Her Congressional Testimony?

Originally published here on July 9 under the headline, “Now Don’t You Go Accusing Linda McMahon’s Daughter of Lying to Congress ...” See also “Concussions? I Don’t Remember No Concussions,” July 10, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/concussions-i-dont-remember-no-concussions-2/, and “More Concussions, You Say? I Don’t Remember No Concussions,” July 12, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/more-concussions-you-say-i-don%E2%80%99t-remember-no-concussions/.

On December 14, 2007, Stephanie McMahon Levesque was interviewed by staff investigators of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The session was among several involving top executives and contractors of World Wrestling Entertainment – including Stephanie’s father Vince McMahon and mother Linda McMahon. The investigation had been prompted by the June 2007 double murder/suicide of WWE star Chris Benoit.

True to family form, Linda played the buttoned-down corporate CEO in her interview, while Vince played the royal asshole in his. Stephanie, for her part, gave grossly misleading testimony about the concussions sustained by their company’s performers.

For example:

Q Okay. Have ringside doctors or treating physicians ever diagnosed a wrestler with a concussion and reported this to WWE?

A That I am aware of, no. There was a doctor who issued a warning to us, you know, that this person could develop a concussion but currently didn’t have signs of it, and that person never wound up developing one.

Q Okay. Are you aware of any times where wrestlers have I guess self‐reported ‐‐ where wrestlers have self‐reported to you that they received concussions and this information came from the wrestler rather than a treating doctor?

A Not that I am aware of, but I am not saying that that never happened.

Q Right.

A Just not involved me.

Q Okay. All right. Are you aware of any incident where a wrestler in a match received a concussion?

A No.

Q Does WWE have a policy for time off if talent suffers a concussion?

A Yes. We go with the recommendation of the treating physician.

Q Okay. How about in cases where talent has suffered multiple concussions?

A Well, in the case ‐‐ the only case I can think of, this person was ‐‐ actually, I think he is still under contract to us. And he suffered a number of concussions and has wound up, I think, forming a foundation to look into concussions. But clearly he no longer performed for us. We are not going to put anybody in danger.

Q Okay. You have indicated that you are not aware of a case where a wrestler has received a concussion. Do you believe that WWE wrestlers are at risk for concussions because of the nature of their work?

A I think, under certain circumstances, yes.

Q Can you describe those circumstances?

A Well, inherently any move can be done incorrectly. You really are giving your life to the person that you are in the ring with. It is much more than guys just punching each other. Every move, even a simple body slam could go wrong, and you could land on your head. That, in and of itself, is very, you know, it is a very skilled move to do. You wouldn’t think it just watching it, but it is. So, I mean, I would think if anything went wrong, certainly you would be at risk for concussion.

Q Would a chair shot to the head or a pile driver on an unpadded surface, would those present concussion risks?

A Not ‐‐ I mean, a pile driver, no, because your head never actually hits. And a chair shot, there is a particular way to hit someone with a chair. And again, if you screwed up and hit someone wrong, then sure. Or if you slipped on a pile driver and let somebody go, absolutely.

Q Okay.

A But the moves as they are supposed to be performed, I would say, no.

Q Okay.

A And mistakes do happen, certainly, as in life.

Q So if you had an unskilled wrestler and there was some concern that ‐‐ you have described, I think, Hulk Hogan as not a very good wrestler.

A Right. Which I didn’t really realize I was on the record and wasn’t thinking about that. But yes, he ‐‐

There’s much more in the full 138-page transcript – viewable at http://muchnick.net/stephanietranscript.pdf – and I’ll get to the related topics in the next posts.

As Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, notes, Stephanie’s mush-mouthed testimony is especially interesting in light of the remembrance this week, on the Cageside Seats blog, of Chavo Guerrero’s terrifying 2004 concussion. Stephanie was among those who came to the ring to check on Guerrero.

“It appears,” Mike Benoit says with artful understatement, “that the whole family has selective memory.”


Thirteen months after Stephanie McMahon Levesque’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee interview, Congressman Henry Waxman punted the transcript, along with hundreds of other pages of background material, to the White House, on a Friday afternoon during the Bush-Obama interregnum, and called it a day. Waxman never explained why he sat on the information for more than a year and never held public hearings.

The same month Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell appointed Linda McMahon to the state Board of Education, and her political career was off and running.

And this week Stephanie’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his arm.

Not that we’re accusing him of being a steroid user. Or his wife of lying to Congress.

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon’s Husband Lied to CNN in 2007 About WWE’s Elimination of Chair Shots to the Head

From transcript of CNN Special Investigations Unit, “Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling,” November 7, 2007.

CHRIS KANYON, WRESTLER: We made him wrestle each other a bunch of times, and it was never about what I can do to you to make me look good. It’s what can we do together to make the match look good.

CORRESPONDENT DREW GRIFFIN: And looking good meant taking real hits to the head. Although the McMahons are aware of some of the institute’s findings, they say they have not yet studied the report.

LINDA MCMAHON: These studies, you know, have not been — they’ve not been proven, if you will.

VINCE MCMAHON: Haven’t been even critiqued by the other members of the scientific community.

GRIFFIN: As a result, McMahon is moving with caution.

V. MCMAHON: And the only thing we’ve done really is from a conservative standpoint is just don’t use chairs to the head. But other than that, you know, it’s what it is in the ring. You know, accidents do occur. It’s not ballet, as they say.


From March 2010 blog of Jim Ross, WWE television announcer and executive:

“Nice to see WWE focus on eliminating chair shots to the heat of their athletes. I blogged about this several weeks ago which I am sure means nothing in regard to this decision being made. Some asked if I thought this mandate was ‘politically motivated’ to which I emphatically say hell, no. It simply makes common sense and the overall health of the competitors has to be any companies utmost priority.”

Irv Muchnick

Tom Dudchik of Capitol Report Joins the Lance Cade Death Chair Auction Fray

“SHOCK: Chair used to hit Cade being auctioned by WWE”


Colin McEnroe Picks Up My Story of WWE’s Auction of the Lance Cade Death Chair

“Further proof of the Death Knell of Civilization, WWE-style”


Monday, August 23, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Chair Used to Batter the Late Wrestler Lance Cade Was Autographed by Shawn Michaels and Auctioned by WWE for $315

According to the Internet record at World Wrestling Entertainment’s auction website, the chair with which Shawn Michaels struck the late Lance Cade more than a dozen times in a 2008 episode of Monday Night Raw on the USA cable network was sold at auction two weeks later for $315.

The page for the closed auction item, entitled “Shawn Michaels signed EVENT USED folding chair from 10/6/08,” can be viewed at http://auction.wwe.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/ProductDisplay?prrfnbr=98779421&prmenbr=37460399&aunbr=99126131&cid=wwe_auction_HBKChair.

(If the web page gets taken down, my screen capture of it can be viewed at http://muchnick.net/cadechair.pdf.)

Here is the product description: “In a No Disqualification Match, Shawn Michaels attacked Lance Cade, with a steel chair and taking revenge on his former student for ruining his chances for the World Heavyweight Title. Now own the chair used in this match.”

Bidding for the item opened for $100 on October 12, 2008. There were 38 bids leading to the eventual selling price of $315 on October 22.

As I have been reporting, there is cause to speculate that Cade (real name Lance McNaught) – who died two weeks ago at age 29 of reported heart failure after battling an addiction to prescription painkillers – was sent into a permanent downward spiral by this brutal skit on live television. The video is at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7SxW_Jz0D8. By my count, Cade took one chair shot on the head and an additional 18 on his body.

In the obituary of Cade in the current issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer writes:

It was a weird chain of events. Cade scored a clean pinfall on Michaels in a handicap match, but had a bad match. Michaels got mad at him after one of those shows, saying Cade left the building before thanking him.

On the following Raw, he had a no disqualification match against Michaels and was beaten down with one brutal chair shot after another and being left for dead, in what looked like and it turns out was punishment, at the time some figured it for having the messed up spot the week before. On the September 29, 2008, Raw, he was blamed for being out of position when Michaels threw a superkick, and Michaels missed the kick badly, but since it wasn’t supposed to be a miss, Cade sold it anyway. It was actually over Michaels being unhappy with him for not thanking him, apparently the week Michaels put him over in the tag, since Michaels was always careful of who he would put over and would not be happy if he was asked to do so for a guy he didn’t believe deserved it. But after the punishment match on the October 6, 2008, Raw, the singles loss to Michaels, he worked house shows the following weekend, beating D-Lo Brown. So at least as of a week after the punishment match with his winning, his departure was likely not decided upon. He wasn’t used at Raw on October 13, 2008, nor was he talked about, and was released the next day, shocking most on the roster.

The story that came out was that he had a seizure on a plane flight home. Ring announcer Lilian Garcia, who was on the flight, made sure he was rushed by an ambulance to the hospital where they had several tests done and found nothing wrong with him. The belief was that he had taken too many pain pills and the company made the decision to release him.

At the time, Cade said he didn’t want to talk about his firing, saying he knows what he did, but he felt things could have been handled better on both sides. But in later interviews, he said that he understood why the company made the decision it did and that he only had himself to blame. However, others noted that part of the reason for his release was unrelated to the problems on the airplane. At the time, those in creative noted that Vince McMahon was very angry, and short and blunt when discussing Cade no longer being with the company. The creative team was frustrated since they had penciled in Cade to be a major star in 2009.

Irv Muchnick

Connecticut Public Radio’s Colin McEnroe on WWE’s Not-So-Wellness Program

Colin McEnroe, who today taped a segment with me that will air Wednesday on his Connecticut Public Radio program, blogs to the heart of the matter on the death of World Wrestling Entertainment performer Lance Cade.

See “That’s gotta hurt,” http://blogs.courant.com/colin_mcenroe_to_wit/2010/08/thats-gotta-hurt.html.

Irv Muchnick

My Interview With British Sports Blogger Richard Thomas

"RT Sports Interview With Irvin Muchnick: Author Of ‘Wrestling Babylon’ And ‘Chris And Nancy’"


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wrestling Journalist David Bixenspan Truth-Squads WWE’s Attack on Chris Nowinski

David Bixenspan of Cageside Seats offers a fair evaluation of the seven bullet points of World Wrestling Entertainment’s response to Chris Nowinski’s New England Cable Network interview. See “WWE fires back against Nowinski,” http://www.cagesideseats.com/2010/8/21/1635226/wwe-fires-back-against-chris#storyjump.

My favorite:

WWE: “It is very dubious that he ever had a conversation with Lance Cade much less Lance Cade confiding to a total stranger that he used painkillers and steroids.”


I’ll go with Dave Meltzer’s message board post about this to sum up my own thoughts:

Holy fucking shit was that a mistake. The two were together on the roster not only in WWE, but also in two different developmental territories AND WERE A REGULAR TAG TEAM IN DEVELOPMENTAL.

Not to mention Cade in his own voice did a radio interview where he said things very similar to what Nowinski claimed he told them.

Irv Muchnick

P.S. In today’s Wrestling Observer website update, under the headline “WWE whiffs on attempt to hurt Nowinski cred,” Meltzer is uncharacteristically even stronger there than on his subscribers-only message board, and harder on WWE than Bixenspan. Not only is Linda McMahon’s company flat wrong in claiming Cade was “a total stranger” to Nowinski. Meltzer also says Nowinski was not exaggerating about how many times he went through tables: “any look at reports from live matches of his program with the Dudleys would show he went through a table on every house show.”

Early Weekend Notes


The Connecticut media are starting to poke into the full background of the death of World Wrestling entertainment’s Lance Cade – watch for more in the coming days. Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s WWE is in familiar shoot-the-messenger mode, attacking the credibility of concussion research and reform advocate Chris Nowinski. Ted Mann of the New London Day tweeted, “WWE apparently not of the school that avoids sarcastic defensiveness in responding to public criticism.”



According to The Boston Globe, Kevin Turner, formerly of the New England Patriots, is the 14th ex-National Football League player since 1960 to be diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Pro football players’ rate of ALS is at least eight times that of the general population of adult males. Meanwhile, as The New York Times reported earlier this week, an article in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology has findings that suggest that there is a spine-injury companion to the brain-trauma syndrome Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy whose symptoms align with those of ALS.



I deliberately waited for the news-cycle dust to settle on this one; the events of 2007-08 showed that legit sports steroid scandals have a dangerous relationship with the public’s endurance for the far more serious pro wrestling death scandal. But without a doubt, and to reprise my mantra, Roger Clemens has been indicted for lying about his fake accomplishments in a real sport while the McMahon family gets away with promoting real death in a fake sport. Also without a doubt, Linda’s daughter Stephanie McMahon Levesque lied to Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about her knowledge of concussions in WWE just as clearly as Clemens lied to that body about his familiarity with human growth hormone.



The cynics will continue to say it won’t. I will continue to publish the information making the point that it should. Commenting on the Linda McMahon campaign for Senate, Manchester Journal Inquirer editorial page editor Keith Burris wrote, “McMahon is sticking with her plan. She got the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate with a barrage of TV ads and mailings: Flood the airwaves and the mailboxes. Beat the voters into submission. It worked.” For the next 11 weeks “there is to be no respite.”

Irv Muchnick

Mike Benoit (Chris Benoit’s Father) on Lance Cade’s Death

[posted 8/20/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

The Lance Cade story has been told over and over again with the only change being the name itself. Linda McMahon’s reference to Cade as just another wrestler with an addiction issue is reprehensible.

The use of pain killers and sleeping pills within the wrestling world is a clear indictment of the McMahons for their lack of health and safety standards and their lust for ratings and the bottom line. People begin taking pain pills because they are in pain. Addictions become a reality because the wrestlers believe that they are physically unable to participate on a nightly basis without them.

In my son’s case, constant fatigue and difficulty sleeping was a daily issue for him. When speaking to him on the phone, my “how are you doing?” question would always be answered by the statement, “I am tired.” My thought at the time was, “You work less than an hour a day. It must be all the travel that is causing the problem.” But for a man in his thirties, clearly there was more to the story. Brain damage from concussive blows to the head can cause numerous health issues. Two that stand out are addictions and constant fatigue.

The majority of wrestlers who have passed also dealt with addiction issues. The combination of Lance’s alleged excessive use of pain pills and a sleeping problem makes one wonder if brain trauma was an underlying cause . Coroners need to be given a mandate to test any athlete involved in a contact sport who suffers an untimely death.

The deregulation of the wrestling industry – which Linda McMahon publicly calls one of her greatest business accomplishments – has put every participant at serious risk. It is my belief that deregulation has left a trail of death and monumental health issues. Up to this point, no company or individual has been held accountable for them.

Mike Benoit

Pro Wrestling Torch With Excellent Follow-Up to My Story on Charlie Haas and Linda McMahon

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Charlie Haas tells his story on WWE release, describes WWE’s handling of a serious neck injury”

by James Caldwell


New Haven Independent Editorial: ‘Voters Should Question Linda McMahon About Wrestlers’ Deaths’

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Voters Should Question Linda McMahon About Steroids And The Deaths Of Wrestlers”

by John Stoehr


[N]o Connecticut media has reported on Lance McNaught’s death (his stage name was Lance Cade). Only the national media has so far questioned how McNaught, who may have died from steroid use, is the latest in a growing list of fatalities linked to McMahon.


Death seems to be a recurring theme in the “soap opera” that is WWE, according to McMahon…. [P]eople come back to life in soap operas. In real life, they don’t. Voters deserve to know how she treated employees and Connecticut’s media, working for those most invested in her campaign, should be asking the toughest questions. So far, they haven’t. Fortuntely, there’s time.

Deadspin Covers Lance Cade Death And Linda McMahon’s Campaign

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Masked Man,” the anonymous pro wrestling contributor to the offbeat sports news site Deadspin.com, has taken on the story of Lance Cade’s death and its significance for the Linda McMahon campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Too gentle on the McMahons but there’s some good stuff there:


Irv Muchnick

A Little Side Question For That Devout Christian, Shawn Michaels

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Shawn Michaels destroyed the late Lance Cade with repeated scripted (or perhaps a little more than scripted) chair shots on a World Wrestling Entertainment Raw show. As detailed in the prior posts, this was “punishment” for Cade, who at an earlier wrestling show had left the building without thanking Michaels for the generous “job” he had done for a young wrestler who was lower in the pecking order.

All part of the game, apparently.

Michaels has been public about his devout faith. I wonder where Chrisitianity teaches people that the scene described above squares with the principles of Jesus.

Just curious.

Irv Muchnick

Keith Harris of Cageside Seats With More on Lance Cade

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

The ever-valuable Keith Harris of Cageside Seats put up a comment on the previous post about the late Lance Cade’s scripted destruction with chair shots on a 2008 edition of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Monday Night Raw. Especially important is Keith’s link to the primary-source video of the incident.

Not for the first time, I reproduce Keith’s comment as its own post:

I wrote about this incident over four months ago at Cageside Seats in a post entitled “Speaking of WWE’s shady callous nature, Lance Cade has been fired after successfully completing rehab”:


Within that post is a link to a YouTube video of the match where Shawn quickly destroyed Cade with a chair. It should be noted that only one of the chair shots was to the head, which I suppose was progress compared to the similar punishment angle Chris Kanyon had to endure over five years earlier where he was scripted to take multiple chair shots to the head. The concussion angle to this incident obviously still applies nonetheless. But there’s another angle worth exploring. Namely, scripting someone to take a large number of unnecessary, painful chair shots all over his body as punishment may have contributed to Cade shortly thereafter having a pain pill induced seizure on a plane.

On a side note, I’m bit peeved at the notion pushed by some in the wrestling media that WWE did everything they could to help Cade, which ignores WWE booking him in that punishment angle, WWE firing him instead of sending him straight to rehab after the incident where he had a drug induced seizure on a plane, and firing him again as soon as he successfully completed rehab in his second stint in the company. Clearly Cade needed rehab in October 2008, but by all accounts he wasn’t offered it then and had to wait over a year to get it. Personally that doesn’t strike me as WWE doing everything they could to help him, as quickly as they could.

Late Lance Cade: ‘Addict’ (Linda McMahon’s Dismissal) Or Untreated Brain Trauma Victim (Plenty of Circumstantial Evidence)?

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

The new issue of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter has a full and very revealing biography of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Lance Cade, who died last week at age 29 from the usual euphemistic “heart failure.”

Brazenly and outrageously, Senate candidate Linda McMahon, has kicked dirt on Cade’s grave – to repeat the words of another former WWE performer and current sports brain-injury activist, Chris Nowinski. While calling scrutiny of her wrestlers’ deaths “fair game,” McMahon lumped Cade together with all the other presumably subhuman “addicts” whose untimely demises foul her ill-gotten fortune.

But as Meltzer’s story shows, the circumstantial evidence shows that Cade (real name Lance McNaught), addict or not, was certainly a prima facie candidate for the brain trauma disease now being called Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

The Meltzer piece can be viewed (subscribers only) at http://www.f4wonline.com/content/view/17184/. It tells of how Cade, who had been trained and pushed by WWE great Shawn Michaels, “was beaten down with one brutal chair shot after another and … left for dead, in what looked like and it turns out was punishment,” in a “no disqualification match” with Michaells on the October 6, 2008, edition of Raw.

The “punishment” was for having violated etiquette in not having shown enough gratitude to Michaels, who had more seniority and status, and had gifted Cade with a “clean pinfall” win over him in a prior match.

Not so incidentally, this took place nearly a year after Vince McMahon told CNN, in a fall 2007 documentary, that WWE was banning chair shots to the head. In fact, cranial chair shots continued all the way to January 2010 – by which time Linda’s Senate campaign was well under way.

Irv Muchnick

Concussion Activist Chris Nowinski Speaks Out on Linda McMahon

[posted 8/19/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Chris Nowinski — the Harvard grad and World Wrestling Entertainment performer who had to retire due to multiple concussions and then founded the Sports Legacy Institute, which promotes reforms of head-trauma policies in sports — maintained a dignified silence on the Senate candidacy of former WWE chief executive Linda McMahon.

But when another WWE alum, Lance Cade, died at 29, and McMahon denigrated him as another one of those addicts whom she’d only met one time, Nowinski had had enough. This interview with the New England Cable Network, in which Nowinski says McMahon “kicked dirt on [Lance Cade's] grave,” is a must-view:


Irv Muchnick

Treatment of WWE Performer Charlie Haas Is a Study of Linda McMahon’s Character

[posted 8/18/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

“Who knows what causes people to have addictions and do what they do?”

With that rhetorical question, near-billionaire wrestling mogul and U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has attempted to reduce to idle existential musing the scrutiny of the occupational health and safety standards of her mega-profitable, publicly traded, multinational marketing firm, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

All current signs are that she will succeed. For example, in the wake of the new report questioning if baseball icon Lou Gehrig actually was killed by the symptoms of multiple-concussion syndrome, rather than by the degenerative neurological disease named for him, there is a spate of articles on how athletes even in this sport, with its comparatively infrequent collisions, risk chronic brain injury. (See “The lasting impact of concussions like Morneau’s,” http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-concussions081710.) Not one of these stories seems to give any credit to the fact that the underlying medical research was catalyzed by a study of the brain of dead pro wrestler Chris Benoit, or to look critically at the humanity-free cost-benefit calculus behind WWE’s lax concussion management and overall decadent death mill.

When I read Linda McMahon’s quote last night, I thought about my conversation earlier yesterday with former WWE performer Charlie Haas, who now wrestles for another group called Ring of Honor. Haas gave me permission to share the story of his neck injury and subsequent release by WWE six months ago, but the interpretations herein are my own. Charlie is the kind of guy who doesn’t get quoted in stories about the “racy” WWE because he’s just a regular well-spoken person, lacking the verbal hocus-pocus of a carny.

Haas also, in his thirties, is thinking intelligently about what to do with the rest of his life, and he knows that complaining about his ring injuries doesn’t fit the program. He doesn’t want to cheat his present employer or its fans; and if he ever again seeks employment outside the wrestling industry, he knows that the single most prominent line item on his resume will still always read “sports entertainer, WWE.”

But above all – and in contrast with Linda McMahon’s slur of her own hired help as a population riddled with addicts – Charlie Haas is no Mickey Rourke from The Wrestler.

Like Chris Nowinski (the ex-WWE performer who retired due to concussion syndrome and now leads an organization, the Sports Legacy Institute, spearheading research and reforms), Haas is a college graduate. Nowinski went to Harvard. Haas went to Seton Hall on an amateur wrestling scholarship, and was a two-time champion of the Big East Conference before earning a degree in economics and becoming a stockbroker at Goldman Sachs. He broke into pro wrestling in 1996.

In 2001 Charlie’s brother and tag-team partner, Russ Haas, died suddenly of a heart attack caused by a congenital condition. Russ’s is one of the “five” deaths of contemporaneously contracted wrestlers that WWE acknowledges, and all the evidence is that this one was truly a fluke, not a death attributable to drugs or working conditions.

In January of this year, Charlie Haas himself suffered a serious neck injury in WWE during a match with Drew McIntyre. As a lifelong amateur and pro, Haas knew all about neck injuries, but this one was different. He got an MRI, which showed “mild to moderate” herniation of two disks, the C-6 and the T-1. He was told to undergo physical therapy and, if that didn’t work, to consider major spinal fusion surgery.

Haas shipped the MRI images from his Dallas home to the Pittsburgh clinic of Dr. Joseph Maroon, WWE’s resident neurologist and medical director (who also works for the Pittsburgh Steelers and serves on the National Football League’s now-discredited concussion policy committee).

In his only remark to me that could be termed directly critical of WWE, Haas said, “Maroon told me, ‘You had a stinger [a common and casual neck nerve irritation]. You’re good to go.’ And I’m thinking, ‘How can he make that diagnosis from Pittsburgh?’”

Haas had physical therapy but it didn’t take. On February 26, 2010, WWE cut him. He is a realist: he knows that he was always typecast as a “utility wrestler,’”technically skilled and able to make the top guys look good and to teach the younger guys how to work. As a non-main eventer, he was prone to release.

But I have to add – even if Haas won’t point this out on his own behalf – that WWE over the years, depending on the whim of the moment, has been known to underwrite spinal fusion surgery for stars large and small, from Chris Benoit to Hardcore Holly to Steve Austin to Andrew “Test” Martin. (The latter had the distinction of being the first company performer to be released while he was recuperating from such a procedure. After he died last year of a prescription drug overdose, his brain was studied and found, like Benoit’s, to have the buildups of tau proteins associated with the condition now being called “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.”)

Charlie Haas is no addict. Should he develop a problem later, months or years after doing his part to make Linda McMahon a wealthy woman and a perverse political phenom in this perverse political year, then I don’t think the right question will be “What causes people to have addictions and do what they do?”

I think the right question will be, “How do callous profiteers who treat their valuable employees like throwaway ‘independent contractors’ with no protections get away with it?”

Irv Muchnick

FAIR GAME — Linda McMahon Answers the Question of Systematic Death for Entertainment Industry Profits With ... Another Question

[posted 8/18/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Linda McMahon now calls “fair game” the question of why her wrestlers die young at rates astronomically higher than those of astronauts or football players or rock stars. No matter how disingenuously rhetorical this concession may be, it is welcome.

One of the most welcome aspects is that McMahon has made the remark in the wake of the death of former World Wrestling Entertainment performer Lance Cade, who does not fit her historically cramped definition of the “only” five wrestlers who died while under contract to WWE. Cade – like Eddie “Umaga” Fatu, who died last December – was an ex-and-maybe-future star when his particular fatal variation of “heart failure” kicked in three days after Linda won the Republican Senate primary in Connecticut. So, presumably, the McMahon campaign and her husband Vince will not complain while Senate race watchers proceed to examine the papier-mache realities behind a corporate “Wellness Program” that supposedly includes “cardiovascular screening.”

Linda answers a question with a question: “Who knows what causes people to have addictions and do what they do?” The root question was designed to make people reflect on corrective measures. Her twist on it is designed to dismiss them.

There are indeed multiple components of the wrestling death pandemic, and some of them are indeed unflattering to the individuals who died. McMahon, however, is running for an office of public trust. We don’t need her chattering about her ants. (“I might have met [Lance Cade] once,” she told Brian Lockhart of Hearst newspapers.) We need her taking account of her ant colony.

In that connection, the media’s shorthand term “steroids” cruelly truncates a phenomenon that is lot more than a one-off choice by a glory-seeker to artificially pump up his or her physique. The drugs causing wrestlers’ hearts to burst aren’t just steroids, but a cocktail of steroids, prescription painkillers, and antidepressants. (And that is without even getting to brain damage, an increasingly well identified ingredient of the mix.) These are not incidental offshoots of fame and fortune, but direct byproducts of daily working conditions, for the few who achieve fame and fortune plus the many who are induced to try and fail.

Back in January I ran a seven-part series on this blog called “’The Question’ – Senate Candidate Linda McMahon (Still) Can’t Answer It.” And she still, still can’t. My earlier series (which was consolidated into a single long post at http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/%E2%80%98the-question%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-senate-candidate-linda-mcmahon-still-can%E2%80%99t-answer-it-complete-7-part-series-as-a-single-post/) included these points:

* Eleven performers from WrestleMania 1991 alone died before their 50th birthdays. One was a gangland murder that had nothing at all to do with occupational health and safety; the others jogged that issue in measures small and large. The numbers are overwhelming; they are preposterous. They peaked in single-year volume in 2007, and absent outside regulatory reforms, they will continue to occur at depraved and immoral levels.
* WWE “independent contractor” wrestlers sign a contract with a death clause. I am reasonably sure that Heath Ledger did not waive the liability of Hollywood studios if he had died on the set while shooting a movie scene.
* WWE, which turned Vince and Linda McMahon into near-billionaires during the ten-year period when they abandoned steroid-testing, began offering substance-abuse rehab to former talent in late 2007. In his nose-thumbing testimony before staff investigators of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Vince explained the decision in “two words: public relations.”

Irv Muchnick

Was It ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ Or Brain Trauma? A Fascinating New Study

[posted 8/17/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Alan Schwarz of The New York Times, whose ongoing reports on concussions in sports are priceless, today previews a new medical study suggesting that athletes diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” – including Gehrig himself – often suffered, instead from chronic brain trauma, which can mimic the symptoms of ALC. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/sports/18gehrig.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&hp.

The ramifications are obvious for the studies of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in the late wrestler Chris Benoit and other dead athletes in a range of sports: CTE’s credibility as an explanation grows.

What I can add to the Times story is my own, as yet unspecific, memory of reports out of San Francisco a number of years ago that an inexplicable cluster of retired 49ers football players were coming down with ALS. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more on this from the three main groups studying CTE.

One of them, Dr. Julian Bailes’ research institute at West Virginia University, is featured in a four-part series on a new ABC News program, Nightline Prime, starting Thursday. The promo for the series, called “Secrets of Your Mind,” also promises a new interview with Michael Benoit, Chris’s father and a leading activist for research on brain injuries in sports. See http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Prime/nightline-prime-secrets-mind/story?id=11394776&page=1.

Irv Muchnick

Muchnick YouTube Channel’s Greatest Hits

Irvin Muchnick Confronts Wrestling Legend Bret Hart (CNN’s Nancy Grace, 6/29/07 – 12,263 views): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXmw7Fmhwgg

Irvin Muchnick Discusses Linda McMahon and Death in Wrestling on WTNH (news report by Mark Davis, 3/23/10 – 378 views): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/u/0/GHWU1eBJgyk

Irvin Muchnick Discusses Benoit on KRON 4 Evening News 10-4-09 (interview by Gary Radnich – 1,087 views): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/a/u/1/hGuVVszpep4

Irvin Muchnick on French TV’s “L’Effet Papillon” (France’s Canal+ network, 5/25/08; script text translation at http://muchnick.net/FrenchScript.pdf — 734 views): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/u/18/0KDqolTYGY8

Irvin Muchnick on “The O’Reilly Factor” (6/27/07 – 1,204 views): http://www.youtube.com/wrestlingbabylon#p/u/25/asTdiVWf4gM

Ohio Columnist Cuts to the Chase on Linda McMahon, While National Media Fiddle

[posted 8/16/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Though recognizing how the national political conversation is elevated by blog posts such as “Cliché Watch: Linda McMahon Wrestling Puns,” I recommend that watchers of the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut take a gander at this column by B.J. Bethel of the Dayton Daily News:

“Ex-CEO of shady WWE enters world of politics”


Right on point.

Irv Muchnick

Wrestlers Rescue (cont.)

[posted 8/15/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]

Keith Harris of Cageside Seats has an update on the questions about Dawn Marie’s Wrestlers Rescue at http://www.cagesideseats.com/2010/8/15/1624512/dave-meltzer-has-finally-weighed.

I agree with Harris that the information from Dave Meltzer that Steve Williams’ hospital apparently did receive a $3,000 payment from the group does not, by itself, dispose of the entire Wrestlers Rescue controversy.

The story, suggesting that this is the extent to which Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez and their fan newsletter readers care about it, is more revealing than important. If people are content to give money to a non-registered and opaque organization purporting to be a charity, that is their problem.

Irv Muchnick

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Connecticut Senate Race Pits Richard Blumenthal, Democrat, Versus Linda McMahon, DemocratRepublican

Maureen Callahan’s story in today’s New York Post on the Linda McMahon phenomenon zeroes in on the bipartisan political decay at its core. See “Connecticut is ready to rumble,” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/connecticut_is_ready_to_rumble_XC9xevF2Rr2t4HXkGThSiK/2.

During McMahon’s Republican primary run, some in the party establishment expressed alarm at her history of campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans. But now that McMahon has won the primary, this point is much more important than it was then, for it illuminates how her wealth has neutralized forces that, if they had done their jobs, would have put a natural brake on her rise to power.

McMahon is not “the outsider she proclaims to be,” Callahan points out:

Along with her husband, she has donated to candidates of both parties, but their biggest donation, for $15,000, was to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Such donations, she says, were born “primarily of relationships you have with — for instance, part of my Democratic donations were to [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel, whose brother Ari is the president of William Morris Endeavor Agency in California. He has represented the WWE for years and years and years. So Ari would call and say, ‘My brother’s running for office. Would you mind making a contribution?’ Fine. Or, ‘My brother’s going to be in town, would you sit down with him?’ So it was a personal, business relationship there.”

In an equally astute observation, Chris Nowinski, the ex-wrestler whose Sports Legacy Institute is studying the brain damage sustained by dead wrestlers and other athletes, tells the Post, “The relationships they built with Congress saved them.”

These relationships are known as lobbying and it is a theme the politicos should be hammering. Alas, they appear to be too busy trying to figure out whether Jon Stewart looks amused or pissed while he plays clips of McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment doing world wrestling entertainment.

It is five months since Brian Lockhart of the Hearst newspapers looked into the abortive Waxman Committee investigation of WWE in 2007, and settled for the conclusion that its unsatisfying denouement was a mystery. Like everything about Linda McMahon and her husband Vince – from their wrestling productions, to their public stock offering legerdemain, to their new reach for open political power – this is more a brazenly flouted fact than a mystery.

Speaking of Chris Nowinski, he is a central figure in a critical and so far unreported scenario that could have a huge impact on the McMahon-Richard Blumenthal Senate race. More about that from here shortly.

Irv Muchnick

Dave Meltzer at Yahoo: ‘Wrestler’s Death Could Affect McMahon’s Run’

Dave Meltzer, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter publisher who also writes a column on mixed martial arts for Yahoo Sports, has used his valuable Yahoo real estate to elevate the story of the death of former World Wrestling Entertainment performer Lance Cade. Potentially a huge piece of the Linda McMahon Senate campaign bibliography:


More on Ex-WWE Wrestler Lance Cade, Dead at 29

From wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer: “He was released in October 2008 after an incident on an airplane where he had a seizure, believed to have been due to use of either pain killers or muscle relaxers, and had to be taken off the plane…. A storyline idea involving his return was proposed in September and he was signed again. While he was at home waiting to start on the main roster, a WWE official spoke with him in a phone call in January and was concerned about his lack of coherence in the conversation. At that time, he asked WWE officials to send him to rehab and completed a 30-day rehab program in February. After completing the program, the storyline idea ended up being nixed and he was released in April.”

World Wrestling Entertainment’s statement on Cade’s death: “World Wrestling Entertainment was informed Friday morning by Lance McNaught’s father that he has passed away of apparent heart failure. WWE extends its deepest condolences to the McNaught family. Mr. McNaught was under contract beginning March 2003, performing under the name “Lance Cade,” and was released October 2008. He returned to FCW, WWE’s developmental territory, in September 2009, and was released in April 2010.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unless He Focuses on Linda McMahon’s WWE Death Mill, Blumenthal Can’t Win By Attacking Wrestling

Democratic Party kitsch kings richly deserve the hoist on their own petard delivered by The Daily Caller’s call-up of 2008 clips that show the party’s top two presidential candidates of that year, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, pandering on World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship Monday night cable show, Raw.

Believe me when I say there is more – a lot more – where this comes from. The Linda McMahon for Senate campaign hasn’t even rolled out last December’s footage of Obama giving the presidential imprimatur to WWE’s Tribute to the Troops holiday special on NBC.

There is one issue relative to McMahon’s stewardship of pro wrestling, and only one, that will truly stick. That is the unbelievable toll of death, enabled by lax occupational health and safety standards, in the industry in which she made the hundreds of millions of dollars now underwriting her utterly unqualified bid for high elective office.

For the strategists behind Richard Blumenthal, McMahon’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, there are two problems. The first is the narrow range of vision of politicians, who don’t like to think; they prefer, instead, to guess at how everyone else feels. As I’ve been pointing out for months, McMahon bashers have a fuzzy and inaccurate vision of the WWE association as an electoral negative: that wrestling is icky, rather than popular; that degradation of women is a turnoff, rather than a shrug-inducing satire; that bad behavior is finger-wagging material, rather than guilty pleasure.

The other problem is that the enabling of the McMahon family’s rise from the trailer park to the Forbes 400 has been bipartisan. Or, maybe it would be more fair to say, unipartisan – a product packaged and sold by the Party of Money. The hands of Democrats, as well as Republicans, are rancid from the odor of corpses in wrestling (21 under the age of 50 in 2007 alone; dozens, scores, or by some counts hundreds more over the generation of WWE’s global expansion).

After all, it was a Democratic Congressional committee chair, Henry Waxman, who, after the June 2007 double murder/suicide of WWE star Chris Benoit, failed to follow up on public hearings that would have blown the lid on such matters as the total absence of steroid-testing in the company from 1996 to 2006, on the loophole-laden drug regime ever since, and on the untreated injuries and serial concussions that turn its glory-hungry “independent contractors” into zombies for TV ratings, pay-per-view subscriptions, and kiddie merchandise.

This year it is another Democratic Congressional camera hog, Anthony Weiner of the House Judiciary Committee, who scores points embarrassing the National Football League for its poor concussion management program yet won’t say a peep about how one of the architects of the NFL’s policy gives WWE political cover as its “medical director.”

It’s a Democrat – indeed, President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel – whose brother worked with the McMahons and had helped shake them down for contributions to Emanuel’s campaigns for his House of Representatives seat from Illinois.

Inside Connecticut, Democrats like the then mayor of Stamford (and current candidate for governor), Dan Malloy, endorsed Linda McMahon’s January 2009 appointment to the state Board of Education. (McMahon lied about her academic credentials before she got the job, and soon abandoned that token pit stop of public service to devote full time to her self-funded Senate campaign.)

Perhaps the ultimate two-faced bipartisan money grubber, of course, is Connecticut’s other senator, Joe Lieberman. He was on the advisory board of the Parents Television Council, which paid millions to WWE to settle a defamation suit. But letting bygones be bygones, Linda McMahon donated to Lieberman’s 2006 reelection campaign, and now Lieberman hasn’t ruled out backing McMahon against Blumenthal.

The Blumenthal brain trust, lacking any better ideas, apparently thinks it can win with a shopping list of Linda’s negatives. The thing about shopping lists is that people like supermarkets. Blumenthal will lose the election unless he finds the voice for directing voters to the real salmonella poisoning of the product in the McMahons’ cheap entertainment superstore.

Meanwhile ... Another day, another young death (see previous post).

Irv Muchnick

Former WWE Wrestler Lance Cade, 29, Dead — ‘Heart Failure’

Lance McNaught, 29, who wrestled in Linda McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment as “Lance Cade,” has died of “heart failure.”

Irv Muchnick

‘They Tried Culture Wars with Linda McMahon – Now How About the Issues?’


“They Tried Culture Wars with Linda McMahon – Now How About the Issues?“

by Irvin Muchnick

Beyond Chron

Monday, August 9, 2010

‘Linda McMahon Campaign Coverage: A Guide for the Perplexed’ (Final Pre-Primary Reprint)

Originally published here on April 12.

TED MANN, New London Day: Broward County records reveal that Linda McMahon operated an international slave trade out of her husband Vince’s yacht, the Sexy Bitch, in Boca Raton, Florida.

IRV MUCHNICK, Wrestling Babylon Blog: As I show in my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, the mainstream media focus too much on trivial issues. The real story here is how many slaves died in transit.

@jodilatina on Twitter: See the latest YouTube video of Linda wowing them at the Naugatuck Valley branch of the Ladies Aid & Missionary Society! Followed by Linda and Kate Snow in a pie-throwing contest on NBC’s Dateline!

ROB SIMMONS: When I was a CIA agent I helped coordinate several undercover operations to disrupt the slave trade.

PETER SCHIFF: The point is that we can’t grow the economy until we get government off the backs of slave traders.

RICK GREEN, Hartford Courant: Who wore the hotter-looking suit on Dateline – Linda or Kate Snow?

SUSAN BYSIEWICZ: I am eminently qualified to make legal rulings on the slave trade of the Republican from whom I received campaign contributions and whom I then endorsed for the state Board of Education, where she served even longer than I ran for governor.

BRIAN LOCKHART, Stamford Advocate:
According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, it doesn’t matter.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: As attorney general, I vigorously prosecuted Connecticut’s slave traders. As senator, I will do everything in my power to support them.

SUZAN BIBISI: This interview is over. Ms. McMahon is running behind schedule for her shoot on “The View.”

KEVIN RENNIE, Hartford Courant columnist and former state legislator:
A slave trader with a slick media campaign vs. a guy who voted for card check when he was in the House of Representatives? No contest.

CHRIS HEALY, state Republican Party chair: What did you say, Kevin? Linda’s check to Suzan didn’t clear yet?

RAHM EMANUEL: President Obama supports our troops and I take campaign contributions from wherever I can find them. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fucking retarded.

LINDA McMAHON: I don’t remember any of this. It happened yesterday and we should be talking about the future not the past. WWE is constantly evolving its slave-trade practices. We need a senator who will incentivize small business with an independent-contractor work force and plenty of corporate tax breaks.

[unseen and unheard]

Poised and well-spoken, Linda McMahon makes for a surprisingly strong candidate. According to our exclusive inside industry source, George “The Animal” Steele, the allegations against WWE were dismissed back when he was still teaching PE at a Detroit high school.

DAVE MELTZER, Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Everything that everyone else has just said, I already knew.

JERRY McDEVITT, WWE lawyer: Not only have you implied that Linda McMahon became a near-billionaire – giving her the resources to run a self-funded $50 million campaign – via profits from a sleazy business. You are also casting innuendos that she may have been involved in criminal activity. I am researching whether these statements breach the “reckless disregard for the truth” libel standard of New York Times v. Sullivan....

LOWELL WEICKER, WWE board member:
Stop it right now, all you ankle-biting midgets! I am in favor of health-care reform, except as it might apply to the occupational health and safety standards of this company. I have a solemn fiduciary responsibility to our stockholders, including me.

TOM DUDCHIK, Connecticut Capitol Report:
Moosup police break up dog-fighting ring; mayor says “at least the curs had balls that clank, like Weicker”; click HERE for photos of the foxiest state TV news babes.

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dave Meltzer's Coverage of Politico Article on Linda McMahon and the WWE Ring Boy Scandal

The August 9 issue of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter has the following background on the July 30 Politico.com story on Linda McMahon and the World Wrestling Entertainment ring boy scandal. (The full WON report is available to subscribers only at http://www.f4wonline.com/content/view/14341/.)

* “Lee Cole, Tom’s older brother, who claimed Tom had never told anyone why he was fired, did a number of radio shows at the time, and the stories about Mel Phillips, a former WWF ring announcer who also headed the ring crew, and his alleged foot fetish, were talked about. They also got another ring boy to come forward, but suddenly, he disappeared. Mike Sawyer of the Observer web site was living in Buffalo at the time and good friends with the other individual, in fact Sawyer noted they were supposed to go to WrestleMania VI in 1990 together in Toronto except Sawyer bowed out because he knew the stories and figured out what the sleeping conditions would be. Sawyer noted that his friend disappeared, and he later saw him with a new car, and he had also changed his name.”

* “I can note in conversations I had with [Tom Cole], that he was very negative about Vince McMahon, and not really in a bitter way. He had more mixed feelings about Linda McMahon, but in the end I wouldn’t describe them as positive. He noted to me that of all the people he met through his ordeal, the wrestlers, the media, and the people working in WWF, the only one he ended up with any respect for was [Phil] Mushnick [New York Post columnist], who he even invited to his wedding. Although he was on both sides of the fence, he did always express that he felt Jerry McDevitt was an excellent lawyer. But he also felt McDevitt had tried to push him into saying things that everyone knew were untrue when McMahon sued Mushnick ...”

* “During the entire period he was gone, those in the company talked that they believed [Pat] Patterson was still secretly involved, although it wasn’t until five months later he appeared at a show in an official capacity.”

* “When this all went down, at first Vince McMahon denied everything that had come out. But days later, and keep in mind this was before any names of any of the alleged participants had gone public, the company announced the resignations of Phillips, Garvin and Patterson. The company stated they had all resigned due to their extreme loyalty to the company. McMahon, after the resignations, was not defensive of Phillips and Garvin any longer, but claimed a media witch hunt against homosexuals forced one person who was completely innocent, Patterson, out of his company. When I suggested if he was truly innocent there was no reason he should have resigned, he said that Patterson resigned out of his loyalty to the company and would never work for the company again.”

* “In the Donahue studio audience included Linda McMahon, and Miss Elizabeth, who everyone recognized. With Linda and Elizabeth, which nobody recognized, were Tom and Lee Cole. Apparently there was a moment set up where, figuring it was a lock Cole would be mentioned, that it would be revealed Cole was in the audience and Cole would side with McMahon, call the wrestlers who were against McMahon liars, and it would be like the climax of every episode of Perry Mason. Except Cole’s never once came up. After the show was over, someone in the audience in fact went to the producer, gave the speech. I can’t recall if it was Tom or Lee Cole who talked to the producer, but the show was over, and nobody saw it. The producer was almost white as a ghost, just minutes after the show was over, when he recounted to me the conversation. That’s when we found out McMahon had settled with Cole.”

Irv Muchnick

The Punditocracy Gets Sharper on Linda McMahon

“Linda McMahon is hit with questions about the way she ran the family’s World Wrestling Entertainment, which employs more than 100 wrestlers who bang each other up in rings around the world, without the benefit of a company health plan. (McMahon claims the wrestlers do get seminars on shopping for insurance, and I think I speak for us all in saying that that is not the same thing.)” – Gail Collins, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/opinion/07collins.html?_r=1

“It is not possible to discuss WWE’s success without mentioning that it was achieved, literally, on the steroid-broadened backs of its entertainers. WWE wrestlers did great physical damage to themselves for years while the company declined to provide them health coverage.”Stamford Advocate editorial, http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Rob-Simmons-for-GOP-Senate-nomination-6117.php

Part 2 of Profiles in Caution With the Wrestling Media and Dawn Marie’s ‘Wrestlers Rescue’

On July 18 this blog reported that British wrestling writer Mike Aldren was raising serious and important questions about whether Dawn Marie’s charity Wrestlers Rescue was on the up-and-up. I did so not because the news was central to my own journalistic mission, but because it was related to it, because the obvious outlets were being exceptionally silent on the subject, and because nature abhors a vacuum.

Dawn Marie, or her lawyer, sent me a threatening-sounding legal-sounding letter. I responded with an invitation to publish the facts clarifying the Transparency For Dummies questions that Aldren had asked and I had reinforced. I never heard back.

Before Dawn Marie’s threats were transmitted, I asked Dave Meltzer (Wrestling Observer Newsletter), Bryan Alvarez (Figure Four Weekly), Wade Keller (Pro Wrestling Torch), and Jason Powell (ProWrestling.net) if they had clued in their readers or intended to do so. Alvarez responded that his newsletter would have an item, and it did, about all those nasty stories “on the Internet.”

Later one of the other three sent me a private message complaining that my criticism of the wrestling media (criticism branching out from Dawn Marie to World Wrestling Entertainment, the industry’s 900-pound gorilla) was unfair at least with respect to his own publication. I asked if I could publish the email. The answer is either no or he’s still thinking about it.

Yesterday I followed up with all four to see if there was any further coverage — of the deepening anecdotal evidence that Wrestlers Rescue has big-time accountability problems, of the legal threats to Aldren and me and our responses ... of anything at all discounting the notion that they are engaging in self-censorship.

No responses.

Irv Muchnick

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Phil Mushnick And Linda & Vince McMahon And Me

In the next posts I’ll be summarizing Dave Meltzer’s thorough historical review of the Tom Cole ring-boy affair – subject of a big story last week at Politico.com – in his new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. First, though, I want to post my own notes on the role then of Phil Mushnick, the sports-media columnist of the New York Post and long the fiercest mainstream media critic of Linda and Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment.

People watching the Linda McMahon Senate race in Connecticut should take stock, I believe, because the McMahons’ tactics in countering Mushnick’s practice of his First Amendment rights involved such things as a frivolous libel suit – what a non-journalist activist would call a “SLAPP” suit (for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) — and harassment by private investigators.

I have my own opinion on whether such tactics add up to just another day at the office in turbo-charged capitalism, or cause for pause in considering the qualifications of a candidate for high elective office.

Phil Mushnick is not a relative. However, he has been a friend of mine for more than 25 years. Last year I even bullied him into writing the Foreword to CHRIS & NANCY. Shockingly, that gimmick has yet to catapult my brilliant book anywhere near the New York Times Bestseller List. (You can read Phil’s Foreword – including his point that he and I don’t agree on everything, since “Irv can’t always be right, ya know” – at http://muchnick.net/benoitbookforeword.pdf.)

As I told Politico’s Ben Smith, I disagreed with his failure to name Mushnick as the journalist who was sued by the McMahons during the Tom Cole affair, and not just for reasons of Phil’s vanity or mine.

In September 1993 I was subpoenaed to be deposed by Titan Sports lawyers in the company’s libel suit against Mushnick and the Post. Through my excellent attorney, Karl Olson, on pro bono referral from the California First Amendment Coalition, I cited state journalist shield law in getting the subpoena withdrawn. Later the McMahons dropped the Mushnick suit itself, which I believe was utterly frivolous and designed only to chill.

In his 1999 interview with Wrestling Perspective, ex-ring boy Cole claimed that the company had followed his off-hours movements with trench coats from the Fairfax Group, the big private-eye firm. This was during the period when Cole was being pressured both to turn on his friend Mushnick, who had exposed the ring-boy pedophile scandal, and to carry back messages from Cole’s testimony to a federal grand jury.

One of the reasons Smith and Politico colleague Maggie Haberman did not include this nugget in their report was that there was no confirmation of it independent of Cole himself, whose status as on-again, off-again accuser made his 11-year-old interview allegations less than ironclad-reliable.

But I know that Mushnick was also tailed by Fairfax Group peeps. Indeed, on one occasion Phil confronted one of them at Elaine’s restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

And in case anyone thinks this theme is ancient news, Mike Benoit, the father of Chris Benoit, told me that in the summer of 2007, after the double murder/suicide in Georgia, an ex-FBI agent named Cliff Cormany, now in private practice, showed up at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, claiming to represent the Benoit family but actually doing undercover work for WWE. (In 2008 I confirmed that Cormany’s name was on public records requests to the sheriff. Neither Cormany nor WWE returned messages requesting comment.)

Unlike Phil Mushnick, I have never been sued by the McMahons, though I was rather ham-handedly threatened by their lawyer, Jerry McDevitt, during my Benoit book research. Not having to answer to corporate newspaper bosses, your humble blogger went the mischievous route of publishing McDevitt’s email volcanics as a multi-hundred-part Twitter series. (See “K&L Gates in Bizarre WWE Smackdown,” American Lawyer Media, http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2009/10/kl-gates-in-bizarre-1.html.)

I don’t mean to imply that, whether or not you agree with them, Mushnick lacks for his own opinions or his willingness to express them. In another classic anecdote from the 1990s, Phil was invited to debate Vince McMahon live on the Brian Kilmeade program on the Fox cable news channel, and agreed. An hour later Phil’s participation was canceled, with Kilmeade’s producer explaining that McMahon had refused to be on camera with Mushnick — and since McMahon was the bigger “get,” Kilmeade had no choice.

So what did McMahon proceed to do when he was interviewed by Kilmeade? Vince said, “Phil Mushnick didn’t have the guts to come on this show and debate me!” And what did Brian Kilmeade say in response? Nothing – he let McMahon get away with the lie.

What makes this old but still-instructive episode both funnier and sicker is that both Fox News Channel and Mushnick’s Post are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Irv Muchnick