[posted 7/22/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]
As soon as its excellent article on Linda McMahon was published on July 14, I sent a letter to The Weekly Standard adding a few points. The magazine will not tell me whether it intends to publish the letter. The limited partners of Wrestling Babylon Blog LLP have authorized me to post it below.
The Weekly Standard piece itself can be viewed at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/wrestlemania-connecticut.
Jonathan V. Last’s take on Connecticut Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon is, by a considerable margin, the most thorough and accurate I have read. I add only a few dissents and additions.
First, I caution against Last’s formulation that “the steroid problem” of the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertaiment is “not, as steroids usually are in sports such as baseball, about ‘fairness,’ with people worried that roided-up athletes had an advantage over clean ones.” Pro wrestlers who “juice” do have a competitive advantage over those who don’t – precisely because wrestling is not a legitimate contest and there is a premium on cosmetics. This is indispensable to comprehending the regime of steroid and prescription drug abuse, serial untreated concussions, and other systematic occupational health and safety hazards of the industry dominated by the McMahon family.
My second point is closely related: The pandemic of death in wrestling coincides with the generation of WWE’s global expansion and marketing. Some young wrestlers died while under contract to WWE, some died as a result of bad habits adopted or worsened while with WWE, and others died without ever having made it to the biggest company, but simply as a result of assuming, all by themselves, public-health risks that, thanks to the McMahons’ practices, became the industry standard. (And some deaths are not attributable to WWE at all.) So the idea that Linda and Vince McMahon have changed the health and safety culture for the better is the opposite of the truth.
Once you grasp these points, it is natural to move on to others not covered by The Weekly Standard – such as the McMahons’ obstructions of justice while they were under federal criminal investigation in the 1990s, and the mysterious failure of Congressman Henry Waxman to hold public hearings in 2007 after the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in the wake of the Chris Benoit double murder/suicide, investigated WWE behind closed doors.
Irvin Muchnick is author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (ECW Press, 2009).