Sunday, October 31, 2010

Linda McMahon No-Shows ‘WWE Fan Appreciation Night’ in Hartford

Senate candidate Linda McMahon was supposed to make an appearance Saturday night at the World Wrestling Entertainment “Fan Appreciation Night” show in Hartford. But she didn’t. “We purposely had a fluid schedule to allow her flexibility,” spokesman Ed Patru told Christopher Keating, blogging for the Hartford Courant.

OK ...

Details at “WWE Show: Vince McMahon Encourages Fans To Vote Tuesday; Does Not Mention Linda’s Run For U.S. Senate,”

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Muchnick Book Bonus: Senate Candidate Linda McMahon’s 2007 Televised Tribute to a Murderer

A facsimile of Chapter 6 of my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (ECW Press, 2009) is viewable at

The chapter, entitled “Tribute to a Murderer,” recounts how World Wrestling Entertainment planned and aired a three-hour live tribute to dead wrestler Chris Benoit on the USA cable network on Monday night, June 25, 2007, at a point when top executives of the company – presumably including CEO Linda McMahon, and well ahead of the general public – knew that Benoit had committed double murder/suicide.

Irv Muchnick

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wrestler and Bestselling Author Mick Foley Supports Linda McMahon, Without Supporting Her

It’s a good thing Mick Foley, a pro wrestler and an engaging personality who knows how to write, doesn’t do steroids. If he did, he’d surely have torn numerous mental muscles loose from their tendons while composing his blog post today, “More thoughts on Linda McMahon,”

Foley begins the essay by reiterating his “terribly predictable” support for McMahon for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.

But Foley ends things on a more ambiguous note:

[T]here are some important issues on which Linda McMahon and I disagree. But if I were a Connecticut citizen, and I were faced with that choice, I would hope that I would be able to make it based on those important issues and with an honest desire to do what was best for the state, the country and the world – not on the condescending notion that involvement in a certain form of entertainment makes one unfit or undesirable for public office.

OK, we get it, Mick — people shouldn’t be condescending toward pro wrestling.

And I’m certainly not: I think McMahon should be held accountable for what happens in her industry, as I would expect from the CEO of the leading company in any industry. In her case, the record includes preventable occupational death, which she has done little to prevent; she seems still not to understand it or to accept responsibility for it.

So come again, what are those “important issues” that tip the scales in favor of Linda? Foley doesn’t say.

Irv Muchnick

EXCLUSIVE: Linda & Vince McMahon and Rudy Giuliani — And the McMahons’ Defense Lawyer’s ‘Fixer’ Husband — Go WAY Back Together

“Thank you Mayor Rudy Giuliani for joining me at SS&C Technologies in Windsor this afternoon,” Senate candidate Linda McMahon just tweeted.

Giuliani shares quite a history with Linda McMahon and her husband Vince, the impresarios of World Wrestling Entertainment. It is a story that remains untold during the campaign, except on this blog.

In 1994 Vince was acquitted at a federal trial charging him with conspiracy to distribute steroids. His lead defense counsel was Laura Brevetti (now a partner in WWE’s favorite outside law firm, K&L Gates).

Also in 1994, Brevetti married an odd character named Marty Bergman. Giuliani, then the mayor of New York City, officiated the ceremony.

Brother of the more celebrated investigative journalist Lowell Bergman (who was portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider, the movie about tobacco industry exposes), Marty Bergman was a notorious “fixer.” A year after the McMahon trial, both the New York Post and the Village Voice reported that Bergman had been behind smears of the McMahon prosecutors that were published prior to the trial in The New York Observer. In addition, Bergman met with a key prosecution witness, Vince’s former secretary Emily Feinberg, and, representing himself as a tabloid television show producer, suggested that she could be paid in six figures for her exclusive story.

For full background on the wonderful friendships of Giuliani, Bergman, and the McMahons, see:

* “Tampering Cloud Over Wrestling Big’s Trial,” by Jack Newfield and Phil Mushnick, New York Post, November 22, 1995 — full text viewable at

* “The Fixer: Journalist. Private Eye. Mole. Snitch. It’s All in a Day’s Work for Marty Bergman, the Zelig of New York’s Information Highway,” Village Voice, December 19, 1995 — full text viewable at

Irv Muchnick

Is Vince (a) Helping or (b) Hurting Linda? Correct Answer: (b)

The headline is my response to the interesting post by Brian Lockhart of Hearst, “Is Vince McMahon helping or hurting Linda’s candidacy?”,

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon’s WWE and Connecticut Cops – Both Off Duty and On Duty

The death rattle of Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign in Connecticut is a series of publicity stunts by World Wrestling Entertainment, the company founded by Linda and her husband Vince. One of several surrounding controversies involves the staffing of off-duty cops from the Bridgeport police force on Election Day – Tuesday, November 2. That same night, WWE is shooting one of its television shows in the city.

For details, see blogger Lennie Grimaldi’s “Will McMahon Hire Off Duty City Cops Election Day?”,

The relationship between wrestling promotions and city police forces is a fascinating one in itself. The Bridgeport scenario reminds us that WWE’s close ties to another Connecticut police department, that of its home city of Stamford, may have played a role in the unsatisfying resolution of the story of the “Benoit Wikipedia Hacker” – the local college kid who in 2007 posted online, perhaps inadvertently, the news that star wrestler Chris Benoit’s wife was dead more than half a day before police in Georgia found the dead bodies of all three family members in a grisly double murder/suicide.

The full story was told earlier this year in a four-part series on this blog. Here are the links:

“Linda McMahon Chronicles: Strange Tale of the Stamford Police and the ‘Benoit Wikipedia Hacker’ (Part 1),” January 28,

“Linda McMahon Chronicles: Strange Tale of the Stamford Police and the ‘Benoit Wikipedia Hacker’ (Part 2),” January 29,

“Linda McMahon Chronicles: Strange Tale of the Stamford Police and the ‘Benoit Wikipedia Hacker’ (Part 3),”
January 31,

“Linda McMahon Chronicles: Strange Tale of the Stamford Police and the ‘Benoit Wikipedia Hacker’ (Part 4),”
February 23,

Irv Muchnick

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dave Meltzer Still Ain’t Ready for Reform

World Wrestling Entertainment’s Linda McMahon is losing her race for a U.S. Senate seat – in no small measure because of her association with the industry’s pandemic of young deaths, which has been publicized at new levels during the McMahon/Richard Blumenthal campaign.

That might embolden a journalist to renew calls to investigate and clean up wrestling. But not if you’re Dave Meltzer, publisher of the biggest fan publication, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer, like the bulk of his readers, wants other people to take wrestling more seriously ... until they actually do.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Meltzer writes in the November 3 issue of the Observer, referring to attempts to refocus Congress on occupational health and safety issues at WWE and other promotions, “because Congress was heavily criticized for wasting its time when it looked at steroids in baseball, and if baseball is considered a waste of time, imagine the criticism Congress would get for looking at pro wrestling. When they did have the hearings a few years ago, they were in private, a year after they were done a report came out that was quite negative. But then nothing was followed up on.”

Meltzer is mostly accurate (though there were no public hearings in 2007, only private interviews of the McMahon family and others by staff investigators for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform). But most of all, he is incomplete – guarded. Real analysis would at least tip its hat to the possibility that, as a consequence of the 2010 election season, there is much greater reason than ever to expect Congress to follow up on the report that Congressman Henry Waxman punted to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in January 2009.

C’mon on, Dave, you can jump into the pool. The water is fine.

Irv Muchnick

Blumenthal Has Solid Lead: CT Capitol Report

“While individual polls have varied on the size of Blumenthal’s lead, it has remained constant and comfortable in our survey since the beginning of October,” says the poll’s Executive Director Matthew Fitch. “It appears that McMahon has reached her maximum level of support, and her only chance of winning would seem to be a total collapse in Democratic turnout, particularly among women where she fares the worst.

“One of McMahon’s worst demographic areas is the 25-point deficit among respondents who have a post-graduate degree, which constitutes a sizable percentage of the population in Connecticut. Further, while we usually think of Evangelical Christian voters as one of the strongest segments of the Republican base, McMahon is only winning 51-43 among them. Her message may be appealing to unaffiliated and non-traditional voters, but it does not appear to be reaching the more religion-oriented voters.”

Politico Story on Harry Reid’s Supporters at UFC

I’m quoted in a new piece at Politico by Molly Ball, “Ultimate Fighting Championship stars rumble for Harry Reid,”

Reid’s partnership with the UFC comes at a time when Democrats are delivering harsh criticisms of World Wrestling Entertainment under former CEO Linda McMahon, now the Republican Senate nominee in Connecticut.

Irv Muchnick, a vocal critic of the WWE’s employment and safety record under McMahon, said he saw a crucial difference with Reid’s involvement with the UFC.

“One, neither Dana White nor his wife is running for the Senate,” he wrote on his blog. Second, he said, UFC doesn’t have the same troubling record of fighter deaths as pro wrestling.

While the McMahons sought to deregulate professional wrestling starting in the 1980s, he said, White and the UFC have gone in the opposite direction, seeking legitimacy by embracing regulation from state athletic commissions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pro Wrestling Torch Covers Mike Benoit Press Conference and Linda McMahon’s Reaction

Linda McMahon Uses Stephanie in Another New Commercial. Did Mom Teach Daughter to Lie to Congress?

Stephanie McMahon Levesque, wife of wrestler “Triple H” and daughter of Linda McMahon, extols her mom in a new campaign commercial aimed at eroding Linda’s nearly 2-to-1 deficit to Connecticut Senate race opponent Richard Blumenthal among female voters.

Against that backdrop, I just thought I’d republish my August 24 post, “Did Linda McMahon’s Daughter Commit Perjury in Her Congressional Testimony?” See below


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

Published August 24, 2010

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,, and “More Concussions, You Say? I Don’t Remember No Concussions,” July 12,

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 – 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

George Will, ‘The Guy With the Bow Tie,’ Now Likes Linda McMahon, But It Wasn’t Always So

George Will, the syndicated columnist and television pundit, fancies himself the conscience of conservatism. But his endorsement of Linda McMahon in his newly published column on the Connecticut Senate race proves only the limits of conscience in politics.

Will didn’t always think so highly of the McMahon family. When Vince and Linda McMahon in 2001 launched their XFL football league, Will called it “God’s way of telling Amerca it has too much leisure time.” Will also wrote that, more than football, “the XFL will offer puerile vulgarity, vicarious danger and derivative manliness for couch potatoes, particularly those in the coveted (by advertisers) category of 12-to-24-year-old males.”

(The full George Will column from 2001 can be viewed at,_the_xfl_is_getting_ready_to_rumble/page/full/.)

Asked about Will’s comments in a televised interview, Vince McMahon – playing the anti-elitist as only he can – replied, “You mean the guy with the bow tie?”

Will’s words above apply equally to Linda McMahon’s Senate bid. Just as the XFL was World Wrestling Entertainment’s brand extension into legit sports, her $50 million “self-funded” campaign is WWE’s brand extension into electoral politics. It is just as flawed and just as doomed to failure.

George Will, the conscience of conservatism, would be writing exactly that today except for one thing: its partisan inconvenience.

Irv Muchnick

Mike Benoit Press Conference Transcript

The transcript of the press conference in Hartford on Monday by Mike Benoit, the father of dead World Wrestling Entertainment performer Chris Benoit, can be viewed at

I tried to clean up as many typos as I could catch in the draft I was given, but I probably missed some.

Irv Muchnick

Author Muchnick Interviewed Thursday on Connecticut Radio

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, will be interviewed by host Larry Rifkin on “Talk of the Town” on WATR Radio, 1320 AM, in Waterbury, Connecticut, on Thursday, October 28, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time (9:30 a.m. Pacific).

The live interview, scheduled for 15 minutes, also will stream at

Audio of Muchnick’s previous interviews with Rifkin can be accessed at these links:


(MARCH 24)

Stand Up for Pro Wrestling Reform

The Linda McMahon campaign for Senate in Connecticut is deader than one of the scores of World Wrestling Entertainment performers who expired under the age of 50 on her watch as a top executive of WWE and its predecessor company.

The Senate race was over as soon as Linda’s tightly controlled $50 million “self-funded” media campaign got caught in a spontaneous moment, and she wound up fumbling simple questions about her position on the minimum wage. In their first debate, her Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, then held his own; in the second and third, he buried her in questions about her role in the occupational health and safety record of her workers, and related matters.

Since Vince McMahon, Linda’s husband, is an impetuous loose cannon, I don’t doubt that he launched the “Stand Up for WWE” campaign – culminating in a cut-rate-ticketed “Fan Appreciation Night” and TV shoot in Connecticut – with the goal of boosting her campaign, which is on life support. The WWE dirty tricks department will have to reach deep into its bag to come up something heinous enough about Blumenthal to turn around the poll numbers, which include a nearly 2-to-1 margin of female voters against the female candidate. But it’s a conundrum: one of the reasons ran out of gas was that people there got sick and tired of her wall-to-wall attack commercials on TV and almost daily junk mail.

Now that the electoral handwriting is on the wall, I think there’s another purpose behind “Stand Up for WWE” besides saving the unsaveable Linda. The Senate campaign has exposed company business practices in a way that even the 2007 Chris Benoit double murder/suicide could not. The state of Connecticut is already investigating WWE for abuse of the independent contractor classification in its employment of benefit-free wrestlers who work nonstop around the year. (They also are restrained from taking their services elsewhere, or even suing WWE for wrongful injury or death.)

And after the election, there will be calls to reopen the Congressional investigation of WWE that ground to a mysterious halt just before Linda McMahon, complete with a doctored resume including a false line about a degree in education, began her short and undistinguished public-service career with a nomination to the state Board of Education in January 2009.

Well, anyway – I just made a call to reopen the investigation. Now it is up to others, including wrestling fans, to join me in holding prospective senator Richard Blumenthal’s feet to the fire on some of the issues that are helping get him elected, after an opposition campaign funded by wrestling industry profits scared him to within an inch of his political life.

The general public, of course, will tend to be quick to turn the page and let the McMahons slink back to corporate profiteering obscurity. The most intelligent wrestling fans, however, are uniquely equipped with the information on how the pandemic of wrestler deaths is a serious public health nuisance, one resonating throughout sports and society. It’s time to broaden out the discussion from the shorthand of “wrestlers and steroids,” and talk about the whole cocktail: the abuse of painkillers and other prescription pharmaceuticals – as well as the brain trauma syndrome in football in particular, which has risen closer to the top of the agenda thanks to the tireless work of ex-wrestler Chris Nowinski, with an assist from Mike Benoit, Chris Benoit’s father.

Some people think pro wrestling is a bad joke and maybe they’re right. But joke or not, I know there’s nothing funny about needless death in scripted junk entertainment; I also know that the implications of the phenomenon say something ugly about American society in 2010. In their heart of hearts, most people reading this agree. Let’s all of us do something after November 2 about reforming the out-of-control pro wrestling industry.

Irv Muchnick

Recommended Reading: Pro Wrestling Torch on Vince McMahon’s Election Publicity Stunt

“Sec. of State Bysiewicz ‘overturns’ ban on WWE apparel at voting locations, Vince McMahon claims victory by ‘making’ Bysiewicz ‘back down’”

James Caldwell, Pro Wrestling Torch,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mike Benoit in Connecticut Media Notes

Local television coverage of yesterday’s news conference in Hartford with Mike Benoit, the father of dead wrestler Chris Benoit, is at these links:

* WTNH, News 8,

* Fox Connecticut,,0,7065059.story

On last night’s edition of the national Fox News cable network’s On the Record, Greta Van Susteren did not ask Linda McMahon about any of the substance of Mike Benoit’s injection into the Connecticut Senate campaign. Instead, Van Susteren gave McMahon an unfiltered shot at the “reprehensible” tactics of her opponent, Richard Blumenthal.

In his print coverage for Hearst newspapers this morning, reporter Brian Lockhart touches briefly on Linda McMahon’s despicable 2007 interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, in which she attempted to blame the Benoit family tragedy on an unsubstantiated rumor that 7-year-old Daniel Benoit had a medical condition known as Fragile X Syndrome. The Connecticut Post version of Lockhart’s story, at, reports:

Linda McMahon in 2007 told “Good Morning America” that she understood Benoit’s son suffered from a mental disorder “and I really do believe ... what we are seeing now is strife and tension in the home dealing with a child who has this mental difficulty and the parents really weren’t equipped to deal with it. Linda McMahon in 2007 told “Good Morning America” that she understood Benoit’s son suffered from a mental disorder “and I really do believe … what we are seeing now is strife and tension in the home dealing with a child who has this mental difficulty and the parents really weren’t equipped to deal with it.” Linda McMahon in 2007 told “Good Morning America” that she understood Benoit’s son suffered from a mental disorder “and I really do believe ... what we are seeing now is strife and tension in the home dealing with a child who has this mental difficulty and the parents really weren’t equipped to deal with it.”

The World Wrestling Entertainment-stoked Fragile X story, complete with video, audio, and transcripts of Linda McMahon on GMA and related material, is all over the archives of this blog – use the search box on the right. No episode better illustrates the cold-hearted corporate cynicism of this candidate for the United States Senate.

Irv Muchnick

Richard Blumenthal on Pro Wrestling Regulation

[posted 10/25/10 to]

In a statement issued to Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant (see

“Dick Blumenthal believes that strong oversight and enforcement of existing laws is critical. Connecticut’s next United States Senator should examine what additional protections will be needed. Dick Blumenthal will do that, if he is elected.”

Irv Muchnick

More Mike Benoit Coverage — Plus This Blog’s 2008 Story About WWE’s FBI Agent Private Investigator

[posted 10/25/10 to]

For more on today’s Hartford media appearance by Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, see “Father of dead wrestler criticizes McMahon, WWE,” by Mark Pazniokas, Connecticut Mirror,

One of the things Benoit mentioned was World Wrestling Entertainment’s hiring of a private investigator in Georgia, an ex-FBI agent named Cliff Cormany, who tried to pass himself off to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office as a representative of the Benoit family.

I told that story in a May 15, 2008, post on this blog, which can be viewed at

Irv Muchnick

Connecticut Newspapers’ Blog Coverage of Chris Benoit’s Father in Connecticut

[posted 10/25/10 to]

“Michael Benoit, father of former WWE star Chris Benoit, calls for greater regulation of wrestling industry; does Dick Blumenthal agree?”, Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant,

“Chris Benoit’s Father Points Finger At Linda McMahon,” Rick Green, Hartford Courant,

“Dead wrestler’s dad hopes Senator Blumenthal will clean-up wrestling,” Brian Lockhart, Hearst newspapers,

“Benoit’s father criticizes McMahon and WWE,” Ted Mann, New London Day,

Chris Benoit’s Father in Connecticut Today to Speak Out on Senate Candidate Linda McMahon’s WWE Death Mill

[posted 10/25/10 to]

The real Linda McMahon campaign begins in earnest today as Michael Benoit – father of Chris Benoit, the World Wrestling Entertainment star who killed his wife, his son, and himself in Georgia in 2007 – appears in Hartford at a press conference arranged by McMahon’s Connecticut Senate opponent, Richard Blumenthal.

The real Linda McMahon campaign is the one to hold her and her husband Vince McMahon’s publicly traded corporation accountable for the unbelievable and decadent pandemic of deaths of workers in the junk-entertainment industry it dominates.

The fake Linda McMahon campaign, the Senate race, has been over for some time. The new Rasmussen poll shows that Blumenthal has extended his double-digit lead.

Irv Muchnick

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bad Week for Vince McMahon Ends Badly – Brock Lesnar Loses UFC Title and His Staged Staredown with the Undertaker Is Meaningless

Brock Lesnar, the former World Wrestling Entertainment performer who became the heavyweight champion and biggest pay-per-view star of the mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship, was dethroned last night in Anaheim, California, in a first round technical knockout by Cain Velasquez.

The Undertaker, one of WWE’s biggest names, was in attendance. After the fight, he and Lesnar had a brief staredown during an interview with the former at See the video at

The only explanation was that this confrontation was a publicity stunt for a hoped-for renewal of the Undertaker-Lesnar WWE feud at next spring’s WrestleMania. Rest assured that the person who arranged the stunt was not UFC honcho Dana White, but WWE hypemeister Vince McMahon.

The only problem is that Lesnar had just lost. He is no longer the champion of the “real” UFC and, as such, no longer has as much luster as a monster fighting machine. The idea that he would switch back to the “fake” WWE and challenge Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania fizzled before it could sizzle.

On his Internet radio broadcast last night, Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer said, “There is no deal for that match, but they [WWE] do want that match.... lf you’re Vince and you’re trying to recoup that $50 million you just lost in the election campaign, you’re going to come up with ideas like that.”

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Five Things You Need to Know About the Final Week of the Richard Blumenthal / Linda McMahon Connecticut Senate Campaign

1. The race is over.

Richard Blumenthal has won. Linda McMahon has lost.

2. World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Stand Up for WWE” campaign is just a kooky vanity production of Linda McMahon’s husband Vince.

Since Linda’s campaign is desperate, she has nothing to lose by hitching her wagon to the McMahon company’s propaganda machine. But the net effect is zero. For every new Vince video stirring up class resentment against critics, or featuring robotic employees extolling what a wonderful place to work WWE is, “Stand Up for WWE” puts the source of Linda’s wealth and $50 million self-funded campaign at the center of the conversation. That is not a good thing for her.

3. DUMB: Brouhaha over Planned Parenthood’s work with the Blumenthal campaign to gather depictions of WWE misogyny.

Blumenthal didn’t need this and shouldn’t have done it. That said, the McMahon camp’s complaints about it do them no good.

4. AND DUMBER: Brouhaha over Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz’s directive about poll workers and voters wearing clothes with the WWE logo.

Bysiewicz shouldn’t have done it. That said, the McMahon camp’s rhetoric in screaming First Amendment bloody murder is far more entertaining than biting. At its own shows, WWE security personnel confiscate fans’ signs unfriendly to its message and T-shirts bearing pictures of wrestlers with other promotions.

5. What matters now is the attitude of the general public toward the McMahon family business after November 2.

WWE is under investigation by the state for independent contractor abuse. Events during the Senate campaign, such as the deaths of wrestlers Eddie Fatu and Lance McNaught, further highlighted the need to pursue federal investigations of WWE occupational health and safety that began after the 2007 double murder/suicide of Chris Benoit but mysteriously petered out just before Linda launched her short and unmeritorious career in public service. What remains to be seen is whether the losing McMahons will be allowed to continue on their merry way post Election Day, or whether their arrogant and unsuccessful grab for political power will finally mobilize public officials to examine and regulate this out-of-control industry.

Irv Muchnick

Planned Parenthood Becomes the ACORN Bogeyman of Linda McMahon’s Dying Campaign

[posted 10/22/10 to]

Ben Smith of got a leaked memo showing that Richard Blumenthal operatives were working with Planned Parenthood on gathering dirt about – shocker! – misogynistic programming content at Linda McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment.

Bully for Brother Ben. I think the Blumenthal people involved in this effort should be spanked – not for coordination of a political campaign but for third-degree tomfoolery. This is their idea of a substantive issue, especially at this stage of things?

Naturally, Tom Dudchik’s Connecticut Capitol Report jumped all over the Politico item, as did Kevin “Don’t Call Linda McMahon My Mouthpiece” Rennie.

Meanwhile, so far as I can tell, neither Politico, Capitol Report, nor any other major third-party site has given any play whatsoever to the new Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attack ad on McMahon highlighting her role in obstruction of the federal criminal investigation against wrestling ring doctor and steroid connection George Zahorian.

For those of you interested in more than the “soap opera,” check out “New Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Ad Targets Linda McMahon’s Obstruction of Justice,”, and “Another Linda McMahon Obstruction of Justice Story Being Blacked Out,”

Irv Muchnick

Another Linda McMahon Obstruction-of-Justice Story Being Blacked Out

“Text of New York Post on 1995 Witness-Tampering Investigation of McMahons’ Lawyer’s Husband,”

Ad Targets Linda McMahon’s Obstruction of Justice

[posted 10/22/10 to]

New London Day‘s facsimile of Linda McMahon’s December 1, 1989, memo ordering another wrestling executive to tip off steroid-dealing ringside doctor George Zahorian that he was under federal investigation:

My most recent of many posts on this subject: “In Pennsylvania, Wrestling Deregulation Is Tied Up With Another Small Piece of Linda McMahon Baggage: Obstruction of Justice,”

Irv Muchnick

Rick Santorum Talks to The Philadelphia Inquirer About Lobbying for Linda McMahon’s WWE in the 1980s

[posted 10/22/10 to]

“Conn. Senate race a real body slam — with ties to Pa.”

For further background, see yesterday’s post on this blog:

“In Pennsylvania, Wrestling Deregulation Is Tied Up With Another Small Piece of Linda McMahon Baggage: Obstruction of Justice”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

‘Connecticut Has Dodged a Bullet. Now, Can We Defeat “Linda McMahonism”?’

[originally published at Beyond Chron, October 18,]

by Irvin Muchnick

World Wrestling Entertainment, the company of the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, Linda McMahon, and her monomaniacal husband Vince, has been known to use ex-FBI agents and Fairfax Group goons in its “risk mitigation” department. So all bets are off if, between the publication of this piece and Election Day, they come up with video of Linda’s Democratic opponent – state attorney general Richard Blumenthal – humping Eliot Spitzer’s call girl.

Short of that, one of Campaign 2010’s wackiest races is over – and President Obama can exhale again, confident that his party at least will retain a majority in the Senate on November 2.

In a summer of inchoate voter rage, McMahon had seemed to be capitalizing on her $50 million of “self-funding” and a mendacious outsider message. (Vince and Linda had declared bankruptcy in 1976, defaulting on a million dollars in debts because of bad business decisions and tax shelters. But Linda tried to paint herself as some kind of former welfare mom, and organs like Tina Brown’s Daily Beast enabled the lie.)

Perhaps it was fool’s gold all along, as it turns out that Linda’s supposed Kryptonite, the women’s vote, is breaking 2-to-1 against her. Nutmeg Staters became sick and tired of her dumb, saccharine TV commercials and her near-daily mailers labeling Blumenthal a congenital liar because he hallucinated a few times about serving “in” Vietnam rather than in the Marine Reserves “during” the Vietnam War.

McMahon’s tightly scripted campaign was doomed as soon as she held a press conference to announce her endorsement by a business trade group and, in answer to the most obvious questions, rambled in a way that suggested she would consider advocating a reduction in the minimum wage. During the same medium scrum, she called her WWE – a New York Stock Exchange-traded multinational with a billion-dollar market cap, where last year she and Vince took home $46 million in compensation and Bushie low-taxed dividends, while laying off 10 percent of the office staff – a “small business.”

I don’t know whether the mysteriously passive Blumenthal knew what he was doing by sitting back and letting the summer’s stories of WWE death and scandal percolate on their own, and I don’t care. For once, the sheer length of American campaigns proved a godsend. Our short national nightmare is about over.

At last Tuesday’s third and final debate, Blumenthal finally attacked McMahon on such issues as WWE’s abuse of independent contractor classification for the wrestlers it employs. (The state is now investigating the company for this – probably an unintended consequence of this pop-culture juggernaut’s overreach for temporal power.)

It was music to my ears when Blumenthal said, “I can’t believe that I just heard Ms. McMahon brag about this ‘wellness policy’ at WWE. She requires all wrestlers to sign a death clause that absolves WWE of all responsibility if wrestlers are killed in the ring and if the company is at fault ... There have been seven dead wrestlers since she started campaigning ...”

Linda’s rejoinder was that WWE does all it can for the “soap opera” performers who have turned her into a near-billionaire while croaking by the bushel. She added, both callously and ungrammatically, “[T]he consequences of death is a very sad thing when that happens ...”

What remains to be seen is whether American politics and society, having pinned Linda McMahon, can prevail over Linda McMahonism. Unlike some others, I don’t see the problem as primarily partisan. Lowell Weicker, the former Republican senator and governor from Connecticut who is now on the WWE board of directors, to his credit refused to endorse McMahon because of her opposition to health care reform; and in a recent article about the Senate race in The New York Times Magazine, Weicker rightly dismissed the state’s Republican Party, whose nomination McMahon all but literally bought, as a “non-entity.”

Linda and Vince’s political legacy is as bipartisan money-grubbers who have spent more than a million dollars in Washington lobbying, and contributed widely to Democratic as well as Republican candidates for office. They even donated to Connecticut’s other senator and the McMahons’ flip-side “family values” head case, Joe Lieberman.

My celebration of a Blumenthal victory, assuming it’s not premature, therefore will be short-lived; the factors that will have gotten him elected hit deceptively deep themes in our public life. The independent contractor scam – which Obama himself has identified as something that both gyps the tax rolls and lowers the quality of life of American workers – is only one of them.

Another is the new consciousness surrounding health and safety in all of sports. The McMahons have complained that pro wrestling is being unfairly picked on when it comes to eradicating steroid and painkiller abuse, as well as occupational concussions; they may have a point, though it’s not one that speaks particularly well of them. WWE’s own medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, heads the team of mostly University of Pittsburgh Medical Center docs who give PR cover to the company’s joke of a “wellness policy.” Maroon and at least one other WWE doctor from UPMC also have other shaky outside business interests, including with the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL’s concussion policy committee.

Linda and Vince McMahon’s gift to civic dialogue was in finally putting their seedy business practices squarely on the radar screen. Have Democratic politicians been hypocritical this season in jumping on the anti-WWE bandwagon – as Vince started whining last week with the self-pity of a loser? You bet your life. But at least, for once, power and money fumbled in a phony populist’s disfavor.

Once Blumenthal completes the task of blocking Linda’s move from Titan Tower in Stamford to Capitol Hill in Washington, one of his first obligations will be to pick up the ball of Congressional investigations of WWE occupational health and safety, which Democratic legislators made noises about but dropped in the wake of the sensational 2007 double murder/suicide of star wrestler Chris Benoit.

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, blogs at and is @irvmuch at Twitter.

In Pennsylvania, Wrestling Deregulation Is Tied Up With Another Small Piece of Linda McMahon Baggage: Obstruction of Justice

The Linda McMahon camp is pointing out that Richard Blumenthal, as a rookie state legislator, approved Connecticut’s part in the tide of states deregulating the pro wrestling industry in the 1980s, thanks to the lobbying efforts of her company.

I’m not sure just what McMahon is trying to prove here. As my historical writing on the business has established, deregulation at the time was portrayed as an amusing legislative sideshow, the “end of an error” in which wrestling promoters had found it advantageous to lump their scripted athletic entertainment together with the (mostly) legitimate sport of boxing. [See “Muchnick Book Bonus – ‘The (Thwak!) Deregulation of (Thump!) Pro Wrestling (The Bureaucrats Behind Hulk Hogan’),”

Blumenthal correctly notes that the rationale for deregulating the industry three decades ago has nothing to do with the need to re-regulate it today.

But Linda’s focus on 1980s deregulation gets much worse for her: it redirects attention to her 1989 memo instructing a subordinate wrestling executive to cut loose one of the then-World Wrestling Federation’s ring doctors in Pennsylvania, George Zahorian, and to tip off Zahorian that he was under federal investigation for illegal steroid distribution. Zahorian would be convicted at a federal trial in 1991. Linda’s husband Vince McMahon and their company would be acquitted of related charges in 1994.

Here’s the full Pennsylvania deregulation chronology:

In 1987, working out of the Pittsburgh office of the McMahons’ outside law firm, then called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, Rick Santorum (later a U.S. senator) helped coordinate lobbying efforts aimed at the Pennsylvania state legislature. Linda McMahon herself testified before the State Government Ad Hoc Committee in June 1987. General Assembly Bill 1198, “Professional Wrestling Act,” was signed into law in July 1989. Among the bill’s provisions were that the attending physician at wrestling events no longer would be appointed by the state athletic commission; instead, “The promoter shall be responsible to employ a physician.”

Dr. Zahorian wanted to continue to be that physician for WWF events in such locales as Harrisburg, Hershey, Allentown, and Hamburg, Pennsylvania. For years he had been running a cash-and-carry steroid operation backstage at WWF shows. He also FedExed steroids and other prescription drugs to many wrestlers. Records at Zahorian’s trial would confirm that Vince McMahon, though not yet an in-ring performer himself, was one of Zahorian’s dozens of steroid customers within wrestling.

Anita Scales was the WWF employee responsible for hiring the ringside physician in Pennsylvania beginning in July 1989. She would testify at Vince McMahon’s trial that she immediately sought to dismiss Zahorian. Zahorian showed up on his own, begging to be retained, at a WWF event in August, which was staffed by another physician. “The boys need their candies,” Zahorian told Scales, who was unmoved.

However, on Linda McMahon’s instructions, Scales relented and WWF took Zahorian back. A November 3, 1989, letter from Scales to the state athletic commission listed Zahorian as the attending doctor for the December 26 show in Hershey.

But before that could happen, the McMahons got a tip from Jack Krill, another Kiirkpatrick & Lockhart lawyer who was working with Rick Santorum on deregulation lobbying. Krill told Vince and Linda that he had heard that Dr. Zahorian was “hot” – under federal criminal investigation. On December 1, 1989, Linda wrote the infamous memo to subordinate Pat Patterson ordering him to distance the company from Zahorian and alert him to the investigation. Zahorian’s inclusion at an athletic commission “meet and greet” was canceled, as was his December 26 Hershey booking. And around a month later WWF executive Pat Patterson called Zahorian from a pay phone and advised him to destroy the records of his dealings with WWF personnel.

The source of the leak is ambiguous. In original historical accounts, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter wrote that the tip came from someone inside the state athletic commission. Linda McMahon’s memo to Patterson said, “An officer from the State Department mentioned to Jack Krill, one of our attorneys, at a recent fundraiser that his office would be conducting these investigations at the same time he told Krill that perhaps it was a bad idea to mention it to him because Krill’s firm represents the WWF.”

Ted Mann of The Day in New London unearthed the McMahon-to-Patterson memo this spring, and a facsimile accompanying Mann’s coverage is viewable at Linda McMahon told The Day that the “State Department” reference was mistaken and she meant to say “Justice Department.” She said the source of the tip was James J. West, at the time a federal prosecutor.

On April 10, West (now in private practice in Harrisburg) denied to Mann that he had told Krill such a thing. “Absolutely nothing like that would have occurred,” West said, adding that as a prosecutor would have been barred from attending a “political fundraiser ... I can say that without equivocation.” (But McMahon’s memo did not say “political” fundraiser.)

In an email to me on April 20, West put it differently: “I am not commenting on something that happened 20 years ago."

But Linda McMahon is commenting. She wants to call out Richard Blumenthal for voting for wrestling deregulation in the Connecticut legislature. For my part, I want to call out McMahon for the state of her industry today – and for her own actions, including obstruction of justice, that brought things to this state.

Irv Muchnick

Stand Up for Muchnick and Buy My Book CHRIS & NANCY

My book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death has had more influence than sales.

But it’s never too late to change that. Information about my book and how to order it before the November 2 elections (or even after!) is at

Why Richard Blumenthal Isn’t Complaining That Much About WWE’s In-Kind Corporate Contributions to Linda McMahon

[posted 10/20/10 to]

Today the story that no one in Connecticut is telling is that the Senate race is over. Richard Blumenthal has won and Linda McMahon has lost. Dick could develop a terminal case of gout or be caught on video in his Harvard swim team Speedo while oil-wrestling with the founder of Craigslist; otherwise, the $50 Million Woman is done. No number of “Stand Up for WWE” Facebook scribblings, or footage of Bob Barker and Florence Henderson gushing about how great it was to guest-host Raw, can change the fact that the female vote is breaking 2-to-1 against the female candidate.

I don’t blame my journalistic brethren for their reluctance to go out on a limb as much as I just did. Predictions are fraught. Besides, there are only 13 days left, and the denouement of Vince and Linda McMahon’s invasion of national politics is just so much fun to watch unfold. Linda2010 makes the World Bodybuilding Federation and the XFL football league – their most spectacular past failures – look like warm-up acts.

Two things strike me about the current mainstream coverage. One is the story of World Wrestling Entertainment’s in-kind corporate contributions to the Linda campaign, which have transformed in recent days from latent to blatant. Yet the Blumenthal campaign has hardly raised a peep.

Why? Because Blumenthal knows that “Stand Up for WWE” is a net campaign loser, putting WWE “back on the front burner,” as the report on WTNH television well put it. The Blumies are not about to take the bait of helping a bit of contrived tinhorn populism become the real thing. In a response that could have been written word for word by your humble blogger (if I may say so myself), Blumenthal spokeswoman Mindy Myers said, “There is nothing that will hide or change [Linda McMahon’s] record of forcing her wrestlers to sign death clauses, canceling steroid testing to improve her bottom line, and paying lobbyists to get her out from under health and safety rules. The people of Connecticut have good reason to be concerned about that record, and now about her corporation’s attempt to influence this election.”

The Linda McMahon campaign itself has a hopelessly convoluted and desperate two-pronged approach to the remaining time before Election Day – a strategy captured in Paul Bass’s article in the New Haven Independent on Linda’s “stealth” tours of business districts. The vaguely patronizing tone of stories about how well-spoken and charming McMahon is on the ground in one-on-one conversations with ordinary people tells you all you need to know about which candidate is poised to win only the booby prize on November 2.

Irv Muchnick

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Correction: One UFC Death

After my post earlier today, “ on the Truth About WWE and UFC,” Politico’s Ben Smith ran a P.S. note with my information. Then he added a note from another reader purporting to document deaths among the talent at UFC. I got emails with similar information.

I checked with mixed martial arts and pro wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, and we agreed that I should have acknowledged that UFC fighter Justin Levens killed his wife and himself in 2008.

Meltzer doesn’t think two other UFC’ers should count: Justin Eilers, who was shot to death by his stepfather in 2008, and Evan Tanner, who died of dehydration on a solitary desert adventure in 2009.

Irv Muchnick

Devastating Linda McMahon Attack Video by Democratic Party

“Linda McMahon Ducking the Press” on the Truth About WWE And UFC

How many epistemologists can dance on the head of a pin? That is the question raised by the post today by Ben Smith at, “Reid campaigns with fighters,”

Brother Ben notes that Harry Reid, the embattled Senate majority leader who is up for reelection in Nevada, is enlisting the good offices of Dana White, head of the mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship. Smith quotes an anonymous “smart colleague” as finding it “odd for Reid to be embracing [figures from] a real and amazingly violent sport” at the same time the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee “is pounding Linda McMahon for her connex to a fake violent sport.”

Well, here’s how it is.

One, neither Dana White nor his wife is running for the Senate from Nevada on the Republican side.

Two, there have been a few deaths in MMA to this point but none yet in UFC. Linda McMahon’s Democratic opponent in the Connecticut Senate race, Richard Blumenthal, has pointed out that seven pro wrestlers with WWE “connex” have keeled over for good just during the course of the campaign.

Irv Muchnick

I Just Got a Fundraising Pitch From Rahm Emanuel. But the Dems Won’t Get a Dime From Me Until They Produce Joe Lieberman!

How I get on these lists, only my hairdresser knows, and I’m almost bald. But into my inbox just popped an email from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over the signature of Rahm Emanuel, DCCC’s former chairman, until recently chief of staff for President Obama, and soon-to-be candidate for mayor of Chicago.

“Irvin –,” Rahm writes. “I’ve been looking at the polls and I don’t see a single reason why Democrats can’t retain our strong House Majority with enough support. But time is running out.”

“Rahm –,” Irvin writes back. “I’ve been looking at the history of campaign contributions by Connecticut’s Republican candidate for the Senate, Linda McMahon, and I don’t see a single reason why you deserve the time of day from me. Through your brother, one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s agents, Linda made contributions to your Congressional campaigns. While working for President Obama, you appear to have done nothing to advance the suggestion by then-Chairman Henry Waxman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy pick up the committee’s 2007 investigation of abuses in the professional wrestling industry, which Linda McMahon and her husband Vince head.”

Irv Muchnick

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maybe ‘Stand Up for WWE’ Campaign Isn’t About Linda McMahon’s Senate Race

Vince McMahon’s “Stand Up for WWE” campaign is all over the World Wrestling Entertainment website, and tonight McMahon will reinforce today’s press releases in his appearance on WWE’s flagship USA cable show, Raw.

But you might notice that this corporate PR initiative, basically announced as an adjunct of the Linda McMahon for Senate campaign, is nowhere to be found — certainly not prominently — at So far as I know, campaign spokesman Ed Patru and today’s regular campaign statements and releases have not referenced it.

I therefore think one of two things is going on here. Or maybe both.

Authoritative sources tell me that about ten days ago Vince and Linda looked at the newest poll numbers, which were turning south, and knew they’d lost their $50 million Senate gamble. But worse than losing was the byproduct of losing: increased scrutiny of WWE’s business practices, including one new state investigation of company independent contractor classifications, plus renewed calls for investigations of wrestlers’ occupational health and safety, which had been abruptly dropped early in 2009.

That led to “Stand Up for WWE.” Either:

1. The professional Linda McMahon campaign staff has been elbowed aside by WWE corporate PR in a last-ditch effort to choke off Richard Blumenthal’s lead over Linda. (If so, the effort will fail. The lead is insurmountable and the campaign to rally the least intelligent population of wrestling fans will be a national laughingstock.)


2. WWE is setting itself up to ward off post-election investigations. If Linda can’t win her Senate seat, at least Vince can make the whole environment seem so silly that legislators and others will again shy away from following through on their 2007 work and let pro wrestling go back underneath the radar.

Irv Muchnick

Muchnick Flashback: Some Grist for Linda McMahon’s Husband’s ‘Stand Up for WWE’ Campaign

Vince McMahon wants the “WWE Universe” to “Stand Up for WWE” in the face of “negative and inaccurate attacks” on the company during the Senate campaign of his wife Linda.

Vince McMahon is urging fans to post examples at and on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

To help Vince get the ball rolling, I thought I’d republish below my August 26 post here, “Outrageous Death of Linda McMahon’s WWE Wrestler Lance Cade: A Resource Guide.”

Perhaps my August 18 post, “FAIR GAME — Linda McMahon Answers the Question of Systematic Death for Entertainment Industry Profits With … Another Question” is an example of what Vince and his troops would consider negative and inaccurate.

Or maybe my August 19 post, “Concussion Activist Chris Nowinski Speaks Out on Linda McMahon.”

Or how about the one from later the same day, “Late Lance Cade: ‘Addict’ (Linda McMahon’s Dismissal) Or Brain Trauma Victim (Plenty of Circumstantial Evidence)?”?
Then there’s “Keith Harris of Cageside Seats With More on Lance Cade.” Keith Harris is a pro wrestling fan. Is he a card-carrying member of WWE Universe?

And please don’t overlook:

* “Mike Benoit (Chris Benoit’s Father) on Lance Cade’s Death,” August 20

* “EXCLUSIVE: Chair Used to Batter the Late Wrestler Lance Cade Was Autographed by Shawn Michaels and Auctioned by WWE for $315,” August 23

* “Linda McMahon’s Husband Lied to CNN in 2007 About Eliminating Chair Shots to the Head,” August 24

* “Did Linda McMahon’s Daughter Commit Perjury in Her Congressional Testimony?”, August 24

* “Remember — Lance Cade Is the 4th Untimely Ex-WWE Wrestler’s Death During Linda McMahon’s Senate Campaign,” August 25

* “Video of the Sick Head Chair Shot on the Late WWE Wrestler Chris Kanyon,” August 25

* “Linda McMahon Lied, Dead Wrestler Lance Cade’s Father Tells Connecticut Newspaper,” August 26


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

Published August 26, 2010



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

Vince McMahon’s ‘Stand Up for WWE’ Expands Corporation’s Non-Hostile Takeover of Linda McMahon’s Senate Campaign

World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon, who last week directly injected the company into his wife Linda’s Senate campaign in Connecticut, today announced a full-scale initiative he calls “Stand Up for WWE.” This campaign within the campaign, to be carried out online on social networks, attempts to engage WWE fans (known as “WWE Universe”) against unspecified negative and inaccurate attacks on the company during the Senate race.

Vince McMahon’s video announcement of “Stand Up for WWE” is at

James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch comments at

It took a little while during Linda’s campaign for WWE to dust off the propaganda machine, but now it’s in full force. In the video, McMahon comes across like a dictator trying to rally support for his constituents in the face of mounting concern and criticism for his regime. During the message, McMahon did not address the so-called “attacks” against WWE or identify exactly what he was responding to. Quite frankly, to use a McMahonism, there is no defense against two decades of a mounting body count in pro wrestling, the “independent contractor” classification of WWE wrestlers, the lack of an off-season in WWE, and on and on it goes.

Irv Muchnick

Connecticut Has Dodged a Bullet. Now, Can We Defeat ‘Linda McMahonism’? ... today at Beyond Chron

World Wrestling Entertainment, the company of the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, Linda McMahon, and her monomaniacal husband Vince, has been known to use ex-FBI agents and Fairfax Group goons in its “risk mitigation” department. So all bets are off if, between the publication of this piece and Election Day, they come up with video of Linda’s Democratic opponent – state attorney general Richard Blumenthal – humping Eliot Spitzer’s call girl.

Short of that, one of Campaign 2010’s wackiest races is over – and President Obama can exhale again, confident that his party at least will retain a majority in the Senate on November 2.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Watch Linda McMahon Fidget Under Questions About Her Bankruptcy and WWE ‘Wellness Policy’

The New Haven Register has endorsed Richard Blumenthal over Linda McMahon for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut. But the newspaper’s more valuable contribution is a news story by metro editor Ed Stannard, with embedded video excerpts, of McMahon’s recent interview by the Register editorial board.


In the interview, McMahon recycles her bland and unconvincing defense of World Wrestling Entertainment’s suspension of steroid-testing between 1996 and 2006, while the wrestler body count accelerated (it continues to toll today, to the tune of what Blumenthal identified in last Tuesday’s debate as seven additional young wrestler deaths during the campaign itself).

What’s striking is that these questions did not go away but, rather, persisted and accelerated. Contrast Linda’s patient squirming for the Register with her testy insistence on “moving on” from WWE when she was grilled in March by John Dankosky of WNPR. (For background, see “Linda McMahon Audio from Connecticut Public Radio’s ‘Where We Live’,” March 30,

The Register also takes McMahon to account for the slippery story of her and husband Vince’s 1976 bankruptcy, which Linda has tried to turn into an odd selling point:

... McMahon, 62, described her early years as a college graduate living in Maryland, pregnant with their son, Shane, and resorting to food stamps for a time.

She said reports by a Web columnist that this was the time the McMahons declared bankruptcy were incorrect, that they filed five years later when they lived in West Hartford.

“I talked about how I can relate to so many different folks because my husband and I were married very young … I was right out of high school; he was a junior in college and I went through college and we graduated together. I went through an accelerated schedule,” McMahon said.

“And we found out the day before we graduated from college that I was pregnant with our first child, which is just not quite fortuitous at that particular time…. My husband went to work for a rock quarry and he worked 90 hours a week and I would pack his lunch,” the candidate said. “I was working as a receptionist at a law firm after Shane was born.... one week we used food stamps.”

That happened in 1970-71 when they lived in Gaithersburg, Md. McMahon said they filed for bankruptcy in 1976, before they had bought the company that became WWE from Vince McMahon’s father.

Note that the McMahons married in 1966 and had their first child, son Shane, in 1970. In his disgraceful profile of Linda for The Daily Beast, writer Lloyd Grove said she married young and was “soon” pregnant. The truth is that she attended and graduated from East Carolina University after marrying and before becoming pregnant. (While in college, by the way, she acquired no degree in education – a false line she added to her resume when Governor Jodi Rell nominated her to the Connecticut Board of Education last year.)

For full background on Linda’s “welfare mom” tall tale, see “Muchnick Flashback: ‘Wow, That Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast Sure Types Fast’,” October 1,

Irv Muchnick

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Phil Mushnick, New York Post: 'What McMahon's Campaign Won't Tell You'

Atlanta Newspaper Revisits Chris Benoit Story With Brain Trauma Perspective

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the major metropolitan newspaper near the scene of Chris Benoit’s 2007 double murder/suicide, has a new interview with father Michael Benoit restating his position that untreated brain injuries were the cause of the tragedy. See “Chris Benoit’s father: Murderous rampage resulted from brain damage, not steroids,”

The senior Benoit’s views are a restatement of what he has been saying ever since doctors examined Chris’s post-mortem brain tissue and found that he had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. What is significant is the growing evidence of how widespread CTE is: it also turned up in the brain of the only other dead wrestler studied, Andrew “Test” Martin, and in football and hockey players. Moreover, many were suicides – or suicides in all but name – in which the public never would have considered CTE as a major factor, if not the factor, prior to the recent spate of new scientific research.

I’m not ready to go as far as Mike Benoit and assert that CTE was the sole reason for what happened in Georgia. But we’d all be crazy to dismiss that possibility in light of how much more we’re learning about the disease. Most crucial, I think, is how closely connected CTE and drug abuse may be in depression, with the former even leading directly to both of the others.

Irv Muchnick

WWE Medical Director ‘Dishonest,’ Say 76% in Wrestling Observer Reader Poll

Dr. Joseph Maroon, medical director for Linda McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment, told the Hartford Courant, “We have no talent now on steroids.”

The website of Wrestling Observer Newsletter and Figure Four Weekly polled readers on Maroon’s comment. The results are up today at

–When Dr. Maroon said that nobody in WWE is on steroids, what do you believe?

He’s correct and honest 4.3%

He’s being honest but he’s naive 19.5%

He’s being dishonest, doesn’t believe it and is just saying it 76.2%

All-Time Top 10 Most Visited Posts at This Blog

1. Muchnick Book Bonus: ‘In Bed With the WWF — Sex and Scandal in Pro Wrestling’, May 15, 2010

2. EXCLUSIVE: WWE Wrestler Eddie ‘Umaga’ Fatu Died of ‘Acute Toxicity’, March 1, 2010

3. Eddie ‘Umaga’ Fatu Autopsy: 406 Pounds, Enlarged Heart, March 18, 2010

4. Source: WWE’s General Counsel Suspended for Sexual Harassment, May 10, 2010

5. Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (complete text as a single post), December 28, 2009

6. Linda Loses: Why Vince McMahon Blew a Gasket Yesterday, October 15, 2010

7. Why Linda McMahon’s WWE Wrestlers Won’t Unionize: The Bret Hart Story, December 29, 2009

8. New York Times Falls for Both the Little Carnies and the Über Carnies, July 18, 2010

9. Mike Benoit (Chris Benoit’s Father) on Lance Cade’s Death, August 20, 2010

10. Will ‘Heel’ Vince McMahon Turn ‘Babyface’ After WrestleMania to Support Linda’s Campaign?, February 19, 2010

‘We Need to Be Challenging Dick Blumenthal If He’s Elected’

“Vince McMahon fights back as Dems attack WWE”

Brian Lockhart, Hearst newspapers

Linda McMahon in the Bunker

“McMahon tightens media access in final weeks of Senate campaign”

Irv Muchnick to Michelle Obama: Don’t Visit Vince McMahon in Stamford — After All, He Wouldn’t Come to My Book Reading

[posted 10/15/10 to]

Linda McMahon’s husband Vince, who is determined to be cheeky if he can’t be relevant, has invited First Lady Michelle Obama to visit World Wrestling Entertainment headquarters in Stamford when she is in the city next Monday on behalf of Linda’s Senate campaign opponent, Richard Blumenthal.

See “Vince McMahon to Michelle Obama: Please come visit us on Monday,”

It’s all part of a series of publicity stunts Vince launched yesterday to vent his pique at how Democratic politicians who have pandered in the past to WWE and its audience have now turned on its Mommy Warbucks as she spends $50 million on her Senate bid.

Simultaneously funny and lame. Kind of reminds me of something earlier in the year when I was in Connecticut promoting my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. I invited Vince and Linda — along with daughter Steph, son-in-law Triple H, board member Lowell Weicker, and lawyer Jerry McDevitt — to my book signing at the Borders on High Ridge Road.

But you know what? None of them ever even replied!

For the full background, see “Muchnick Invites Linda McMahon for a COCKTAIL OF DEATH,”

Irv Muchnick

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vince McMahon Reached Out to Concussion Activist Chris Nowinski

Chris Nowinski, the Harvard guy and former World Wrestling Entertainment performer who now heads the Sports Legacy Institute, yesterday told WEEI radio in Boston that Vince McMahon called him last week and said WWE wanted to offer full support to SLI’s research on brain trauma in sports.

This is the same WWE that had a public dust-up with Nowinski after his former tag-team partner in developmental, Lance Cade, died of heart failure in August at age 29. Nowinski said Linda McMahon was “kicking dirt on his grave” when she suggested that Cade was just a drug addict whom she “might have met once.” WWE basically called Nowinski a liar for claiming that Cade told him about steroid use (which Cade had also said in a radio interview), and for Nowinski’s remembering his own WWE experience when he participated in a program of matches in which he was thrown through a table every night.

Wrestling Observer
’s Dave Meltzer commented that even though Vince McMahon’s call to Nowinski was “clearly transparent, that is probably the best move the company could have done for a number of reasons.”

The audio of the Nowinski interview on WEEI is at I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Irv Muchnick

Linda Loses: Why Vince McMahon Blew a Gasket Yesterday

Beyond sharing my amusement at the spectacle, I’m not sure my friends in the Connecticut media fully understand what was behind World Wrestling Entertainment’s astonishing press release yesterday expressing frustration at the Democratic politicians who have mutually back-scratched with it for years, but who have now turned on Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign in the heat of battle.

So let me help everyone out.

Though, of course, no one at Titan Towers in Stamford would admit it for the record, for more than a year the employees of WWE have gotten an unmistakable signal from Vince McMahon, the chairman, that their main job from that point forward was to help get his wife elected. We can speculate on the psychology behind this: Was it Linda’s Hillary Clinton-esqe reward for her decades of behind-the-scenes indulgence of her childhood sweetheart, whom she probably still loves? Was it a naked power grab? Or was it, at some level, a quest undertaken with humor and even noblesse oblige belief in their philosophy and public-service skills?

I don’t know. I only know that they did it and that it doesn’t take a genius to see the manifestations of this unprecedented corporate-campaign synergy. Journalists who query campaign spokesman Ed Patru often hear back, without even receiving an intervening message, from company PR chief Robert Zimmerman. And WWE television programming mysteriously “evolved” from PG-14 to PG.

As a money-making enterprise, WWE is still in fine shape, since many global revenue-growth sources remain untapped, especially in China. But as an edgy cultural phenomenon, pro wrestling officially lost its cachet when the McMahons reached for temporal power. As the song in Oklahoma! put it, they’d gone about as fer as they could go. The recent Barron’s article on the rise of the UFC mixed martial arts promotion, at the expense of WWE’s one-time supremacy in pay-per-view, captured the crude outlines of the trend. For more immediate evidence, simply browse the wrestling fan discussion boards on the Internet, as I do from time to time; many WWE fans can’t wait for Linda to finish losing so their favorite brand of junk entertainment can get back to having a little attitude and bite. Screw this stupid ban on chair shots to the head. After all, you can’t make a Chris Benoit/Chris Kanyon/Lance Cade omelette without breaking some eggs!

Over the next two-plus weeks, Linda McMahon’s opponent, Richard Blumenthal, will take some lumps for his office’s work on the Countryside Financial settlement; the articles in The Nation and Mother Jones suggest that the damage will be just as deserved as the lumps Blumenthal took for his Vietnam misstatements.

But don’t fool yourselves into believing that this is the October Surprise that will reverse Linda’s negative metrics, which became fatally exposed the second she opened her mouth in an uncontrolled setting and made the comments about the minimum wage that branded her as a corporatist rather than a populist.

For their October Surprise, the McMahon henchpeople either have something on the level of Dick in flagrante delicto with one of the WWE divas, or they have nothing at all. A campaign that had no party or even coherent ideological bearings, but was simply an extension of one company’s – really one family’s – ambition, has reached its bottom line: tens of millions of dollars poured down the drain in a losing effort. Worse, this was no quixotic what-the-hell business expansion like the XFL, or bad movies that can’t get theater distribution and have to go straight to video; it was a no-holds-barred venture that showed the whole world, once and for all, what they were all about. The unintended consequence will be new investigations of their abuses, especially with respect to the independent contractor classification of their performers, and it will cost them huge.

The prospect of a Senator Linda McMahon is almost as dead as one of the wrestlers who refused to take full advantage of WWE’s wonderful “wellness policy.”

That is why Vince McMahon – who pretty obviously has been pulling the campaign strings all along – lost it yesterday in the form of a WWE “in kind” contribution of a press release, which lashed out at the bipartisan world of politicians who have decided, despite years of playing ball, that they no longer want or need to take Vince and Linda to their bosoms.

More on all this in my Monday column for Beyond Chron.

Irv Muchnick

Wrestling Journalist Meltzer: WWE Medical Director’s Quote Is ‘Mind-Boggling’

[posted 10/14/10 to]

Here’s Dave Meltzer (at his daily update at on today’s Hartford Courant story:

In a quote that I felt to be mind boggling, Dr. Joseph Maroon, the WWE Medical Director, said “We have no talent now on steroids.” There is absolutely no way anyone can say that given someone with money with access to designer steroids can take stuff that will get through testing. That would be as preposterous as someone saying that in any sport, well, actually more, because steroids are still more of a part of the wrestling culture than most sports. And that doesn’t address other PEDs that aren’t and in some cases can’t be tested for. It was interesting because Carlos Colon, a WWE business partner, whose son wrestles for the company, said, “Painkillers are somewhat of a necessary evil for pro wrestlers because of the pain and constant travel.” I can guarantee they were not happy about that quote today.

Linda McMahon (Or, At Least, Her Husband Vince) Loses It

[posted 10/14/10 to]

Even while acknowledging that World Wrestling Entertainment makes half of a valid point about partisan hypocrisy — I’ve made the point myself — this new one on the WWE website shows a company (and the campaign it is not so subtly backing) whose wheels are coming off:

“Politicians embrace WWE”

Irv Muchnick

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Linda McMahon Attack Ad

[posted 10/14/10 to]

And then there are days when you can just sit back in your rocking chair because the message has finally gotten through....

Linda McMahon at the Precipice

[posted 10/14/10 to]

Ted Mann of the New London Day gets it right across the board in his blog post “A rough morning for McMahon,”

Deaths in Linda McMahon’s Pro Wrestling Industry Do Not = Steroids. The Death Pandemic Is ‘Steroids-Plus’

[posted 10/14/10 to]

Daniela Altimari has a good story in today’s Hartford Courant on the drug problem in pro wrestling. See “Substance Abuse In WWE Dogs Linda McMahon’s Senate Run,”,0,2547989.story.

The best quote in the article is from James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch: “”Steroids were kind of an ’80s and early ’90s thing, and they became an issue again in the late ’90s when WWE had no testing. But it’s just a buzz word now. It’s how a lot of people describe all of the health issues within the WWE.”

Every time I think I’m being too hard on World Wrestling Entertainment’s medical director, Joseph Maroon, the good doctor makes an ass of himself again with his public statements. Maroon actually tries to get reporter Altimari to put across the idea that the company has all but eliminated steroids with its PR-oriented “wellness policy.”

Maroon also touts the policy’s recent addition of somas, a muscle relaxer, to the banned substance list. What a joke. Many wrestlers have been hooked on somas for years ... decades. It’s one of those prescription drugs that are also party drugs. The death of at least one WWE performer, known as “Louie Spiccoli,” is attributable to a soma overdose. The reason somas just got banned involves the recent wacko behavior (including wacko video blogs) of wrestler Matt Hardy.

Irv Muchnick