Thursday News on Benoit Tragedy

Alex Marvez, who has been doing an incredible job covering this story for WrestlingObserver.com, as well as doing media interviews (although his interview last night on CNN/HN’s Nancy Grace show was cut out due to technical difficulties), has written his latest syndicated column, which can be found here. In the column, he interviews former WCW valet Ann Marie “Midnight” Crooks and includes comments from a 2003 interview he conducted with Chris Benoit, talking about all of the young deaths in wrestling being “bothersome.” Marvez also quotes an anonymous Benoit co-worker and family friend as saying “Nancy had for a long time believed this relationship would end violently and in a bad, bad way … She always said the two of them were doomed to hurt each other. But she never imagined Daniel would get in the crosshairs.”

Some additional news and notes on the Benoit tragedy:

– There’s an article here on wrestling fans angry at Nancy Grace for “not getting her facts straight” during her coverage last night.

– In today’s New York Sun columnist Tim Marchman says that while “a main focus has been on the possibility that Benoit killed his family in a drug-induced frenzy,” people need to look at the bigger picture in the Benoit story. He calls WWE’s steroid testing policy “shamefully inadequate” and backs up his case: “According to documents to be found on the company’s Web site, for instance, ‘A Testosterone/Epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of four (4) or less shall be regarded as a negative test result.’ Without going into eye-glazing detail, T/E ratio is the chemical clue steroid tests are often actually used to find. A normal ratio is 1-to-1; baseball, following World Anti-Doping Agency standards, considers 4-to-1 a failure.” In a powerful statement, Marchman says “Right now, many people believe that steroids drove Benoit to strangle his own child — a belief so self-evidently simplistic and ridiculous that it allows WWE to point to its pathetic drug policy and ignore the real issues at play, which involve not only Benoit’s own private demons, but a brutal, dehumanizing schedule, work that requires a level of physical punishment the body just can’t handle, drug abuse as a near condition of employment, and a string of dozens and dozens of deaths about which no one has cared.”

– A poll has been posted over in our wrestling forum asking if wrestlers should get mandatory time off throughout the year.

– Comments on the tragedy from a number of wrestling stars continue to come out. Here are comments from Rob Van Dam, Matt Hardy and Jim Ross:

  • On his official Web Site and MySpace blog, RVD commented:

    Thursday, June 28, 2007 — Benoit Balls

    Well, there’s no need to wait until we have our heads wrapped around this, because I doubt that’ll happen, so here it is. I know that a monster committed those terrible, unforgivable acts of horror. Just like everyone who knew Chris Benoit, I can’t think of him as a monster. Not Chris.

    Chris was truly a role model’s role model. You simply had to respect him and admire his focus and unmatched discipline. If I ever got asked a question about who I looked up to the most in the business, you guessed it. That’s me sharing a real feeling with you. Not talking about bull shit that I have little interest in, like who would I like most to wrestle with, or what’s my favorite color, but who I actually looked up to in the dressing room. It’s Chris Benoit- in the ring and in the dressing room and with his family.

    The last time I talked to Chris, a few weeks ago, he told me how much he respected me for stepping away from the business. His message now comes to me from beyond. He said “Some of us don’t know when to get out.” I told him that I always held a little contempt for him telling me back in 1992 that I was a dumb-ass for wanting to quit WCW, and mentioned the irony.

    Over the last several years, on overseas tours I’d always see Chris in the gym when the other guys were recovering from the night before. He’d train hard and sometimes I’d see him allowing young wrestlers to follow his lead and get a guaranteed killer workout. He took pride in what he did and set a great example for others, myself included, to follow.

    How many murderers baby murderers at that are praised so highly by EVERYONE who knew them? This is all so bizarre and new information seems to come out every few hours but I can’t imagine we’ll ever understand what happened here. It appears that Chris took the answers with him. To tell you the honest truth, the easiest thing for me to believe at this moment is that if no frame work was involved, he was taken over by demonic energies with no compassion. I have to believe this is often the case with such inhumane acts.

    Nancy, Daniel and Chris’ tragic deaths obviously have affected a lot of people. Just remember, there’s enough hate in this world. Hateful thoughts do not move us in the right direction, so make a conscious effort to remember that. It’s important now and always.

  • On his MySpace blog, Hardy wrote:

    June 28, 2007 – Thursday — My brief comments on this week’s tragedy

    Hello my friends. I hope all of you and your families are doing well. I wanted to post something based on all of the events that have taken place over the last few days. Many of you have sent me messages worrying about me and asking if I’m ok. Just so you know–I’m good, thanks for asking. I have quite a bit that I actually wanna discuss concerning the Benoit tragedy, the media’s coverage of it, and what this means for the future of the business. If I am given the blessing of the powers that be in the WWE, I will write a very detailed, in-depth blog stating my unedited opinions. For now, I just wanted to address all of my friends, fans, and supporters with a summary of my feelings and thoughts.

    I haven’t always agreed with every decision Vince McMahon has made, but I do agree with everything he’s done dealing with this situation thus far. Out of respect for the sudden death of Benoit’s family and his contributions to the business, I think Vince did the right thing by canceling the scheduled Raw. When the decision was made to make Raw a Chris Benoit tribute show, the WWE was only doing what seemed respectful and right at that time. When more information was discovered, the WWE took a different and appropriate stance towards their programming. The ECW and Smackdown shows this week were dedicated to our great fans. Wrestling fans who were grieving and confused over this tragedy needed us, including me, to entertain them. I feel it is my responsibility, as well as my pleasure, to put smiles on people’s faces and give them an escape from reality. I know Vince feels that way as well.

    Chris Benoit was always kind, considerate, and professional when I interacted with him. Like everyone else, I was shocked when everything came out. I can’t believe Chris Benoit and his wife and child are dead as I type this. As of now, all of the strange pieces of this puzzle haven’t been put together yet. My thoughts and prayers go out to Benoit’s other two children as well as the immediate family and friends of the deceased. More than anything, I feel terrible for little Daniel–he was as innocent as any human being could possibly be. This is a terrible and sad tragedy.

    I am very disappointed with how many media outlets are lapping the entire population of professional wrestlers into this situation. There are many outstanding, wonderful people that do so many great things for the world that I work and wrestle with. It’s not fair or accurate.

    Tell the people you love that you love them, and never lose sight of what’s really important in life. We may not ever understand why this tragedy happened, but we have to learn from it. Stay strong–life is too precious and too short. I have much more I want to say about the activities of the last few days. If it’s appropriate, I definitely will. Be well my friends, I’ll talk to you soon…

    Quote of the day – “I won’t let this build up inside of me” – Slipknot, Vermillion

    Matt

  • JR, in his latest blog entry, says that he spent time with the Benoits, as well as alone with Nancy during Wrestlemania weekend and there was no apparent sign that anything was wrong. On the media, JR says that “I know this damn sure isn’t a Duke Lacross (sic) matter or even remotely close, because two innocent people are dead. But again we hear the media rush to judgment about why and how this horrific chain of events came to pass, but still without the evidence or a valid motive. So then why are three people dead? What caused this irrational and totally uncharacteristic behavior from an individual who hereto for had never demonstrated such tendencies in his workplace, not even once? I don’t know and neither does anyone else until the medical examiner can provide more information and then there will be most likely questions in this matter than may never be answered. I know this, God knows and he will deal with this matter accordingly.” He recommends that we focus on our families and prayers for the victims’ families, and says that “I don’t know why this sickening chain of events happened, but murder, especially taking one’s own child’s life, is unpardonable. I am anxious to read the results of the toxicology reports as the next curious individual but the bottom line is that 3 people are dead including a mother and her son … It is not too late for all of us to change how we deal with our own families and our friends and to honor every day we have the privilege of being on this earth. Remember, we are all only passing through, so take every day as a gift and continue to count all one’s blessings.” Amen.

    – We never posted a link to the June 23 JR blog entry, so here it is. In it, Ross talks about his restaurant, college football, the challenges of calling a three-hour RAW, Harley Race getting into a car accident but coming out unscathed, Brock Lesnar in MMA, rumors that Flair will retire at Mania 24, Bell’s palsy, Johnny Nitro in ECW, Skittles and this comment, which in retrospect is kind’ve creepy, but I think important to excerpt (particularly the final sentence):

    Can anyone explain to me why athletes like Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, and Michael Vick cannot avoid finding themselves in controversy? Observing these great athletes who have been blessed with amazing God-given talents and watching them make poor decisions after another is disheartening. Perhaps the only good that can come our of these obvious lapses in judgment is that young people can hopefully learn what NOT to do from these millionaire athletes.

    – Finally, WWE CEO Linda McMahon was on ABC’s Good Morning America today (click here for video of the interview). Robin Roberts talked about steroids, Daniel suffering from Fragile X Syndrome, and mentioned that Chris Benoit had been demoted from top-tier superstar to more of a coach role. Linda denied the latter, saying she wasn’t sure where that came from, and that Chris was “mild-mannered” and respected in the locker room, and that this was a shock to everyone who knew him. Linda said that WWE wasn’t aware of Daniel’s condition, or that Nancy had once filed for divorce and a restraining order, until the information came out over the last 48 hours. “The only time we’ve ever seen Chris with Daniel or with Nancy, and I had personally, I sat next to them at a breakfast table at one of our events, Wrestlemania, and he was a loving and kind father,” said McMahon. “He was with another wrestler and his wife and family. The boys were playing. This was absolutely, we don’t know what snapped inside of Chris … We’ve learned that Nancy wanted Chris home more but his job was on the road. We have found that Chris would fly home for 4-5 hours just to be with Daniel. All of this is so totally incongruous to what we knew.” Linda went on to say that Chris asked for time off in 2006 and was given four months, and that if any wrestler asked for it, the request would be honored. When talking about the Wellness Policy, Linda said that “I can tell you, we’ve had some positive tests and our goal is to eliminate that. Steroids used improperly without a prescription are illegal. 75 percent? No. We’ve had some positives that would range in the four to six percent range and it’s a three tier approach. First time, you are suspended without pay for 30 days; second time, 60 days; third time, you’re out.”

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