As reported in our Benoit notes from late last night/early this morning, Chris Jericho was on Nancy Grace’s CNN/HN show last night, and came across as good as any wrestling personality that’s been interviewed this week. A transcript of the appearance can be read here and video excerpt seen here. Some excerpts to add to the previous report:
GRACE: Back to former WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, also a very dear friend of Benoit`s. A lot of people have perceived him moving down to the “ECW” as a demotion. You say that`s not a demotion. Why do you say that, and why the perception?
JERICHO: I`m glad that — once again, I`m glad I got to talk to you about some of this because that`s — that`s just such a fabrication and totally wrong. The WWE operates with three separate TV shows, “Raw,” “Smackdown” and “ECW.” They`re three separate brands. There`s a champion of each brand. Chris was the WWE champion on the “Raw” brand. That`s where you see him where he`s hugging his family and all the confetti`s coming down.
Then he moved to “Smackdown,” which they moved the wrestlers around to freshen things up. And on “Smackdown,” he was kind of in the middle level. So to better utilize his talent, because he was across the board probably the best wrestler in the WWE, and anyone would probably tell you that — so to move him to “ECW” was twofold. One, he was about to become the “ECW” champion. And two, “ECW” is more with some younger guys that are just learning, and Chris was a great trainer and so well respected, they wanted him to be kind of more of a trainer to some of these younger guys to help them with their future endeavors.
So to move Chris to “ECW,” Chris would not see that as a demotion. He would see it as doing his job, which is to help the business and to continue the business going, the business that he loved.
Chris never had a job, ever, except for wrestling. He never delivered papers. He never worked at a convenience store. He wrestled. So for him to go help some of the younger guys, he would take that as an honor.
GRACE: Well, it sounds like to me he was turning into more of a trainer.
JERICHO: Well, no because he was about to become the “ECW” champion. A champion is a champion, right?
GRACE: OK. OK. I`m glad you cleared that up because I didn`t understand it.
JERICHO: [Answering a caller’s question about Chris Benoit’s two other children] Well, I mean, they`re doing the best they can to deal with this, obviously. And I think everybody is still processing it. Chris`s son is 14, his daughter is 10 or maybe 11. So I mean, think of it from that respect, losing your father at an age, also a hero, and the way that it happened. I know they`re going to do good, but right now, it`s as devastating as it is to all of us. I mean, what do you expect?
GRACE: In fact, it would ease my heart to know maybe he was on steroids, maybe he flipped for a moment. I`d rather think that than think that he could do that. When he died, the little boy had a little statuette by his bed of his father. He worshipped his father. And from what I`ve been told, the father adored the boy. So what are we supposed to think?
JERICHO: Nancy, that`s the thing. That`s such the dichotomy of this case. This is the problem. Chris loved his children. I`m not just saying he loved his children. He loved his children, all three of them, talked about them constantly, would go out of his way to go home even just for a few hours to see his son, to see Daniel, for sure.
This is the type of father he was and this is the type of guy he was, and that`s why it`s such a crazy — you can`t comprehend it. That`s what the problem is. Was it steroids? Maybe. But I don`t want to hang everything just from the fact they found steroids. He did not take a shot of steroids and go, “I`m going to go crazy.”
This is something that had been building in him for many, many years, obviously, for him to snap like that and go absolutely insane and take away the most important thing in his life. And I know it, because he told me, all three of his children.
I didn’t see the segment personally, but from what I’ve read, I have to say I’m impressed that Grace actually admitted that there were things she didn’t understand. By several accounts, Geraldo’s appearance last night on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor was embarassing, with several facts either misrepresented or taken out of context. (At one point during the show, Geraldo claimed that Sherri Martel was killed on the same day as Nancy Benoit, and that both women were tied to Kevin Sullivan, in what seemed like an attempt to suggest a broad conspiracy theory, but that’s just my interpretation.)
Bruce Hart, in an interview with Sun Media in Canada, called Chris Benoit a “delusional juice freak” and said that the last time he saw Benoit, “he was in pretty rough shape mentally … I didn’t know all the details but I knew it wasn’t good. I was not at all shocked (by what happened). If I could see and determine that in a few visits, how the hell could they (World Wrestling Entertainment) not have known something was wrong? (In my opinion) I think the WWE needs to re-evaluate what it is doing here.”
Hart — Bret’s brother and Stu’s son — went on to say that “almost all the people we started out with (who did steroids) began breaking down around 40,” and that “wrestlers start believing their press clippings and what is said on television. It’s like an actor leaving the set but still playing the part. There’s a delusional element to this. I’ve seen it over and over again. Some people can’t separate the character from real life, and Chris was one of those people. From my experience, that has been quite prevalent with wrestlers and that becomes exacerbated by steroids, drugs, painkillers and failing health.” Hart says that he recently told Hillbilly Jim that he was worried about Chris, speculates that Benoit – like others who’ve done steroids to see their bodies break down as they get older – got some sort of medical diagnosis which led him to “go off,” and on that WWE needs to take better responsibility of its wrestlers by bringing in psychologists and physicians to evaluate how WWE treats its performers and the toll the daily grind takes on them mentally and physically. Finally, on the tribute show Monday, Hart says “I kept hearing ‘He was a nice guy, a great guy’ and I knew him when he was a kid. But all I know now is he’s a murderer … for them to do a tribute show was disgraceful.”
In today’s NY Daily News, Stone Cold Steve Austin is quoted about Benoit’s actions having to do with ‘roid rage: “Absolutely not. A (steroid) rage is instant. This wasn’t an instant. It was planned out.” The story also talks about the Wikipedia issue as well as TMZ.com’s reports that Beniot’s doctor, Phil Astin, was once suspended for “reasons related to competence of character.”
For the latest on Wikipedia-gate, which has been covered throughout the mainstream press in the U.S., as well as in Australia, click here.
The LA Times says that federal charges may be filed against Dr. Phil Astin as early as today.
An article on Canada.com runs down some other wrestling-related deaths and criticizes WWE’s Wellness Program.
The Edmonton Sun talks with former Canadian wrestler Kathy “KC Houston” Stockton about the tragedy.
AP columnist Jim Litke asks if “pro wrestling has lost control.”
Miami Herald columnist Jim Varsallone suggests that the mainstream media’s treatment of WWE has a double-standard and has focused too much on steroids. He closes the column by saying “The mainstream media has taken the easy road and focused on steroids only. They are wrong. Three lives are lost. Let’s attack the real cause and beat it so this does not occur again. If WWE does not already have a professional counselor in place, I hope WWE hires one. I think with the very busy travel schedule of the wrestlers, erratic family lifestyles, mental and physical anguish, medications, steroids and latest happenings, it stands to reason one is needed. It’s a start.”
Finally (for now), the Ultimate Warrior is scheduled to be on Hannity & Colmes tonight at 9pm ET on Fox News Channel to discuss the Benoit situation.