Weekend News on Benoit Tragedy

I’ll try to add any new developments or links to notable commentary on the Benoit family tragedy here over the weekend, so check here or in the ‘comments’ section tied to this article for updates.

Some items of note:

– The latest news on the tragedy comes from the Associated Press, whose Paul Newberry writes about the deaths in wrestling, why a wrestlers’ union could lead to improvements in the workers’ lives, Congress possibly getting involved and more. Road Warrior Animal is quoted as saying, about the work schedule, “It’s not as bad now. They’ve got good guys running the WWE. Still, we need to take a look at it when things like this (the Benoit murder-suicide) are happening. Guys are still overworked.”

The topic of ‘roid rage is also addressed, by Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency: “I can paint any number of scenarios that explain this without invoking ‘roid rage … ‘Roid rage tends to be impulse control. This event happened over two or three days. It has the earmarks of some calculation.”

The article talks about Benoit’s reaction to Eddie Guerrero’s death, as well as that of his friend Johnny Grunge. Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer and Figure 4 Weekly said, about Grunge’s death last year, that it “was about this period of time that people started noticing weird behavior, paranoid behavior, which would indicate (Benoit) was using a lot of drugs … He was alone. He was on the road a lot, having to perform at a high level, having to look a certain way. I think the drug use escalated, and his whole world basically fell apart.”

Lance Evers (Lance Storm) was quoted, in what I think is the first time since the alleged double-murder/suicide (he has not posted a commentary on his Web site, although he usually does each week): “From my 17 years in the business, I know probably 40 to 45 wrestlers who dropped dead before they were 50 … It’s an astronomical number … I’m sick and tired of it.”

SLAM! Wrestling is doing extensive coverage of the tragedy, and looks into how the media is covering Nancy as part of the story. “Nancy Toffoloni / Daus / Sullivan / Benoit was a victim like the others, and her career and life should be remembered, and her murderer, her third husband, Chris Benoit, should be the one forgotten,” says writer Chris Schramm. Click over to the above link for a media analysis as well as links to a Nancy Benoit photo gallery, career retrospective and more.

– Also on SLAM!, Greg Oliver has posted some email conversations he’s had with Benoit over the years. Here is an excerpt from a November 25, 2005 email from Benoit to Oliver… coming just a few days after Eddie Guerrero died:

Hi Greg, thank you for your e-mail. I know that he has left us but I still feel like I’m going to see him on the road next week. I do not know if I will ever have as good a friend as I did in Eddie. I was able to talk to him about anything in my life, and he was always able to make sense of things or change my perspective. Whatever I was going through or whatever issue I had, Eddie would never point his finger at me. He would use situations that he had been through in his own life, times when he had hit rock bottom, and could not immediately change the problem, but how he brought about inner change which helped him accept the situation and better cope. I believe in God and I do pray, but I could not quote any of the scriptures off the top of my head. We would be on 250 mile drives and Eddie would have his bible open quoting scriptures and talking about different passages. Anyone else and I would jam on the brakes wherever we are and they would be walking. But Eddie had such a way of applying them to whatever we were talking about and make so much sense of everything.

He was somewhat of a spiritual guide for me. I do not know if you read the Bible at all, or what your beliefs are, and I will respect you for whatever your beliefs are. But if you ever get the opportunity to read about Job, it reminds me so much of Eddie. All these tragedies happened to him. He at one point after coming out of rehab had nothing but the clothes on his back. He had physically, mentally emotionally and monetarily hit rock bottom. He lost his family, his wife and children had left. But he never lost his faith and through it was able to overcome the odds.

Instead of Eddie becoming bitter, Eddie became better. In our business it is really difficult to understand why we do what we do and why we think what we think unless you are in it, unless you have a passion for it, it is so demanding physically, mentally and emotionally in every possible way, but when you love it as did Eddie, as do myself, you have a better understanding of why we do what we do. I do not believe that I will ever find someone that I will bond with and be able to understand and be understood as I was with Eddie. I’m not looking forward to going back on the road, not that I ever did, I hate the road, but I looked forward to Eddie’s company and camaraderie. Both of us hated the road, being away from our families, but both of us lived for that in ring bell to bell time.

My wife Nancy bought me a diary and I have started to write letter’s to Eddie, it may sound crazy but that is how I’m coping. I’m sorry if some of this e-mail does not make any sense either but it helps me cope. Thank you Greg.

Read the entire column from Oliver, who is doing such a great job covering this tragedy, here.

Sports Business News has written a story looking at the tragedy from a business perspective. To track WWE’s stock over the past week or so, click here.

– Les Thatcher’s latest column at PWInsider.com talks about the Benoit tragedy, saying he loved all three – Chris, Nancy and Daniel – and that “I pray most for little Daniel who I never got to know well, but I was lucky enough to be tagged as one of his honorary uncles, and his birthday was marked and celebrated on my calendar each year. As I write this his picture sits a top our television and every time I see it I see both his mother and father so clearly.”

– The Baltimore Sun criticizes the media for simplifying this as a ‘roid rage issue, and the fans of wrestling and other forms of entertainment for encouraging performers to push themselves to such extremes for our entertainment pleasure.

Sunday Updates:

– The NY Daily News says that Chris Benoit had taken GHB – the “date-rape drug” – in the past. The newest AP story runs with this angle, reporting on all of the psychotic effects that withdrawal from GHB can cause. Wow.

– Political Web site Politico.com has a story up about wrestling deaths.

– The Calgary Combative Sports Commission is considering testing pro wrestlers for drugs.

– On his official Web site, Chris Jericho has posted a photo of him, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, along with lyrics from The Beatles’ “In My Life.”

– According to a report by James Caldwell on PWTorch.com, Geraldo’s Saturday Fox show clarified some of the errors Rivera had made in previous reporting of the Benoit tragedy, but still had timing of text messages wrong (by all accounts, Benoit sent text messages to Chavo Guerrero and William Regal late Saturday night/early Sunday morning… NOT Sunday night/Monday morning, when he was, according to police, already dead). Geraldo had Debra Marshall and Alex Marvez on as guests, with Debra saying that her friends have told her WWE is asking people not to go on talk shows to discuss the situation. Marvez said that word going around is that Benoit’s physician Dr. Astin was possibly prescribing steroids to wrestlers other than Benoit.

– A new ESPN.com article talks to Nancy Benoit’s first husband Jim Daus as well as Bill Watts and has more detailed accounts of when authorities found the bodies.

– The AJC talks about Lex Luger’s fall from grace and the pastor who saved him.

– Bill DeMott is sick of steroids (video) being blamed for this tragedy.

– WWE has taken the link to Chris Benoit’s World Heavyweight Championship win off of its title history.

– The funerals of Nancy and Daniel Benoit may be postponed due to the ongoing investigation.

– Mike Mooneyham’s latest column at the Charleston Post & Courier looks at the Benoit tragedy; this is one of several columns in the mainstream media calling for WWE to make changes.

– WrestlingObserver.com’s Dave Meltzer writes that he expects Nancy Benoit’s parents to ask for Daniel to be examined to see if he indeed had Fragile X Syndrome. He also reported that Bill Apter was on Fox News saying he thought the Benoit family could have been murdered and doesn’t believe Chris killed his son. Meltzer and Figure 4 Weekly’s Bryan Alvarez had their weekly radio show tonight, with Superstar Billy Graham as a guest in the second hour of the show. There are some notes in the below ‘comments’ section.

Tags: