News Analysis: Cena, Jericho and Other Wrestlers on Larry King Live

Last night on Larry King Live (I watched the 12 am replay after Raw), John Cena, Chris Jericho, Ted DiBiase, and Steve Blackman were all in-studio guests, while Bret Hart was there via satellite in Calgary. It was a pretty fascinating mix of wrestlers ranging from the current WWE Champion to former WWE guys, all of whom respected Benoit before he committed these heinous crimes.

All of the wrestlers on the panel said that Benoit never showed any signs of being violent, and that he was the type of person who would go out of his way to fly home just to be with his wife and child for 7 or 8 hours rather than simply drive over to the next wrestling show.

Jericho and DiBiase both speculated that perhaps Benoit’s “quiet” nature was his fatal flaw, that he bottled up his emotions and when he wanted a conversation to end, he would stay silent and it was over.

One question was just how rigorous WWE’s wellness policy is, and Cena claimed that he’s been randomly tested six times since the wellness policy went into effect.

When someone called and asked, “What do we tell our kids?” in reference to the Benoit tragedy, Bret Hart said, “Tell them to watch a guy like John Cena.”

Jericho continued to shine in these types of interviews, as he discussed some research that he’s been doing with psychologists and psychiatrists who have investigated murder-suicides before, and how Benoit’s likely severe mental problems — though unnoticed by those who worked with him and respected him — had to factor into this tragedy much more than steroids. They all agreed that they would never know what actually happened, even when the toxicology reports come back. The District Attorney on the case was also interviewed and agreed with that assessment.

All of the wrestlers were against the media’s tendency to jump to conclusions while bashing WWE, and Jericho called it “lazy reporting” to point to “‘Roid Rage” as a neat little explanation while blaming Benoit’s problems on his wrestling schedule. Jericho stated that the media has wrapped this whole thing around a “steroid bow”, which is just not the whole story.

Bret really stood out on the question on whether or not there should be unions in wrestling. Cena obviously wasn’t going to say much here, though he did say that when people get into wrestling they know what they’re getting into and they do it for the love of the fans and the love of the industry. Bret said that unions and health coverage is an obvious next step that WWE should implement in order to increase protection for these guys not just while they are wrestling but AFTER they are done. Bret talked about how so many wrestlers who leave the business become suicidal or violent or die of drug / alcohol abuse because there’s nothing in place to support them when they are finished with wrestling so they become broke or they look in the mirror and hate what they have become. I thought that was a tremendous point that no one really brought up when talking about all the wrestlers who have died before 50, that perhaps unions and health coverage could protect them AFTER they leave the business so that so many people in this business don’t keep dropping like flies.

Overall, Larry King was pretty reasonable — unlike Hannity and Colmes and a lot of other media outlets that have badgered WWE and the wrestling industry for steroid use — and the wrestlers and ex-wrestlers made very good points. It was a compelling hour and I feel like the wrestlers on the panel brought a sense of logic to the table that they haven’t been able to really express because of the assorted media personalities who always cut their guests off before they can make their points.

I definitely think this is worth a first or even a second viewing, just because there were so many important issues covered relating not just to the Benoit tragedy but to the present and future of WWE and the entire professional wrestling industry.

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