Archive for August, 2009 Releases Intro of Benoit Book Releases Intro


Story of Benoit Murder-Suicide

AUGUST 31, 2009—The Chris Benoit case amounted to “a conspiracy between those who care too much about wrestling and those who care too little,” author Irvin Muchnick writes in the Introduction of his forthcoming book, CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death.

“Let’s tell and retell the Chris Benoit story in the hope that it will eventually make enough of the right people care in just the right amounts,” the Introduction concludes.

CHRIS & NANCY, published by ECW Press, will be in bookstores in late October. The full Introduction can be viewed at

Muchnick says the twin missions of CHRIS & NANCY are “to compile a comprehensive and accurate history” of the tragic events of June 2007 and to shed light on the pandemic of death in pro wrestling, which he labels “a generation-long legacy of shame.”

CHRIS & NANCY opens with a Foreword by award-winning New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick (no relation to author Muchnick), which can be viewed at

A two-page sample of the book’s 16-page color photo section is at (low-resolution version) or (high-resolution version — long download time).

For complete pre-order information, including international links to, go to

To reserve an autographed copy of CHRIS & NANCY direct from the author, send $19.95 via PayPal to or via postal mail (U.S. funds only) to:

Benoit Book

P.O. Box 9629

Berkeley, CA 94709

All U.S. orders of autographed copies direct from the author will be at the American retail price of $19.95, with free standard shipping to U.S. addresses. Prices for Canadian and other foreign orders will be published at a later date.

Irvin Muchnick is author of WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal, and a widely published magazine journalist. He is lead respondent of the current landmark case for freelance writers’ rights, Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, in which oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court is set for October 7.

Media inquiries:

Irvin Muchnick

Simon Ware

Publicity Director

ECW Press






‘When Daniel Puder Hurt Kurt Angle’ … full text from SLAM! Wrestling

[originally published at SLAM! Wrestling on August 24 under the headline, “Five years after he ‘hurt Kurt,’ Daniel Puder reflects on defining moment,”]

By Irvin Muchnick

Maybe one of these days Daniel Puder, a blond-maned mixed martial arts powerhouse, will get a shot against Brock Lesnar or Fedor Emelianenko or Shane Carwin, and we’ll all see for ourselves if he really ranks with the biggest, baddest heavyweights on the planet.

For now, our mental images of Puder are stuck in a history warp and in pro wrestling’s fog machine, But sometimes it’s more fun that way. Puder is the guy who, almost five years ago, “hurt Kurt” — fate dropped him into the middle of a botched skit with Kurt Angle and the moment wound up defining his career. Go ahead, look it up on YouTube. Or, as the case may be, listen, my children, and you shall hear….

Puder, now 28, was a high school wrestling champion in the mat-mad San Jose, California, area. The South Bay also has produced Olympic gold medalists Mark and David Schultz. The best high school wrestler ever from San Jose, Dan Chaid, was a 1985 collegiate champ at Oklahoma who would lose to Angle in the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials (after which Angle captured his own gold medal). Puder, in fact, trained with Chaid, and Puder says that fully prepared him for when Angle tried to bully him on SmackDown on October 4, 2004.

The background was that Puder was in the last stages of winning World Wrestling Entertainment’s Tough Enough reality-show contest. The eight finalists were flown in to serve as foils for WWE’s “A” team. There are hazing rituals, and then there’s pro wrestling, which is basically an endless series of overlaid hazing rituals. Puder’s own on-camera initiation included getting his back slammed against a locker by The Big Show.

The next week Kurt Angle ran the Tough Enoughers through squat drills, taunting them all the while and gassing everyone except Puder, who clearly won that segment of the competition.

The script called for Angle to take on all eight exhausted rookies, one by one, in the ring. In a piece of confusion, he started with the former college football player Chris Nawrocki, who was mistakenly identified as the squat drill winner. (WWE talent chief John Laurinaitis said “the blond guy,” and referee Jim Korderas pulled out Nawrocki.) In what was supposed to be a “worked” segment, Angle got a little too “ramped up,” as Paul Heyman puts it, and wound up stretching Nawrocki, who suffered three broken ribs.

When Angle turned to the other Tough Enoughers at ringside and asked if anyone else wanted a piece of him, Puder raised his hand.

I, personally, do not claim to be able to interpret what followed simply from viewing the YouTube footage; the only thing obvious to a wrestling layman is that Angle’s angle went sour. As is so often the case, the most accurate comprehensive interpretation seems to be that of Wrestling Observer publisher Dave Meltzer.

Angle later explained the humiliating scene by accusing Puder of a double-cross; Angle also said he was just coming back from a neck injury and was down to 210 pounds. For his part, Puder says he thought it was a shoot, especially after seeing what Angle did to Nawrocki. “I was really mad at Kurt,” Puder told SLAM! Wrestling, “and I was protecting myself.”

(Oddly, Nawrocki would express bitterness at losing to Puder in the Tough Enough fan voting, saying that “if the fans got to know Dan in the way the contestants got to know him, they’d realize he never watched wrestling in his life, kisses more ass than a toilet seat and has the personality of a robot.”)

It was a classic WWE mindfuck, and all over in a blink. Angle bulled Puder into the corner and against the ropes, but in so doing left himself vulnerable to a kimura armbar submission, which Puder calls the “keylock.” He held onto the hold from the bottom.

In Meltzer’s account, “Not only was Angle not getting out of the move, but most MMA fighters would have tapped already. Angle couldn’t tap for obvious reasons.” Ref Korderas counted a fast three even though Puder’s shoulders weren’t fully down, “because the reality was Angle would have been in surgery had it gone a few seconds longer or had Puder not given up the hold.”

After that incident, Puder won Tough Enough in a landslide. That rankled, in particular, fellow contestant Mike Mizanin (“The Miz”), whose dream was a WWE gig. Puder, not a fan of pro wrestling, had entered the competition at the last minute on a lark, at the suggestion of his girlfriend. WWE gave him a $250,000 one-year contract, with options, and sent him to developmental. The Tough Enough hype said it was a million-dollar deal, but only the first year was guaranteed.

Taking Puder under his wing, Heyman advised him to project his character by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned, “I Hurt Kurt.” In a conversation with SLAM! Wrestling, Heyman called the Angle confrontation an example of “being caught up in the whirlwind of the moment. There are no-lose situations, and then there’s this, a can’t-win situation. You’re in a clearly ‘worked’ environment where you think you know but you can’t be sure you know. So Daniel thinks he’s in a shoot and he hooks Kurt. It’s either get stretched yourself or overcome the odds.”

According to Heyman, Vince McMahon and his lieutenants watched Puder closely to see if he would come out of the incident cocky or humble. A naturally brash sort, he chose the former tack. You might think that’s precisely what the company wanted out of its talent. Wrong answer! Despite becoming the most “over” babyface in developmental, Puder was not elevated to the WWE roster. He turned down the company’s modest second-year offer and moved on to the next phase of his career in MMA. “But it was a great experience,” he said.

If there’s one skill Puder didn’t fully develop, it’s talking. He says Angle pissed him off and he’d still welcome a shoot fight with him. Tactfully, Puder doesn’t note the dark, downward trajectory of Angle’s life, which has included getting fired from WWE after refusing drug rehab, a real-life divorce that played out on TNA television and, most recently, an arrest for possessing growth hormone and stalking his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Puder (who also dabbled in Ring of Honor before turning for good to MMA) has moved his operations from San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy to Southern California, fighting in such exotic venues as Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.

Paul Heyman, for one, never doubted that Puder had the right stuff for pro wrestling superstardom had the politics properly aligned.

“Are you kidding me?” Heyman said. “Daniel is 6-3. Great genetics, great look, good athletic ability, kicks like a mule. Has a smile so obnoxious he makes you want to punch the television screen. He’s Brad Pitt in Fight Club.”

Irvin Muchnick’s Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, will be published in October by ECW Press. Pre-order information is at

WWE’s Rey Mysterio Suspended — Also Linked to Benoit’s Doc

WWE has announced the 30-day suspension of Rey Mysterio for a Wellness Policy violation.

Mysterio, real name Oscar Gutierrez, was the “O.G.” listed iin the federal indictment of Dr. Phil Astin, Chris Benoit’s personal physician, for overprescribing drugs. Astin is now in federal prison and faces a civil wrongful-death lawsuit by Nancy Benoit’s family.

Irv Muchnick

CHRIS & NANCY Ships to Printer — Here’s the Back Cover

Irvin Muchnick’s CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death has shipped to the printer for October publication.

The back-cover image is viewable at

Other elements of the book that can be viewed online are:

* Foreword by award-winning New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick (no relation to author Muchnick),

* Front cover image,

* Sample of two pages of the 16-page photo section, (low-resolution version) or (high-resolution version — long download time)

For complete pre-order information, including international links to, go to

Wikipedia Changes Edit Procedure — Too Late for the ‘Benoit Hacker’

Wikipedia has announced that it is testing editor approval of changes to articles. The online encyclopedia says this will facilitate a balance between credibility and openness.

As readers of this blog know, shortly after midnight on June 25, 2007, a Stamford, Connecticut, college student named Matthew Greenberg edited Chris Benoit’s Wikipedia page to say that Benoit missed his wrestling appearance the night before because his wife Nancy had died. This was 14 hours before the dead bodies of Chris, Nancy, and Daniel Benoit were discovered by the authorities.

Chapter 9 of my forthcoming book CHRIS & NANCY, entitled “The Wikipedia Hacker,” reports in depth on this subject and its implications.

Irv Muchnick

Muchnick Article on Daniel Puder at SLAM! Wrestling

“Five years after he ‘hurt Kurt,’ Daniel Puder reflects on defining moment”

SLAM! Wrestling

CHRIS & NANCY Author Muchnick on ‘UnderScore,’ Hardcore Sports Radio

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, was interviewed today by Sarah Meehan on “UnderScore” on Hardcore Sports Radio, SIRIUS/XM Channel 98.

You can hear the entire 23-minute interview three ways:

* At the show’s online archive, (August 24, Segment 2)

* From the website,

* At the WrestlingBabylon Channel on YouTube,

Irv’s Tweets

August 2009