Archive for October, 2009

WWE on Muchnick’s CHRIS & NANCY — The Twitter Daily Dozen for October 31

For a live feed of this continuing series, follow @irvmuch at Twitter.

PARTS 373 – 384

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 373 statements were false when made originally, false when repeated by me, and my statement that

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 374 Mr. McDevitt had mislead me was also therefore false” I do not agree that your draft Item#2

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 375 should be published for the reasons stated above.

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 376 Irvin Muchnick email to Jerry McDevitt, 6/18/09 3:28 p.m., “RE: Muchnick to McDevitt”

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 377 * I have no problem with publishing your email of yesterday in its entirety.

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 378 * Even after your feedback, my retraction post reads fine to me — simply stating that the item

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 379 was wrong and I take responsibility for it personally and apologize for it. Meltzer has nothing

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 380 to do with my own decision to publish the mistaken fact, and with my own need to correct it

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 381 as promptly as possible. I am open to other possible edits that might make it satisfactory

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 382 from your perspective. Please let me know. * The second draft post was shown to you in good faith,

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 383 not with the idea that you could veto it. I didn’t think it would be right not to tell you that I

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 384 would proceed to explain. My more extended commentary, outside the four walls of the retraction,

Let’s Not Go Reflecting on the ‘Fan Community’ Or Anything

In the chapter of CHRIS & NANCY about the “Wikipedia hacker,” I discuss drilling into the Benoit discussion threads of some of the most popular wrestling fan boards, including one called “WrestleCrap.” I quoted Madison Carter, a Texas-based wrestling fan who moderates the WrestleCrap board, as telling me that he had “a hidden board that contains all the stuff from that night [discussion of the Benoit murders] that we didn’t outright delete, only accessible by my mods [moderators] and I.”

In the thread yesterday at the WrestlingClassics discussion board, cited in my previous post, Madison Carter has this to say:

“Mr. Muchnick … came to … me about seeing if he could get access to the ‘vault’ (for want of a better word) of deleted threads we had stored from the 2-3 day period it took place in; I guess so that they could see the real-time reaction from online fans. Thought about it a bit and decided I didn’t want to let what was going on in those threads — which weren’t truly indicitave of our board’s usual nature — reflect upon us or the fan community.”

 

Irv Muchnick

CHRIS & NANCY Dustup at Fan Discussion Board

For an absolutely hilarious forum about my book, go to the discussion board at the Wrestling Classics fan site:

http://wrestlingclassics.com/.ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=103539;p=1

If you’d rather read the thread in PDF form, go to http://muchnick.net/wrestlingclassics.pdf.

 

Irv Muchnick

Benoit Book Author Muchnick Interviewed on CBC Radio’s ‘Daybreak Alberta’

Irvin Muchnick, author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, is interviewed on the Sunday, November 1, edition of CBC Radio’s Daybreak Alberta.

Daybreak Alberta host Russell Bowers also will be giving away copies of the book.

The show airs from 6 to 9 a.m., Mountain time, on Calgary’s 1010 AM and Edmonton’s 740 AM. The program also streams live online at http://www.cbc.ca/listen.

Muchnick’s Iowa Radio Interview in Podcast Form

Irvin Muchnick’s interview on Thursday with The Morning Report with Sean Patrick on WOC 1420 AM in Davenport, Iowa, can be heard at the station’s podcast page, http://www.woc1420.com/cc-common/podcast.html.

When the segment is no longer available at the station’s site, it will be downloadable at http://muchnick.net/woc102909.mp3.

CHRIS & NANCY: The Great Debate

A guy named Gary Cubeta, who hosts an Internet radio wrestling talk show, has posted a pan of my book at Amazon.  Weighing in at 33 words – perhaps maxing out on how long Cubeta can sustain a thought – the review concludes  with five that anyone could agree with: “my opinions, yours may vary.”

One whose opinions vary is Derek Burgan, a prolific reviewer of wrestling books and DVDs. On Friday night Burgan appeared on Cubeta’s show for a Siskel-and-Ebert debate about CHRIS & NANCY. (Burgan: two thumbs up. Cubeta: two thumbs down.) You can listen to the audio at http://muchnick.net/burgan-cubeta.mp3.

Burgan emailed me, “I was flabbergasted that someone could read the whole book and come away with the conclusion that you were trying to answer why Chris killed Nancy.” He also said, “LOVED the ‘negative’ comments about the book such as ‘too well written’ and ‘too researched.’ How do you respond to that?”

Naturally, your humble blogger thinks Derek is brilliant.

Cubeta, meanwhile, calls to mind this passage in the last chapter of CHRIS & NANCY:

“You can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand. Nor can you  argue with anyone who thinks a cluster of avoidable deaths, in a show business in a non-war zone, can be rationalized. Vince McMahon knows this; the rest of us only suspect it.”

 

Irv Muchnick

WWE on Muchnick’s CHRIS & NANCY — The Twitter Daily Dozen for October 30

For a live feed of this continuing series, follow @irvmuch at Twitter.

PARTS 361 – 372

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 361 retraction and apology should point out the simple truth that neither of you had any factual

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 362 basis whatsoever for that statement rather than water down the retraction. This is not, as you

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 363 would suggest, a matter of framing it as some dispute between Meltzer and I over the events

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 364 in question. Meltzer had no clue-none-as to what was provided at the Aug 14th meeting. I had

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 365 personal knowledge of what happened since I was there.His report, like yours, was simply false

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 366 and had no basis in fact, period. Thus, I suggest that you (1) publish my email entirely to you

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 367 (2) include only Draft Item #1, modified to include the following sentences in the second

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 368 paragraph after the single sentence you now have: ” I based my accusation on nothing other than

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 369 a prior written report of Dave Meltzer, which I did nothing to independently confirm as accurate

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 370 Upon receipt of Mr. McDevitt’s email I contacted Mr. Meltzer and learned that he had no authority

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 371 or factual basis to state that the WWE received the names of talent on Aug 14th or

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 372 for the statement that the WWE waited sixteen days to act on such information. Thus, such

WWE on Muchnick’s CHRIS & NANCY — The Twitter Daily Dozen for October 29

For a live feed of this continuing series, follow @irvmuch at Twitter.

PARTS 349 – 360

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 349 the falsity and the reckless manner in which you published a defamatory statement about me.

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 350 Previously, you put both of my communications on your blog without permission from me, and now

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 351 appear more interested in making yourself and Mr. Meltzer look reasonable than correcting

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 352 the damage you have done. So that your readers know why you are now removing the libel, you should

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 353 publish the entirety of the email I sent you this morning.  Secondly, I am not particularly

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 354 interested in reading your tribute to Dave Meltzer, whose sloppy reporting was your source

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 355 for the defamatory statements made about me.The plain reality is you did nothing to confirm

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 356 basic facts behind your defamatory statement that I had mislead you, as you now admit. You didn’t

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 357 even attempt to contact the Albany District Attorney, as you know admit, and didn’t contact,

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 358 or attempt to contact WWE to inquire as to when WWE got the list of names.And, it is now obvious

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 359 that when you contacted Meltzer he had no source for the statement that we received the names

WWE on Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Pt. 360 at the Aug. 14th meeting. Rather than putting Meltzer over as an authoritative source, your

Who Was Chris Benoit’s WWE Diva Mistress? A ‘Shocking Omission’ in SLAM! Wrestling Review

Several months ago TNA’s “Tara” (Lisa Marie Varon), who used to work as “Victoria” in WWE, denied a rumor, which had been capriciously circulated online by another diva, that she was the woman who was having an affair with Chris Benoit during the last months of his life.

On this blog, I agreed that Victoria was not the one. I further noted that CHRIS & NANCY would talk about the evidence of who was Benoit’s mistress.

In his review of my book earlier today at SLAM! Wrestling, David Bixenspan fails to confront this subject at all.

A shocking omission!

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Irv Muchnick

SLAM! Wrestling’s Muchnick Benoit Book Review a Flawed But Valuable Resource

The headline is cheeky – deliberately echoing the one over the review of CHRIS & NANCY published earlier today at SLAM! Wrestling.

In the next post I’ll make my most pungent comment on what David Bixenspan did and didn’t choose to write. But let’s say this much up front: Bixenspan has penned a good piece that grapples responsibly with how to reconcile the perspective of a hard-core fan like himself (and like his SLAM! readers) with that of softer-core fans like myself with more general interests.

Go ahead and read the review for yourself at http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Benoit/2009/10/22/11493831.html.

“Incredibly well researched … incredibly valuable resource” – these are selective promo fragments. The full flavor of Bixenspan’s take is expressed in this passage: “While the negatives are there, there is enough strong reporting that I have to recommend this book. The good parts are absolutely fascinating, and the bad parts were at least expected for the most part. The fact that the flaws largely come from exploiting holes in the official story and searching for the truth make them more tolerable than they would be otherwise.”

An author can’t ask for much more than that: a reviewer’s full, good-faith read. Criticism goes with the territory.

Let me address some of the reviewer’s specifics – starting with the mistakes he alertly nails.

Without as yet having looked further, I am assuming that Bixenspan is correct in noting that I misspelled the real last name of Johnny Grunge. When you have a name like Irvin Muchnick, you try real hard to avoid that sort of thing. Sorry. This will be corrected in future editions of CHRIS & NANCY.

I’m also pretty sure Bixenspan is right when he asserts that I erred in stating that Chavo Guerrero’s June 25, 2007, video tribute to Chris Benoit, which the book quotes in its entirety, appeared on the WWE website but not on Raw. Evidently, the website content here was identical to the cable TV show’s. The reason this is significant is that I hold up this tribute as a purported contrast with what Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, among others, described as Guerrero’s strange demeanor on Raw. In truth, in my viewing, this particular clip was not strange at all – just a garden-variety tearjerker monologue.

I’ll have to check more into this aspect of the story. In the meantime I want to acknowledge Bixenspan’s catch and thank him for it. Indeed, Bixenspan busted me on this one in a private email before the review was published, and the review itself proved very gentle with it (perhaps because Bixenspan regarded it as not so important in the big picture, but perhaps more because he is a decent guy).

The rest of Bixenspan’s criticisms are more complicated and – in my obviously biased opinion – less convincing.

 

  • The reviewer thinks the book “overanalyzes” the 911 calls and “gives too much credence to the possibility” that WWE security consultant Dennis Fagan was involved in “some sort of misdirection.” Such a subtle ruse would have been fruitless, according to Bixenspan, since “the correct time of the messages would be readily apparent.”

My response is: So what if possible chicanery would become clear later on? When you’re spinning in the world of the 24/7 news cycle, you’re living in the moment. Days later the correct time of the text messages not only would be apparent – it had already been published on WWE’s two similar-but-different timelines. Yet, as CHRIS & NANCY exposes, that didn’t stop the Associated Press – apparently influenced by lawyer Jerry McDevitt – from falsely transmitting to newsgathering clients the world over that the Guerrero and Scott Armstrong texts were sent after, rather than nearly 24 hours before, the “Wikipedia hacker” eerily reported Nancy Benoit’s death.

(As an aside, Bixenspan is being obtuse when he claims that “Fagan didn’t even seem to know the proper name of the company he was working for.” Fans call it “WWE” or “World Wrestling Entertainment,” but a lot of outsiders and corporate types refer to it as “World Wrestling.” For example, that was the term used by CBC’s Bob McKeown, the Walter Cronkite of Canadian broadcasting, in his documentary on Benoit. “World Wrestling” may sound clunky to Bixenspan, but it is hardly improper.)

 

  • Bixenspan seriously low-balls the case against Chavo Guerrero’s credibility when he writes: “At one point, Guerrero said he was woken up by the new message notification sound on his phone early Sunday morning, and at another, he claimed that he had cellular reception problems and didn’t get the messages until Monday morning.”

“Woken up by the new message notification sound on his phone early Sunday morning” – what an odd truncation of the detailed account he gave Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. My book reproduces the relevant transcript in its entirety.

.

  • According to Bixenspan, and contrary to what the book states, Benoit didn’t do all that many benefit shows for dead wrestlers. And Benoit’s Brian Pillman Benefit “hardway” bloodfest with William Regal didn’t earn Regal his new lease on life with WWE – he was already working there.

I’ll let Bixenspan and Meltzer duke it out over these pieces of arcana.

 

  • Finally, in a “shocking omission,” my book fails to develop sufficiently the relentless mind game by which WCW booker Kevin Sullivan threw his wife Nancy together with Chris – “working” not only the public but also the other wrestlers.

This is not a shocking omission at all, but a matter of emphasis. The reviewer is trying to say that if he were writing the book, he would have tapdanced on this point for pages. That the author decided to toss it off succinctly and move on to his own agenda is somehow unacceptable. Well, blow me down.

As Bixenspan knows, I had already covered the origin of the Chris and Nancy romance in one of the pieces in Wrestling Babylon.  And the topic had been discussed to a fare-thee-well elsewhere. There is no way that anyone reading  CHRIS & NANCY should not understand how they met. And there is no way readers wouldn’t see that they were being invited to draw their own conclusions as to what it meant in terms of the rest of the sorry saga. For Bixenspan, it was “a major force in Chris and Nancy getting together for real.” For me? “Only their hairdressers knew.”

Here is where wrestling fans – and wrestling journalists, who are “fans by other means” – can get truly nutty. If I had written more about Kevin Sullivan, the booker who booked his own divorce, then I presumably would have opened myself up to the cousin criticism that I was stealing material from others or rehashing what everyone already knew.

 

***

 

I conclude by returning to the theme of my appreciation of this review. David Bixenspan is one of those fan-journalists who, at least intermittently, seems capable of imagining a world and a life outside the four corners of his television screen. For that, he deserves credit, as well as my thanks for sharing  his insights with SLAM! readers.

 

Irv Muchnick


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