Archive for January 7th, 2010

Review Reset: What the Critics Are Saying About Irvin Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY’

“Great read for anyone who cares about wrestling or is interested in true crime.” – Eric Lyden,,

“Muchnick provides a great public service in exposing what he describes as the WWE’s ‘Cocktail of Death.’ Now its up to wrestling fans to demand action, or else continue seeing their heroes die early from avoidable deaths, often ending up destitute after enriching the McMahons.” – Randy Shaw, Beyond Chron,

“The latest from Irv Muchnick, who has already authored one of wrestling’s All Time Top Five books with Wrestling Babylon, is hands down the most important wrestling book in years.” — Critic Derek Burgan,

“Incredibly well researched … an incredibly valuable resource.” – David Bixenspan, SLAM! Wrestling,

“Very few books are ‘good’ and even fewer are ‘important’ – but this book is both.” – Author and blogger Anthony Roberts,

“Muchnick goes where few others care to go.” – Mark Hanzlik, Sacramento News & Review,

“Incredible retelling of the tragic story, with all its odd twists and bizarre turns.” – Rich Tate,,

“Muchnick is hell-bent on discovering the essence of the cover-ups.” – Joe Babinsack,,

“WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt read this cover to cover and so should you.” – Alan Wojcik,,

Sorry — Make That 11 Dead Performers From 1991 WrestleMania

Blog reader Keith Harris posted a comment to today’s installment to the six-part series about World Wrestling Entertainment performers from WrestleMania VII, in 1991, who did not reach their 50th birthdays.

I accept the clarification on Curt Hennig’s cause of death and the note that “The Lovely Elizabeth” Hulette had a role at that year’s WrestleMania and therefore should be added to that year’s casualty list, not just the general casualty list. Below I’m reproducing the full text of Keith’s  comment, for which I thank him.

Irv Muchnick


January 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

“Hennig, a second-generation wrestler, overdosed on cocaine in a Florida hotel room on February 13, 2003.”

Technically Hennig died of acute cocaine intoxication, which is slightly different from an overdose. As I understand it, Hennig’s already weakened heart from years of drug abuse (not just cocaine, but also steroids) couldn’t handle the accelerated heart rate and blood pressure caused by taking the cocaine and led to a heart attack.

“One of the reasons Sensational Sherri was working as the manager of Randy “Macho Man Savage” Poffo in 1991 was that Poffo was estranged from his wife Elizabeth Hulette, who had acted as his manager under the name “The Lovely Elizabeth.” Poffo and Hulette divorced the next year.”

Your timeline is faulty here. Poffo wasn’t estranged from his wife Elizabeth Hulette at the time. Indeed at WrestleMania 7, Miss Elizabeth was reunited with Randy Savage in a memorable angle after he lost a “retirement” match to the Ultimate Warrior leading to the couple having an on-screen wedding at SummerSlam later that year. The storyline details are by the by, the important detail is that Elizabeth Hulette performed at WrestleMania 7, so should be considered as the 11th death of a performer on that show.


Mixing it Up With Hartford Courant Blog Commenters

Two days ago Hartford Courant columnist published a post on his blog, “CTCONFIDENTIAL: What’s Really Happening,” under the headline “Muchnick Won’t Back Down. What Will Linda McMahon Do?” The link is

There has been some lively dialogue in the readers’ comments below the item; I jumped into the fray myself. Check it out.

Irv Muchnick

UK’s Sun Picks Up Linda McMahon / Death in Wrestling Angle

Simon Rothstein, in a piece for the British newspaper The Sun analyzing the impact on Linda McMahon’s U.S. Senate candidacy of the withdrawal of incumbent Chris Dodd, cites the work of this blog in exposing pro wrestling’s culture of death. See:

“McMahon Rival Dodd Resigns”

WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 7-10 (Curt ‘Mr. Perfect’ Hennig, Ray ‘Big Boss Man’ Traylor, Brian ‘Demolition Crush’ Adams, Sherri ‘Sensational Sherri Martel’ Russell)

Monday – Senate Candidate Linda McMahon Has No Good Answer to This Question

Tuesday – WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 1-3 (Dino Bravo, Kerry “Texas Tornado” Von Erich, Davey Boy “British Bulldog” Smith)

Wednesday – WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 4-6 (John “EarthquakeTenta, Michael “Road Warrior Hawk Hegstrand, Ray “Hercules” Fernandez)

TODAY – WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 7-10 (Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, Ray “Big Boss Man” Traylor, Brian “Demolition Crush” Adams, Sherri “Sensational Sherri Martel” Russell)

Friday – Facsimile of WWE Talent Contract

Saturday – “Two Words: Public Relations” – Vince McMahon on Why WWE Now Underwrites Drug Rehab for Ex-Wrestlers

An incredible ten performers at the 1991 WrestleMania, the year’s flagship show of the company now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, died before their 50th birthdays. This fourth of a six-part series documents four of them: Curt Hennig, Ray Traylor, Brian Adams, and Sherri Russell.


At WrestleMania VII, Curt Hennig, who wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation as “Mr. Perfect,” lost by disqualification to the Big Boss Man.

Hennig, a second-generation wrestler, overdosed on cocaine in a Florida hotel room on February 13, 2003. He was 44.


The real name of the Big Boss Man was Ray Traylor. (Mike Benoit, the father of Chris Benoit, told me that notes Chris left behind indicated that his two best friends were Eddie Guerrero and Traylor.)

On September 22, 2004, Traylor died of a heart attack in Dallas. He was 41.


Brian Adams, under the name “Crush,” was part of the WWF tag team known as Demolition. At WrestleMania VII, Demolition lost to the team of Tenryu and Kitao.

Adams was a heavy steroid abuser. In 1995 he was arrested for purchasing steroids and owning an illegal stun gun. In 2003 he retired from the ring due to a spinal injury, after which he was addicted to painkillers. In the February 2007 raid on Internet gray-market dealer Signature Pharmacy, Adams turned up on the customer list.

On August 13, 2007, Brian Adams died in his Florida home from an overdose of prescription medications. He was 44.


At WrestleMania VII, Sherri Russell, “Sensational Sherri,” had the role of “manager” or second to Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Prior to managing, she was a top wrestler under the name Sherri Martel.

On June 15, 2007, Sherri Russell died at her mother’s home in Alabama. The cause was an overdose of oxycodone and other painkillers and prescription drugs. She was 49.

Ten days  later Chris Benoit went on his double murder/suicide rampage in Georgia. During the federal prosecution of Dr. Phil Astin, Benoit’s personal physician, evidence emerged that Sherri was among many Astin patients from the ranks of pro wrestling. Last year Astin pleaded guilty to charges of over-prescribing; he is serving a ten-year sentence and also has been named in a civil wrongful-death suit filed by the family of Chris Benoit’s wife Nancy. Four of Astin’s wrestling patients are now dead: Sherri Russell, Nancy and Chris Benoit, and Michael “Johnny Grunge” Durham (who was found dead in his Georgia home in 2006, at age 39, from an overdose of muscle relaxers  prescribed by Astin).

One of the reasons Sensational Sherri was working as the manager of Randy “Macho Man Savage” Poffo in 1991 was that Poffo was estranged from his wife Elizabeth Hulette, who had acted as his manager under the name “The Lovely Elizabeth.” Poffo and Hulette divorced the next year.

On May 1, 2003, Hulette was found dead in the Georgia home of another wrestler, Lex Luger. Hulette, who had mixed alcohol with many drugs, was 42.

Two weeks prior to Elizabeth’s death, Larry “Lex Luger” Pfohl had been arrested in a domestic dispute at their home. Two days after that incident, Pfohl was arrested for drunk driving while Elizabeth was in the car with him. And following her death and a search of the home, Pfohl was arrested and indicted on 14 counts of illegal drug possession; the drugs included both painkillers and steroids and growth hormone. After pleading guilty in 2005, Pfohl was fined and sentenced to probation. In 2007 he suffered  a stroke which left him paralyzed, and from which he has partially recovered.

Irvin Muchnick

NEXT: Facsimile of WWE Contract

Irv’s Tweets

January 2010