Archive for April 9th, 2010

Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (1st in a series)

“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day

The Sunday Linda McMahon bombshell to which I had alerted readers of this blog turned into the Friday evening Linda McMahon bombshell: the superb report in The Day that McMahon, in a 1989 memorandum, instructed a then-World Wrestling Federation executive to warn a Pennsylvania ring doctor, who was also the No. 1 illegal steroid connection of wrestlers, that he was under investigation.

See “McMahon warned steroid doctor of investigation,”

What is equally important is for everyone to take a gander at the unexpurgated December 1, 1989, memo from Linda McMahon to Pat Patterson:

In the third paragraph Linda tells Patterson that her husband Vince “would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

With extraordinary enterprise, reporter Ted Mann went out and uncovered a long-buried document that was produced at Vince McMahon’s 1994 steroid trafficking trial. The court record had redacted the second paragraph of the memo. But as part of her one-day exercise in transparency, the McMahon campaign calculated that it was wise to take the initiative of releasing the complete document.

The previously blacked-out verbiage explains how the McMahons’ lawyers, Jack Krill, got wind of the fact that Dr. Zahorian was “hot” at a social occasion with a Justice Department official. (The memo says “State Department,” but Linda McMahon acknowledges that she meant to say “Justice Department.”)

This story is valuable from every imaginable angle. In the McMahon-for-Senate morphology, the most significant may be that, for the first time, it puts Linda’s own fingerprints on the very foundations of pro wrestling’s steroid-and-death scandals. These words are not Vince’s; they are hers. Nor can this one be spun as an example of a “party atmosphere” that “evolved” over time to the upstanding “Wellness Policy” of today. It is, pure and simple, a company directive, from the very top, to tip a target of a federal criminal investigation – at the precise moment when the company was separating itself from him for precisely the same reason.

In the next post in this series, I’ll briefly explain why The Day rushed this piece onto the web late Friday and into print on Saturday, the lowest-circulation day of the newspaper week. But not tonight. Let’s keep our focus on Ted Mann’s fine work here. In February I wrote that the Brian Lockhart/Hearst investigation of the quashing of the Waxman Committee investigation had “filled a syringe with substance and injected it deep into the flabby gluteus maximus of Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign.” Today another enterprising Connecticut journalist showed us that the substance isn’t just steroids. It may be kryptonite.

In later posts, I will direct readers to other facets of what lawyer McDevitt called “obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting.”

Before doing so, I invite campaign watchers everywhere to bone up on “Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (complete text as a single post),”

If that’s more than you can handle in one sitting, consider reviewing “Part 4 – The Defense Lawyer, the ‘Fixer,’ and the Playboy Model,”

Good night from California.

Irv Muchnick

New Linda McMahon Bombshell to Drop Sunday

I have learned authoritatively that a major story on Linda McMahon’s experience running World Wrestling Entertainment will be published Sunday in a Connecticut newspaper.

The piece is expected to include at least one important new fact, directly tied to Linda (not just to her husband Vince or to WWE as a whole), which has never before seen light — not even on this blog or in my books. And since I am not known for holding anything back, you can be sure that I was not the source for it.

The article’s publisher is not Hearst, whose February 28 investigation by Brian Lockhart, “WWE steroid investigation: A controversy McMahon ‘doesn’t need,'”, is the most substantial probe of her background yet produced during the campaign by the Connecticut media.

Irv Muchnick

Retired Wrestler Lance ‘Storm’ Evers on Brain Trauma and the Death of Chris Kanyon

Pro wrestler Lance Evers (“Lance Storm”) is now mostly retired and training wannabes at home in Calgary. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that Evers was enraged when, just days after the death of Chris Kanyon, the wrestling promotion TNA – World Wrestling Entertainment’s main, though very weak, national rival – had one of its performers, Rob Terry, take an unprotected chair shot to the head on television.

Evers’ commentary (which I am reproducing in full below) bears reflection on several levels. A couple of commenters at this blog have made the point that WWE is not the only, and certainly is not the worst, offender when it comes to certain occupational health and safety standards, and they wonder why I don’t dwell on that.

The main reason I don’t choose that type of focus has nothing to do with whether I have any sympathy for the practices of WWE’s competitors. The co-founder and CEO of WWE is the one running for the U.S. Senate, and I don’t think Linda McMahon should be graded on the curve. In some respects she is somewhat more honorable than your average carny. In other respects she is the least honorable of them all.

The other fundamental reason for ignoring TNA is that few in the mainstream have heard of it. For the general public, WWE = pro wrestling. WWE owns a 90+ percent market share in North America and is the one brand with substantial global penetration.

And with power comes responsibility. Wrestling is “worked” or choreographed. Therefore, promoters have the ability to set standards, even more so than in legitimate sports. The No. 1 promoter does not successfully duck accountability for a drug-and-death culture it has fostered and stoked by arguing that others are as bad or worse.

Or is Linda McMahon’s argument for a Senate seat simply a political extension of Gresham’s law of economics: “bad money drives out good”?

Here is the full text of Lance Evers’ post about the chair shot to the head he witnessed Monday on TNA’s show on the Spike cable network.

Irv Muchnick


Yes, they have done chair shots to the head before, and they bothered me then too, but this one was different. This unprotected chair shot to the head came just two days after Chris Kanyon’s suicide death and I just couldn’t stomach it. I know there will be defenders out there that will want to argue that Chris Kanyon’s depression that led to his suicide has not been determined to be as a result of concussions he suffered due to chair shots to the head, but that is just a cop out, in my opinion.

Sure, you could argue that one chair shot to the head does not necessarily result in a concussion, and one concussion does not necessarily result in brain damage or depression, and not everyone with depression commits suicide, but let’s be real. Anyone who tries to deny that concussions aren’t very bad are idiots and they need to go have a talk with Chris Nowinski and the Sports Legacy Institute. I’ve spoken at length with Chris and a couple of the doctors doing research into concussions and there is not a whole lot of doubt that concussions cause bran damage and depression, and instances of suicide increase dramatically as a result of this brain trauma.

The wrestling industry has suffered an incredible number of deaths due to drug use, steroid use, and suicide over the last several years, and in a post- Benoit tragedy world, seeing a wrestling company put no effort forth to protect its talent roster offends me to no end.

Let’s just look at this one incident, and this is not meant to be a burial of Rob Terry. I don’t even know the guy, and I wish him all the success in the world, but I think this really needs to be said. I’m genuinely concerned for the well being of people in this business, and after the incredible number of deaths this industry has suffered over the years, someone has to say something. I’m not looking to place blame for past events. I’m looking for action now to improve the future.

Rob Terry took a stiff unprotected chair shot to the head last night on Impact. The chair shot to the head was intended to help get him over as a monster. Why is Rob Terry getting this push? Rob Terry is getting this push because of his body. TNA likes his look. Unless you have your head completely buried in the sand, you know one of the main contributing components to a body like Rob Terry’s, and we know the health risks involved with it. Steroid use, while likely not lethal on its down, does greatly increase one’s chances of a heart attack at a young age. Far too many wrestler deaths are due to a heart attack, and while steroid use is usually only a contributing factor, not the sole cause, it can not be argued that steroids played a significant role in many early heart attack deaths in this business.

We also know that getting off steroids after years of use/abuse can lead to depression. We also know that concussions lead to brain drama which can result in depression. Depression in athletes often leads to suicide, which it unfortunately did in the case of Chris Kanyon.

What a horrible tribute this was to the death of Chris Kanyon. How the people in charge of TNA can either be this insensitive or this oblivious is beyond me — When is this industry and the people in it going to wake up and learn from the death toll this business has experienced? Thankfully WWE is taking steps forward with their Wellness policy and the banning of chair shots to the head, but TNA seems content to seek short term shock value ratings and ignore the horrific long term writing on the well.

I am beyond sympathy and to the point of rage when I have to add a new name to the list (of wrestlers worked with that died young), and while steroid use and concussions are not the only cause of these deaths, denying they play a significant role in many of them is ludicrous and we have to start taking every step possible to protect the health and well being of the people in this industry. The people on the list are not without blame. Almost all went down their road willingly, so it’s time for the industry to step up and start protecting its own (like WWE is trying to do with Wellness), and maybe it’s time for fans to demand it too.

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April 2010
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