What Linda McMahon and Her Husband Told CNN in 2007 About Concussions and Pro Wrestling Chair Shots

World Wrestling Entertainment’s double-talk about last week’s Ricky Steamboat brain aneurysm – excuse me, his burst capillary – sent me back to what Linda McMahon and Vince McMahon said on the November 7, 2007, CNN documentary Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling.

Earlier that year WWE star Chris Benoit murdered his wife and their seven-year-old son before taking his own life. After Benoit’s father donated Chris’s brain to the Sports Legacy Institute, founded by retired pro wrestler Chris Nowinski, Dr. Bennet Omalu (then affiliated with SLI) found that Chris Benoit had dramatic evidence of a syndrome Omalu has named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Asked about all this on CNN, Linda McMahon said: “These studies, you know, have not been – they’ve not been proven, if you will.”

Vince McMahon added: “And the only we’ve done really is from a conservative standpoint is just don’t use chairs to the head. But other than that, you know, it’s what is in the ring. You know, accidents do occur. It’s not ballet, as they say.”

The truth is that chair shots to the head continued in WWE until January 2010, two years and two months later, by which time Linda McMahon was running for a United States Senate seat in Connecticut.

Of course, as revered WWE announcer Jim Ross assured everyone at the time of the announcement of the ban, it had nothing to do with Linda’s political ambitions. WWE just wanted to make things safer for its performers.

The transcript of the 2007 CNN special can be viewed at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0711/07/siu.01.html.

Irv Muchnick

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