Archive for September 3rd, 2010

‘Is MMA Safer Than Pro Wrestling?’ at Wrestling Observer Website

Thanks to Dave Meltzer, publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, for publishing my guest column, “Which is safer: MMA or pro wrestling?”, today at the Observer website. The link is

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon & WWE Full of Bull in Response to Connecticut Newspaper ‘Death Clause’ Story

In his article today in the Manchester Journal Inquirer on the “death clause” in World Wrestling Entertainment talent contracts, reporter Don Michak gets a rare direct word from Linda McMahon’s campaign spokesman, Ed Patru. (More commonly, these types of questions get immediately shunted over to WWE’s PR flack, Robert Zimmerman, in what ethically, if not legally, amounts to in-kind corporate contributions to McMahon for Senate.)

Michak does not say if the Patru quotes were delivered in person, and if so, whether Patru’s nose, in the process, grew as long as Pinocchio’s.

Michak writes: “Patru said that in cases where ‘talent’ is injured while performing WWE-related work, ‘the company not only fully covers all medical expenses, but also continues to pay them during the period in which they are recuperating and unable to perform.'”

Tell that to Charlie Haas, who suffered two herniated disks, which WWE’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, tried to jawbone down to a “stinger,” before the company released Haas. See “Treatment of WWE Performer Charlie Haas Is a Study of Linda McMahon’s Character,”

Tell that to Andrew Martin, who died at age 33 from a prescription drug overdose (and whose brain, like Chris Benoit’s, was then found to have severe damage). As I reported in the Charlie Haas piece, Martin was released while he was recovering from spinal fusion surgery. Oh, but I forgot: Martin was one of those unfortunate souls who have “addictions.” Just like Lance Cade, I guess. Was Martin also one of those personal-responsibility independent contractors Linda McMahon “might have met once”?

Like everything else in an unregulated environment, taking care of injured performers is something WWE does … except when it doesn’t, especially when no one is looking. That is why I say that this out-of-control industry, which is bankrolling a $50 million “self-funded” campaign for high office by a political novice who has fed off corporate bailouts, needs to be investigated and regulated.

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon’s Defense of WWE Contract Death Clauses Is, ‘We Don’t Really Mean It’

Don Michak of the Manchester Journal Inquirer, who consistently has done some of the best reporting on behind-the-scenes aspects of the Connecticut Senate campaign, comes through again today with “WWE talent deals have ‘death clauses’ releasing company from liability.”

The article, whose full text is behind the pay wall at the newspaper’s website, has the subhead “McMahon camp defends the contracts, including one she signed personally.”

Here is the full text of the opening three paragraphs:

The father of a three-time champion wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., the company owned and formerly headed by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon, said Thursday that he was flabbergasted to learn after his son’s suicide that his contract with WWE contained a so-called “death clause.”

“It was only after the death of my son that I actually saw his WWE contract,” Michael Benoit, a Canadian whose son, Chris Benoit, hung himself after killing his wife and son three years ago. “I was shocked that any corporation could knowingly put its workers at such risk and accept no responsibility.”

But McMahon’s campaign spokesman said that while such clauses — which ostensibly release WWE from liability in the event of a wrestler’s death in the ring or due to injuries sustained there, even if the company is negligent — are part of its talent contracts, WWE has “never exercised that option.”

Irv Muchnick

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September 2010