Archive for April 6th, 2011

Hits Keep Coming From WWE – Where They Don’t Do Chair Shots to the Head Except When They Do

A new Cageside Seats piece by David Bixenspan has chilling additions to the reporting here on World Wrestling Entertainment’s ugly history of indefensible cranial chair shots, accompanied by lies about the termination of these practices.

See “WWE fines Undertaker and Triple H for chairshot, but does that matter?”,

Bixenspan notes that in 2007, when the since-deceased Eddie “Umaga” Fatu had to serve a suspension upon being exposed as a customer of Internet steroid dealer Signature Pharmacy, Vince McMahon staged an “angle” on Raw to write Umaga out of the TV story. Umaga was put on the receiving end of a series of sick chairs to the head by the one and only Triple H, Vince’s son-in-law. The Cageside story links to the YouTube clips of the incident.

But there’s more. The WWE website followed up the Raw angle with a retrospective headlined “Chair Classic Moments.” That story was almost immediately taken down from the site because it wound up coinciding with the Sports Legacy Institute’s release of the Chris Benoit brain study, with the finding that Benoit had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. See Cageside’s link to where this charming WWE document got preserved at another fan site, The Other Arena.

In an email, Bixenspan’s Cageside Seats colleague, Keith Harris, told me that my blog post earlier today, a chronology of WWE head chair shots subsequent to McMahon’s 2007 public statements that they were being discontinued, was incomplete.

“The Hell in the Cell main events at Survivor Series 2007 (just days after Vince’s CNN interview) and SummerSlam 2008 both featured chair shots to the head,” Harris said.


Irv Muchnick

WWE’s Secret Weapon: The Public Hits ITSELF Over the Head With a Proverbial Chair and Forgets Everything!

Linda McMahon, unsuccessful 2010 candidate for the U.S. Senate and presumed frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination for Connecticut’s other Senate seat, is “distancing herself” from her company, World Wrestling Entertainment, and everyone is letting her get away with it.

At WrestleMania on Sunday, Linda and Vince McMahon’s son-in-law and presumed heir to the throne of running WWE, wrestler Paul “Triple H” Levesque, used a chair to the head of the Undertaker in their match, in violation of company policy. Or is it company “policy”? The consequence is that Triple H and Taker have been fined. Or is it “fined”?

Some not-so-ancient history is instructive.

SUMMER/FALL 2007: Chris Benoit CTE finding and the ban on chair shots to the head

WWE star Chris Benoit murdered his wife and their 7-year-old son before killing himself. A postmortem examination of his brain revealed the serial-concussion syndrome chronic traumatic encephelopathy.

In their joint interview for the November 7, 2007, CNN documentary Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling, Linda and Vince McMahon downplayed the evidence of CTE in Benoit.

“These studies, you know, have not been — they’ve not been proven, if you will,” Linda said.

Vince added: Haven’t been even critiqued by the other members of the scientific community…. And the only thing 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 it is in the ring. You know, accidents do occur. It’s not ballet, as they say.”

DECEMBER 2007: The McMahons’ daughter (and Triple H’s wife) Stephanie lies to Congress

Question from Stephanie McMahon Levesque’s December 14, 2007, interview by staff investigators for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: “Are  you  aware  of  any  incident  where  a  wrestler  in  a  match  received  a  concussion?”

Stephanie McMahon Levesque: “No.”

OCTOBER 2008: Lance Cade battered with chair shots, including one square to the skull; dies 22 months later, at 29, of “heart failure”

DECEMBER 2009: WWE lies to ESPN about access to Benoit studies

On December 9, 2009, ESPN’s Greg Garber reported findings of CTE in the brain of a second dead wrestler, Andrew “Test” Martin.

WWE issued a statement to ESPN: “WWE is unaware of the veracity of any of these tests, be it for Chris Benoit or Andrew Martin…. WWE has been asking to see the research and tests results in the case of Mr. Benoit for years and has not been supplied with them.”

In fact, as my blog reported, on October 1, 2008, WWE medical director Joseph Maroon had met with Dr. Bennet Omalu and others at the West Virginia Brain Research Institute and shown the slides of Benoit’s preserved brain tissue.

Later WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt would contend that the statement was accurate because WWE does not necessarily accept that Omalu documented chain of custody and did not switch Benoit’s brain tissue with someone else’s.

DECEMBER 2009: WWE promotes chair shots to the head

The December 13, 2009, WWE pay-per-view show “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” was promoted with videos showing chair shots to the skulls of wrestlers – including one to wrestler Chris Jericho, which was followed by cartoon cuckoo birds encircling his head.

EARLY 2010: Ban on chair shots to the head announced

WWE officially promulgated the ban on chair shots to the head on its website.

On his own blog, off-and-on company executive and ring announcer Jim Ross wrote: “Nice to see WWE focus on eliminating chair shots to the heat of their athletes. I blogged about this several weeks ago which I am sure means nothing in regard to this decision being made. Some asked if I thought this mandate was ‘politically motivated’ to which I emphatically say hell, no. It simply makes common sense and the overall health of the competitors has to be any companies utmost priority.”


On March 25, Sheamus hit Daniel Bryan with a chair to the head at a WWE show in Champaign, Illinois.

On April 3, Triple H hit the Undertaker with a chair to the head at WrestleMania in Atlanta.

Irv Muchnick

Vince McMahon ‘Fines’ His Son-in-Law Triple H for WrestleMania Chair Shot

World Wrestling Entertainment announced on its corporate website that the two wrestlers involved in the cranial chair-shot spot in Sunday’s WrestleMania were fined. The complete statement:

Superstars Fined for Chair Shot

Pursuant to WWE’s Concussion policy, the stunt of using a folded metal chair shot to the head is prohibited. Triple H and The Undertaker have both been fined for violating this policy at WrestleMania XXVII.  WWE penalizes through fine and/or suspension for violation of this policy, which is unchanged and still in effect.


Triple H, who delivered the chair shot, is Paul Levesque, the husband of Vince and Linda McMahon’s daughter Stephanie.

The company’s statement is not credible. Spokesman Robert Zimmerman has not responded to my query on whether there were also consequences for another documented head chair shot incident, involving wrestlers Daniel Bryan and Sheamus at a March 25 show in Champaign, Illinois. WWE also offers no details on the fines to Levesque and the Undertaker (Mark Calloway). In the past, corporate press releases have gleefully played into storyline “angles.”

The website news updaters at the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and Pro Wrestling Torch know all this, and more. They should be ashamed of themselves for reporting this development with straight faces. (“Good move from WWE,” James Caldwell of the Torch summed up.)

Next here will be the four-year chronology of WWE’s public misstatements and lies on industrial brain injuries.


Irv Muchnick

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April 2011