Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Larry King Live on Benoit Story

A very interesting episode of Larry King Live on CNN (07/09/07) featured a look at the Benoit Tragedy. John Cena, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, Steve "Lethal Weapon Blackman" all joined Larry to discuss what they knew of Chris Benoit as a co-worker/friend, the state of the WWE, drug policies, unions and counseling service possibilites.

Cena spoke about the sudden shock that the Benoit news caused everyone when they first heard it. Cena said Benoit was quiet and had the ultimate respect for the workplace and was always great to be around. Chris Jericho said someone at a show contacted him about Benoit. Jericho said it is so tough to separate things and try to reason as to why this would have happened. Larry King said when he spoke with Benoit's parents they said they can't sleep at night now because they can't even determine a reason this could happen. Jericho said Benoit was always a caring, heartfelt guy. Bret told Larry King that the president of WWE Canada operations informed him of the Benoit situation at first. Bret said Chris was always a cool, calm guy in the room and a class guy. Bret said Benoit never brought up personal things about his wife or family. He said he lost touch with Benoit when Daniel was born, so he wasn't sure if there were any family problems going on recently.

Cena said he only knew Benoit as a professional and never knew of any family problems he may have been having. Chris Jericho said Benoit influenced many wrestlers around the world and he was always talking about his kids and asking Jericho how his kids are doing. But he said he would have left his kids with Benoit out of anybody he knew if he had to choose. Jericho said he had heard about Daniel having Fragile X, and said when hearing it it seemed to fit with how Daniel was, but now recent news suggests he didn't have this condition. Jericho and Cena discussed how wrestlers must be in top condition to perform night in and out for the fans. Larry King showed a piece from his interview with Hulk Hogan where Hogan said drugs including steroids and painkillers are definitely around and being used in wrestling today.

Bret Hart said they need to really pinpoint the cause of these terrible acts and right now there doesn't seem to be proof of steroids per se. Bret Hart asked someone to show definitive proof that these crimes were the result of steroids. Bret said the problem of growth hormones will need to be looked at. Cena said the acts were committed over 2 1/2 days so he doesn't see steroids as the cause. Cena defended WWE and said its unrealistic for the media to attack WWE over this. Jericho said its lazy investigation by the media and this was more about mental issues inside Benoit that exploded into a horrible series of violent acts. Jericho also added he did some research that showed massive caffeine use can lead to depression, anxiety and hallucinations, which are the same things the media says steroids have. Jericho said nobody is attacking caffeine in the media but since it's wrestling they target steroids as a big problem.

Larry King asked Jericho if he was coming back to WWE, and Jericho said he was trying to get the papers worked out for it. Cena said he hopes he comes back and put his fists up towards Jericho jokingly.

Larry had Ted Dibiase and Steve Blackman join Cena and Jericho in the studio. Dibiase said this whole thing baffles him too. Blackman said everyone said for all the years they knew Benoit there was nothing to indicate that he was capable of this. Jericho said the only thing you can point out was Chris' quietness and privateness. Dibiase said the fact Benoit put bibles next to the bodies was an "act of attrition" and that he can't really explain Chris' motives but he may have killed his wife in rage then killed his son as a "mercy killing".

King had a viewer question about WWE providing counseling. Cena said WWE has griecance counseling services in place presently. Cena said there has been a grievance counselor at every single show since the tragedy. Jericho said the funeral has been very private so far and he's not sure if the body has been released yet. Jericho said he never had any conversations that indicated he was having serious problems with his wife that were any more than usual things guy friends talk about. Jericho said Benoit was at Make a Wish functions all the time doing good things for kids and loved children and even went out of his way to make extra time for them.

Manny Arora, attorney for Dr. Phil Astin, was on via sattelite. Manny said the DEA/Feds breaking in to raid Astin's office was told to the media hours before it was going to happen, so news footage could be shown of them busting the door down. Manny said his client has plead not guilty to all counts. Manny said he has talked at length about the Benoit situation and there is absolutely no way to connect Dr. Astin with Chris Benoit's death.

Email question asked if wrestlers are under pressure to bulk up to look huge. John Cena said they are mostly under pressure to entertain and go out and perform for the fans. Chris Jericho said he's not necessarily a big wrestler, and instead uses personality and intelligence to entertain. Bret Hart says he soured for the WWE after his brother's death but he still feels connected to it and respects what all the guys do. He added that its wrong to misjudge the whole wrestling industry based on the Benoit incident.

Scott Ballard the lead District attorney from Fayette County appeared via sattellite to say the investigation is still ongoing, and they aren't able to determine what role steroids or any other drugs may have had yet. Ballard said when he went to the murder scene it was troubling to see all the wrestling toys and items in Daniel's room which seemed to show Daniel idolized his father. Scott said even the toxicology report won't really say what caused this. King noted that Suicide is a crime but a non-punishable crime. Ballard said the toxicoloy report may not be out for several more weeks, and he's not sure if the body is still being held or not.

Jerry McDevitt the WWE's attorney appeared to say from hearing the wrestlers talk tonight you can get a feel for what wrestling is all about. McDevitt said the WWE implemented its drug-testing policy in February 2006, and it is constantly undergoing scrutiny and updating. WWE wrestlers are given random tests, and each superstar must take 4 tests per year.

Email question read about should wrestlers form a union for health benefits and rights. Cena said wrestlers choose to do this as their job and he enjoys it as his work. King asked Blackman if the pay's good and Blackman said depending on whether you're a top star or champion it can be. Jericho said Benoit could have easily been making a half a million upwards as salary. The wrestlers noted that if you're the champion you get payed the most.

A caller spoke about how Chris and Ted mentioned the unknown side of Benoit and his quiet side. The caller asked if WWE should consider psychiatric tests for its wrestlers as part of its policies. Dibiase said yes in certain situations it makes sense and they should use counseling/psychiatric services.

An email question asked if the wrestlers would encourage their kids to be in the wrestling business. Jericho said sure, he understands the pitfalls and risks associated with the business and if his son wanted to be in wrestling he would support that. Dibiase spoke about how he followed in his father Iron man Dibiase's footsteps to enter wrestling. Dibiase said the environment back when he was part of it was like "Rock N Roll" constant non stop travels to different cities and partying.

The WWE attorney said Vince is pretty close to all the wrestlers since he travels with them from city to city so he was shaken by this tragedy. As of April he said Chris was clean in terms of testing. John Cena said he's been tested 6 times for drugs since February of 2006. Bret Hart said he thinks the janitors sweeping up at WWE probably have more benefits than wrestlers, so a union may be a good idea to resolve the health benefits and wrestler counseling issues. Hart said there's been problems with wrestlers committing suicide and its become almost like a circus. The WWE attorney said there's no conclusive evidence that unions work, but King reminded him how the Major League Baseball union has done an excellent job.

An email asked if this whole situation will overshadow Benoit's storied WWE career. Blackman and Jericho both said it will but Jericho said you can't tell the story of pro wrestling without talking about Chris Benoit.

You can read a full transcript of the Larry King show featuring the Benoit story, here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think its sad what happened to chris benoit and i hope things will work out for everyone that is in the benoit family too bad a great man like benoit was having problems or whatever was going on!

July 10, 2007 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that chris benoit figures
should keep selling,Because Eddie
guerrero killed himself buy taking all kinds of pills it's the same like chris benoit and they are still selling Eddie figures and toys i feel that if they sell eddie guerrero toys they should sell benoit toys as well no 2 ways about it.

July 11, 2007 at 2:49 PM  

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