Concussion Inc.’s 2013 ebook in association with Snuka victim Nancy Argentino’s sisters, JUSTICE DENIED: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s Motel Room, can be purchased from Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00CPTP6VM, for $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle-compatible reader, you can get an emailed PDF file by sending $2.99 via Paypal to [email protected]. All royalties go to organizations fighting domestic violence.
by Irvin Muchnick
I think we can wrap up the Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka matter for now. He died 16 days ago. The next night — two weeks ago last night — WWE broadcast, on its flagship television show Raw, an extended sentimental video tribute to this likely murderer of Nancy Argentino. Shortly thereafter, WWE commenced hawking “Jimmy Snuka Collection” merchandise.
All tasteless. And from this source, all predictable.
For anyone who might have been expecting better, Jim Ross, an iconic pro wrestling announcer whose career has included multiple WWE stints, proceeded to make things worse with a tone-deaf reaction to the criticism of the tribute.
I qualified the previous sentence because Ross has made parallel shill-laden statements in the past; so no one should have been expecting better. For example, when Ross emerged from the 2007 funeral for Chris Benoit’s murdered wife Nancy and their son Daniel, Ross chose that moment to debunk the issue of the role of steroids in the wrestler’s descent into homicidal-suicidal madness. Ross even issued his pronouncement with signature barnyard folksiness, saying, “That horse has got to be put in the barn and unsaddled.” A few weeks later, the Georgia medical examiner would find that Benoit’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio, a function of his massive ingestion of steroids enabled by a “therapeutic use exemption” of WWE’s “wellness policy,” was off the charts.
The quote below in bold, from Ross’s January 18 podcast, The Ross Report, offers a flavor of his thumbs-down review of the thumbs-down reviews of the WWE Snuka tribute:
“I had no issues with [the tribute]. I was glad they recognized [Snuka] and recognized his passing. For wrestling fans, for many of them, he meant a lot to a generation of fans. I’m glad that they acknowledged it.
It’s the wrong forum, in my view, to continue to wear out a topic of a trial that never happened and a court case that’s been dismissed. I don’t know what happened and all this other stuff regarding Jimmy and the lady that was murdered. But golly, there’s a time and place to discuss those issues. And one would think that we’d have enough intelligence to let the family – he had a lot of kids, man. They have friends and they have cousins and I think to just let the family grieve before we go back on this Oliver Stone quest of proving Jimmy Snuka posthumously was a murderer. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing.”
Ross went on at greater length to dismiss the “conspiracy theories” fixated on proving Snuka’s culpability in Nancy Argentino’s 1983 death.
To his credit, Ross then apologized on his blog a week later. But as we’ll see, this professional communicator did not find a way to express himself in a manner that showed he much understood or cared about whatever had gone awry with his original remarks. Here’s the full text:
“I have apparently upset some folks with my remarks about WWE recognizing the memory of the late Jimmy Snuka on their broadcasts and, more specifically, my inadvertently flippant remarks about the ‘Oliver Stone’ types who chose to seemingly disregard the opportunity of the children and grandchildren of Jimmy Snuka to grieve for the loss of their family patriarch.
In no way did I mean to disrespect the Argentino family for their loss of their daughter/sister Nancy in 1983. That was certainly not my intent. My thoughts were strictly on the children and grandchildren of Snuka which in hindsight was not equitable considering the extraordinary circumstances of this matter.
My apologies to anyone affected by my remarks especially the family of the late, Nancy Argentino.
I hope that anyone who knows me realizes that me intentionally hurting others is simply not my style, however, my comments made on the Ross Report were mine and I take ownership and responsibility for them in their entirety. Again, I regret how my remarks were taken especially as it relates to the feelings of the Argentino family.”
In an email exchange, I told Ross why I felt the apology fell flat. The set-up “I have apparently upset some folks” is classic dog whistle — a signal to unreconstructed Snuka deniers that the exercise is only a ritual and that the speaker’s offense was political incorrectness or hurting people’s feelings, rather than an inapt grasp of facts and reality.
To be sure, Ross’s language was horribly callous to the Argentino family. But I don’t speak for Nancy’s surviving sisters, Louise and Lorraine, in opining that the more egregious offense was the Oliver Stone line. The reference suggested that the evidence of Snuka’s guilt is slim and way out there, and that it turns on some spectacular forensic interpretation. Anyone paying attention knows this is nonsense. Snuka was belatedly indicted in 2015 on the same evidence — including the basics of the contemporaneous coroner’s report and the howling inconsistencies in Snuka’s own multiple accounts in multiple settings, including to police — that should have been applied 32 years earlier.
Justice delayed, the first cousin here of justice denied, was a combination of blatant incompetence and corruption. Indeed, the exact proportion of those ingredients is a far bigger mystery than what precisely happened in Snuka’s room at the George Washington Motor Lodge.
(Incidentally, and as I told Ross, I also support giving Snuka’s family the space to mourn — in private.)
Here’s what Ross wrote to me about all this on email:
“I thought my thoughts were self explanatory Irv as I made a mistake by not taking the Argentino family into consideration when addressing Snuka’s death while only addressing Snuka’s children and grandchildren.
I should have never used the Oliver Stone line as it was ill fated and was meant for entertainment purposes for the lack of a better term and I regret saying it as it was simply wrong of me.
While I knew Snuka professionally he was never a personal friend nor did I attempt to protect him because he was a peer.
I casually followed the criminal case from a far so many of the details of the case are not that familiar to me but I do know the general circumstances of the matter.
As I said, I had no issue with Snuka’s death being mentioned on WWE TV but I did not see the video tribute but had no issues with hearing of it after the fact. However, I can certainly understand the consternation of some because of it….”
After a personal passage, Ross concluded by saying, “I assume that you listened to my podcast regarding this issue.”
This was last Friday, the 27th.
In fact, I had not listened to anything further on Ross’s podcast. I took the last line as his invitation for me to listen to what he had said three days earlier, on January 24, and I queued up that edition of The Ross Report. I heard no audio on the posted apology.
I did, however, pick up a further extended discussion of Snuka’s legacy in a conversation with retired wrestler Mick Foley. And in the course of the discussion, Ross reprised his verbiage about “conspiracy theories” in the Snuka case. Concededly, it was not the dominant theme of the segment. And this time Ross sounded resigned and sorrowful, rather than defiant and aggressive. But “conspiracy theories” does seem to remain central to his takeaway.
I went back to Ross a last time. In doing so, I intended not so much to play “gotcha” as to resolve my genuine confusion over why someone would go to the trouble of apologizing, before turning around again and reverting to language for which he had apologized — and even proactively point me to it.
“Gosh Irv I was merely asking if you had heard my comments because I did not listen to that show and couldn’t remember exactly what I said,” Ross emailed back. He again said he had “made a mistake in how I addressed the Snuka matter of which I sincerely regret. Wish I’d never even acknowledged his passing.”