Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
The investigations of pro wrestlings death culture can expect to take an intriguing new turn this week with new revelations by Michael Benoit, the father of wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife, their son, and himself over a weekend in late June.
Michael Benoit is scheduled to appear Thursday, September 6, on ABCs Good Morning, America and Nightline.
In recent days the focus has been on upcoming Congressional investigations and on the suspension by World Wrestling Entertainment of wrestlers found by the Albany, New York, district attorneys office to have placed Internet orders for steroids, human growth hormone, and ancillary drugs from Signature Pharmacy of Jupiter, Florida.
At the same time, however, the Benoit family and that of Chris Benoits murdered wife, the former Nancy Toffolino, have begun legal skirmishes over the disposition of the wrestlers multimillion-dollar Georgia home and other estate assets. (Benoit also left behind two children from his first marriage.) A potential dispute has arisen over the order of wife Nancy and son Daniels deaths, as this could impact the application of a Georgia slayer statute that prohibits murderers and their heirs from benefiting from such crimes.
It was in that context that Michael Benoit last week raised before the court the issue of Chris Benoits diminished capacity, and this no doubt will be at least part of what he intends to reveal in his upcoming ABC interviews. Diminished capacity could refer to the effects that steroids and other drugs played in Chris Benoits mental state. But our sources suggest that there may be an additional element: chronic brain injury from the traumas of this wrestlers especially reckless performance style, which included diving head butts from the top rope.
Chris Nowinski, a former wrestler who has devoted himself to research and education in this area, was quoted in early media reports as believing that a form of post-concussion syndrome may be part of the explanation for Benoits murderous rampage. Nowinski asked the authorities in Georgia to examine Benoits brain tissue. Nowinski at first was rebuffed; later a brain examination became part of the postmortem studies, but it wasnt clear whether it would reveal much because of the advanced state of decomposition. (In addition to the lapse before the discovery of the familys bodies, it was a very hot weekend in Fayette County, around 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and the air conditioning in the house had been turned off.)
Of course, if there is indeed evidence of a brain-injury syndrome among wrestlers, and of specific indications with this particular wrestler that were ignored, they will lengthen the list of metaphorical headaches for World Wrestling Entertainment.