I hope that Mike Benoit, Chriss father, does not again become so dissatisfied with my coverage of traumatic brain injury and its role in the deaths of Chris, Nancy, and Daniel and who knows how many other pro wrestling personalities that he stops talking to me. Mikes inside information is too valuable to lose.
In the name of honest reporting, I continue to believe that there are problems of proportionality in the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy research pioneered by Dr. Bennet Omalu. Since multiple factors play into the psychological condition of depression, chicken-and-egg issues remain to be teased out and resolved. At this point CTE can be confirmed only through postmortem brain tissue analysis. As the anecdotes pile up, peer-reviewed science will be looking in minute detail at the individual facts of each known case, and establishing patterns of where alcohol and substance abuse predated or dovetailed with multiple-concussion syndrome. In sum, over time we will all get a better picture of how everything fits together.
But there is no question that the CTE folks are on to something very, very important. And that the powers-that-be wish they would all just go away. And that the public needs to be informed and challenged to tell the powers-that-be to stuff their best-case-scenario rationalizations.
All of which brings me back to Ricky Steamboat, whose recent non-concussion brain injury prompted me to check in with Mike Benoit a few days ago.
It turns out that when Mike made his original comments about Steamboat (see the July 3 post at http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/ricky-steamboat-thoughts-part-ii-chris-benoits-father-comments/), Mike was not aware that Steamboat had participated in a WWE television angle earlier in the week. In retrospect, that might only make Benoits remarks even more resonant.
Now he is sharing some newsworthy follow-up thoughts:
Back in July 2007, the week after my family’s tragedy I spoke to Chavo Guerrero by phone. We had already donated Chris’s brain to Chris Nowinskis Sports Legacy Institute for testing. I did not share that information with Chavo but asked him his thoughts on an article about Nowinski talking about CTE. Chavo response at the time was no way was Chris suffering from post-concussion syndrome.” Chavo went on to share with me that he was recently returning from a concussion during which he had also suffered from bleeding in the brain.
I remember the time WWE came to Edmonton while my son was still working for New Japan. Chris took me down to meet the boys one of which was Scott Hall. Chris considered Scott a friend from their journeys together in Japan. Have you seen Scott lately? He is a shadow of the man I met that day in Edmonton. The most disturbing part of that visit was seeing Davey Boy Smith, dressed in his wrestling gear and unable to walk to the ring due to substance abuse.
Mike Durham (Johnny Grunge) was one of my son’s friends in the Atlanta area. It is not well known that Mike’s wife had a restraining order on him prior to his death. I also understand that Mike took a full bottle of prescription pills given to him the day before his death by Dr. Phil Astin.
Brian Pillman was a very nice young man when I met him back in the eighties while he worked with my son in Stampede Wrestling. This was certainly not the same person shortly before his death. Again, look for the change in behavior.
Eddie Guerrero believe me when I tell you that a tear still comes when I think about this man. I believe he was the only true friend my son had in the business. Look at the issues Eddie had in his life. Could he have also been a victim of an out-of-control industry?
There are so many stories out there about wrestlers lives that have fallen apart. I think we are finally beginning to understand what may have caused so many senseless deaths.
In the next post, Ill get to how the medical experts influenced by the corporate interests of sports entertainment sometimes help us understand things better and sometimes use technical babble to confound common sense.