On December 14, 2007, Stephanie McMahon Levesque was interviewed by staff investigators of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The session was among several involving top executives and contractors of World Wrestling Entertainment – including Stephanie’s father Vince McMahon and mother Linda McMahon. The investigation had been prompted by the June 2007 double murder/suicide of WWE star Chris Benoit.
True to family form, Linda played the buttoned-down corporate CEO in her interview, while Vince played the royal asshole in his. Stephanie, for her part, gave grossly misleading testimony about the concussions sustained by their company’s performers.
Q Okay. Have ringside doctors or treating physicians ever diagnosed a wrestler with a concussion and reported this to WWE?
A That I am aware of, no. There was a doctor who issued a warning to us, you know, that this person could develop a concussion but currently didn’t have signs of it, and that person never wound up developing one.
Q Okay. Are you aware of any times where wrestlers have I guess self‐reported ‐‐ where wrestlers have self‐reported to you that they received concussions and this information came from the wrestler rather than a treating doctor?
A Not that I am aware of, but I am not saying that that never happened.
A Just not involved me.
Q Okay. All right. Are you aware of any incident where a wrestler in a match received a concussion?
Q Does WWE have a policy for time off if talent suffers a concussion?
A Yes. We go with the recommendation of the treating physician.
Q Okay. How about in cases where talent has suffered multiple concussions?
A Well, in the case ‐‐ the only case I can think of, this person was ‐‐ actually, I think he is still under contract to us. And he suffered a number of concussions and has wound up, I think, forming a foundation to look into concussions. But clearly he no longer performed for us. We are not going to put anybody in danger.
Q Okay. You have indicated that you are not aware of a case where a wrestler has received a concussion. Do you believe that WWE wrestlers are at risk for concussions because of the nature of their work?
A I think, under certain circumstances, yes.
Q Can you describe those circumstances?
A Well, inherently any move can be done incorrectly. You really are giving your life to the person that you are in the ring with. It is much more than guys just punching each other. Every move, even a simple body slam could go wrong, and you could land on your head. That, in and of itself, is very, you know, it is a very skilled move to do. You wouldn’t think it just watching it, but it is. So, I mean, I would think if anything went wrong, certainly you would be at risk for concussion.
Q Would a chair shot to the head or a pile driver on an unpadded surface, would those present concussion risks?
A Not ‐‐ I mean, a pile driver, no, because your head never actually hits. And a chair shot, there is a particular way to hit someone with a chair. And again, if you screwed up and hit someone wrong, then sure. Or if you slipped on a pile driver and let somebody go, absolutely.
A But the moves as they are supposed to be performed, I would say, no.
A And mistakes do happen, certainly, as in life.
Q So if you had an unskilled wrestler and there was some concern that ‐‐ you have described, I think, Hulk Hogan as not a very good wrestler.
A Right. Which I didn’t really realize I was on the record and wasn’t thinking about that. But yes, he ‐‐
There’s much more in the full 138-page transcript – viewable at http://muchnick.net/stephanietranscript.pdf – and I’ll get to the related topics in the next posts.
As Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, notes, Stephanie’s mush-mouthed testimony is especially interesting in light of the remembrance this week, on the Cageside Seats blog, of Chavo Guerrero’s terrifying 2004 concussion. Stephanie was among those who came to the ring to check on Guerrero.
“It appears,” Mike Benoit says with artful understatement, “that the whole family has selective memory.”
Thirteen months after Stephanie McMahon Levesque’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee interview, Congressman Henry Waxman punted the transcript, along with hundreds of other pages of background material, to the White House, on a Friday afternoon during the Bush-Obama interregnum, and called it a day. Waxman never explained why he sat on the information for more than a year and never held public hearings.
The same month Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell appointed Linda McMahon to the state Board of Education, and her political career was off and running.
And this week Stephanie’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his arm.
Not that we’re accusing him of being a steroid user. Or his wife of lying to Congress.