Few stories here have resonated with wrestling fans as much as the disturbing suggestion that Dawn Marie Psaltis’s Wrestlers Rescue charity might be a scam (“New York Times Falls for Both the Little Carnies and the Über Carnies,” July 18, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/new-york-times-falls-for-both-the-little-carnies-and-the-uber-carnies/). Here’s an update.
Unimportant by itself in terms of scale, the tale illustrates again a sad truth of Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s pro wrestling industry: its fans not only don’t care much about the well being of the people who entertain them; with a double dose of perversity, they don’t even care about the integrity of a cottage industry specifically built around either caring or pretending to care. This is the real “conspiracy” of wrestling – an unholy alliance between those who scoff at a billion-dollar business and those who practically beg to be scoffed at.
The larger-than-life irony is that the Dawn Marie scoop is not really mine. I was simply passing along some background provided to me by British writer Mike Aldren. To be sure, I would not have done so without reviewing Mike’s primary-source documentation, including some strange emails to him from Dawn Marie and her camp, and concluded that the story was legitimate.
But the point is, I had no idea that the main wrestling news organs had not themselves already shared with their readers at least the outline of the same info Aldren had fed me. This became apparent after I canvassed Dave Meltzer (Wrestling Observer), Bryan Alvarez (Figure Four Weekly), Wade Keller (Pro Wrestling Torch), and Jason Powell (ProWrestling.Net).
Of the four, only Alvarez and Keller got back to me. Alvarez told me that the subject was covered in the new issue of his newsletter. Here’s what Alvarez now says in the July 27 Figure Four Weekly
Regarding the stories on the Internet about Dawn Marie and her Wrestler’s Rescue organization, and where all the money is going (or not going), I don’t know too much about it…. I don’t know how long ago this was, but I do know that at one point she absolutely was looking to register it as a non-profit, but I don’t know what happened with that. Dawn has a standing offer to come on our radio show and give her side of the story, but thus far we haven’t heard anything back. In the past my producer tried to get her on, before any of this went down, and she never returned any calls. I have spoken to two different people in the last week, one a friend of hers and one who has worked with her at different conventions who probably wouldn’t classify themselves as a good friend, and both were outraged at the allegations, saying she had a great heart, spent a lot of money out of her own pocket to get the thing going, and that this was nothing more than people trying to stir up trouble. Another former associate said they doubted she was scamming anyone but also doubted she was on top of things enough to document and record everything.
Alvarez adds that there “is definitely some verifiable weirdness, however,” when you also factor in an incident (which my blog didn’t get into) in which Dawn Marie circulated an email press release from Access Hollywood, which was obviously doctored, and which promoted the idea that she was in negotiations with a television network and major stars to act in a sitcom.
Pro Wrestling Torch‘s Keller told me, “I have as a policy strayed away from promoting any charitable events any differently than non-charitable events since I’m skeptical and have seen suspicious circumstances over the years.” He said he had talked with Dawn Marie about this cause before she started Wrestlers Rescue, and “she spoke consistently in similar tones about wanting to do this after her career and help fellow wrestlers.”
I don’t have a problem with the generous interpretation of Wrestlers Rescue – which is that, though perhaps pure of motive, Dawn Marie has not exercised professional protocols in operating her would-be charity. But I think Keller made the right point when he went on to note, “A pro wrestling charity should be held to stringent standards, especially something that’s more than a one-time event. There should be proper filings and records. It’s the least you can do if you’re going to ask people to give you money for a cause. Accountability should be a priority so as to encourage more people to give.”
Meanwhile, Mike Aldren in the U.K. has further information about the assistance Wrestlers Rescue was supposed to have given to Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, who died of cancer a few days before the end of last year. One of the defenses of Dawn Marie is that while her outfit may not be sharply run, at least she did her very best by Williams and family. Aldren, however, says he has not been able to confirm that the Williamses received any money from Wrestlers Rescue. According to Mike, Dawn Marie stated to him in a January email, “We are talking with the family and trying to figure out the best way to use the dollars that weren’t used.”
Moving right along, Brian Lockhart of the Connecticut Hearst newspapers quoted Dawn Marie in his Vince McMahon profile yesterday without mentioning her, uh, credibility issues. I’m sure Lockhart rationalized this on the grounds that, unlike Raymond Hernandez’s in The New York Times, the Connecticut story did not talk about Wrestlers Rescue. To Lockhart, Dawn Marie revealed that she used steroids during her WWE career.
This highlights one of the annoying lapses of Linda McMahon campaign coverage: a lazy reliance on dueling and contextually worthless carny quotes, while the verifiable facts remain hidden in plain sight.