Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
Three days ago World Wrestling Entertainment’s vice president of corporate communications, Gary Davis, responded to my query about WWE security chief Dennis Fagan’s call to 911 for a welfare check on Chris Benoit’s home.
Displaying the full array of skills of the PR craft, Davis answered questions I didn’t ask. For example, he told me that Fagan was not a WWE employee but a contractor. He told me that the Fayette County authorities were aware of Fagan’s call. He told me that a police report existed. None of these nuggets was news to me, and none bore on whether and why Fagan told 911 that Benoit had left a strange message early Monday morning, when he in fact he had left a string of strange messages early Sunday morning.
But I must confess that to the closing line of Davis’s email, “I am unsure of the point you are trying to make,” I can only respond, “Touche.” And I am hereby rectifying that problem with a series entitled “What Did McMahon Know About Benoit and When Did He Know It?”
For starters, dear readers, understand a point I am not making. I do not claim that the crime itself was anything other than it seems. Chris Benoit, and not some conspiratorial cabal, killed his wife Nancy, their son Daniel, and himself. Why did he do it? Hell, I could write a book – and will. That particular question is unfathomable; if I penetrate one percent of the answer, I will consider the project successful.
For now, though, the point I am making is both more limited and, in its own way, more open-ended. I am exploring what only someone in deep denial would not concede is evidence that Vince McMahon, the chairman of WWE, closely held a lot of information on the Benoit murder-suicide at the moment when McMahon stood inside the ring in an empty American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, at 8 p.m. Eastern time on June 25, 2007, and introduced, with teary eyes and a cracking voice, a Monday Night Raw tribute to Benoit.
Where this story goes, nobody knows. But, without a doubt, McMahon knew a great deal more than the public realizes. How much more will become apparent as this enterprise unfolds. As with everything involving pro wrestling, both its defensive fans and its dismissive critics will join hands to scoff at the details. That is the ageless coalition of the blind – the secret weapon behind the art of the “work.”
As someone who is fascinated by this fixture of popular culture, and sees its footprint on other aspects of American sports and American life, all I can do is learn what I can learn, and do my best to share it.