This morning I talked with Mike Benoit, father of Chris Benoit, the WWE performer whose 2007 double murder/suicide in Georgia, and subsequent post-mortem diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy by Dr. Bennet Omalu, were crucial in bringing the sports concussion crisis to new levels of public understanding.
I asked Mike if he read Keith Harris’s excellent article for Cageside Seats, “Should WWE be fearful of the NFL concussion lawsuit?”, http://www.cagesideseats.com/2011/7/24/2290470/should-wwe-be-fearful-of-the-nfl-concussion-lawsuit.
“I did,” Benoit père said. “I am watching the NFL concussion lawsuit and I am considering organizing a class action lawsuit against the WWE.”
On the comments board under the Harris piece, he and his Cageside Seats colleagues David Bixenspan and KJ Gould have the following colloquy:
Who would have the best cases against WWE (keeping in mind that someone with a head injury is considered not in their right mind)?
Because of a big smoking gun incident that we have knowledge of, Chris Benoit’s family still seems like #1, at least for negligence in some form and they could possibly extend it to the suicide, though not necessarily the murders. On the December 6, 2004 edition of Raw, Triple H, normally considered a very safe worker, blasted both Benoit in the back of the head and referee Jack Doan in the front/top with a chair. Both were knocked out and after waking up, Benoit couldn’t stand on his own power for several minutes. He was back wrestling 4 days later on the next house show. For a while, WWE claimed they had no records of Benoit suffering concussions in WWE but eventually changed course. It’s unclear if this was recorded as one of them, but letting him wrestle four days later was inexcusable. Nobody knows what was up with Triple H here, for what it’s worth.
Several months later, Triple H reportedly used his match with Jim Ross at MSG to legally assault Ross over a lowball payoff from years earlier that Vince McMahon blamed Ross for. After some punches from the “normally safe” Triple H, Ross’s vision was severely damaged.
Don’t forget about [Chris] Nowinski. At least in terms of approaching if possible for his comments on what’s happening. Also has it been speculated that both Chris Kanyon and Mike Awesome’s depression that lead to suicide was from a career of concussions? What about their families? (though like Benoit, you could argue their concussions happened primarily before a career with WWE)
Kanyon I could see a possibility because he took a chairshot to the head (with the “wrong” part of the chair) in a WWE punishment angle even though he spent relatively little time there.
Awesome is a guy where everyone attributes his suicide and depression to head injuries but spent very little time in WWE.
Nowinski depends on exactly what management knew when.
The problem with Awesome, Kanyon and Cade is that none had their brain’s examined. The best case would likely be Andrew Martin, as he worked almost his entire career in WWE and was diagnosed with CTE at the time of his death, but I’d presume his autopsy was done better than Benoit’s rushed one.
In the new version of my website, all the old blog articles have been imported to the archive, but the old links are dead. Below are new links to some of the coverage here on the topics mentioned by Bixenspan.