Chris Shays’ WWE Death Number Is Debatable. WWE’s WWE Death Number Is Laughable.

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Hartford Courant columnist-blogger Rick Green asked me to comment on the dispute between Republican Senate candidate Chris Shays and WWE (the company of Shays opponent Linda McMahon) over dead wrestlers. See

Here’s what I told Green in full:


WWE’s number is laughable. Except it isn’t funny.
Shays’ number is debatable — that is, you can argue over particulars of methodology. Lance Cade was bashed over the head with a chair on live international television, a year after Vince and Linda said they were banning chair shots to the head. Then they auctioned the chair that was used on Cade, and fired him after he had a seizure on an airplane from a reaction to painkillers. He died of “heart failure” in 2010, but he doesn’t count on WWE’s list.
From the introduction to CHRIS & NANCY (published in 2009):
… Nancy and Chris Benoit were approximately the ninth and tenth of the approximately twenty-one wrestlers and in-ring personalities who died before their fiftieth birthdays in the year 2007 alone. Some scores or hundreds of others fill parallel lists over the past several decades — choose your time frame and methodology. Dave Meltzer, publisher of the authoritative Wrestling Observer Newsletter, said the list of eighty-nine deaths under the age of fifty, from 1985 to 2006, in my earlier book, Wrestling Babylon, was “incomplete to be sure.” Giving the numbers the best context I have seen, Meltzer drew up a list of sixty-two young deaths in “major league” wrestling organizations from 1996 to 2007.
The profile and tabloid details of the Benoit case shed a useful light on a generation-long legacy of shame; to dismiss this — and the probability that wrestling’s drug-and-lifestyle deviances, induced from the very top, are major factors in the equation — is to make scoundrels’ arguments.

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