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 http://courantblogs.com/rick-green/wwe-shays-theres-going-to-be-a-lot-of-talk-about-dead-wresters/.

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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