ARCHIVE 12/17/08: Nancy Benoit Food-Poisoning Rumor Confirms Importance of Wikipedia Story

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Even many who admire the thoroughness of my effort to get to the bottom of Matthew Greenberg’s Wikipedia edit (with the eerily early word of Nancy Benoit’s death) wonder where it’s heading. Well, you can include me on that list. But new information today carries a hint.

Nancy Benoit Food-Poisoning Rumor Confirms Importance of Wikipedia Story

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Even many who admire the thoroughness of my effort to get to the bottom of Matthew Greenberg’s Wikipedia edit (with the eerily early word of Nancy Benoit’s death) wonder where it’s heading. Well, you can include me on that list. But new information today carries a hint.

My recent article for SLAM! Wrestling (http://muchnick.net/babylon/2008/12/06/reprint-of-slam-wrestling-column-the-unbearable-ambiguity-of-benoit/) concluded by soliciting fans who had read or participated in Sunday, June 24, 2007, discussion threads carrying rumors that Nancy was dead.

A number of people responded with crazy stuff. One email was not crazy. The correspondent said he had been on a particular popular board “for years and was online through and before much of the whole Benoit situation…. There [were] many well wishers at the point we heard his wife ‘Woman’ was sick and throwing up blood.”

My research in the archives of a number of boards indicates that this tipster was mistaken in thinking that people were talking about Nancy in such detail as early as Sunday. However, he was dead-right in noting that references to Nancy supposedly having food poisoning and vomiting blood preceded the publication of that tidbit in the WWE.com timeline on Tuesday.

The report of Chris saying that Nancy was throwing up blood originated with Bob Ryder of 1wrestling.com, in an article posted at 6:36 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, June 25, 2007. The link is http://www.1wrestling.com/news/newsline.asp?news=29026. The significance lies in Ryder reporting this in the immediate aftermath of the news of the Benoits’ deaths. His scoop was huge — possibly larger than even he realized at the time.

Remember, the only thing the public knew on Sunday night, when Chris Benoit missed the Vengeance pay-per-view in Houston, was that he was tending to a “family emergency”; some versions of that explanation erroneously had Chris flying home to Georgia from Texas. In isolation, the word that Nancy and Daniel were said to have food poisoning meant little. But for those who had gotten a specific account of Benoit having said this in telephone conversations on Saturday, and who later learned that all three family members had been murdered, the “spitting up blood” story immediately had to jump out as a cover story put out by the murderer — Chris.

These people fall into two categories:

(a) Chavo Guerrero and Scott Armstrong, who actually had these conversations with Chris

(b) anyone to whom Guerrero and Armstrong related these conversations prior to the news of the Benoits’ violent deaths.

Since sources were telling Ryder as early as 6:36 Monday (I know who those sources were), I suspect that the (b) group consists of quite a few more people than we originally supposed.
We don’t yet know what motivated Wikipedia vandal Greenberg to escalate speculation about Nancy at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. But what we do know, thanks to Bob Ryder and 1wrestling.com, is that the search for the origin of the Nancy-is-dead true rumor is not an idle exercise. It is an investigative angle with a clear and active context.

Irv Muchnick

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