Vince McMahon appeared in the first segment after the news on The Today Show this morning. He was interviewed by Meredith Vierra after a recap of the Chris Benoit tragedy, where they mentioned that anabolic steroids were one of the focal points of the investigation. They showed a short clip with Lex Luger, who told them that mixing alcohol and steroid use is a bad combination. They mentioned the death of Eddie Guerrero in 2005 and linked it to steroids. They showed Curt Hennig and said his father blamed his son’s death on drug and steroid use.
Vince was then interviewed and was very somber. He was asked about WWE’s role in alerting authorities to a potential problem at the Benoit home. Vince said that Chris missed a house show on Saturday in Beamont, TX, which is very unlike him. He said that the office then contacted Chris to rearrange his travel to get him to the PPV. When he didn’t show up on Sunday, they knew something was drastically wrong. Vince said that Benoit was a consummate professional from a business perspective so they knew there had to be a problem. Vince said that he heard that Benoit contacted his friends early Sunday morning with strange text messages. He said that they decided to contact the authorities.
He was asked if he contacted police. He said he didn’t. He oversaw how WWE handled it.
He was asked about the steroids found in the home. Vierra mentioned that the police said they didn’t know if steroids played a part in the tragedy and then mentioned that WWE almost immediately released a statement after the press conference saying that steroids were not related to the death. She asked Vince how they could possibly know that since the toxicology reports hadn’t come in yet. Vince said they didn’t say that. Vierra countered by saying she had just read the exact quote, which made Vince look bad.
He said, “I understand” and then went on to say that their reaction was to the hysteria of the media. Vierra again asked how they could say that steroids “were not and could not be related to the cause of death” when they have no way of proving that. Vince said that they were referring to steroid rage when they wrote that. He said that the crime happened over three days so it wasn’t steroid rage. He added that it’s all speculation until the toxicology reports come back.
Since Vince was ignoring her question, she flat out asked why they were so defensive about steroid involvement being linked to the crime. She mentioned steroids were found in the home and pointed to the 2003 protection order that Nancy Benoit filed to show that Benoit had a history of violence. She mentioned that steroid use also causes depression and paranoia. Vince agreed and pointed to the other medications found in the house and mentioned that there could have been other factors.
He said he hoped they could find out why it happened and was basically saying he wasn’t jumping to any conclusion. He said that the whole thing goes against what WWE does. They are entertainers who bring smiles to people’s faces. He didn’t want this to “taint and smear” his company. He compared what Benoit did to a postal worker who commits a crime, saying it wasn’t the Post Office’s fault and that you still use them for your mail. He said that Benoit does not represent what WWE is about and he doesn’t know why Benoit turned into a “monster”. He said WWE wants to know what happened as well and whether steroids played a part in it in any way. He said it could have been the pressures of his son’s illness that caused the tragedy.
Vierra said that steroid use has always been suspected among wrestlers. She asked Vince how he deals with it. He said that now they have implemented the Wellness Program. He talked about it and said it was a blood and urine test, plus cardiovascular tests to check their hearts. He said Benoit was tested in April and it came back negative. He added, “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t taking prescription medication and perhaps even steroids when this happened, we don’t know.” He added that it will be determined by the authorities.
Vierra then came back to how Vince said his business was tainted by this. She used that as a segue to talk about early deaths in wrestling, saying it was “almost an occupational hazard”. She read the early death stats that always make their way out to the media (and you all probably know how I feel about those stats by now). She asked Vince what his responsibility was to the people who he makes so much money from. He said that they have had five people who were under contract to them pass away. He said he can’t comment on the others and didn’t even know if the stats were accurate. He told Vierra, “nor do you”. Vince appeared to be getting agitated at this point.
She rolled her eyes and said, “It’s disingenuous to say that you don’t believe there is suspected steroid use within the wrestling community.” Vince said he never said that. He said that he can only speak about the five people under contract to WWE that died on his watch. He mentioned that Benoit’s death was a suicide, Owen Hart was an accident and said that the other three died of heart failure.
Vierra asked if steroids are found to have been in Benoit’s system, what impact will it have on wrestling and him in particular. Vince again mentioned the Wellness Program and said how effective it is. He said that if you ask his performers, they would tell you the same thing. He said all WWE can do is establish the program and do what they can to help the wrestlers. He was asked if Benoit had steroids in his body, will it do anything to make him change his approach. Vince said he thinks people are rushing to judgment here and they won’t know what is what until the toxicology reports come back.
He said that WWE is not trying to hide from the fact that Benoit was a part of their organization. “Unfortunately, he was,” Vince said. He said, “There was no way of telling this man was a monster.” He mentioned Benoit never gave off any signs of this kind of behavior. Vierra asked if the business creates monsters and Vince said no. He said they are well adjusted people and performers. He said that he and his company need to move on as best as they can for themselves and their fans.
They shook hands and that ended a very fair interview where Vince came off pretty well.
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