July 9, 2007
Cena and panel get light questions from Larry King
By CHRIS SCHRAMM - SLAM! Wrestling

Monday night in the wrestling word is usually centered about WWE’s Monday Night RAW. The show went on, but the champion, John Cena, was missing. He appeared on a live edition of CNN’s Larry King Live. Cena was joined by past WWE wrestlers Chris Jericho, Steve Blackman, Ted Dibiase and Bret Hart to talk about the Chris Benoit tragedy that has rocked the wrestling world.

Cena is the first superstar allowed by the WWE to talk about the tragedy, aside from the wrestler websites, blogs and MySpace sites.

Unfortunately, all on the panel had ties or still have ties to the WWE. Although no one supported the acts of Benoit, issues such as drugs and early deaths in wrestling were hit on lightly. Instead, the panel spent most of the time talking about the Chris Benoit they knew.

"If you lined up 1,000 people," Jericho said, "Chris would be the last one I'd pick to do such an act."

Benoit was involved in a double murder-suicide on the weekend of June 22 where he allegedly killed his wife, Nancy, seven-year-old son, Daniel, and then hanged himself.

Cena did note the WWE has brought in counselors to help employees with any questions or concerns they have had since the tragedy. When news came out of Benoit and his family's death before a Monday Night RAW on June 25, Vince McMahon and the WWE made the decision to cancel the event. Cena called this decision "a great call."

Also on the show, via satellite from Canada, was Hart. In May 1999, Hart’s brother Owen died during a live pay-per-view event for the WWE. The show continued after his body was stretchered from the ring.

Hart did not respond to Cena's comments.

Larry King failed to ask hard questions concerning steroids, pain pills, work schedules and the high rate of death within the industry, except in passing.

When the issue of unions in wrestling was brought up, Cena responded that he does not seeing a union being formed in the WWE because "people know what they are getting into."

Hart responded.

"Wrestling needs a union. Janitors who sweep for the WWE have more benefits than the wrestlers themselves. They (wrestlers) are like circus animals."

Jericho believed this tragedy would bring about reform and change in the industry but failed to get specific on what changes.

DiBiase addressed the deaths in a religious realm noting the possibility of after killing his wife and son, Benoit "had an act of contrition by placing the Bibles next to their bodies."

None of the panel believed steroids were a factor in the deaths. When asked if steroids are needed in wrestling, Cena said that "entertainers are the ones that go to the top in wrestling."

Most of the time was spent on speculation and guessing games as to why Benoit did what he did. And most of the panel talked about how they knew him, as a professional. Each person admitting they knew very little of Benoit outside the ring.

Jericho emphasized that Benoit "loved his kids."

Benoit has two children from a previous marriage residing in Canada.

Nothing new was revealed during the one-hour show but allowing Cena, the company’s largest draw, on the show, showed the WWE was not trying to hide from the media.

RELATED LINKS

  • Chris Benoit tragedy news section
  • Chris Benoit biography and story archive

    Chris Schramm has written for SLAM! Wrestling since 1997. He can be written at: kidjayhawk@yahoo.com.


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