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Dark Side of the Ring: Viceland docu-series

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2 hours ago, sek69 said:

Dude was a legit trained boxer who got famous winning Toughman fights, being put in a shoot environment with a dude he outweighed by about 100 pounds is going to end with the same result 99 times out of 100.

The trained boxer part mattered, the one hundred pounds didn't. Gunn was the same size as Butterbean, probably bigger unless they really exaggerated when billing his height. Bean was just fat.

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Bean hit like a semi, and the extra weight was part of that. Bart's only hope was to last long enough to gas him out, and there was no way he was going to be skilled enough to do that. 

 

Another point that I always wondered, is how was WWE able to do legit fights without any regulation? Also to my knowledge no one ever seemed to ask how a guy with one eye got the OK to compete in all that lunacy. 

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Gunn’s hope would’ve been to take Bean off his feet. You got points for takedowns. I don’t think you could gas Bean in that environment. Bean could box four rounds, the Brawl For All didn’t even schedule fights that long.

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8 hours ago, sek69 said:

Bean hit like a semi, and the extra weight was part of that. Bart's only hope was to last long enough to gas him out, and there was no way he was going to be skilled enough to do that. 

 

Another point that I always wondered, is how was WWE able to do legit fights without any regulation? Also to my knowledge no one ever seemed to ask how a guy with one eye got the OK to compete in all that lunacy. 

On that last point, WWE benefits exponentially for being under the radar of most of the media. They don't like that they don't get more publicity -- and when you look at their business peaks, there are absolutely times when they deserved more good publicity -- but they should also be thankful. If they were scrutinized like other forms of entertainment, they'd be in trouble.

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10 hours ago, MoS said:

Can someone who listens to Cornette's podcast summarise what Sullivan said about the Benoit episode and his version of events here? I have heard he held nothing back but I am really in no mood to listen to Corny and Last. 

Appearing on The Jim Cornette Experience, Kevin Sullivan addressed his reason for declining to appear in the Chris Benoit episode of Dark Side of the Ring. Sullivan was married to Nancy Benoit before she eventually became involved with and married Benoit, and the episode featured allegations that Sullivan was abusive to Nancy which was a factor in them breaking up and her ending up with Benoit.

Sullivan, who has never really discussed the matter before publicly, talked about why he chose not to appear on the episode and recalled his marital problems with Nancy before Chris came into the picture, and also addressed allegations that he hit Nancy. Highlights and the full video are below:

On declined to be part of Dark Side of the Ring because he didn’t hear Nancy’s parents okayed it: “I have been extremely sensitive to them [Nancy’s parents], they were dear friends at one time. And I can’t imagine how it is to get up every morning for the mother and the father to see two urns on a mantle. I mean that, to me, has to be the hardest thing in the world. And I respect them very, very much. And I wanted to hear from them if they okayed it, because they have never talked about it publicly that I know of … No disrespect to Sandra, but I wasn’t gonna take anybody else’s word, except for Maureen and Paul’s word. And if it was okay with them, I would have talked.”

On his relationship with Nancy being rocky before Benoit came into WCW: “Right. We had problems before Chris came in for about 6 months. I mean, things – hey, it happens daily. It happened to us, we grew apart. Truthfully, there was that age difference where she spent her early 20’s with me Not seeing — she saw the world, but not on her own. And Benoit, when we put him with her, his wife was pregnant at the time and he was very leery about it because he had a meeting with Eric [Bischoff] and I and he said, ‘I’ve gotta make sure my wife doesn’t get upset about this. He was very concerned, she was pregnant at the time.

“So yeah, we had probably — I’m gonna say six months we had had problems. We had two houses at the time that we lived in. I was spending more and more time down in the Keys, and she was spending more and more time in Daytona. And then as it eventually went, an incident happened that I actually stayed in Daytona — I mean, the Keys — 98% of the time, and the only time I went up to Daytona was when she wasn’t there. And I mean, we knew where we were headed, that we were headed for a divorce somewhere down the line. And we tried to patch it up a couple times, but things just didn’t work.”

On his relationship with Chris Benoit during Benoit’s early WCW run: “I had never met him before. I had seen him. Jimmy, you’re gonna have to help me on this one. I think the first time I actually saw Chris, I was watching PBS when I was in Japan. I wasn’t watching in Japan but I was working Japan … He was very professional. He was all business, he was a quiet guy. He had a small circle of friends. But they were very loyal to one another, and every night he was going out to have the best match on the card. And he always had it every night.”

On if he had any suspicion that Benoit and Nancy would end up together from their angle: “No, and that was the furthest thing from my mind. Like you just said, he had a pregnant wife. He was quiet guy, and her and I weren’t getting along. And I knew what was going to happen, meaning I knew that we were going to separate down the line — well, we were [separated]. We weren’t living together anymore. But did I think Chris was gonna leave his family? No. And I actually don’t think his friends thought that either.”

On the only official report of domestic violence between him and Nancy being against Nancy: “Yea, I’ve never brought that up Jimmy. And you know, if you look at it, there were charges put on her. She spent three days in jail, and she stabbed me with a knife. And that was the breaking of our relationship completely. Then I never went back to Daytona. And I paid for her to get out of jail, but I never brought it up because of the respect I had for her mother and father. And I know it weighs heavy on their heart. I used to say to myself, ‘I can carry this, I can carry it. They can’t.’ I’m not trying to be a hero here but why put more weight on their heads and say that?”

On Nancy’s sister alleging he assaulted Nancy: “For Sandra to say that, I think sometimes maybe Sandra sees things her own way. And these guys from Dark Side of the Ring certainly aren’t Sherlock Holmes or Watson, or they would have figured that out. Did some research on that. Her mother was very appreciative, and father too, of what I did to get it squashed. She never really — we went to court and said this is the only time we ever had a problem; it won’t happen again, and I got her out. And she went home and I got the car and drove to the Keys.”

On the show’s claim that Sullivan gave Nancy a black eye: “Well, I was living down in the Keys. I hadn’t seem Nancy for about four months. If she had a black eye, I don’t know how she got it. But I think maybe Sandra got her timeline wrong … I never gave her a black eye.”

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10 hours ago, MoS said:

Can someone who listens to Cornette's podcast summarise what Sullivan said about the Benoit episode and his version of events here? I have heard he held nothing back but I am really in no mood to listen to Corny and Last. 

I listened to the interview.  Since the podcast came out on Friday, some Pro Wrestling "news" sites have posted recaps or summaries but in true fashion either missed the entire point of the interview, or just highlighted the most sensational soundbytes without getting into detail.  I'll post my own recap here, but I'm not going to go point-by-point and I'm going to skip some of the irrelevant stuff. (Mostly about Benoit's wrestling career, and the whole deal with Sullivan putting the WCW World Title on Benoit after he and Nancy were divorced.  It's not relevant to the Dark Side of the Ring stuff and no new ground was covered there.) Also, it should be noted that the interview was not exactly linear...they discussed some stuff early and then would get off topic and go back to it later.  You couldn't exactly recap this interview in bullet points, because it was all over the place at times.

The whole reason behind this interview was that Jim Cornette feels that Kevin Sullivan got a bad rap from the Dark Side of the Ring episode and that after seeing that episode, people are coming away with a false impression of Kevin Sullivan and the nature of his relationship with Nancy and Chris Benoit.  Cornette wanted to use his podcast as a platform for Sullivan to set the record straight, or at least present his side of the story.  It should be noted that Jim Cornette is a big supporter of the Dark Side of the Ring and the show's two main producers Evan Husney and Jason Eisener.  He has helped them with research, he is obviously heavily featured in several of the episodes and he has had them on his podcast several times to discuss and promote the show. Cornette has no problem with the show, he just doesn't like the way Kevin Sullivan came off in the Chris Benoit episode.  Cornette says he has voiced his disappointment to Husney and Eisener and gave the impression that they regret how Sullivan is portrayed in that episode.

Sullivan discussed how he has always been reluctant to discuss the murders in any detail out of respect for Nancy's parents.  Sullivan spoke very fondly of them and says that when he was contacted by Vice about doing the show, he said he wouldn't do it without Nancy's family's approval.  The producers told Sullivan that they had Nancy's sister Sandra's approval, but Sullivan said that wasn't good enough for him.  Sullivan reached out to Nancy's parents but never heard back from them, so the producers went ahead and shot the episode without him. The impression the show gave was that Sullivan refused to participate but that wasn't the case.

Cornette and Sullivan got into detail about how the episode gives a false impression of the whole Sullivan/Nancy/Benoit triangle.  Sullivan says that he and Nancy got married in 93 but were together for years before that. However, at the time Sullivan booked the angle with himself and Benoit, he and Nancy had already been separated for six months. This is the first time I had ever heard that, as I had always been under the impression that Sullivan and Nancy were still together when the Benoit angle began.  They discussed how Sullivan was quite a bit older than Nancy, and how she had been with him for most of her younger years and they apart, giving the impression that Nancy really wanted to be more independent of him.

Sullivan says that the couple owned two properties, a condo in Daytona and a home in the Florida Keys.  Sullivan says that at the time of the on-screen Sullivan/Benoit angle, Nancy was living in the condo in Daytona and he was staying in the Keys and they did not have much contact with each other.  Sullivan claims that they had tried a couple of times to reconcile but it hadn't worked, and that at the time of the Benoit angle they both already knew they were heading towards a divorce.  So basically, according to Sullivan the popular narrative that Sullivan and Nancy were in an abusive relationship and then Nancy left Sullivan for Benoit isn't entirely true. Sullivan says that when he booked the angle with himself and Benoit, Benoit was actually reluctant to get involved because he was married and his wife was pregnant.  Sullivan says the possibility of Benoit and Nancy getting involved never crossed his mind because Benoit was so concerned about his pregnant wife.

The main bone of contention here is the impression given by the Dark Side of the Ring episode that Sullivan and Nancy were still together at the time of the Bash at the Beach PPV in July 1997 and that the Benoit/Sullivan match that night somehow escalated into some sort of shoot fight which continued backstage.  Also, Sullivan takes issue with the story that Nancy had been planning on going home with him after the show but that Benoit got Nancy's sister Sandra to take her away instead.  Sullivan claims that he wasn't even living in Daytona at that time, Nancy was.  Sullivan claimed he was living in the Florida Keys but had a Hotel Room rented for that night in Daytona and never had any plans to go back to the condo as he wasn't living there...so he doesn't know why Sandra and Benoit would have to rescue her from him.

Sullivan and Cornette discussed that this match took place just a few weeks after the infamous Tyson/Holyfield match when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear.  Sullivan claims that he and Benoit planned for this match to be violent and put in a spot involving ear biting, but the fight never devolved into a real "shoot."  In fact, Sullivan claims that after the match, Benoit came and thanked him for putting him over and for everything he had done for him.  Sullivan takes issue with the claim that Benoit ruptured his eardrum during the fight as well.  Sullivan pointed out that he went diving in the Florida Keys a few days after the Bash at the Beach PPV, which would have been impossible if he had a ruptured eardrum. 

Kevin Sullivan went to great lengths in this interview to say that he has no problem with Nancy's sister Sandra, they got along in the past and have even been in contact over the past couple of years. However, he suggested during this interview that either Sandra got "worked" by some of the stuff he and Benoit were doing, or she is not remembering things accurately. For example, Sandra has claimed in the past that she attended the Bash at the Beach 97 with Kevin Sullivan's daughter and was backstage with her, but Sullivan claims his daughter wasn't even at that show.  Sullivan pointed out that Nancy was very "old school" and never discussed angles with her sister.  Sullivan also claimed that Nancy did not bring Sandra backstage. Sullivan even claimed that Nancy's relationship with Sandra wasn't quite as close at times as Sandra likes to portray now, that the two had problems in the past stemming from Sandra's jealousy of Nancy always being the focus of attention.

The big issue obviously is the allegations that Kevin Sullivan was beating Nancy and that Benoit basically "rescued" her from that.  They discuss some comments that were made about the Sullivan/Nancy relationship by Dean Malenko's wife, which Sullivan pretty much shoots down claiming he's never even met her.  Sullivan confirmed (at Cornette's insistence, Sullivan actually seemed kind of uncomfortable talking about it) that the only time he and Nancy had a major domestic dispute and the police were called, it was Nancy who was actually charged for stabbing him.  Sullivan claims this was the end of their relationship for all intents and purposes. Sullivan claims that Nancy ended up going to jail for three days but he bailed her out and that is when he moved to the Keys and she went to Daytona.  Sullivan claims that he never gave Nancy a black eye and at the time he is reported to have given it to her, he hadn't seen her in months. Sullivan reiterated that he is not accusing Sandra of lying but that it has been 13 years and maybe she is conflating some memories of different events.

Finally, they discussed the whole ridiculous conspiracy theory espoused by hardcore Chris Benoit fans that Kevin Sullivan was somehow involved in this murders. Sullivan says that those claims used to really upset him, because he has kids of his own who have heard those stories.  He says that he has even seen some fans tell David Benoit that he was lucky he wasn't at his Dad's house that weekend or he would have been killed too.  Sullivan says that those types of claims used to really bother him but now he has learned to just ignore them.  Cornette and Sullivan discussed how some insane fans actually bought Sullivan's devil worshipping gimmick and believed he was actually capable of committing those murders.

That was the basic gist of the interview.  The main points seemed to be that Sullivan didn't refuse to participate in the Dark Side of the Ring out of fear of being confronted on his abusive relationship with Nancy, he was trying to get permission from her parents to speak before they shot the episode.  He feels he was unfairly portrayed in the episode and a lot of stories in the show involving him are provably inaccurate.  He also seemed to want to reiterate that he wasn't involved in the actual murders, although how anybody with half a brain could think he was, is beyond me.

Kevin Sullivan is right up there when it comes to Professional Wrestlers who are famously full of shit when it comes to interviews.  Some of the claims he has made over the years about his time booking in WCW have been laughable.  Does that mean he's lying in this interview?  I don't know. Obviously, I don't believe Kevin Sullivan had anything whatsoever to do with the murders.  I also tend to believe that he didn't refuse to participate in the Dark Side of the Ring out of fear, either. It was obvious from listening to this interview that he is extremely uncomfortable discussing this and I get the impression he wants to put it behind him (and so he should.)  As far as the nature of his relationship with Nancy?  Nobody can say for sure what is true and what isn't.  Only Sullivan and Nancy knew that, and she is gone.  I note that he was careful not to say that he never hit her...he just said he never gave her a black eye.  I am guessing there was physical violence in the relationship and it sounds like it went both ways since she was charged with stabbing him.  Sounds like their relationship got pretty toxic and was pretty much over before Chris Benoit ever got involved.  The sad thing is that she clearly went from a relationship which was bad into one which ended being even worse.

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The thing about it is there had been tons of rumor/innuendo/insinuations that Kevin hit her often, not that it makes it true of course but there's a lot of "where there's smoke there's fire" there.  Personally, I tend to believe he did hit her. There's a possibility Sandra has a worse idea of than it really was, but then she was obviously only getting one side of the story. Nancy by all accounts was a take-no-shit kind of person so I don't doubt she gave some whippings back to Kevin as well....but it's hardly an equal exchange .

I get why he didn't want to talk to the crew though, he would have ended up painted as the villain (well after Benoit himself obviously) and anyone who was around the internet when everything happened remembered how "Kevin did the murders" was the hot conspiracy theory.

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The Jimmy Snuka episode was something. The Chief of Police came out looking like a complete dipshit getting confronted with all the evidence that Snuka killed her, and all he could do is just shrug and say he did the best they could. 

Really makes the tribute video they did for Snuka when he died look even more fucked up in retrospect. 

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Thanks @Blehschmidt and @The Thread Killer for the summary. I am glad he aired his side of the story; I have no idea whom to believe though. I absolutely agree with Sullivan about Benoit fanboys who had desperately in 2007 tried to conjure up multiple conspiracy theories about Sullivan being the killer. It was a distasteful thing to say, all because some people couldn't come to terms with the fact that their fav wrestler was a murderer.

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11 hours ago, sek69 said:

The Jimmy Snuka episode was something. The Chief of Police came out looking like a complete dipshit getting confronted with all the evidence that Snuka killed her, and all he could do is just shrug and say he did the best they could. 

Really makes the tribute video they did for Snuka when he died look even more fucked up in retrospect. 

The Police Chief sounded like Chief Wiggum - total fucking imbecile.

Snuka's wife also came across as totally blinded by love, but perhaps not as much as Tonga Kid did.

An unrecognizable Muraco didn't help himself when he said he was glad Snuka was never arrested during their run because they were making so much money together. The wrestling bubble is a real thing, folks.

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4 hours ago, funkdoc said:

Wasn't it Barry O who made shit up about Patterson specifically because he was gay and it would be easier for people to believe?

He did, Iirc. The name was the WBF announcer who made that allegation against Patterson was Murray Hodgson.

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I just heard the creators on the Conrad podcast say that that cop also was a crusader who busted many crooked cops and went on to help create the TSA after 9/11. But the show did make him look shady, but it was more likely that for him it was just another cold case. 
What raised my eyebrow was that Tonga Kid was at the hotel. As best as I can remember, Tonga Kid didn't debut until the Piper feud in 84. Was he there working the undercard with a different name? 

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23 minutes ago, Johnny Sorrow said:

I just heard the creators on the Conrad podcast say that that cop also was a crusader who busted many crooked cops and went on to help create the TSA after 9/11. 

I feel like that's another point against him, actually.

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2 hours ago, Johnny Sorrow said:

I just heard the creators on the Conrad podcast say that that cop also was a crusader who busted many crooked cops and went on to help create the TSA after 9/11. But the show did make him look shady, but it was more likely that for him it was just another cold case. 
What raised my eyebrow was that Tonga Kid was at the hotel. As best as I can remember, Tonga Kid didn't debut until the Piper feud in 84. Was he there working the undercard with a different name? 

I wasn't watching back then, but apparently Tonga was working WWF house shows at least as early as May 83 and looks to have debuted on TV in August. Argentino's death was May 10, so he may have been there? 

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Lotta folks had that "well he was a nice guy around me, so he couldn't have done bad stuff" mentality. That's frequently a coping mechanism used to try to mentally deal with your friend/co worker/spouse being a monster and you never realizing it.

It was also kind of surprising when they were talking about Buddy Rogers, they didn't mention his wife was friends with Jimmy's first wife (not the one on the doc) and they saw her get beat up so bad she was unrecognizable. That was one of the reasons Buddy cut ties with him, along with not wanting to get pulled over with Jimmy holding coke. 

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Now, next week is the episode I was looking for the most in Season 2: the murder of Dino Bravo. Wonder if they'll mention right off the beat that his godfather was none other than Montreal mafia's godfather himself, Vic Cotroni.

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I'm looking forward to the Bravo episode too. I know Bravo married into the Cotroni family, could be an accidentally great expose on the Bonnano/Cortoni alliance. 

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On 4/15/2020 at 10:10 PM, PeteF3 said:

I feel like that's another point against him, actually.

Yes.

I couldn’t get past Irv Muchnick’s taped-together glasses.  Was pleasantly surprised there wasn’t 10 minutes of Mick Foley talking about the Garden.

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Re: The Snuka episode

I think there's a 50-50 chance Tonga may have "mis-remembered" being in the car that day. Its kind of unnecessary though as the coroner ruled a probable homicide based on the other physical damage outside of the cause of death. Those factors coupled with the cause of death point toward homicide so Tonga saying he did or did not see a fall is minimal in trial.

Why they didn't prosecute back then is the real mystery. If there was no new evidence since the death, then the "blame" for not prosecuting is on the district attorney at the time and not the cops. The DA is an elected position and the WWF was bringing money in so, perhaps he figured circumstantial evidence, New York defense attorneys for Snuka/WWF, ehh not right now...We'll get to it later...30 years later.

Clearly there was enough evidence to bring it to the grand jury AND for them to agree on Murder 3 charges. I mean the alternative is that Nancy Argentino hit her head in the parking lot (which is Snuka's story AFTER the "wrestling" each other story) and THEN he beat the shit out of her and neglected her concussion. And she died from neglect.

What's odd is that the show said he had this downward spiral and couldn't pay the civil suit but, left out his return to WWF in 1989 and other wrestling. I think they could have really driven home the point of him and WWF being lowdown. Perhaps this was legally sensitive. Anyhow, this is in some ways the OJ Simpson case of wrestling...if it hadn't gone to trial.

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13 minutes ago, G. Badger said:

What's odd is that the show said he had this downward spiral and couldn't pay but, left out his return to WWF in 1989 and other wrestling.

I noticed that too, but he was basically a non-entity from that point on. The Snuka magic and aura was long gone, and along with it, so was his push. He was a glorified JTTS by 1992.

Remember when WWE hyped a big mystery return at Survivor Series a few years after that (I want to say '94, '95, or '96) and it ended up being the old, broken down, underwhelming, and completely useless Snuka? Bless Jim Cornette's heart on commentary for trying to hype that turd as a polished diamond.

BTW, I 100% feel Tamina Snuka was pushed this week because Vince felt sorry for her after this aired. It's the only explanation that makes any sense to me. In a way, she's a victim too, because he was her dad, she loved him, and she will never be able to admit any of this to herself. 

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2 hours ago, C.S. said:

BTW, I 100% feel Tamina Snuka was pushed this week because Vince felt sorry for her after this aired. It's the only explanation that makes any sense to me. In a way, she's a victim too, because he was her dad, she loved him, and she will never be able to admit any of this to herself. 

I feel bad for her because not only the murder stuff, but the wife he beat to the point of being  unrecognizable was her (and Deuce's) mom. I can't imagine what she witnessed growing up. 

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I've been impressed in recent years that while many of the second or third-gen wrestlers clearly respect their parents because they're their parents, they don't have blinders on about who they are either. Charlotte seems to have had a tumultuous life before pro wrestling, but seems to have her head on straight now and seemed on ESPN to be very fair-minded about who her dad is. Natalya seemed to accept the good and bad with her father, but had no false ideas. The Usos even came across on one episode of Total Divas, whether it was just for the cameras or not, that their relationship with their dad is mainly cordial. I would imagine that Curtis Axel understands very clearly who his dad was as well. It's not the delusion we used to get with the Von Erichs, for example.

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