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"Chris & Nancy" - The new Benoit book by Irv Muchnick


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My reply that I gave him permission to post:



Feel free to post this on the blog, as I figured I should elaborate on what you wrote for the sake of clarity.


- First off, Slam chose the headline, not me, for what it's worth.


- As far as Fagan and the texts goes, I meant that the actual time would be clear to the investigators, since it was a 911 call. My point was more that it should have no bearing on the investigation. As far as "World Wrestling," you're right that it's been used in the past, but I would expect more from a company associate (well, should expect more; licensed VHS tapes in the '90s used to have the name of the company as "WF," going by the logo and not the actual name). At any rate, the point was that it was, to some degree, a mistake.


- With regards to Chavo's conflicting stories, yes, I simplified it, but the crux of the issue was that he was telling the wildly different stories of when he first got the texts and this goes towards proving the "official" timeline false.


- As for the various errors I cited, most were part of a passage about the errors in general. They don't hurt the book as a whole, but they were there and as I said, it was part of illustrating the point that you're not necessarily a hardcore fan (and that, in of itself, I don't mean as a criticism).


- I do understand where you're coming from as far as not necessarily detailing the minutiae of Chris and Nancy's coupling, but this is more of a general audience book than most about pro wrestling (and that's an understatement). I'm sure that the vast majority of people who buy the book will be wrestling fans, but the Benoit murder-suicide was one of the most high profile murders in recent years, and thus I would expect true crime buffs to read it as well. I'm not asking for the amount of detail in the Sullivan chapter in "Ring of Hell," just a sentence or two about how Sullivan went as far as ordering them to travel together, grope each other in public, and try to fool their co-workers. This isn't just for the sake of being complete, it also frames the unique ridiculousness of the wrestling business. Plus, if you expect all readers to know how they got together, then the biographical chapter is pointless by your reasoning (it absolutely should be there; I'm just contesting your logic).


Thanks for the feedback and publicity,


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I just can't put any credence into a book written by a guy who's blog started to resemble Jack Nicholson sitting in front of a typewriter in The Shining.



I half expected the book to be 300 pages of "ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES IRV A DULL BOY".



All the tireless research and investigation he put into it and the only thing he seems to have really dug up is that the timeline of the text messages was mis-stated by WWE and that higher ups in the company probably knew Benoit was the killer long before the tribute show. Both are things you would also have learned by reading the WON, which Dave managed to uncover despite obviously softballing his coverage to protect sources/friends in the biz.

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I haven't read the book yet, but I think Bix's criticism of the book lacking a discussion about how Chris and Nancy got together is a fair one. Not only does it underscore the unique ridiculousness of the wrestling business, but also its warped morality, where a top ranking wrestling executive could get away with being a drug addled wife beater, co-workers were nonplussed about Benoit cheating on his wife while his second child was about to be born, and said colleagues were more appalled by Sullivan's vindictive booking than the aforementioned domestic abuse.

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Pretty much, though "the bwt" had Bix's back in the thread. :) The most amusing thing was people criticizing Bix for getting shots in at Dave Meltzer in his book review. Erm, Irv Muchnick's criticism of Dave Meltzer was an important part of his book. <_>

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general_mike: Bix being Bix

Frau88: btw its very tl;dr so if anyone reads it please summarize. i didnt bother...assuming it's typical bix drivel but i know some of you mark for his shit. was just amused at the dave mention coming out of the blue when i skimmed this.

str8talk4teens: I am uncomfortable with a poster whose name is a german word with 88 in it criticizing a proud and successful jewish man

bxte: He only brought Dave up because he's written about in the book

mash28: How's Irv going to cash in on this next? A set of Benoit murder commemorative plates?

edinsanantonio: How the fuck could anyone in the world be a mark for bix~! Rolling Eyes

the bwt: hey guy who pays for friends to chill with him in vegas @ ufc shows bix is an awesome guy and really swell. he also knows and loves the biz.

this was a good article thanks for bix for reading and doing a fair review muchnick even wrote back to bix on his blog. good stuff all around even if muchnick is a bit crazy.


Then somebody called the bwt out because he used the word "swell".




trostlerp: Arguing over Bix is really lame guys. (says the guy with this avatar: http://lh4.ggpht.com/_LP_YP0I7zZY/SkoPqhqb...Henchman21.jpg)

Diabhal Beag: LOL at people fighting over Bix. What a worthless cause (worthlesscause.com should redirect to that board IMO)

hardcore_hogan: like how bix gets the shot at meltzer in there. so jealous

mufc6000: Somewhere Bix is laughing at all of us

which was quoted by vanillafire1000, but then edited by hardcore_hogan ==> "Somewhere Bix is laughing nervously with his lisp at all of us"

the bwt: wow lotta bix hate around here maybe a lotta bix jealousy too



Yes, it was a waste of time doing this, but as someone was nice enough to make a screenshot of this for me I thought I should do it. Last month, when I used the pc of said friend who has a sub I was amazed how shitty the paysite is.

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I'm enjoying Irv's trolling of Dave Meltzer:


Dave Meltzer, CHRIS & NANCY, and Me (Part 1)


Dave Meltzer, publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, has broken his sphinx-like silence on my book about the Benoit murder-suicide.


Meltzer did not choose to do so in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Though a contributor to his website, Joe Babinsack, recently reviewed CHRIS & NANCY, Meltzer himself has not reviewed the book in his weekly print edition. I have no idea whether he intends to write a review in the future.


Over the weekend, however, Meltzer did go on one of the discussion boards at his site to participate in a thread headed “Irv Muchnick on Big Dave.” The discussion was prompted by the posting by a subscriber of a three-minute clip of my interview a week ago Friday on the podcast Ringside Rap with Rich Tate and Mike Sempervive. The former had invited me on the show after positively reviewing CHRIS & NANCY at his site GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com.


You can listen to the interview excerpt at http://muchnick.net/ringsiderapclip.mp3. (The other voice is Tate’s.)


You can’t access the full “Irv Muchnick on Big Dave” thread at the Wrestling Observer website unless you are a subscriber. But here is the full text of Meltzer’s post:




Irv had a story to write, and his story was how the wrestling media covered up for Vince McMahon.


Whether the truth jived with the story was immaterial.


He also liked to claim a falling out with me and him when he knew that wasn’t the case, given that long after our so-called falling out I was there helping him proof his book.


He was looking for me to respond and thus in his mind, help sales, so my decision was to ignore it even though there are people who have begged me to rip on him for his portrayal of me.


The only negative thing I wrote was when he was going crazy trying to post daily news updates and taunting Chavo Guerrero and Scott James to talk with him, and pretty much becoming a laughing stock, I told him he was killing his credibility by doing so and was very blunt in doing so. He felt it was a means of marketing the book and that criticism created another hook with the idea he and I had a falling out.





I’ve told Meltzer directly that I think his post is unfortunate. A fair reading of CHRIS & NANCY is not that it is a story of “how the wrestling media covered up for Vince McMahon.” You can read Chapter 11, “How the Media Massaged It (Tabloid, Mainstream, and Fan Flavors)” and the “Notes on Sources” and decide for yourself.


“Whether the truth jived [sic] with the story was immaterial” is a cheap shot, given how much Meltzer knows about how much research went into the book – including my openly expressed criticisms of him both in our email exchanges and in the book. He has a 30,000-word weekly forum, so he has the capacity to devote a few hundred to his opinion of all the ways in which CHRIS & NANCY fell short.


I have not used the term “falling out” to describe our relationship


“Helping him proof the book” is weasel language – it implies that I enlisted Meltzer for help with copyediting. As he knows, I invited him to read the entire book in manuscript form and was grateful that he did. The purpose was fact-checking and, obviously at his own discretion, interpretation.



Irv Muchnick

Dave Meltzer, CHRIS & NANCY, and Me (Part 2)


As noted in the first post of this series, wrestling journalist extraordinaire Dave Meltzer has issued his first ex cathedra comments about my book CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. In the book, I take some shots at what I consider the shallow coverage by the wrestling media – at whose apex rests Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter – of the aftermath of the tragedy.


Unlike GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com (which gave the book a rave) and SLAM! Wrestling (which published a mixed review), Meltzer has yet to say in his own voice exactly what he thinks of CHRIS & NANCY. The Observer website did publish a review by one of its regular online contributors, and its daily update has linked to other reviews, and I appreciate that. But if Meltzer’s position is that this book is beneath engaging himself, he ill serves both his readers and the public issues embedded in the Benoit story.


Over the weekend, Meltzer jumped into a thread on his site’s discussion board, headlined “Irv Muchnick on Big Dave,” in a way that I think is both unfortunate and juvenile. Especially so since he demonstrates elsewhere, week after week, that he is capable of writing with more care, precision, and thought.


“Irv Muchnick on Big Dave” started with a subscriber’s posting on the board of a three-minute clip from my interview on a Georgia Wrestling History podcast. Did Meltzer even listen to it? The answer isn’t clear. He appears to have been most interested in finally finding the right platform for addressing CHRIS & NANCY without really addressing it. Dave is too smart not to know that his “amen corner” of discussion board cultists will reflexively buy his dismissive tone, or whatever he is selling. So we can expect the heated follow-up debate on the board to be along the lines of “Muchnick: Threat or Menace?”


Meltzer also knows better than to reduce my take on the Benoit story to “how the wrestling media covered up for Vince McMahon.” That is an awfully Manichean, black-and-white reading of a lot of gray.


As an independent journalist and author, I don’t apologize for looking at the evidence and concluding that Meltzer covered the Benoit scandal surrounding narrative less thoroughly and faithfully than he told, say, the tale of the “Montreal screwjob” at the 1997 Survivors Series. And I think the superiority of the coverage of treachery in showbiz choreography, over coverage of the corporate spin of three brutal deaths in the real world, is revealing.


On the WON discussion board – a forum specializing in exaggeration, ad hominem drivel, and sheep-like groupthink – Meltzer says I opportunistically “claimed a falling out” with him. Those are his words, not mine. In my words, we have had differences of opinion and perspective. In CHRIS & NANCY I call this “a clinic in the vagaries of ‘wrestling communication.’”


But as long as we’re on the subject, let me add that the book also points out that this isn’t the first time Meltzer has found it convenient to play-act aloofness from a non-trivial criticism of his work.


In June 2008 Jerry McDevitt, the lawyer for WWE, had a lively email exchange with me. (I recently re-ran the full text in a 400-part Twitter series.) In the middle of the exchange, I blogged that WWE had sat for weeks on the Signature Pharmacy information from the Albany district attorney’s office before suspending the talent involved in that scandal. My accusation was wrong. I promptly ran a retraction.


Like tens of thousands of others, I had gotten this erroneous fact from a prominent and unambiguous story nearly a year earlier in … the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Yet, so far as I know, Meltzer has not informed his readers:


* that WWE never complained to him about his root report (suggesting that, for all his huffing and puffing, the corporation regards WON as, at worst, harmless); or


* that his report of how slowly WWE acted on Signature Pharmacy information warrants correction.


Look, we all make mistakes – David Bixenspan busted CHRIS & NANCY for a couple in his SLAM! review, and I acknowledged them. I’m sorry that Dave Meltzer is so reluctant to admit his own fallibility, and relies so heavily on an army of followers who now, no doubt, will proceed to interpret these posts as those of “a jerk who tries to claim that everything is Big Dave’s fault.”




Irv Muchnick

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“Helping him proof the book” is weasel language – it implies that I enlisted Meltzer for help with copyediting. As he knows, I invited him to read the entire book in manuscript form and was grateful that he did. The purpose was fact-checking and, obviously at his own discretion, interpretation.

This is actually weasel language by Irv. It's pretty obvious that Dave meant "proof reading" which is a common term for "fact checking" the book. Dave wouldn't claim to be Irv's copyeditor.



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Irv makes his debut at the Figure Four message board:




Thank you for forwarding to the board my two recent blog items. And, of course, thanks for introducing to this thread some of the complexity evident in the audio clip that launched it, and completely lacking in the post by Dave Meltzer.




TO ROBGOMM (who wrote “Bit gutless to not post when he’s clearly reading everything.”)


Here I am. I’m happy to try to answer some of the questions of discussion board participants, within reasonable limits of time and civility. I will certainly address the subject more thoroughly, accurately, and responsibly than Dave so far has.




TO PAISLEY (who wrote that coverage of the Montreal screwjob and the Benoit murder-suicide are apples and oranges)


I agree. However, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that the thrust of the criticism of Meltzer in my book is of his real-time reporting of the Benoit story. My criticism, rather, goes more to what I believe were lapses in follow-up and perspective as additional information emerged. In a newsletter that is, for all practical purposes, a universe of infinite editorial space, Dave never lost a beat in interpreting how much Bob Barker’s guest-host shot meant for Raw ratings between 9:15 and 9:30. But like most of his readers, Dave lost interest in Benoit enterprise reporting and interpretation. Catching McMahon in b.s. in his interview with Congressional investigators? First rate. Noting that the Congressional committees had blown it by not holding public hearings and by holding onto the transcripts for more than a year before releasing them? In this kind of analysis, and in using his platform to push the story forward, Dave was missing in action. And the pity is, we all know he has the journalistic chops to do that kind of thing well if he tries. He was just all focused on covering the industry the way he had always covered it.


“PAISLEY” also said: “And reading a book to factcheck sure as hell sounds like proof-reading to me.”


Yes. And if Meltzer fact-checked my book (and he did), then where does he come off saying, “Irv had a story to write, and his story was how the wrestling media covered up for Vince McMahon. Whether the truth jived with the story was immaterial.” – rather than “Irv and I have different perspectives. I disagree with his…” ?



Irv Muchnick

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The Figure Four message board trolls inevitably fall for Irv's bait. From Irv's blog:


Wrestling Observer Discussion Board: Into the Den of the Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing


Yesterday your humble blogger took his virtual book promotion to a place where few have ventured: the “Irv Muchnick on Big Dave [Meltzer]” thread of the discussion board at the website of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter.


A grand time was had by all. And I must say that I was thoroughly trounced in this high-minded debate. I mean, it was a pure beatdown. A bloodbath.


A poster by the name of “worshiptheram” kind of summed it up:


“irv gotta stick up the butt / he’s gotta stick / up the butt.”


I would provide a link to this precious piece of intellectual property, but that wouldn’t be right, as it’s behind the premium subscription wall at f4wonline.com. I don’t want to be caught violating the Digital Millennium Act and the Berne Convention. (One poster expressed surprise upon learning that I had published the legal threats of World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt on my Twitter feed. “That doesn’t strike me as particularly scrupulous,” the poster said.)


Speaking of Berne, “allergic2light” from Zurich, also in Switzerland, brought some important perspective to the colloquy.


“I think we can agree that there is a symbiotic relationship going on here between you and our board,” he wrote.


“allergic2light” also hit the nail on the head when he noted that I had “admitted to using [my] blog as a ‘marketing tool.’”


He further broke down the flaw in my writing, which he dubbed the “Muchnick Paradox” – presumably coming soon to a literature graduate studies seminar near you.


“Additionally, your arguments are absurd, because they are terribly negative.” Yeah, I’ve got to work on weeding out all that negativity from my investigation of a double murder/suicide.


Remember that this all started when Dave Meltzer told the board that he had fact-checked CHRIS & NANCY – but was now ignoring it because I had refused to let the facts get in the way of a good story.


Irv Muchnick

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"Yeah, I’ve got to work on weeding out all that negativity from my investigation of a double murder/suicide."


So he could write things like "Benoit at a baby / Benoit was responsible for 9/11" and you couldn't argue against it? Somebody needs to read into the true meaning of journalistic integrity

I think the argument against those would be that they were lies, not that they were negative.


True journalistic integrity means reporting the truth. Sometimes the truth is very negative. Irv is not a guy I want to spend a lot of energy defending, but surely you can see the problem with “Additionally, your arguments are absurd, because they are terribly negative.”

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  • 1 month later...



Mike Benoit, Chris’s father, emailed “a few notes” from his initial read of CHRIS & NANCY:


* Chris Benoit was 5 feet, 10½ inches tall, Mike said – not 5-8, as I stated in the book.


* It is not accurate to call Chris “scrawny” before he lifted weights: “Chris played football from the age of 8 and was a quarterback until his third year of high school. His last two years of high school were played at defensive end because of his strength and speed.”


* Nancy’s birthday was May 17, not May 21.


* “Chris was trained in Edmonton by Mike Hammer and one of Stampede’s refs who also happen to be a Royal Canadian Mounted police officer. His training in Calgary was about three months long on weekends only, prior to him starting with Stampede. The two people responsible for his training in Calgary were Jerry Moreau and the Cuban. Both Jerry and the Cuban worked for Stu at that time. This whole tale about Stu Hart sounds great but is not factual.”


Dave Meltzer, publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and my source for Chris’s dimensions, said, “I think everyone in wrestling adds two inches to their height. Maybe wearing boots he was 5-10½ but in tennis shoes we were the same height and I’m not close to 5-10½.”


On Chris’s supposed training in the infamous Stu Hart “dungeon” – not a topic covered in any depth in CHRIS & NANCY – Meltzer said, “Yeah, Stu really didn’t train people. He may have worked with him a little but the training in the dungeon is more talk than reality.”


The last word goes to Mike Benoit: “I don’t care what Meltzer says. I know how tall my kid was.”

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To me, this came across a little like Mike Benoit trying to subtly downplay the need for his son to use steroids early in his career to bulk up. I'm not surprised that there seems to be some heat with Meltzer on Mike's part, given that Meltzer rightly believes that his son's drug abuse was a major contributing factor to his mental breakdown and was initially a bit dismissive of the research into his son's brain (Meltzer didn't completely dismiss it as a factor, but was dismissive of the claim that Chris's brain was like an 80 year old Alzheimers patient).


Regarding Stu training Chris, while it might be true that Stu played no part in his formal training, it would be highly surprising that he went through the Stampede system without being stretched by Stu at least once.

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