WWE fires back against Chris Nowinski

Yesterday, WWE sent an email to The Atlantic as a rebuttal to Chris Nowinski's comments on NECN (key quotes here):

WWE RAISES CREDIBILITY ISSUES FOR CHRIS NOWINSKI

• Chris Nowinski did not reveal, as required, that he suffered previous concussions before signing his contract with WWE.
• He states WWE suggested that its performers take steroids. However, at no time does he ever state that it was suggested that he do so.
• His comments that WWE talent perform in matches 200 days a year is not factual. In 2009, the average active roster talent performed 135 days.
• A sheer fabrication --- that he went through tables four days a week.
• Mr. Nowinski states, "They have an environment where it's absolutely unsafe to work in that ring." "They have no oversight into what actually happens in the ring." If so, then why would Mr. Nowinski have ever wanted to be a part of such an environment?
• It is very dubious that he ever had a conversation with Lance Cade much less Lance Cade confiding to a total stranger that he used painkillers and steroids.
• Although renowned in the field of CTE, we are unaware of any specific qualifications or medical degrees that he possesses which would qualify him as an expert on steroids and pain killers.

Let's take a look at these arguments one by one after the jump...

Chris Nowinski did not reveal, as required, that he suffered previous concussions before signing his contract with WWE.

Technically true, assuming he didn't say anything.  According to section 10.2a of the standard WWE talent contract used around that time:

"WRESTLER represents, warrants and agrees that WRESTLER is in sound mental and physical condition; that WRESTLER is suffering from no disabilities that would impair or adversely affect WRESTLER's ability to perform professional wrestling services"

Since Nowinski has talked at length about how his concussions from playing college football made him more susceptible to the concussions he sustained in WWE, knowing about the previous concussions and not disclosing them would seem to violate those terms of the contract.  That said, I've never heard of WWE enforcing this rule before.

He states WWE suggested that its performers take steroids. However, at no time does he ever state that it was suggested that he do so.

I don't think I need to delve too deeply into this.  WWE prefers a certain look, those with that look get pushed ahead of those who don't even when the latter are far superior performers.  I doubt WWE has ever outright told anyone to do steroids, especially post-Zahorian, but do they really need to?  There are exceptions, but even then Stephanie McMahon will go out of her way to tell Congress that one of said exceptions "is not the best looking guy."

His comments that WWE talent perform in matches 200 days a year is not factual.  In 2009, the average active roster talent performed 135 days.

Of course, that IS an average.  According to Chris Harrington's excellent Pro Wrestling Statistics website, some wrestlers came very close to 200, so it's not much of an exaggeration.

A sheer fabrication --- that he went through tables four days a week.

They're right, but it's typical wrestler BS exaggerating at worst.  He did work with the Dudleys a lot, for what it's worth.

Update: Dave Meltzer said this in today's F4WOnline update:

"[...]any look at reports from live matches of his program with the Dudleys would show he went through a table on every house show." 

Mr. Nowinski states, "They have an environment where it's absolutely unsafe to work in that ring." "They have no oversight into what actually happens in the ring."  If so, then why would Mr. Nowinski have ever wanted to be a part of such an environment?

He wanted to be a wrestler and learned how bad it was once he was there?  Until he got to WWE, could he have known that the company had serious issues with wrestlers taking time off for injuries, to the point that in his book, WWE lifer Bruno "Harvey Wippleman" Lauer called Rhino a pussy who exploited Vince McMahon's generosity when he got neck surgery because he couldn't have done anything risky enough to break his neck in WWE?  Could he have known that non-main eventers who utilized the services of the company's trainers and chiropractors would be derided as pussies?

It is very dubious that he ever had a conversation with Lance Cade much less Lance Cade confiding to a total stranger that he used painkillers and steroids.

I'll go with Dave Meltzer's message board post about this to sum up my own thoughts:

"Holy fucking shit was that a mistake. The two were together on the roster not only in WWE, but also in two different developmental territories AND WERE A REGULAR TAG TEAM IN DEVELOPMENTAL.

Not to mention Cade in his own voice did a radio interview where he said things very similar to what Nowinski claimed he told them."

Although renowned in the field of CTE, we are unaware of any specific qualifications or medical degrees that he possesses which would qualify him as an expert on steroids and pain killers.

With all due respect to Chris Nowinski (this is rebutting WWE's point and not a criticism of him, and if I'm wrong, somebody please correct me), as far as I know, he doesn't have  "any specific qualifications or medical degrees that he possesses which would qualify him as an expert on" concussions either.  He's a very smart guy who did a ton of research to the point where he became a leading researcher in the field.  From his website:

"Nowinski, a former Harvard football player, suddenly found himself suffering from a constellation of debilitating symptoms that included cognitive problems, severe headaches, and depression. Doctors eventually diagnosed him with post-concussion syndrome (PCS), but they couldn't tell him why that specific kick to the head created this problem, nor if he would ever recover enough to return to his job. His personal quest to understand his condition led him to discover that he had suffered not one concussion, but many over the course of an amateur career in football and his professional career in wrestling, and it was the cumulative effect of these injuries that had ended his career. He also learned that the worst was not necessarily behind him, as he uncovered research linking multiple concussions with serious long-term neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease, memory impairment, and depression."

If WWE is conceding that he's an expert of concussions in sports, then why is it a stretch to think that a wrestler wouldn't be an expert on painkillers and steroids?

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