WWE responds to Republican Christopher Shays attack with the same tired talking points

As we reported here just over ten days ago, the race to choose the next Republican candidate for the retiring Joe Liebermann's Connecticut Senate seat is heating up, with Linda McMahon's main rival, Christopher Shays, aggressively going after her Achilles' heel of dead former WWE wrestlers.

Unsurprisingly Linda, who wants to distance herself from the baggage of her shady pro wrestling past, has not personally responded to the attack. After she came off like an aloof and cold executive in her response to Lance Cade's death at age 29 from heart failure in August 2010 during her first run for Senate, Linda has always allowed WWE spokesmen like Ed Patru and Robert Zimmerman to speak on her behalf and correct such "factual inaccuracies" to the Connecticut media.

So here we go again, with Robert Zimmerman once again being called upon to stand up for WWE's "650 employees and approximately 300,000 fans in Connecticut" by writing a strongly worded letter to Shays telling him to knock off the baseless accusations and using the same tired company talking points that they always roll out under such circumstances. Let's go through them one by one in detail after the jump.

  • Implying that he is a hypocrite because he once visited WWE's Headquarters in Stamford and actively supported their non-partisan voter-registration campaign dubbed "Smackdown! Your Vote" in the past.
  • Arguing that their entertainment business doesn't promote bullying, as Shays claimed, because of their recent Be A Star anti-bullying initiative. It is worth noting that WWE only launched this crusade rather belatedly in the summer of 2011 after the company came under tremendous heat from GLAAD in the run up to WrestleMania 27 for scripting top babyface John Cena to tell several homophobic jokes at The Rock's and The Miz's expense. Even now, Cena's behaviour is often not befitting a true role model for his young fans that look up to him.
  • In response to Shays' characterisation to the Associated Press that WWE peddles "soft-core porn", Zimmerman pointed to the TV-PG rating that all WWE broadcast television programming currently abides by, which is true, but wasn't the case during the peak of the company's popularity in the Attitude Era.
  • Disputing Shays' claim that WWE has "got over 41 people 50 years and younger who've died in their jobs", by accurately though misleadingly stating that only "five wrestlers have passed away while under contract" and "according to coroner reports, one individual died by accident, one by suicide and three by heart disease". Of course, that doesn't tell the whole story.
  • The company was clearly negligent in the stunt that caused Owen Hart's death and they lost a wrongful death lawsuit to Martha Hart soon afterwards, but not without using every dirty tactic in the book to undermine her effort to get justice.
  • In an independent post-mortem examination of his brain, Chris Benoit was diagnosed to have had the degenerative neurological disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his suicide. Moreover, his autopsy revealed that he had hugely elevated levels of testosterone in his system despite being subject to company drug testing and, in an under reported story at the time, that his heart, liver and spleen were all severely enlarged, which would likely have led to heart disease in later life.
  • Eddy Guerrero's autopsy listed his steroid usage as a contributing cause to his arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which has since been sealed by his widow Vickie Guerrero, who, not so coincidentally, has worked for WWE off and on as a heel manager ever since his premature death.
  • Similarly, Brian Pillman's autopsy cited his cocaine usage as a contributing factor to his coronory artery disease and his widow, Melanie King, strongly believed that his addiction to pain pills and usage of ephedrine, human growth hormone and steroids played a role in his heart attack, something the coroner wouldn't rule out.
  • Strangely, Rick McGraw who died while working for the company on November 1st, 1985 is not included in the list, as the fifth name would have to be Russ Haas, with the only conclusion being that he wasn't mentioned because he wasn't under contract at the time. As Bret Hart discussed in his autobiography Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, the circumstances surrounding his death reflected badly on life in the WWF at the time: "Every night he'd swallow a handful of Placidyls and wind up passed out face down in his dinner.... The cause of his death was labelled a heart attack, but we all knew his heart had given out under deadly dosages of downers."
  • Finally, though only six wrestlers died in their WWE jobs before the age of 50, if you include the deaths of former employees into the tally, then 41 people is a close to accurate statistic, many of whom died from causes related to the drug addictions they picked up or continued while employed by WWE. It's like a tobacco company arguing that their products can't be blamed for a long term smoker contracting lung cancer because they quit smoking before getting the disease.
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