If you aren't familiar with Damien Echols, he's a member of the so-called "West Memphis Three," a group of three teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of the murders of three young boys in Arkansas in the early 1990s. Of the three, only Echols was sentenced to death and he spent 18 years in prison on Death Row until new evidence finally conclusively revealed the innocence of all three men and they were released on an Alford plea in August 2011.
Upon his release, Echols wrote a book (which he is now promoting), embarked on a historic media tour, and has been bombarded with questions left and right about his experience behind bars awaiting death. The long and short of it is that it sucked. Of course it sucked. How else would it be?
Deadspin held a live chat with him today and he specifically made sure to mention that he is a huge fan of WWE and he was up for answering questions about it. Naturally, the second question that came up in the entire chat was whether Echols supports John Cena or current WWE Champion CM Punk.
"Definitely John Cena," he said.
He didn't elaborate on why that is and he's been out of prison for over a year now, so he's had plenty of time to watch the product to make up his mind. He keeps up with it, too, as evidenced by his answer to the other WWE question later in the chat about how much it has changed since he last saw it as a kid. His answer might surprise you.
"I actually think it's better now, due to more developed plot lines and a slightly more sophisticated storytelling ability, compared to when I was a kid. Now it's almost become like a soap opera for men, but I don't mean that in a negative way. Wrestling has always been a family tradition in my house. My grandfather watched it, my father watched it, and me and all my cousins watched it. It was something that the entire family would bond over, so a lot of times I watch it now as much for nostalgia as for anything else."
I may have taken some liberty with the promo headline to get you clicking in here (sorry!) but I find it fascinating that after spending 18 years in prison on Death Row, Echols came out as a supporter of Cena. Perhaps it's because of his relentlessly positive message to never give up and always fight for what you believe in, which for Echols was his innocence and want to make a positive impact on the world.
Personally, I'm not sure I could do that much time on 23-hour lockdown every day while watching 25-30 men (as he described it) come through and get executed, all while knowing I was innocent, without coming out feeling a strong distaste for the system. If Punk is anti-establishment, always against the corporate juggernaut that seems impossible to overcome despite all logic and reasoning, it seems obvious someone in Echols position would identify with that character.
I guess not.
My question, were I to ever get one with him, would be how he feels about the impending Punk vs. Cena Hell in a Cell match. As if either of them have any clue about true hell in an actual cell.
To read the full chat with Echols click here.