clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Did WWE downplay the severity of Chavo Guerrero's 2004 concussion to the wrestling media?

Irv Muchnick's latest blog post on the brain injury issue entitled "What Chavo Guerrero Told Chris Benoit’s Dad About His Own Concussion and Bleeding on the Brain" makes for fairly disturbing reading.  According to Mike Benoit, Chavo Guerrero told him not long after his son died that he had once suffered from bleeding on the brain himself, when denying like a loyal company employee that Benoit could have been suffering from post-concussion syndrome at the time of his double murder suicide:

Back in July 2007, the week after my family’s tragedy I spoke to Chavo Guerrero by phone.  We had already donated Chris’s brain to Chris Nowinski’s Sports Legacy Institute for testing.  I did not share that information with Chavo but asked him his thoughts on an article about Nowinski talking about CTE.  Chavo response at the time was "no way was Chris suffering from post-concussion syndrome."  Chavo went on to share with me that he was recently returning from a concussion during which he had also suffered from bleeding in the brain.

The time line is slightly out, but Chavo was probably referring to an incident at the Smackdown TV tapings on August 24th 2004, where he suffered a severe concussion in a match with Billy Kidman when Kidman landed knee first on Chavo's head with his shooting star press finisher.  The incident was so disturbing at the time that Bryan Alvarez was seething mad at Kidman's recklessness in the September 6th 2004 Figure Four Weekly newsletter:

This made me so mad that it took me a few days before I could really sit down and express my thoughts without just a rampant spring of profanities.

Once he had calmed down, this is what he had to say on the incident: 

It was a terrifying situation as Chavo was KO'd immediately and every single muscle in his body tensed up, so when Kidman tried to hook his leg, the leg wouldn't bend. Worse, Chavo was out for several minutes, which is terrifying when you consider the knockouts that take place in MMA and the fact that most guys are on their feet thirty seconds later. A ton of referees and officials hit the ring, and Stephanie McMahon even came out to check on him. It's doubtful you'll ever see Kidman doing a shooting star press again, and while nobody is going to believe me when I say this, I think Kidman's days are numbered. Personally, if I ran the company, I don't want to say I'd have fired him, but I would have been seriously, seriously upset. It's one thing to accidentally hurt someone doing a move you've done a million times before just fine, but he's screwed that move up so many times (including hurting himself and others before) that he should have shelved it long ago. It's one thing to do it when you're a cruiserweight, it's another to pack on several dozen pounds and keep trying it. Chavo ended up with "only" a serious concussion, which should tell you how scared everyone was initially, and there was a ton of heat on Kidman, especially when folks remembered him going on Byte This and bitching about Brock "stealing" the move for the main event of WrestleMania. It's been an accident waiting to happen forever, and thankfully Chavo is OK.

However, in the next edition of the Figure Four Weekly newsletter Bryan reassured us there was nothing to see here:  

Chavo Guerrero Jr. is doing much better and should be back in action sometime soon.

Wade Keller's Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter had a similar write up to the incident, emphasizing that the incident wasn't as bad as it looked on both September 5th and Semptember 11th, respectively:

Chavo Guerrero suffered a concussion at last week’s Smackdown tapings, but the injury was feared much worse at first.

Chavo Guerrero’s injury, inflicted by a misguided Billy Kidman shooting star press two weeks ago, was played up on TV as a big deal, but ultimately it looked worse than it turned out.  Although he was knocked out for a while, he was diagnosed with a moderate concussion.  All concussions are serious, especially because each successful concussion makes future concussions more likely.  He was left off last weekend’s shows as a precautionary measure.

Irv's blog post raises several different possible scenarios.  Did WWE downplay the severity of Chavo Guerrero's 2004 concussion to the wrestling media, hence leading to their rosy reporting?  It did take him nearly two months to return to action after all, which suggests that his injury was more serious than just a "moderate concussion".  Or did Chavo Guerrero downplay his injury to WWE, like many wrestlers do, because there was a financial incentive for him to rush back to work, as his downside guarantee was much smaller than what he actually earned?  Or did this severe concussion predispose him to an even more serious one, closer to when Chris died, that led to the aforementioned bleeding on the brain, that wasn't as widely reported as his concussion in 2004?  Finally, we can't exclude the possibility that Chavo Guerrero was exaggerating his symptoms to Mike Benoit, in an attempt to stop him from believing that Chris had "post-concussion syndrome" and doing something against WWE's wishes in donating Chris' brain to the Sports Legacy Institute for testing.  As I said earlier he's a loyal company employee.  Moreover, one who has proven himself of dubious credibility, publicly lying on the behalf of WWE to cover for them in not one, but two tragedies.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats