Wrestling Babylon: Randy Orton Fans Shoot

Randy OrtonMuch of the reaction to the report here of Randy Orton’s rumored suicide attempt in the spring of 2006 looks through the wrong end of the lens. This is typical of a mentality holding that the paramount value is to protect the business. In reality, such a stance is destroying the pro wrestling business.

And it’s doubly ironic because if the story is proven true – as I’m confident it will be – and proceeds to reach a certain threshold of public awareness, Orton’s bosses at World Wrestling Entertainment will have no qualms about incorporating it into a new storyline. (As I post this, Teddy Long is “semi-comatose” from a Viagra reaction.) They won’t miss a beat, and the fans will buy tickets and pay-per-views on the basis of a fiction loosely based on a fact.



 And wrestling fans wonder why they have a lousy reputation?

An Internet columnist by the name of John Meehan criticized my report at http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/columns/60170/The-MeeThinks-Friday-FreeThinks:-09.21.07.htm. Great. Lively dialogue makes the world go ’round. Unfortunately, Meehan’s gripes ranged from half-legit to delusional, as I pointed out to him in a September 21 email. The text is below; I’ve not heard back.

For an example of a much more sensible reaction to the Orton story, you can turn to a blog of his fans called “RKO Rules.” See the post and discussion board at http://community.livejournal.com/pieces_of_randy/37697.html. Imagine that: people who actually express concern about Randy Orton’s health and life, rather than knee-jerk denial of unpleasant news and fear of his being wiped off their TV screens and fantasy worlds.


Mr. Meehan:

Thanks for covering the Randy Orton suicide attempt story on my blog. You quoted in full the original item (http://muchnick.net/babylon/2007/09/18/did-randy-orton-attempt-suicide/). I suggest that your readers also be pointed to the follow-up item (http://muchnick.net/babylon/2007/09/19/orton-further-notes/).

1. You and I disagree over what is “a major detail.” As browsers of my blog can see, I immediately corrected the error about the Legend Killer gimmick, which did indeed precede Eddie Guerrero’s death (though, for defenders of WWE’s taste, I must say that the correction might be worse than the disease). I also immediately — as in minutes — corrected Congressman Tom Davis’s state in my column for BeyondChron; that kind of copyedit touch-up happens all the time between editions of a newspaper. Which shows better faith: my lack of defensiveness about these very minor errors, or your need to hype them as “major” without even referencing the quick, voluntary corrections?

2. Why you represent that I claimed “that Randy Orton was ‘downgraded for a few weeks in TV storylines’” is simply mystifying. Please read the following consecutive sentences, as quoted in your own item: “Some vague number of the miscreant wrestlers, not named, were ’suspended,’ but the suspension appears to have consisted of simply being downgraded for a few weeks in TV storylines. From the same evidence, Randy Orton was not touched at all.” One universally accepted fact is that Randy Orton was not in this current round of suspensions. Your reading of my written words is much sloppier than those very words.

3. Unquestionably, Kennedy et al. were kicked off TV for a while, and that was most inconvenient for them and for WWE’s creative team. I also understand that some, most, or all of them are being rushed back in 20-odd days, which makes for a strange 30-day suspension. And in any case, aren’t suspensions, by definition, “on-air downgrades”? Where’s the “major hole” promised by the intro to your bullet points?

4. You seem to be saying that if Randy Orton did not attempt suicide between September 2006 and September 2007, but did attempt suicide between March or April of 2006 and September 2006, then a report of such an incident “within the last year” (quickly amended to a more accurate time frame) is utterly invalidated. I think your priorities are trivial, and I think most reasonable readers would feel the same

5. I don’t think you’re saying that I had no right to include those details of Orton’s private life (which were culled, by the way, from a joint interview he and his fiancee did this spring in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Still, when a writer has to explain too much, he’s probably composed a passage too cryptic for comfort. I therefore accept your criticism on this one. I thought the information in that paragraph was interesting, but the item could have done without it and probably would have been better received without it.

Irv Muchnick

Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal (ECW Press)

The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide
and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (ECW Press, 2008)

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