WWE News Benoit News: Chavo Guerrero on Van Susteren, talks of communication with Benoit
Jul 18, 2007 - 9:30:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
Tonight's "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren featured the first media interview with Chavo Guerrero, one of Chris Benoit's best friend.
Chavo said he talked to him the last time that Saturday. He said they were planning to meet up at the city they were wrestling in. He said they were flying into a different airport in Houston. He said he got a message from him saying he missed his flight. He said he called him back. "He sounded odd and he left with a forced 'I love you' Chavo," he said. "It was enough for me to hang up and think something wasn't right." He said he called him back a few minutes later. He said Benoit told him he had a stressful day and things weren't going well. He said Nancy and Daniel had food poisoning. He said he'd hook up with a later flight.
He said he got text messages from him early the next morning. Chavo said 3:53 a.m. Houston time, or 4:43 Atlanta time. He said it had his address. He said he had just moved because his previous house was in a public area. He said he was concerned to have Daniel playing outside because fans would camp out in front of his house. He said he bought land in a suburban Atlanta and used a P.O. Box. He said the text was his physical address.
Van Susteren asked what he thought of that. Chavo said he didn't know why he was saying that. He said when he first saw it he was still tired and thought maybe he had sent it a few days earlier. He said the next message talked about the dogs being corralled. He said he thought it might have been an old text message from a couple days earlier saying he wanted them to pick him up. He said, "It was so random. There wasn't a cry for help. There wasn't an I love you. It was so random. I didn't think anything of it. I went back to sleep. The next morning (Sunday) when he woke up, he called but there was no answer."
He said it was very unlike him to miss a pay-per-view. He said they were calling him all day, but they never did. He said he told somebody in the front office that he got these weird text messages. He said they sent a car, but dogs were wandering around, but they couldn't get in right away. He said one of the neighbors knew him, and that's how he ended up getting in and they found him.
Chavo said Chris didn't wear his emotions on his sleeve; he was a very private person. He said they were like family. "He was such a good person," he said. "It's just so out of character for the guy." He said he never saw him fight with anybody. "He was always calming me down, telling me, 'Hey, it's not worth it. Just walk away.'"
Van Susteren asked why there are so many young deaths in wrestling. Chavo said people aren't really dying any more except for these few cases. He said it's the older timers who were wrestling around in the '70s and '80s when there were a lot of drugs and alcohol. "Now we don't really do that," he said. "Nobody drinks anymore. We go workout. I can't eat that because I gotta keep my body in shape. We can't cheat. I gotta get rest." He said the way his dad and grandfather and uncles wrestled, it's not the same anymore. He said the two deaths are odd and out of character now.
Greta asked Chavo what makes a good wrestler. He said there are some world class athletes who just can't pick it up. He said it'd odd. He said you have to be a performer, be athletic, be able to entertain a crowd, it's an artform and you have learn it. Great asked if Chris loved it or if it was a job. Chavo said it was his life - that and his family. "It was the only thing he ever wanted to do since he was ten years old." He said he would trust his family with Chris in a heartbeat.
WK ANALYSIS: Chavo came across as nice and genuine, without an agenda. I'm not sure where he was three weeks ago, and why the day after the revelation of an elevated testosterone level in Benoit's body that was headlines in major papers across the country that suddenly he's available for interviews, but it was valuable to hear his version of what happened in his own words. If I were hired to advise WWE to handle their p.r. in a way most beneficial to the company, I'd offer up "exclusives" like this to the cable shows so I could set the agenda and nudge other independent guests out of the day's news cycle - especially the day after many major papers headlines with Benoit having extremely elevated levels of steroids in his body at the time of his death.
It is absolutely true what Chavo says about the wrestler lifestyle changing. There is less partying and drinking in bars. The concern is whether the sophisticated drug cocktails to look a certain way and maintain a certain energy for the gym and recovery time for muscles is going to turn out to be dangerous in a whole new way when the current generation whom Chavo points to as living a different lifestyle reach the age of Eddie, Chris, Sherri, Mike Awesome, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, and the others who paid the ultimate price related to years of partying and a lifestyle they never gave up or could kick after getting out of wrestling.
For one, the partying that goes on takes place in hotel rooms away from the public, not in bars in front of other fans. Whatever goes on behind closed doors among cliques of friends is less public than what happened in bars out in the open in past years. And does replacing alcohol to dull the pain of the night's matches (and the career of bumps and bruises) with prescription pills (allowed by WWE's policy with prescription, within their discretion) add up to a more healthy era as these wrestlers head toward and pass the age of Eddie and Chris, especially when combined with the mental and physical fatigue of there being no planned breaks to rest and recharge mentally and physically, and build a full life outside of their WWE careers?
Also, this younger generation advancing toward their mid-30s are entering a danger zone as far as wanting to earn their top money during these peak earning years just as their bodies stop responding the same way to the weights and just as the aches and pains of 50 weeks on the road a year, year after year, begin to add up.
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