A former WWE Video on Demand Content Director has explained how the situation surrounding footage of Chris Benoit has changed in the company.
Chris Benoit is one of wrestling’s most infamous personalities after he perpetrated the murder of his wife Nancy and young son Daniel on one fateful weekend in June 2007 before ending his own life.
The Canadian wrestler had been in the headlines again after IMPACT star Jordynne Grace commented on Benoit, leading to a backlash from many former wrestling stars.
WWE aired a tribute episode of Raw dedicated to Chris Benoit after they found out about his death but as the grizzly details emerged, Vince McMahon declared the next night before ECW aired that Benoit’s name would not be mentioned by the company ever again.
Now John Carlan, who worked for WWE as a production assistant and producer before becoming the Video on Demand Content Director/Supervising Producer in 2014, spoke to Wrestlenomics about the directives surrounding using Benoit footage and how the situation changed with the advent of the WWE Network:
“Certainly, that was a major directive, especially pre-Network. For Classics, he was a ‘no go.’ Matches were removed, mentions of him were removed, graphics were removed. That was a tough cut, like blurring the WWF logo. You would have to make notes of it and they would say, ‘scratch logo, massive cursing, Benoit,’ it would have to be noted.”
“It was more when we got to the Network, he was allowed. We didn’t want to lose any integrity of any shows. I guess, he did a lot of good wrestling. He did. Things changed. Legally, it changed. Feelings changed. We just followed direction. It was never something I made any calls on. I just did what I was told.”
Carlan also noted that Chris Benoit was not the only competitor that had to be noted when he appeared on screen:
“Certainly, down the line, one I can remember in the last five or ten years was Rock N Roll Buck Zumhofe. You guys know the story about that dude, it’s not a good one. He did a lot of really bad things to a lot of young women. He was on the list. He jobbed for [WWE] a lot in the 90s on Superstars.”
Zumhofe was jailed for 25 years in 2014 after being convicted of four different counts of criminal sexual misconduct involving his daughter.