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Congress Deadline for WWE Report Approaches
Aired August 23, 2007 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: Breaking news in the case of major superstar WWE wrestler 40-year-old Chris Benoit, his entire family found dead in their upscale gated community, Atlanta suburbs. Toxicology reveals a powerful mix of anabolic steroids and other drugs. Now, just weeks after the death of Benoit and his family, three more pro wrestlers turn up dead.
Tonight, the most successful woman in U.S. pro wrestling history, Chyna, wrestling superstar Joanne Laurer is with us. Steroids, the sudden deaths (ph) on a mounting list of pro wrestlers dead by age 50, and now Congress heats up. WWE must respond to Congress by tomorrow.
And tonight: Federal prosecutors granting a superseding indictment, adding more formal charges against a doctor to the wrestling stars, Dr. Phil Astin III, the doctor now blaming a hormone disorder for of the huge doses of steroids he prescribed to superstar Benoit. Stunning results, 10 times the normal levels of testosterone found in Benoit`s body at the time of his death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve got all these wrestlers dying, you know, from a combination of painkillers, prolonged steroid usage and alcohol, recreational drugs, and nothing has been done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re dying. Please, something`s got to be done!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are all these wrestlers dying? And we know what they`re dying from, and nothing is being done to clean up the sport. There is no investigation. There is no congressional oversight. There`s nothing going on. And that to me is more tragic than the deaths themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Broadway and Hollywood were dying like we`re dying, something would be done. Remember, 104 wrestlers in 10 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight: Tumble dry takes a whole new meaning. A Texas man locks a 2-year-old baby girl in an overheated clothes dryer. Why? He says the baby misbehaved during bath time, so he put her in the dryer, already hot and running. Result, burns all over the baby girl`s body.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Texas man could spend the rest of his life behind bars for putting his girlfriend`s 2-year-old daughter in a hot clothes dryer. In a jailhouse interview, Bobby Lynn Curtis said it happened when he was giving the little girl a bath Sunday night.
BOBBY LYNN CURTIS, PUT 2-YEAR-OLD IN CLOTHES DRYER: She doesn`t like to get her hair wet or her face. I pushed the issue, giving -- you know, making her wash her hair. And she just kept on hollering, you know, Momma, Momma, and I kept getting madder and madder!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening, I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight.
First tonight, former wrestling superstar Joanie "Chyna" Laurer on drugs, death and pro wrestling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANIE "CHYNA" LAURER, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: I knew Chris Benoit quite well, I would say. I wrestled with him for many years. And also, we have similar backgrounds in technical training as far as being trained with New Japan professional wrestling.
My first reaction when I heard that Chris had killed his wife and his son and himself was in one sense kind of a shock that it was him. Wrestling is, of course, entertainment. It`s its own entity. And you can`t simply deny that death after death after death after death that something is wrong. And I can`t tell you exactly, therefore, I can`t tell you what my hopes would be because I can`t tell you what the answer is. Luckily, I`m not the judge. But I can tell you that years ago, I walked away from it, and that`s for a reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Tonight, with us a real superstar in the wrestling industry. You know her as Chyna. Her real name, Joanie Laurer. Here she is.
Since Benoit`s death, shocking death in his own home, his multi- million-dollar home in the Atlanta suburbs -- he was found dead, along with his wife and his 7-year-old little boy. It focused so much attention on the wrestling industry, and now we learn steroids are seemingly routine.
Chyna, tell me, first of all, how did you get into wrestling? I mean, it`s like the mind doesn`t get this beautiful woman as a wrestler, a pro wrestler.
LAURER: I`m still getting it just now, Nancy, even many years later. I originally wanted to be in the movies. I wanted to be a movie star. I wanted to be on MTV. And I just happened to be involved in athletics at a very early age. I hung out at gyms after school, and it was kind of recreational for me, so I began developing my body at the age of 14, 15 years old.
GRACE: Like a body builder.
LAURER: Correct. Yes. It was a time when women were starting to do aerobics and whatnot, but I was hanging out with, you know, the male crowd in the gyms after school. So that got my interests perked in lifting weights, and thereafter, I learned that I was starting to sculpt my body. So I would go out for commercials and different television roles, but obviously, I didn`t see myself as this kind of developed girl or woman, so...
GRACE: Sculpted, really sculpted. How many hours a day would you spend in the gym to look the way you did at the height of your wrestling career?
Hey, everybody, Chyna is with us. We`re about to get to the deadline with Congress and the WWE. WWE must answer by tomorrow about complaints from Capitol Hill. The clock is ticking on the WWE. We`ll see what they`ve got to say.
But we are taking your calls. Here with me, Chyna, former WWE superstar. Her real name, Joanie Laurer. Go ahead.
LAURER: Well, I was just saying that I would spend -- let`s see, school would end about 3:00 or 4:00 for me, and I would do after-school intramurals and -- which I was never good at any sport, but I...
GRACE: Which sport?
LAURER: ... would do every...
LAURER: Yes, any sport that was available to me. I was horrible at all of them. And then I would go to the gyms, where I would swim, lift weights, feel like I was dancing with all of the aerobics classes. And I was very self-competitive. I pushed myself with push-ups, sit-ups, you know, all of the -- you know, the hard-core exercises.
GRACE: So how many years...
LAURER: Until 10:00 or 11:00 at night.
GRACE: For you to look -- 10:00 or 11:00 o`clock at night?
LAURER: Yes, 10 hours.
GRACE: You would spend hours in the gym every day.
LAURER: That was my life.
GRACE: How did you first end up stepping into a wrestling ring?
LAURER: I was watching -- I came in one night from the gym, and my sister was watching it on television.
GRACE: Watching what?
LAURER: And I looked over. And I didn`t really know anything about it. I mean, I`d heard of wrestling, obviously, like everybody in the world, but I didn`t know the specifics or the specific characters or athletes. And I looked over and I started chuckling to myself. And I said, Oh, I could do that. I would be perfect. I would fit the mold for that. I`m going to be a wrestler.
And I started traveling to go see shows. I started getting to know people in the industry, whoever I could. I started calling. There wasn`t a local wrestling school. You know, I didn`t know this, that they even existed. But I somehow worked my way into the organization. And that`s what I would say, once I was hired, I really started learning.
GRACE: (INAUDIBLE) I`m comparing to you -- I think about the first time I ever tried a case, first time I ever struck a jury. What was it like the first time you went in a ring for a professional wrestling bout? Do you remember?
LAURER: I do. It was -- I don`t -- I had no idea what was coming my way. And the funny part, Nancy, you mentioned is that, in my mind, I had always wanted to be -- I always wanted to be the supermodel, you know? But I was this big girl, and so I viewed it as playing a role.
GRACE: How tall are you?
LAURER: Five-ten. So I viewed it as playing a role when I was hired for wrestling, and that was a role to me. I just happened to be...
GRACE: You know, you`ve got...
LAURER: ... an athlete.
GRACE: ... about 10 inches, but I think I got about (INAUDIBLE) a few pounds on you.
GRACE: OK. Go ahead.
LAURER: You`d whip my butt, Nancy. It was...
GRACE: First time in the ring?
LAURER: I loved it.
GRACE: Did you win?
LAURER: I was -- actually, I started off as a bodyguard, manager type of role, so I really didn`t do much for the first year.
GRACE: Do you think...
LAURER: I was a presence, more than anything.
GRACE: Did you ever wrestle a man?
LAURER: That`s all I really did, was I -- what I was known for, the first female to really...
GRACE: And won.
LAURER: ... have the strength and...
GRACE: And won.
LAURER: ... and the demeanor -- and won many times.
GRACE: Many, many times.
LAURER: Many times.
GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Justin in Oklahoma. Hi, Justin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Nancy.
GRACE: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m doing good.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is, what is Chyna`s reaction to what has happened with Chris Benoit`s death?
GRACE: You know what, Justin? Hold on one moment. Before we go to her on that, let`s get the very latest on what is happening. As you know, Justin in Oklahoma, deadline tomorrow. The clock is ticking. Capitol Hill wants answers as to how many and why so many pro wrestlers are dying before 50.
Hey, Elizabeth, let`s run that list of how many pro wrestlers have died before their time. It is incredible!
Out to Dave Meltzer with Wrestlingobserver.com and friend of Chris Benoit. Dave, tell me about the very latest regarding the investigation into these deaths.
DAVE MELTZER, WRESTLINGOBSERVER.COM: I don`t know that there`s really anything new, at this point. You know, there`s two different Senate committees working on the subject. They`ve subpoenaed other wrestling companies for records that probably don`t exist. They`ve subpoenaed WWE for records that do exist. And what happens from there, I mean, you know, time will tell.
GRACE: Bryan Alvarez with Figurefouronline.com, what else can you tell us?
BRYAN ALVAREZ, FIGUREFOURONLINE.COM: WWE actually sent a response to Congress last week. It was a very conciliatory letter. They just basically said, Here`s the information. We`re going to send you our wellness policy. If you want more information...
GRACE: Their wellness policy?
ALVAREZ: Their wellness policy.
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Bryan Alvarez, I know you`re just giving me the facts, but -- Chyna, you`re on cross now. How many drug tests did you ever take with the WWE?
LAURER: Not one.
GRACE: OK, now, what were you saying about that wellness policy?
ALVAREZ: WWE does, in fact, have a wellness policy. It may not be a good policy, but they`ve got a policy. They`re going to send that. They`ve got information about Dr. Astin -- not Dr. Astin, but Dr. Black. They`ve recommended if you have any questions about this, you should talk to him. And basically just saying, We`re going to give you everything we have. And this is a third party that is in charge of testing, so if you have any questions about that, you should talk to him.
GRACE: There are two separate Congressional inquiries going forward as we speak. In less than 24 hours, the WWE is set to answer some of the questions Capitol Hill has posed to them.
Back out to the lines. Everyone, with me, a real wrestling superstar. Her name, Chyna, as you know her. Her real name, Joanie Laurer.
Out to the lines. Ricky in Tennessee. Hi, Ricky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: How are you, dear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good. You doing OK?
GRACE: I`m hanging in there. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Not to say I`m uncaring, but with everything else in going on in the country with the war and everything, why does Congress feel like they need to get involved with professional wrestling and baseball players doing steroids?
GRACE: Let`s go straight out to Chris Cruise, worked for Vince McMahon, former wrestling play-by-play announcer. And Ricky, believe me, my father is a veteran of the world war. We certainly are not comparing any of this to the deaths over in Iraq or any other theater in the world. But this is a real concern. Explain, Chris.
CHRIS CRUISE, FORMER PRO WRESTLING ANNOUNCER: Nancy, the members of Congress and the staff that I`ve spoken with have dealt with that issue. They believe that this is a life-or-death issue. Professional wrestlers are dying, but not just that pro wrestlers are dying, but the children who are watching pro wrestlers are going to grow up and they`re going to take steroids or human growth hormone and they`re going to die, as well.
So If you`re going to use that argument that there are better things to do with Congress`s time, Congress has an answer, and they believe that this is totally appropriate for them to investigate.
GRACE: And I want to go to Marc Mero, former WWE superstar himself. Explain, Marc.
MARC MERO, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: There`s a trick-down effect that one million kids between 6th grade and 12th grade are now using anabolic steroids. And that`s something that I think that -- one of the reasons why WWE and the wrestling world has got to take notice of what`s happening out there.
GRACE: To Bryan Alvarez, Figurefouronline.com. Tell me about the latest deaths. Three deaths among pro wrestlers have happened since Benoit`s death.
ALVAREZ: Well, the latest is Brian Adams, who worked with WWE in the early `90s, New Japan, WCW, WWE, a couple of years ago as the "Kronik" tag team. He just passed away. He was in his early 40s. And we don`t have any real information yet. We`re waiting for toxicology reports to come back, as is almost always the case in these deaths. But it`s just another one in a long list.
GRACE: You know, our caller, Ricky in Tennessee, was asking why this was taking so much attention. Take a listen to this. Of the wrestlers, nearly 70 dead in just 10 years, all before age 50. That would equal, if you compare it to other major sports, to 435 NFL dead, to 186 baseball players dead. Now, you know, maybe I`m crazy, but to me, that means that there is a hard-core problem.
Back to Chyna. Why is it -- I mean, I`ve got my own theory. People - - a lot of people look down their nose at wrestling. They don`t think it`s a pure sport. All right. You know what? Fine. But my question is, how long do we stand by and watch people drop like flies, whether we like their sport or we don`t like their sport.
When you heard about Benoit, what was your immediate reaction?
LAURER: I was angered. And that`s a really good question, Nancy, and maybe you can help me explain this in a proper manner, is that whether people from the outside looking in are turning their nose up or down at it, there`s some -- I`m coming from the inside out. And the fans are so wonderful. They`re so dedicated. They`re so loyal. But at the same time, they can be extremely venomous.
What bothers me is that venomous action on something that`s right in front of the world`s faces, that there is something wrong. There`s death after death after death, and the people that are listed are people I`ve known, I don`t even know their real name. It`s really a convoluted issue. And it`s -- you know, it`s not something that you should have to take sides over and be liked or disliked or judged for that. It`s happening. There are facts.
GRACE: So much is happening within the case of Benoit. As you know a superseding or an additional indictment is being handed down by the feds, adding charges to the doctor to the wrestling stars Phil Astin. Tomorrow, Congress waiting on a response -- the deadline is 5:00 PM -- from the WWE.
And in the middle of all this, there is a legal battle going on for Benoit`s millions. It`s a very complicated legal question. Bryan Alvarez, who`s fighting who over the Benoit millions?
ALVAREZ: Well, it`s basically the Benoit family versus Nancy Benoit`s family, Chris Benoit`s versus Nancy`s. And the way that it works is there`s a "slayer statute" in Georgia which says the murderer, his family cannot get his -- basically, inherit his fortune. And the situation is, if Nancy Benoit died first, she didn`t have a will, so her estate would flow to Daniel and Daniel`s heirs, which would be Chris Benoit`s other two children in Canada, they would end up getting the estate. If Daniel died first, then the Nancy Benoit family is going to get the estate. And of course, the coroner said that Daniel passed away after Nancy. So right now, it`s going to be a very tough battle for the Nancy Benoit family to try to get it switched around.
GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight, Richard Herman out of New York, Rachel Kugel out of New York, Eleanor Dixon out of Atlanta.
First of all to you, Rachel Kugel. The legal ramifications of the fight over Benoit`s millions -- it really all boils down to the medical examiner, who died first. But don`t you think the other side will bring in their own specialists?
RACHEL KUGEL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. I mean, actually, this could come out to a whole trial. I mean, you could have a whole trial on this issue as to who died first, if they want to get to that point. It could be wild and a battle of the experts in an estate case.
GRACE: It will be a battle.
Out to the lines. Carlos in Florida. Hi, Carlos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Nancy.
GRACE: How are you, dear? What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is for Chyna. While wrestlers -- during her time in WWE, while wrestlers were taking a break from being active on the roster, did Vince McMahon go out of his way to make sure that his wrestlers were getting tested at all?
GRACE: Good question.
LAURER: Well, first of all, no. And second of all, you weren`t taking a break from the roster unless you were hurt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURER: You can`t simply deny that death after death after death after death that something is wrong. Most people who have -- you know, have lived and died in that ring. And I believe that there`s a responsibility there that`s not OK because it doesn`t happen anywhere else in any other sport or television or movies or in any other industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Three more dead bodies since the death of superstar Chris Benoit, superstar in the wrestling ring. And what`s being done about it? Well, Congress is set now to have two different subcommittee hearings on the increasing numbers of deaths within the wrestling ring.
With me tonight, a wrestling superstar, Chyna. Joanie Laurer is with us, speaking out about drugs and death in pro wrestling.
Out to the lines. Melissa in Indiana. Hi, Melissa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to ask Joanie if she felt any pressure from the WWE to change her appearance because it changed drastically from when she first started and when she left.
LAURER: Yes. Good question. There was a little bit of pressure. I came into the World Wrestling Federation as kind of a monster, you know, presence, and I had to be to make that role believable. And however, you know, I always wanted to be much more feminine, and you know, wear the -- have the nice hair and the -- you know, the big boobs and the whole look that was opposite of the role that I played. So yes, there was pressure to -- although inevitably, I did this because I had to for me. So the look did change.
GRACE: You know, your look has changed immensely. I`m just taking a look at you in various shots. Did you ever do steroids to look that cut (ph)?
LAURER: No, I did not, which still to this day -- it`s taken so many years later to -- I shouldn`t have to say prove that, but understandably (INAUDIBLE) but luckily, I never did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The foolishness of professional wrestling degrades the actual people involved in it. These are really human beings, after all, and we really are people with families and with loved ones and mothers and fathers, but yet we are treated almost like circus animals in the professional wrestling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The clock is ticking, the WWE expected to respond to Congress, to Waxman, tomorrow at 5:00 PM.
Here on the set with me, a real superstar. You know her as Chyna. This is Joanie Laurer, WWE superstar. Was it common to see drugs in the locker room?
LAURER: It was common to see drugs everywhere, Nancy.
LAURER: Well, you know, you`re talking about a multitude of different kind of drugs, as well. So I mean, drugs were prevalent everywhere while - - professionally, I`ll say, while we were, you know, working, before working, after working, in social settings.
GRACE: What, to deal with pain, steroids, what?
LAURER: All of the above. Every facet of -- you know, it went from pain tolerance to steroids to a social level. So it was very confusing for me most of the time, and I think I allowed it to happen most of the time around me because I didn`t know any different. So that (INAUDIBLE) was very convoluted or it crossed between social and pain and esthetically. It was very confusing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINCE MCMAHON, WWE OWNER: Speaking of the United States of America, do you know what I hold in my hand, coach? I hold two different letters from Congress, two different congressional committees want to investigate the WWE at the same time. Does that make any sense to you whatsoever? None. I mean, you might as well have Barney Fife from the old "Andy Griffith" show. Now, Barney could do a complete investigation. I mean, why do we need a congressional committee, much less two, to investigate WWE? That makes no sense whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: As much as I give them hell, I don`t believe that I would make fun of a congressional hearing. That was Mr. Vince McMahon on the WWE "Monday Night Raw" a few weeks ago in a skit mocking the congressional hearings. Not that I think Congress was watching -- I believe it was 11:30 at night -- but their aides probably told them about it. I don`t think that was such a great idea.
Out to the lines, Matthew in Pennsylvania. Hi, Matthew.
GRACE: What`s your question?
CALLER: I just have a question for Chyna. What do you think the percentages of people using steroids currently in the WWE?
JOANIE "CHYNA" LAURER, WRESTLING STAR: Oh, I can only guess. And what I would -- my hypothesis would be the same as it was, which was pretty much everyone. I mean, obviously with the same cyclical number of deaths and behavior, nothing`s changed from what I see.
GRACE: Do you think any of these deaths are having any effect on steroid use?
LAURER: No, I don`t.
GRACE: Out to Lori in Florida. Hi, Lori.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy, love you. My question is for your pro wrestlers. And what do you think about what`s advertised as legal steroids, as dietary supplements and testosterone boosters, containing Tribulus terrestris and syonone vega extract (ph)? And are they as dangerous as actual steroids?
GRACE: OK, first of all, let`s throw that to Dr. William Morrone, medical examiner, pathologist out of Madison Heights, Michigan -- Doctor?
DR. WILLIAM MORRONE, MEDICAL EXAMINER: They`re not the same thing as true steroids. They can be dangerous for other reasons. But what was dangerous was the dihydroepiandosterone (ph), and that was removed from the market. And that was a food supplement. The only way you can get real steroids, control-free substance steroids, is with a prescription. The other stuff is fraud.
GRACE: What about it, Chyna?
LAURER: Nancy, their heads are popping off of their bodies. Their hearts are exploding. They`re having heart attacks. By the age of 35, the majority of people that I ever worked with are dead. Their bodies change overnight, something that an average person would be half the size after years and years and years of athletic training.
GRACE: To you Marc Mero, weigh in.
MARC MERO, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: Well, to four family members of wrestlers that have currently died, two today and two yesterday. And what Vince McMahon did on "Monday Night Raw" by making light of the congressional hearings was absurd and it`s sad, because his value between reality and fantasy is blurred right now. And I`m very sad to see this, and the families are appalled by this.
And I tell you something, something has got to be done, because too many of the people I`ve wrestled against, that Chyna`s wrestled with, 27 are dead, and something needs to be done. And I`m just getting tired of it. That`s why we`re taking our program across the nation, speaking at schools through education and awareness.
GRACE: I want to go out to Bethany Marshall, psychotherapist and author. Bethany, why is it that, if this were some other sport, everyone would be standing on their heads. But because it`s wrestling, it seems like it doesn`t matter?
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Well, it seems to me to be a little like gladiator fights in ancient Rome. In gladiator fights, someone always died, right?
Also, I think in the psyche of the public, wrestlers are cartoon characters, whereas our baseball players and football players, they are our national heroes. I mean, what mom says to their kid, "When you grow up, I want you to be a wrestler"? Mickey Mouse died so many times, but, of course, he`s always revived. He falls off the cliff. He gets hit in the head, and he still lives. So I think, in the eyes of the public, these wrestlers are like cartoon characters, and we don`t get care enough about them.
GRACE: That`s a real interesting take on it. I want to ask our lawyers, Richard Herman, Rachel Kugel, Eleanor Dixon, out to you, Richard Herman, we`re still waiting on that federal superseding indictment against the doctor to the stars, Phil Astin. What`s the holdup?
RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy, I`ll tell you, this indictment is going to come down. This doctor is in hot water. If he`s prescribing medications without examining these patients, if he doesn`t have a medical basis for these prescriptions, if they`re just to make these people look like Adonises, this guy is going to get convicted. He`s going to go down, Nancy.
GRACE: What about it, Eleanor?
ELEANOR DIXON, PROSECUTOR: Well, you know what happens when the feds do a superseding indictment. It means they have more evidence. It means they`re going to put more into the indictment, and that means they have a pretty good case on the doctor. So I agree. I expect he`s going to be charged with a lot more.
GRACE: Eleanor, why are the feds so slow?
DIXON: I don`t know.
GRACE: No offense to the feds. The last thing I need is the tax man looking at me. But they`re slow. I used to be a fed. They are slow.
DIXON: Well, they`re going to make their case stick from the very beginning when it`s indicted, so they`re going to get all their evidence, everything they can up front and have the strongest case possible. So sometimes they move a little slower. And let`s face it, Nancy, sometimes they don`t have as many cases as we do in the state system.
GRACE: And, bottom line, they`re not gunslingers like state prosecutors, where you get a file and you may have to go to trial that afternoon. That`s not the way the feds work it.
I want to go back to Mr. William Morrone. Now the doctor is blaming the whole overdose, the alleged overdose of steroids, on some kind of a hormonal problem that Benoit had. It sounds crazy to me. What do you make of it?
MORRONE: How well did he document his records? What kind of tests did he do to prove that there was a primary or a secondary hormonal failure? And then, in the follow-up, was he testing to see he was getting the right amount of steroids, or was it a clue to abuse, not just replacement? Those are really important questions.
GRACE: Response, Chyna?
LAURER: Nancy, in general, any medical condition that a wrestler would have, such as torn muscles or any other medical conditions, why aren`t people looked at medically for injuries or problems rather than pumping their bodies full of steroids? Is this a medical condition? It sounds like addict behavior to me to blame it on a hormonal growth problem.
GRACE: Hormonal problem.
LAURER: How many years later?
GRACE: That doesn`t even make sense, Morrone, that Benoit would have a hormonal problem and the...
MORRONE: You`ve got to let me answer that.
GRACE: ... and the result would be anabolic steroids.
MORRONE: The answer is previous use of anabolic steroids have caused testicular failure. Because of the abuse, it shuts off the hormone feedback in the brain, and the only way to get your male hormones back is supplemental replacement. That`s what`s important.
GRACE: I see.
To Jordan in Pennsylvania. Hi, Jordan.
CALLER: Hi, how are you doing? I was just curious to know, it has been said that wrestling is a theatrical or entertaining nature. I`m just wondering, is there some consensus as to why there`s such a proliferation of these performance enhancers?
GRACE: Great question. Chyna?
GRACE: You`re not in the ring.
LAURER: Well, and obviously the characters are larger-than-life characters, so your physique is going to have a grand factor of being a larger-than-life character.
GRACE: Or you`ll never make it in the ring. What about it, Chris Cruise?
CHRIS CRUISE, SPORTS ANNOUNCER: McMahon has a body fetish. He wants people who are not just big, but are cut. And Vince McMahon and his staff, they`re only going to hire and push those guys who are `roided, who are not just huge, but are cut.
The only way to get to that point, Nancy, is with steroids or with human growth hormone. And I`ve got a question: Where the heck is the Screen Actors Guild? Where`s the stuntman`s union? Who is taking care of these professional wrestlers who are stepping up to take care of it? This problem is not going to be solved unless there`s a union. And the problem is not going to be solved unless there`s a national commission that`s got the power to suspend, that`s got the power to do random drug testing.
I applaud you for your efforts, but we need a union, and we need a national commission. And in terms it was Congress listening on that Barney Fife issue? I can assure you, he was. Congress was, I beg your pardon.
GRACE: To Dave Meltzer, it`s hard for me to believe that McMahon pooh-poohed Congress and that that all that they have sent to support themselves is their wellness policy.
DAVE MELTZER, WRESTLINGOBSERVER.COM: Well, they`re going to send their drug-testing records to Congress. I think they already sent it to one committee last week. I think that Vince -- one of the problems with Vince is that he`s surrounded by people who -- they live in kind of a wrestling bubble. And what happens is they -- Vince, go give them hell. Vince, don`t back down.
So he does these things on television. And then he can go and say, "Hey, it was only for television entertainment." But it was -- you know, I watched it and I just thought, what are you doing?
GRACE: Final thought, Chyna?
LAURER: My final thought is that Vince is a grown man with a billion- dollar company and an entertainment industry worldwide. So that`s malarkey. But to Marc Mero, big kiss to you. We are doing this because we love these guys and we care about these guys and we love where we`ve been and what we do now. And I`m very proud of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"CONAN," FORMER PRO WRESTLER: WWE educated the fans that, you know, the big physiques is what were going to be the big moneymakers. When I was growing up and I was watching wrestling, it wasn`t based on big physiques like it is now. But when I first got into the business, you know, everybody was on the juice or on steroids. And to make money, you had to be on the juice. That`s basically it.
Our industry, not only is it rife with racism and sexism, but we are exploited, you know, in preposterous proportions. And I`ll give you an example. Not only do we not have no pension or retirement or a union, do you know that, when we go on the road, we have to pay for our own hotel, we have to pay for our own transportation from the airport to the hotel? I mean, what other athlete does that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Former pro wrestler Conan speaking out. He is suffering tonight after a kidney transplant.
To Dave Meltzer, how is he?
MELTZER: Better. He was in the hospital until a couple of days ago. And his body was -- for a while there, they feared that he was going to lose the kidney because his body was rejecting it, but he was given heavy, heavy dosages of anti-rejection drugs and was finally able to leave the hospital. But he`s weak. And he was fighting for his life for the last couple of weeks.
GRACE: Dr. Morrone, what would years of anabolic steroids do to the chances of you surviving a kidney transplant?
MORRONE: They`d make it really difficult. The long-term consequences of disease affect that area as well as cardiovascular and put you at heart risk, too.
GRACE: Bryan Alvarez, again, I want to throw this to you. I`m really surprised McMahon would make fun of the congressional hearings on air and then, asked to respond to Congress, to just send their wellness policy. I mean, here`s Chyna sitting right here who never took a single drug test the whole time she was with WWE.
BRYAN ALVAREZ, FIGUREFOURONLINE.COM: Well, two things. First off, he was even dumber because he was talking about the IRS auditing him, as well. And I wouldn`t mess with the IRS.
GRACE: Oh, no, no. Don`t. Don`t say anything about them.
ALVAREZ: But I do want to say one thing, that a couple of weeks after Chris Benoit died, he did call a meeting, and it was basically a "say no to drugs" meeting. And he told everybody to get off everything. And whether you believe that everybody got off everything...
GRACE: Just say no? That? The just say no?
ALVAREZ: Just say no to drugs. But if you watch the television...
GRACE: I can`t believe he even said that with a straight face. Just say no?
ALVAREZ: Just say no to drugs.
GRACE: OK. You know what? I`ll never forget the first time I saw this lady, beautiful stockbroker come into the courtroom. And she had been addicted to drugs. She lost everything, husband, family, home, stockbroker`s license, everything. You think she wanted to? You think somebody never said, "Just say no, no, don`t do it anymore"? Of course people told her no.
You know, we were talking about the people that you have seen drop dead in the industry. Right before Owen Hart died, you spoke to him. What happened?
LAURER: Yes, I did. Owen was going to do an entrance from the ceiling, kind of a superhero type of entrance, and he was nervous about doing it. And there was something about the safety harness, where Owen was talking about they didn`t have enough time to put the extra safety harness on for the b roll. So there wasn`t enough time for him to be properly harnessed in. And, you know, I never would have imagined that he -- I had been in a harness many times for other shows, as well. I couldn`t imagine -- I know the feeling of nerves, but who would have known that he would have fallen out of the ceiling?
GRACE: What did say right before he went in the ring?
LAURER: He didn`t really say anything. It was just -- you could see the nerves. I mean, anybody being lowered from that height, it`s a nerve- racking experience to be that high up anyway.
GRACE: Do you think wrestlers should be role models?
LAURER: I think that they are role models, and that`s one of my big issues with this.
LAURER: Because people who are not wrestling, which are few and far between -- I can name a couple of them -- they`re not the heroes. The ones who live and died and lived that life are the heroes.
GRACE: Very quickly, everyone, speaking of heroes, tonight, "CNN Heroes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 10 years old, I decided to run away from home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been on the streets from 12 until 20.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it`s scary living on the streets. There are so many drugs, and it`s violent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sleep in an abandoned house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was taken away from my parents when I was like 10 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad dropped me off at a Dumpster. He told me, "Don`t even think about going back home."
RANDY CHRISTENSEN, DOCTOR: There are as many as 5,000 to 10,000 kids on the streets of Arizona. We turn our heads. We don`t look at them in their eyes. Many of the kids are truly forgotten.
I`m Dr. Randy Christensen. I`m the medical director for the Crews`n Healthmobile. We take care of kids on the streets through a medical mobile van. Everything that would be in a regular doctor`s office is on the van. All the kids that are seen by us are seen free of charge.
Did you need anything? Did you need a new backpack?
I`ve never really been about the money. I went to medical school thinking that I was going to be a surgeon, but everything that made me stop and think had to do with children and adolescents. I chose to come out on the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Christensen, he makes it to where people actually want to come back and actually want to get help.
CHRISTENSEN: We pull up in the van, and within five to 10 minutes, there`s 20 or 30 kids coming out of every different alley or different street. You get out there, and you see some of these kids, and you talk to them, and you give them a little bit of dignity and respect, and all of a sudden they open up. It`s like a light bulb goes on, and they want to talk, and they want to tell you their story.
Here, let me listen to you. I think you might have pneumonia. Take a deep breath.
They still have that gleam of hope in their eyes. It`s that hope that gives you hope. And at the very end, they give you a very big hug, and they say, "Thank you." And that means the most to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The foolishness of professional wrestling degrades the actual people who are involved in it. These are really human beings, after all, and we really are people with families and with loved ones and mothers and fathers, but yet we`re treated as almost like circus animals in the professional wrestling world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Let`s see what Congress will really do. Deadline tomorrow, 5:00 sharp in the afternoon, for the WWE to answer Congress`s questions to Waxman.
Very quickly, Eleanor Dixon, the only way I believe that the abuse of steroids within wrestling will end is to go after the doctors. That`s just what I think. Will Astin go down?
DIXON: I think he will, Nancy. And think of it this way. If he was peddling cocaine and was a drug trafficker, we would go after him with a vengeance. This is the same thing: He`s a drug pusher. We need to go after him.
GRACE: He`s been called a drug pusher in a $1,000 suit, so we`ll just see what happens in court. Of course, not proven guilty yet. Very quickly, T.J. in California, what`s your question?
CALLER: My question is for Chyna. What`s the peer pressure between other wrestlers and, say, herself to take steroids?
GRACE: Oh, good question.
LAURER: Well, I would say that, you know, the majority of guys there, all of them really, have a passion for this business, you know? They love it. They eat it, sleep it, breathe it, you know? So to be a part of it, you have to do -- to be there, you have to do what everyone else does.
GRACE: To Katie in Missouri. Katie?
CALLER: Hi, Nancy, love you.
GRACE: Thank you, love.
CALLER: My question is for Chyna. Do you think that steroids plays any part of a role for the female wrestlers?
LAURER: No, I don`t. And there aren`t that many female wrestlers, as there shouldn`t be, I agree, I think.
GRACE: You know what? I`m glad to hear it.
With me tonight, a real superstar, Jenny Laurer, aka Chyna.
Let`s stop to remember Marine Corporal Jeremy Allbaugh, 21, Luther, Oklahoma, killed, Iraq. Enlisted straight from high school, received Purple Heart, National Defense Medal. Loved baseball, building schools and hospitals in Iraq. Leaves behind parents John and Jennifer, brothers Bryan and Jason. Also in the Army, sister Alicia. Jeremy Allbaugh, American hero.
Thank you for being with us and inviting us into your home. Thank you to Chyna. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.