Author Matthew Randazzo V took on a challenge when he decided to write a biography of professional wrestler turned family annihilator Chris Benoit. Phoenix Books recently published the result. It's Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry [Amazon; B&N], in which the author connects the wrestling industry's widespread use of steroids, painkillers, drugs, and booze to the double murder-suicide that shocked wrestling fans last summer.
The book garnered strong reaction from several quarters, though most reviews have been positive, and the author is credited with bringing some ugly facts into the light of day and writing a "must-have" for fans of wrestling. The publisher dubs it a "shocking exposé" that "delves deep into the scandals and cover-ups of the global wrestling industry -- where drug addictions, sociopathic superstars, and broken families are the norm and situations like Benoit's are all-too-often ignored."
CLEWS recently had a chance to ask a few questions of the author, who was kind enough to provide these replies. Here's our Q&A.
Q. This is a tough, tough case, a terrible act of the ultimate domestic violence, and the death of Chris Benoit's wife and son was such a tragedy, and yet a foreseeable one. Did you have trouble wrestling with the horrific nature of this crime? How did you handle it in the book?
A. There is no easy way to write about an act as terrifying and grotesque as a husband murdering his wife and small child. Personally, I felt my handling this crime was actually made easier when I saw how insensitive, dishonest, and inaccurate some of the media coverage was; for example, when some cable news hosts blamed the victim, Nancy Benoit, or tried to blame Benoit's actions on his steroid abuse, it motivated me and made me feel like it was my duty to write the honest and ugly truth about what transpired.
As a writer, it's my policy that no story is so tragic or gruesome that it would be better to cover up or euphemize the truth; in Ring of Hell, I simply set out to discover and reveal the truth about Chris Benoit's life, the industry which conspired with his poor decision-making to lead to his mental and physical downfall, and the crimes he committed.
Q. I understand that his book comes down hard on the pro wrestling industry. Do you think your book tells fans of wrestling something they didn't know about it?
A. In Ring of Hell, I definitively show that pro wrestling is an extremely unsafe, unhealthy, and physically and mentally destructive industry. While many wrestling fans are aware of this and some of the stories in Ring of Hell, I personally conducted dozens of exclusive interviews with major wrestling industry names and have broken countless stories in Ring of Hell that have never been published anywhere else.
I have had hardcore fans, World Wrestling Entertainment employees, and even a few wrestling legends tell me that they learned something from Ring of Hell, so most wrestling fans and certainly all casual readers will find a great deal of illuminating information about the pro wrestling business in Ring of Hell.
Q. Are you a fan of true crime? Who are your favorite authors? Favorite titles?
I am a fan of true crime books; in American organized crime, my area of expertise, I'd choose Nick Pileggi and Ovid Demaris as my favorite. I obtain my primary inspiration as a writer when writing true crime from the crime fiction of writers such as James Ellroy (whose American Underworld Trilogy is incredible) and Elmore Leonard.
Q.Are you working on another book? Will it be in the same theme?
I have recently come to an agreement with Phoenix Books to release my next two books, which are memoirs I've co-written with major American mafiosi.
The first to be released in Spring of 2009, Breakshot, is the story of Japanese-American gangster Kenny "Kenji" Gallo, whose incredible underworld career began as a teenage cocaine smuggler in Pablo Escobar's empire and ended as a major construction racketeer in New York's Colombo Mafia Family.
In Summer of 2009 will come Mr. New Orleans, the first book to ever break the code of secrecy in the New Orleans Mafia Family. Mr. New Orleans is the story of Frenchy Brouillette, a top political fixer, convicted labor racketeer, and the operator of the South's preeminent call-girl for over three decades.
For more, visit the author's website at http://www.matthewrandazzo.com or the publisher's page, visit http://www.phoenixbooksandaudio.com/books/bks_prodcuts/ringofhell.htm.