In the annals of professional wrestling, bizarre storylines are part and parcel of the industry. However, former WWE photographer John Giamundo has recently uncovered a peculiar and almost distasteful chapter in WWE’s history. He revealed that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon initially planned to transform his on-screen character’s funeral into a comedy segment.
The sequence of events began on June 11, 2007, when Vince McMahon’s on-screen persona met a scripted demise after his limousine dramatically burst into flames. Two weeks later, this storyline took a surreal turn when the real-life tragedy of WWE wrestler Chris Benoit unfolded, revealing a horrifying crime scene involving Benoit’s wife and seven-year-old son.
Giamundo, who was a pivotal part of WWE’s production team at the time, brought to light an astonishing twist in WWE’s creative planning. According to him, the intention was to stage the on-screen funeral for Mr. McMahon’s character on the June 25, 2007, episode of RAW. What makes this narrative truly astonishing is the initial concept for the segment, which was designed to be a comedy routine, taking lighthearted jabs at Vince McMahon’s character.
Giamundo recounted the early plans for the segment, saying,
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“Now we’re in Corpus Christi and we’re being told that that show was Vince’s funeral,” Giamundo stated. “They were gonna do a memoriam and it was all just gonna be ‘haha’ at Vince’s expense. We were told what was gonna happen, they’re gonna drop the casket, and all this goofy, typical wrestling stuff.”
However, the day took a dark and somber turn when news broke about Chris Benoit’s untimely death, which had occurred just a day before the planned funeral segment. Benoit’s absence from the Vengeance: Night of Champions event had raised concern among fellow wrestlers, who initially assumed he was unwell and decided not to answer their phones.
As Giamundo revealed, WWE staff received the devastating news of Benoit’s death when Vince McMahon convened everyone in the arena before RAW. The shock and disbelief in the room were palpable.
“We were in our room, our studio space, and somebody walks in, they’re like, ‘Everybody’s gotta come out to the ring.’ One of the photographers goes, ‘Think it’s about Chris?’ I’m like, ‘I dunno.’ And then we’re all sitting on one side of the arena, and Vince has a microphone and tells everybody what happened. Just gasps.”
This revelation offers a haunting glimpse into the chaotic and somber atmosphere that enveloped WWE during the Benoit tragedy, a time when the circumstances of his death had not yet been fully understood.
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In a separate interview, Giamundo shared his reflections on his release from WWE in 2022 after dedicating 21 years to the company.
The tale serves as a chilling reminder of the intricate and unexpected ways in which scripted wrestling storylines can intersect with harsh realities in the wrestling world. It underscores the complexities of an industry where lines between fiction and reality are often blurred.