wrestling / Columns

Looking at How WWE Handled Jimmy Snuka’s Passing

January 26, 2017 | Posted by Tony Quant

The WWE’s handling of Jimmy Snuka’s death has definitely been met with mixed reactions amongst the wrestling world. Following Snuka’s passing on January 15th, the promotion, who had distanced themselves from him since 2015 acknowledged his passing on social media before presenting the below video at the start of RAW the day after his death.

The video package was a moving tribute to the man whom many deemed as one of the best in-ring entertainers in WWE history and someone who created an iconic image of jumping off the top of the cage at Madison Square Garden. But equally for all the good he done as a professional wrestler, Snuka will be remembered by many for all of the things which happened in his life outside of the ring.

If you are reading this then it is likely that you are aware of the legal case, which had been looming over Snuka in his last few years of life. But if you are not lets quickly bring you up to speed.

Snuka’s former girlfriend Nancy Argentino passed away in 1983 with the coroner reporting that she had died of traumatic brain injuries consistent with a moving head striking a stationary object. Argentino had been in a hotel with Snuka who himself had called the ambulance but it was too late as Argentino passed away shortly after arriving at the Allentown Sacred Heart Medical Center. Being the only suspect, Snuka was investigated at the time but no charges were passed against him. Argentino’s family looked to go after Snuka in the years after their daughters passing and won a $500k judgment against the former WWF star in 1985. But it was all for nothing as Snuka claimed financial inability and dodged the payment.

The Argentino family hired an investigator and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Snuka in 1985. They won a $500,000 default judgment against Snuka, but Snuka never paid, claiming he was destitute. 32 years after the death of Nancy Argentino, Snuka was arrested and charged with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. On November 2nd 2015 Snuka stood in front of the courtroom and pleaded not guilty. Throughout the trial there was questions raised about Snuka’s mental state, which led to a hearing, taking place in May 2016 to determine his competency for trial. One thing which is often overlooked at this stage is that Snuka was not acquitted, he was deemed by Judge Kelly Banach as not mentally fit to stand trial.

So having acknowledged his passing just why are people so mad at the way the WWE have handled things since his death?

It is certainly a difficult debate and with the outstanding legal issues looming over Snuka just days before he died there will always be a number of people who rightly or wrongly can’t overlook this. In doing so regardless of what anyone does to honor his passing, there will always be some who feel that any grievance towards him is unjustified.

The relationship between Snuka and the WWF was very strong during his six years with the promotion and he was a hugely influential performer inside and outside the squared circle. But as soon as Snuka case was re-opened in 2015 the WWE showed their hand and it was at this stage that the fans got to see the promotions true motives. Snuka along with any images of him were immediately removed from the Hall of Fame section of WWE.com. It was as if the Hall of Famer had been dropped into the abyss in a very similar way to the companies treatment of another of their former superstars, Hulk Hogan.

But is it wrong for the WWE, a publicly traded company to wash it hands of a potential murderer? If you were to look at the website of any other traded business would you expect to see them publicize a staff member who had faced trial for third degree murder? Whilst I will have my own views on those points, I think that what has been the main factor for the backlash that the WWE have faced since acknowledging Snuka’s passing is the u-turn the promotion have undertaken.

The promotion’s reaction to Snuka’s passing has been seen by the fans as an opportunity for the WWE to capitalize on pushing out some additional content. They are in effect sweeping the unmentioned issues under the rug, which you could certainly argue is irresponsible and an insult to those fans who are unwilling to accept Snuka’s place amongst wrestling’s greats.

When all is said and done, it is likely that a majority of wrestling fans will remember Snuka for his skill and ability inside the Squared Circle. But with so much speculation surrounded the murder case following Snuka to the grave, the truth of Nancy Argentino’s death will remain a mystery and whether Jimmy Snuka was involved will forever be an unknown.

article topics :

Jimmy Snuka, WWE, Tony Quant