Wrestling PR Implications Of The Wrestling Superstar Charged with Murder
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the superstars of professional wrestling.
First, perennial icon Hulk Hogan is caught using racist language during a secret tryst with his former best friend’s wife. His likeness and story were immediately stripped from the WWE and its promotional elements. His career in shambles, the Hulkster made the media circuit, hoping to resurrect his legacy.
And he’s not the only WWE Hall of Famer in hot water. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka is facing criminal murder charges connected with the 1983 death of his then-girlfriend Nancy Argentino. There is really no overstating the impact Snuka had on pro wrestling. His high-flying style changed the game for even larger competitors, and he ushered in a new era of in-ring action.
Now, his legacy may well be just another pro wrestler off the rails. We don’t know what may have caused the death of Nancy Argentino in 1983, but one thing is certain: Prosecutors believe Snuka is responsible. The current charges include third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Argentino at an Allentown, Pennsylvania motel.
Snuka, now 72, was arrested last week at his home in New Jersey. At the time of this writing, he was still in county jail under a $100,000 bond. The cold case involving Argentino’s death was re-opened last year and turned over to a grand jury, which is now pursuing the case as a homicide.
According to prosecutors, Snuka “repeatedly assaulted” Argentino in the motel room then declined to take her to a hospital. Snuka said he had been at an event taping, then came back to the hotel room to find Argentino “gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose.” Argentino was then taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead the following day.
The autopsy ruled she died of a blow from a stationary object and suggested the case be ruled a homicide. According to witnesses and Snuka’s initial statement, he claimed to have pushed Argentino and she fell, banging her head. Later, Snuka claimed she slipped and hit her head.
While he was the sole person of interest in the case, police interviewed Snuka twice and never charged him. The case went cold for lack of leads. The WWE has a notoriously decisive way of dealing with any collateral PR damage, as evidenced by their eviscerating of Hogan’s legacy.
Snuka, though, has a daughter who currently works as an in-ring performer for the company. That has forced WWE to make a statement without distancing the Snuka family, “WWE expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately this legal matter will be decided by our judicial system.”