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A Tribute To Eddie Guerrero


Younger days...
UPDATE 11-15-05: The official cause of death won't be listed for a couple of weeks, but the Guerrero family was told by the coroner that Eddie died from Heart Failure from heart disease exacerbated by the long period of drug and alcohol use. There was no sign of trauma and he died peacefully it would seem. He had just celebrated his fourth year of sobriety.

(editor's note: When I opened my email today from Chris Garcia and saw an article titled "Eddie Guerrero," I said a quick prayer that this wasn't what it is. I don't watch wrestling, but Guerrero caught my attention in the few months that I did. I liked him, and I'm deeply saddened at his passing.)

There are few wrestlers of any generation who can say they achieved more than was ever expected of them. Hulk Hogan is one of them, and so was Eddie Guerrero. Too small by the standards of wrestling in the post-WWF Expansion world, he wasn’t given a chance until Paul Heyman started ECW and he had already made a name for himself in Mexico, where size seldom mattered.

Eddie Guerrero, who made it to the top only to be unable to handle the pressure, passed away on Sunday at the age of 38. He leaves three daughters and a wife, his mother, and three brothers and a nephew who have all had at least some success in wrestling. At this point, the cause of death is unknown.

In Mexico, Eddie made a name for himself even though he was the son of a giant star, the legendary Gori Guerrero, and the brother of a couple of guys who were good sized stars later. Eddie was easily the best wrestler of all of them, having amazing matches at any position on the card. He started in Mexico as Mascara Magica, but voluntarily unmasked as himself. He started a team with El Hijo del Santo and also started wrestling in Japan as Black Tiger, also under a mask.

He got his first big push as one half of one of the truly great heel tag teams. Art Barr was a wrestler who had been a biggish name in Oregon but had gotten into much trouble over the years. He ended up in AAA where he was teamed with Eddie as Los Gringos Locos. They were the best heel team in Mexico ever when you look at ring work and crowd reactions. Sadly, Art died too young and left Eddy (as they spelled it then) on his own.

The first time US fans got to see Eddy regularly was in ECW. He was Television champion, and more important than that, he had a series of matches with Dean Malenko that changed American wrestling forever.

One of the greats.
Bar none, these were the best matches of the period. No WCW or WWF match of 1994 or 1995 came close to what these guys were doing in ECW. They both ended up being called into WCW to start as cruiserweights. Both of them had some success and they were an important part of the Nitro equation: great openers from Guerrero, Malenko, Mysterio, Jericho, Benoit and others, followed by crappy angles and interviews and bad main events. At one point, Eddie was the leader of the LWO, the Latino World Order.

After Kevin Sullivan was about to take back the book at WCW, Eddie went along with Benoit, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko to the WWE, where they blew the house down. Eddie got hurt early in a match against the New Age Outlaws, but once he came back, he got a bigger and bigger push, eventually ending up with Chyna and the Lie, Cheat and Steal gimmick that would make him the biggest draw on SmackDown!

Eddie was fired a couple of times. He had troubles with pain medications and other drug issues as well. He was involved in a car accident and most folks said he shouldn’t come back. He wrestled in the indies, including Ring of Honor, but eventually he got his demons under control and returned to the biggest push of his life.

Against all odds...
In February of 2004, at the Cow Palace, Eddie pinned Brock Lesnar to win the World Heavyweight Championship. A guy who had been told he was too small for almost his entire career had won the belt and got a huge pop for it. He was the backbone of the promotion, but he also ended up burning out on the pressure, and Vince wanted to give JBL the belt, so Eddie dropped the title to him and sort of waffled for the next year and a half, often while being the hottest thing on the show.

Eddie, along with Rey Mysterio, could be thought of as the guy who brought Hispanics into wrestling again, and though they’d trailed off since the end of the Eddie vs. Rey feud, they did help out the buyrates and the ratings and the ticket sales from late 2003 through mid-2005.

Eddie will be missed, as he was extremely popular backstage, was a huge fan favorite with both smarts and marks, and is just one of the guys who defined the direction of the WWE in the early part of a new century.

Personally, I always loved Eddie, he won the FanboyPlanet Readers’ Award for Best Babyface and Favorite Wrestler for 2004, he also won the Lou Thesz Award for Good Wrestling and shared the Tag Team of the Year Award. He also had some Wrestling Observer Awards and will probably make the Hall of Fame before too long. He was a star who did more than anyone ever expected.

I’ll miss him.

Chris Garcia

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