Eddie, RIP

Eddie, RIP

Eduardo Gory Guerrero, 1967-2005

Eddie Guerrero, former WWE Champion and one of the great pro wrestlers of his time, died on a Sunday morning in a Minneapolis hotel room. He’d arrived the night before for a World Heavyweight Championship match against Randy Orton and Batista, apparently suffered a heart attack while brushing his teeth either that night or early in the morning. (Details are still pending.) He was found after missing a wakeup call, then not responding to inquiries by his nephew Chavo Guerrero Jr.

The irony of his death was that Eddie was a fair bet to win another title the day he died. Reigning champ Batista had been injured the previous week, and while he intended to work through his injury, a title switch would have had a salubrious effect on his rehab. Between Orton and Guerrero, the latter would have been the stronger draw as champ at this point. Guerrero was an established international commodity, whereas Orton is a very good wrestler (2nd generation, a former champ) with less of a name abroad. WWE had a European tour planned to start with a long plane ride the next day.

Eddie was the youngest son of Gory Guerrero, a pioneering wrestler and promoter in the southeastern US. All of Gory’s sons–Hector, Mondo and Chavo Sr.–wrestled around the country, including Eddie Graham’s Florida– with Eddie being the most successful. Over 20 years he wrestled in New Japan Pro Wrestling, AAA, ECW, World Championship Wrestling and WWE, winning titles in all. He was widely esteemed by fans and other wrestlers; in a business where everyone has detractors, Guerrero had almost none.

He had memorable dealings with the likes of Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, John Cena, JBL, Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio Jr., El Samurai, 2 Cold Scorpio, El Hijo del Santo and Ric Flair. (Eddie, incidentally, was the last person ever to job a belt to Flair via the figure-four leglock.) He teamed with the late Art Barr in Los Gringos Locos and brought the Frog Splash to mainstream audiences. He founded and led the Latino World Order, arguably the most positive portrayal of Mexican-Americans ever seen on American TV. He could wrestle, he could talk and he could make people happy.

WWE released a fine DVD–entitled “Cheating Death, Stealing Life”–of Guerrero’s life and career not long ago, and it’s as solid as others in their series (Flair, Benoit, Bret Hart, Jake Roberts, the Road Warriors, Undertaker, etc.). It’s a damned shame that it will stand as his commercial epitaph. Eddie Guerrero made millions of dollars for this country, and his death deserved to be the lead story on every national broadcast, if not for the media’s bias against that industry. They will note the details of his death, and sneer about how so many wrestlers have died too young. It’s certainly true, but a man’s personal issues should not define his legacy, as has happened repeatedly over the years. “Eddie Sucks”? Bullshit! He was one of the greats. RIP.

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