Yesterday, Sunday, November 13th, WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero died in his hotel room. I suppose this is a rather biased time to write a review of him, but I felt that with this outlet to speak my mind that I might share my thoughts on him.
I didn’t know him. I never met him. I didn’t even watch the DVD documentary about his life or any of his matches pre-WWF/E. In fact, I never even watched wrestling before he moved over from WCW, and when I did start watching, he was in a pointless story with the womanbeast Chyna. I am probably the least qualified person to write a review on him as a person, and a mediocre-ly qualified person to write about him as a performer, but I’m gonna throw some reflections out there.
I probably turned the TV off most of the time when he came on in the beginning of my wrestling-watching days… maybe it was the mullet, or the fact that he (the character) could somehow be in love with Chyna that turned me off. The first real impression that he made on me was at the end of his first run with the company. He was in a story where he was jealous of everything that Chyna was doing because she was in playboy. He didn’t want other people to see her naked, etc. (and somehow people actually did want to see her naked, making her issue a huge seller). There was a backstage segment in her dressing room or something, and she and Eddie began to have an argument. All of a sudden, he just became enraged. He started screaming and throwing things, and yelling and crying, improvising dialogue, and for a wrestling backstage segment, it may still be the best acting job I’ve ever seen. Of course I didn’t know at the time that he was having so many drug/alcohol problems that might have added something to the on-camera breakdown of the character.
He left or was fired from the company, depending on who’s telling you the story, and according to the Allentown Morning Call‘s obituary, had his marriage fall apart before crashing his car at 130 mph while on E. He was told he wasn’t going live, but remarkably got himself together, quit the bottle, quit the drugs, re-married his wife, was re-hired by the company, and had another kid. He would’ve celebrated 4 years of being sober on Tuesday, November 15th.
At this point, (when he first came back to the company in 2001) he’s still kinda a joke in my mind (not knowing all of the things that happened in the previous paragraph). He seems to be a drunk like Scott Hall, who’s a loser gone down the tubes who nobody is gonna remember. Like I said, I had no perspective. Anyway, he comes back and starts showing me matches of quality, innovations, athleticism and heart. An amazing ladder match on Monday Night Raw with moves nobody’d thought of before. And he’s starting to win me over. I find a couple of his old matches from WCW, and I realize what a performer and talented person he was. And he starts to break into the competition for the world title, winning over the fans in a huge way. My friend and I are in Los Angeles, watching a free TV royal rumble style match, and he’s keeping us on the edge of our seat fighting Olympic Champion Kurt Angle. They’re both hanging on the ropes, dangling over the edge, because if they let their feet hit, they’re eliminated, and they’re the last two people. Somehow after at least ten minutes with only the two of them, he wins out. This was (I think; putting things in chronological order isn’t my strongest suit, especially when it comes to wrestling) before what could very well be my best wrestling-related memory. I didn’t see Eddie win the title, with this guy, at the Los Angeles Ithaca College office, but I went with him to watch Wrestlemania XX a month later, when Eddie and Angle put on a “clinic” of a match, with Eddie outsmarting Angle to win. That would’ve been enough for the night. But to see another internet favorite, Chris Benoit, win the other championship at the end of the night, for the first time, after struggling through numerous companies, with Eddie along side of him throughout his whole career, and then have Eddie come out and the two of them raise their belts together is something I’ll never forget.
Watching the Chris Benoit DVD a year later, and seeing how deep this friendship was, how long they had been together, and seeing their early matches just made this moment resonate even more.
I’m a sap, I know. And it’s probably even sappier for me to be upset that a pro-wrestler died. People who say this, though, probably didn’t see me the day Phil Hartman died. Neither of these men had impacted science or world peace, or even a large percentage of the population. Like I said before, I didn’t know who they were as real people. I only knew the energy that they brought to TV, and I knew that things would never be the same without them. And I know, that like the memorium episode of Newsradio, chances are that I won’t be able to watch tonights tribute episode of RAW, or Friday night’s tribute Smackdown without shedding at least one tear. Maybe the website’s dictatorial ruler has other opinions, but that’s just me.
This was originally 4.5 but I decided to up it to 5, in memory of his signature move, the “Five Star Frogsplash”.
In the wake of his death, Eddie Guerrero gets 5 stars for enjoying a long, incredibly entertaining career, being a family man, managing to be one of the top wrestlers of his time, and successfully overcoming a devastingly sad stretch in his life to come back stronger than he was before, and more beloved by the fans. Listen tonight (Monday November 14th at 9 on USA network) or Friday (November 18th at 8 on UPN) to hear the thousands of people give their love to him.