AS I SEE IT 11/14: Thoughts on the passing of Eddie Guerrero...
AS I SEE IT
Needless to say, the column I'd already completed and would have posted early Monday morning will be used for next week's column.
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Today, there's only one subject to talk about...the passing of Eddie Guerrero.
I first met Eddie Guerrero when he came into ECW in April 1994. There have been few within wrestling who've ever been genuinely nicer, or more approachable to fans than the Guerrero I got to know.
To this day...one of my most vivid ECW memories was the farewell show for Dean Malenko and Eddie on August 26, 1995.
This may well have been the best match I've ever seen for the overall emotional experience combined with the actual match itself anywhere in wrestling. While Dean and Eddie worked better matches in ECW and in Japan, the sheer emotion of the toughest crowd in North America, with the "Please Don't Go" chants; not to mention the fans, locker room, and Dean and Eddie themselves in tears, accompanied by Joey Styles doing the match call of his life as Guerrero and Malenko worked their last ECW match.
If you ever get the chance to get a tape of the ECW TV August 29, 1995 show that featured this match, it is a classic and an absolute keeper. But I wish any of you reading this could have been there in person; because, as good a job as Styles's call and Heyman's editing did in communicating the feeling one had being there at the Arena that night, it could never do it justice entirely.
Eddie was a kind, decent man who remembered his friends. The most notable example I was able to see was that of Brian Hildebrand, who was remembered and supported on more than one occasion by Guerrero.
I remember being the post-show bar scene at a WCW house show, when I saw Guerrero saying a prayer over his post-show meal...thought it was odd, and then later that night found out about Brian's cancer.
I also remember the night in 1998 when WCW honored Hildebrand with a night dedicated to him in Knoxville, TN, with a classic match of Chris Jericho/ Eddie Guerrero against Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit... and with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen presenting Brian with a championship belt, then getting Brian involved in the finish. That Knoxville show was an event reported all over the
Then, in 1999, there was the 'Curtis Comes Home' show in Rostraver, PA. Jim Cornette, Shane Douglas, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Mick Foley, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Tracy Smothers, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Public Enemy, Dominic DeNucci, Al Snow, D-Lo Brown, Terry Taylor, Les
Thatcher, and Sandy Scott took part in this tribute in Brian's hometown.
Others will go over Eddie Guerrero's career, but I wanted to spend this column briefly dealing with the human side of Guerrero. The following story explains how I feel in a nutshell.
As I rode with my brother to an independent wrestling show yesterday afternoon, he said pretty much what I felt...that he felt like he'd been kicked square in the balls and for someone like him who can talk about anything to do with wrestling...all he wanted to do was drive to the show. He didn't want to talk about Eddie at all.
For my brother and myself...and undoubtedly for many, many others; the fact that Eddie was clean and sober...and had been so for some time makes Guerrero's passing that much harder to deal with. Guerrero was a man who'd found God, dealt with his demons, worked on his addictions to alcohol and other drugs being taken by God with so much to live for. As stated by Chavo Guerrero in WWE's press conference yesterday, Eddie had just celebrated his fourth anniversary of sobriety.
That makes it hurt all the more to see someone so talented...and such a fundamentally decent person lave this world far too soon.
To close, I wanted to add some thoughts from fans and friends of Eddie:
First, from Kathy Fitzpatrick:
"I have just heard that another friend has passed. Eddie was a great guy and I am proud to say a friend.
In the early days of ECW I had the pleasure of usually driving Eddie, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit I can honestly say they were the best times and the funniest.
The best story I can think of is one night Bob Magee, John Magee, and a friend of ours, Julie, went to Baltimore for a WCW show. We were lucky enough to get second row seats on the floor. Eddie came out to wrestle and as he has his opponent in a head lock looks over and says "Hi, Kathy" Well besides laughing silly it was something that was special to me.
My prayers go out to Vicky, his daughters and the entire family. The world of wrestling has lost a truly wonderful person.
From Keith Zimmer:
I sit here, crying--no bawling. My palms to the sky asking God...why? Why take a man so young, a man in his prime--and why take a father from his children and a husband from his wife? I can't even begin to fathom what I have read upon waking this morning. My eyes are red, my mind is shocked, and my heart is very heavy. For those of you that are NOT fans of Professional Wrestling, the name Eddie Guerrero would seem meaningless and understandable so. But for those who love wrestling--this is a tragic shock, that makes something "fake" seem all too real.
As a performer Eddie Guerrero was a genius. Eddie was great in the ring and he had a raw talent that made you quickly forget that he was only 5'9, 220 lbs (much smaller than the average wrestler.) The best thing about Eddie Guerrero the performer was his natural ability to draw the crowd into whatever he was doing on a given night of WWE programming. Eddie could be the underdog good guy that you loved to cheer for and see overcome the odds or Eddie could be the villainous rule-breaker that coined the ever-popular saying, "I lie, I cheat, I steal."
As of this writing I have no idea what the cause of Eddie Guerrero's death was--but--the story of Eddie Guerrero is one of inspiration and the sheer will to overcome life-threating adversity. A few years back A near-death experience in a car crash should have been a warning sign that his lifestyle was out of control. But Guerrero took the incident as an indication that he was invincible, then he lapsed into a nasty drug addiction which included heavy doses of pain killers and cocaine--which almost cost him his marriage, his career, and his life.
Not to be deterred, Eddie finally hit ROCK BOTTOM and got the proper help needed to suppress his addictions. After battling the fight of his life to overcome his personal demons, Eddie Guerrero did something that was much easier than that...he once again won over the fans, his peers, and he became what he always wanted to become--the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. That's right Eddie became the top dog, the big cheese--wrestling's #1 performer.
I have seen Eddie Guerrero do GREAT things inside the squared circle...hell I seen Eddie Guerrero do AMAZING things in the squared-circle--but the three things I wish that I could have seen Eddie Guerrero do most is, retire at the top of his game, grow old with his wife, watch his two beautiful kids grow up.
One thing I do know is that no matter what the fans cheer on Smackdown this week, rather it be the famed, "EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE" that willed Guerrero to overcome the odds so many times, or the humorous, "EDDIE SUCKS, EDDIE SUCKS, EDDIE SUCKS," just know that he is in heaven with his arm around Owen Hart, smiling down, and making that place just a little bit warmer with his LATINO HEAT!!!
RIP EDDIE GUERRERO...Gone but never forgotten.
From John in St. Louis:
Being a longtime Wrestling fan from St Louis, I have had the privilege of seeing some of the best in the business ranging from Pat O’Connor to Dory Funk Jr to Harley Race to Ric Flair. In the Sam Muchnik days they all came to town.
Eddie Guerrero was in this talent pool. I was a mark at a very young age. As time passed and wrestling evolved into its current state, I was no longer the mark I once was. The entertainment value wasn’t the same as it once was. But Eddie made it entertaining. I will miss his ability to do that and how funny he was. I am an Eddie Guerrero mark."
Until next time...
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