AS I SEE IT - 4/16/2002:
The Real-Life Comeback of Eddie Guerrero
In the summer of 1995, there was a wrestler who helped restore the faith of
purist wrestling fans that the art they loved could still entertain them in a way they
wouldn't be embarrassed to share with friends.
His name was Eddie Guerrero.
During the spring and summer of 1995, he and Dean Malenko worked a series of matches in Extreme Championship Wrestling and its infamous ECW Arena that still rate among the best wrestling matches seen in North America, and was voted the 1995 Feud of the Year in the Wrestling Observer.
The series of matches concluded in a two-out-of three falls match at the ECW Arena on August 29, 1995. Earlier in the evening, Paul Heyman did an out-of-character salute from the ring to both wrestlers.
Fans, ECW staff, and fellow workers alike got teary-eyed as Malenko and Guerrero were introduced...with an intro by Bob Artese I'll never forget. Both Guerrero and Malenko themselves were in tears as the full house chanted "Please Don't Go... please don't go". The emotion wasn't worked. No emotion like that could have been. It was real... from every person in the building.
The two worked a match that would put most to shame to this day...they traded falls and did a double pin finish to complete the match. Guerrero, blinking back tears, said his goodbyes to the crowd. Malenko, coming out of character for the one and only time in his ECW tenure, saluted the crowd and said that he wasn't sure when he'd first gotten to ECW, but that he had left fans of ECW and of its fans.
It was, in total, a real-life special and emotional experience seldom if ever to be duplicated in or around wrestling... with the only experiences surpassing it being the salutes to Brian Hildebrand in 1999, and the night following the death of Owen Hart.
While some may not understand that, if you were there...or even if you saw it on the masterful job of television Paul Heyman did on ECW's TV, you would. It was a salute to two talented workers who reminded us that we didn't have to be embarrassed to be wrestling fans...and to two real-life people who had conducted themselves as class acts to the fans to appreciated them.
That was then.....this is now.
Now, one of the two men who gave us that in-ring magic needs our support for a reason far more serious than anything a fan can find in a Bingo Hall or a Skydome.
From the 1/10/1999 AS I SEE IT:
"...Talking to Benoit, Jericho, and Guerrero after the show, I commented on the match and ceremonies they'd done for Brian Hildebrand in Knoxville in November, and complimented them on what they did.
Even more ironically, earlier that same day at the Philadelphia Airport Hilton, I was with a group of people discussing the fatal car accident in July 1994 of the late WWF ref Joey Marella. It included a friend who'd been with him just hours before his accident.
Fast forward to this report from MiCasa and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer:
'Eddie Guerrero will be out of action anywhere from 3 to 6 months. As I understand it, Eddie is very lucky to be alive. The story is that he went out driving on New Year's Eve, and he fell asleep at the wheel. He totally wrecked the car, and he was actually thrown as much as a hundred feet through the sunroof. According to Meltzer's report, the only reason why Eddie survived was because he landed on soft sand. If the sunroof wasn't opened, he would have been crushed in the car, and if he had his seatbelts on, he certainly would have been killed. Eddie suffered a lacerated liver and a broken pelvis.'
It should be noted that alcohol and other drugs are not said to be related to the accident."
Or so I thought, until I read an article on WWF.com this past week:
"On January 1, 1999, Guerrero was driving while under the influence of GHB, aka "liquid ecstasy."
The article on WWF.com details a no-holds-barred discussion of Eddie Guerrero's battle with prescription painkillers, and with alcoholism.
The battle has been a long one. Guerrero had kept away from painkillers because of the death of former tag-team partner and friend Art Barr, from an overdose in 1994 at age 28.
Guerrero claimed in the WWF.com article that his survival in the 1999 accident caused him to "lose his fear" of the drugs and to relapse into use of somas and other painkillers. Guerrero suffered a dislocation of his left elbow on his WWF television debut on February 1, 2000, which continued the process of relapsing into prescription drug use.
After returning from his elbow injury, he worked the program with Joanie Laurer in his "Sleazy Eddie" heel persona better known as "Latino Heat." Discovering the degree of his painkiller use, the WWF sent Guerrero to drug rehabilitation in June 2001.
During his time in rehabilitation, Guerrero's wife left him, taking with her their two young daughters. He also discovered serious financial problems (the nature of which was not disclosed).
After he completed his rehabilitation in 2001, he worked two tune-up matches for Les Thatcher's Heartland Wrestling Alliance in October. He worked dark matches for the WWF in early November, then attended the RAW and Smackdown tapings the following nights. Three days later, he relapsed, going first to "have two glasses of wine", then to go party... and on November 9 in Tampa, FL, was arrested for DUI, crashing his car into an entrance to his apartment complex.
Eddie Guerrero had to come to grips that along with his addiction to prescription drugs, he was also an alcoholic.
To deal with this recognition, Guerrero has turned again to God, having been a born-again Christian for several years.
That's not news to me. I remember being at the Champions Sports Bar at the Marriott Hotel near Baltimore Washington International Airport in October 1998. As he was getting ready for his post-show meal, Eddie was unusually quiet. I came to realize he was obviously praying. That turned out to be the night the WCW crew, staff, and fans found out about Brian Hildebrand's cancer. Eddie and others stood with Brian until his death a year later.
Guerrero regularly attends AA meetings. He also turns to his fellow members of the "New Japan Three"... Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit. As of this writing, Eddie Guerrero has been clean and sober for five months.
Now... here's where we give pay back to Eddie.
Rob Feinstein's Ring of Honor will hold a tag match in Philadelphia on April 27th with Eddie Guerrero teaming with Red of the SAT against the other two members of the SAT, Jose and Joel Maximo.
Some people have certain feelings about Rob Feinstein. They're entitled to their feelings. Some of them I share, others I don't. In any event, I'm plugging this show for reasons that have nothing to do with Feinstein... but for far more important reasons.
For any of us who were as moved as wrestling fans, who lived in Philadelphia or came to the ECW Arena to see those magic moments needs to be in Philadelphia on April 27th. All of us need to give a salute and to give support to a real-life human being who is badly in need of that support right now, as he faces a life-and-death battle to stay clean and sober.
Those of you who used to come down every three weeks from New York can drive down, or take the bus trip sponsored by One of a Kind Trips. The bus will leave New York at 1:30 pm from the Modell's behind the Queens Center Mall, providing time to travel to Philadelphia, get dinner, then attend the show.
After the event, the bus will travel back to Queens, New York. The price for the trip is $40, which includes your ticket to the show and round trip transportation. For further information on the trip and payment details, please email ECWLegacy@aol.com to reserve your seats.
For those of you former ECW "Mutants from Boston" who traveled down for each of those special shows, you can email ProWrestlingTours@hotmail.com
But don't just come down.
Loudly show your support.
Not just as a wrestling fan, but as a human being who cares about a special human being who has entertained us beyond words over the years, and who now needs that support as a human being.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)