Seven years ago today, November 13, 2005, Eddie Guerrero passed away at the age of 38.
It was a crushing blow to the professional wrestling industry, in which he was a major star, but an even bigger blow to his family, friends and fans.
I was one of those fans, completely engrossed in everything Eddie did and inspired by his story of redemption. November 14, the day I was made aware of his passing, was the darkest day I have experienced as a fan. For the first time, I openly cried while watching Monday's Raw and Thursday's SmackDown.
Eventually, I stopped allowing the sadness I felt from Eddie's passing to tarnish all of the fond memories I had of his work. I focused on all of the phenomenal matches he graced fans with over the course his career and all of the entertaining segments he was a part of, especially the Los Guerreros vignettes with nephew Chavo.
His match with Rey Mysterio at WCW's Halloween Havoc in 1997 is, to this day, perhaps the most perfect match in the history of professional wrestling. The two consummate professionals attempted spots that most would have found impossible or even botched horribly but on one night in October of '97, they executed everything perfectly and it only added to the legend of the bout.
One of the most brutal, high-impact, hard-hitting bouts I can remember seeing was the No Disqualification match between Eddie and Edge on a September 2002 edition of SmackDown. The use of a ladder added an element of danger and the willingness of those two men to put their bodies at risk for the sake of entertainment has stuck with me some 10 years later.
A true, iconic match in SmackDown history.
I have never felt as good as a fan than I did watching Eddie defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at No Way Out in February of 2004.
Here was a man who had his demons. He had lived through painkiller and alcohol addiction, and managed to overcome his issues to make a triumphant return to WWE. Two years later, he had gained such a following and had created such a popular character that Vince McMahon felt comfortable enough to reward him with the top prize his company had to offer.
Watching Eddie celebrate with his mother and brothers, the WWE title in hand, is still a heart-warming moment.
Since Eddie Guerrero's death, World Wrestling Entertainment has never quite been the same. He was a one-of-a-kind performer whose in-ring abilities were nearly unmatched and whose penchant for entertaining the audience was rivaled only by the greatest the sport has ever seen.
His influence can be seen on today's top stars, including friend Rey Mysterio and current WWE champion CM Punk, who worked with Eddie prior to Guerrero's return to WWE in 2002.
As a fan, I feel like there is a giant hole in WWE where Eddie once was, even seven years later. His wife, Vickie, carries on the tradition of the Guerrero family in the Vince McMahon-owned company while nephew Chavo and brother Hector appear regularly for TNA Wrestling. And as talented as all three of them are, they are not quite Eddie.
There have been few professional wrestlers who can truly be called the proverbial "complete package."
Eddie was one of them.
And while he may no longer be with us, his fans, friends and family will forever remember—with great fondness—the man who managed to lie, cheat and steal the hearts of everyone he ever encountered or performed for.