The 13th of November 2005 marked one of the saddest days in the history of the WWE and Pro Wrestling. Eddie Guerrero, one of the most popular wrestlers in the world, died in his hotel room in Minneapolisat the tender age of 38. Eddie left behind a wife, three daughters and an entire legacy which he spent his whole life creating.
Eddie was known as one of the most controversial wrestlers in and out of the ring. His struggles in his personal life often translated into his storylines, making him one of the most relatable Superstars the WWE had ever seen. Despite spending most of his career with the company as a heel, he was and is still loved today.
Eddie Guerrero was born on the 9th of October 1967 in El Paso, Texas. He was born to a family of wrestlers, the most popular in Mexico. As a child, his father allowed Eddie and his cousin Chavo, Jr. to wrestle each other during intermissions in his wrestling promotions. Eddie began his real pro wrestling career in 1987, and from then until 1992, wrestled in several Mexican promotions as well as WCW.
He became more and more promindent as time went on, even wrestling on an international stage in Japan during the early 90's.
The Beginnings of Eddie's Career
Guerrero's first big break came in 1994 when he was noticed by ECW owner Paul Heyman. On his debut in 1995, he won the ECW Television Championship and then went on to have a series of acclaimed matches with Dean Malenko, one of his most important rivals. Later that year, the pair signed with WCW. They wrestled their last ECW match against each other, a two-out-of-three falls match which ended in a draw. Afterwards, the entire locker room emptied out and the two were carried around the ring by their fellow ECW wrestlers while the crowd chanted "Please Don't Go."
1995 saw Eddie return to WCW along with Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit. He wrestled many dark matches before competing at World War 3 in the three-ring, 60-man World War 3 battle royale for the vacated WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Despite losing, he represented WCW at Starrcade 1995 in a WCW vs NJPW World Cup tournament. He lost his match, but the WCW went on to win the series.
One of his first big feuds at WCW was with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen in 1996. Later on that year, he feuded with Diamond Dallas Page. 1996 also saw him win the WCW United States Championship, his first major championship win in a big name company. His reign was ended in 1997 by Dean Malenko, one of his longtime rivals.
Following this loss, Guerrero feuded with Chris Jericho for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, finally winning the title at Fall Brawl 1997. He then dropped it to Rey Mysterio, Jr., another one of his longtime rivals in a Title vs Mask match but then regained it on the November 10th edition of Monday Nitro. He dropped it again to Ultimo Dragon in December.
During 2008, Guerrero feuded with the likes of Booker T and his nephew Chavo. Later on that year, he began showing signs of frustration with Eric Bischoff, the President of WCW, for not rewarding him a main event push thus far. On a live episode of Nitro, he demanded his release from the company and a series of worked shoots followed. However, he returned a few months later and formed the Latino World Order as an answer to Bischoff's refusal to push Latino wrestlers. The LWO began with Eddie, Hector Garza and Damien and grew until almost all of the WCW's Mexican wrestlers were part of the faction.
The group feuded mainly with Mysterio and Billy Kidman but was cut short when Guerrero was seriously injured in a car accident on New Year's Day, 1999.
Never one to give up, he quickly returned to wrestling and the WCW. This was only for a short period of time, as he requested his release around the beginning of 2000 and signed with the WWF along with Benoit, Malenko and Perry Saturn. The four would go on to become The Radicalz, one of the most popular stables in WWE's history.
They debuted on Raw is War on the 31st of January, interfering in a match with the New Age Outlaws. Eddie severely injured his elbow during his first match with the WWF during a Frog Splash, getting sidelined for a several weeks.
When he returned, Eddie aligned himself with Chyna, who was the most dominant woman on the roster at this time. He referred to her as his 'Mamacita' and she would go on to help him win the European Championship and feud with Essa Rios and Lita with him. Friction began between the pair when Eddie's cheating ways became more and more prominent during his matches. He would pin her to advance in the King of the Ring tournament and "accidentally" pin her to win the Intercontinental Championship from her. They officially split after he was caught showering with two of Godfather's "hos".
After this incident, Guerrero became a heel, reuniting with the Radicalz and feuding with D-Generation X (Chyna, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and K-Kwik). They would go on to feud with many of the WWF's most esteemed tag teams like the Hardy Boyz and Test & Albert. Guerrero lost his Intercontinental Championship to Billy Gunn around this time with the help of Chyna.
Arrest and Return to the WWE
Unfortunately, Eddie was released from the company in November of 2001 after being arrested for drunk driving. Prior to this, he had been sent to rehab for his addiction to pain medication which stemmed from his 1999 car accident. He would then return to the Indy circuit, wrestling Super Crazy on the debut show of Ring of Honor. He also wrestled in the WWA, where he wrestled current WWE star CM Punk as well as Rey Mysterio.
In 2002, Eddie returned to RAW, attacking Rob Van Dam and consequently feuding with him. During a ladder match between the pair for the Intercontinental Championship, a drunk fan jumped into the ring, knocking down the ladder that Guerrero was climbing, causing him and RVD to quickly think up new moves that could continue the match without mistakes. He then feuded with Steve Austin, who left the WWF (by now the WWE) before a match could take place. The night Guerrero lost the IC title, his long time friend Chris Benoit would also return to the WWE, causing the two to become a team and feud with Ric Flair. Before heading to Smackdown to wrestle exclusively there, Eddie challenged The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship, but never won it.
His first big Smackdown feud was with Edge. They wrestled at Summerslam and at Unforgiven in a No Disqualification match which Edge would win, thus ending the feud.
"I Lie, I Cheat, I Steal"
After his rivalry with Edge came to a close, Guerrero aligned himself with his nephew Chavo. The pair adopted the slogan "We lie, we cheat and we steal, but at least we're honest about it!" and received a massive tag team push in the form of a series of unforgettable vignettes which were based off of those three things. Eddie also began travelling in a low rider to the ring, equipped with hydraulics.
They entered an 8 team tournament for the new WWE Tag Team Championship, which resulted in a feud between Los Guerreros and the team of Kurt Angle and Eddie's former friend Chris Benoit. A defining moment in Los Guerreros' history is when Chavo informed Benoit that his former friend had been assaulted by Angle, which prompted Benoit to run to make the save but instead, found himself locked in a room and assaulted by Eddie with a steel chair.
Benoit and Angle defeated Los Guerreros in the semi finals for the tournament and went on to win, with help from the lying, cheating, stealing duo. At Survivor Series, Eddie and Chavo won their first Tag Team gold after facing Edge & Mysterio and Angle & Benoit. They lost soon after to Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) on Smackdown and began feuding with them. Just before Los Guerreros were about to win the titles back at Judgement Day, Chavo tore his bicep, forcing Eddie to team up with Tajiri instead. The pair defeated Team Angle in a ladder match. They also defeated Roddy Piper and his protegè Sean O'Haire to retain, but lost them to Team Angle on Smackdown. Eddie then turned on Tajiri, throwing him through the windshield of his low rider, thus ending the team.
By 2003, Eddie Guerrero was once again a singles competitor and was in the running for the United States Championship. It was at this time that the Latino Heat character grew bigger, as he began realizing that the fans wanted to see him lie, cheat and steal. His character, despite being a heel, would become more comical and was extremely popular with the fans. Often, Guerrero would do things like tossing his opponent a weapon while the referee was distracted and lying down on the ground in order to win matches by disqualification. He won the US title from Benoit with help from Rhyno.
Eddie would then turn face again but keep the gimmick, engaging in a feud with John Cena. He would challenge Cena to a "Latino Heat" Parking Lot Brawl for the US Championship with help from his returning nephew Chavo. The pair then won the Tag Team Championships against Team Angle, making Eddie a double champion.
However, Eddie began a feud with Big Show, where Guerrero gave him laxative-laced burritos and sprayed him with sewage from a truck, some of my fondest memories from the Ruthless Aggression Era. He then dropped the US title to him at No Mercy and four days later, Los Guerreros lost the Tag Team Championships to the Basham Brothers. After they failed to retain them, Chavo turned on Eddie in a feud that would culminate at the Royal Rumble, where Eddie defeated Chavo.
The Underdog Comes Out On Top
2004 was perhaps the crowning year of Eddie's career. Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble and headed to RAW to challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship and Eddie won a 15 man Battle Royal on Smackdown to earn a shot at the WWE Championship. Winning would elevate Eddie Guerrero to main event status for the first time in his 17 year career. Then, at the 2004 No Way Out, we witnessed one of the most remarkable moments in WWE history.
Eddie Guerrero became the WWE Champion for the first time in his career.
This moment was one of the most emotional not just for Eddie, but also for every fan watching. It's not often that a man his size becomes World Champion, and Eddie doing so was just so deserving.
When his long time friend Chris Benoit won the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 20, the two men held an emotional celebration in the middle of the ring as two underdog World Champions. Both men shared a story of hard work, grit and pure determination.
"I'm Your Papi!"
By 2005, Eddie Guerrero was Tag Team Champion for the fourth time along with his friend Rey Mysterio. However, the bigger story was when the two split following a lot of tension and an incredible match at Wrestlemania 21, which truly did bring the house down.
Eddie came out of the team as a heel, with a new sociopathic gimmick. He no longer rode to the ring in a low rider and lost his "Latino Heat" demeanour, as well as adopting the "Lasso from El Paso" as his new finisher, instead of the Frog Splash. He was also as aggressive as ever, and this was shown on his now rival, Rey Mysterio.
On the June 30th edition of Smackdown, Eddie revealed that he had a secret about Mysterio and his son Dominick, and was planning on sharing it. As the storyline progressed, the families of both men got involved, pleading with Eddie not to reveal the secret.
At The Great American Bash, the two had a match with the stipulation being that if Mysterio won, Eddie could not reveal the secret. Despite losing, Eddie still shared on the next Smackdown, revealing to Dominick that Eddie was his real "Papi". This began "Eddie's Bedtime Stories", a series of segments on Smackdown in which Eddie revealed the details of the secret. He explained that Mysterio and his wife were having troubles conceiving, and Eddie had had a child out of wedlock while going through marriage problems. This child was Dominick, and Eddie allowed his friends Mysterio and his wife to adopt him.
The feud saw several emotional matches and segments between Guerrero and Mysterio, despite the story being fake. Eddie now had a dark comical gimmick, showing a side of him that had never been seen before. He also began wearing an "I'm Your Papi!" tee shirt, creating one of the most popular phrases in WWE's history. The feud came to a head in a Steel Cage match, which Guerrero won.
Final Months With The WWE
Following his feud with Mysterio, Guerrero was named Number One Contender for the WWE Championship and was given a title match against Batista. Eddie quickly proclaimed himself to be Batista's friend, arousing suspicion in Batista, who played mind games with Eddie to expose any true intentions. The two of them would team up against MNM, matches in which Guerrero would revert to his cheating ways to win.
Eddie Guerrero wrestled his final PPV match at No Mercy in a WWE Championship match against Batista. Guerrero struggled with a decision about whether or not to use a steel chair to win. When he didn't, he ended up losing the match. The two men showed mutual respect at the end of the match, and Guerrero would turn face for the final time, realizing how low he had sunk since his losing the WWE Championship a year prior.
He wrestled his final match on Smackdown, on the 11th of November, defeating Mr. Kennedy to gain a spot on the Smackdown team for Survivor Series team. The whole wrestling world was stunned when he died just two days later. One of the saddest parts of his untimely death is that Guerrero was scheduled to win the WWE Championshp for the second time the following week.
Viva La Raza
Eddie Guerrero, one of the most legendary and impactful wrestlers in the world, died on the 13th of November 2005. He was 38 years old. It was revealed that he died of heart failure caused by arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and a lifetime of troubles.
The next day, RAW held an extremely emotional tribute show, with no WWE employees being forced to perform, although several of Eddie's friends took part in tribute matches. Smackdown also held a tribute show, and so did Ring of Honor and WWE's former developmental territory, OVW. TNA dedicated their PPV Genesis, which aired on the night of his death, to him.
Eddie will always be remembered for his dedication to the business and being a 5-star performer all round. There was never a dull moment when he was on screen, and Smackdown would not be Smackdown without Eddie.
His legacy lives on through several current wrestlers and his widow Vickie being featured on Smackdown. His daughter Shaul Marie also recently signed a developmental deal with the WWE.
Eddie's superb Frog Splash, low riders, hilarious antics and catchphrases like "Viva La Raza" make it impossible for anyone to forget this man, and we never will. Eddie Guerrero lied, cheated and stole our hearts and five years from now, we still dedicate small moments of our time to him. He is an all time great and that was shown by Rey Mysterio, Chavo Guerrero and Chris Benoit inducting him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, one of the most deserving inductees ever.
Eddie Guerrero worked incredibly hard to get to where he was when he passed, all the way from the bottom to the top. And for that, we thank you Eddie.
May you continue resting in peace.