I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since I was a teenager. In college, I became a little more obsessed about it, but such is life at that time. I had discovered Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1994. It was a fun little Philadelphia based independed promotion that was loosely associated with the, fallen from grace, National Wrestling Alliance. I could only watch ECW when I was in New Jersey, on a local cable access channel.
So, when I returned to the shore in 1995, I searched for ECW television. Much had changed in a year. Eastern Championship Wrestling was now Extreme Championship Wrestling. A new look and a very different attitude.
Alot changes in a wrestling promotion in a year. The ECW fans were now cheering for The Sandman. There were now two Pit Bulls. Mikey Whipreck had developed some offense. And, boy that Raven guy seems really familiar.
And then I saw the highlights from the Eddie Guerrero versus Dean Malenko feud. ECW called it “The Malenko Guerrero Classic”. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from both men. Dean Malenko was one of the best mat wrestlers I had ever seen. But Eddie Guerrero was one of the most complete high-flying wrestlers, ever. Eddie did things that I didn’t think were possible.
I was hooked.
When I heard that Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko were going to have a 2 out of 3 falls match at the ECW Arena, I made all plans to go down and see this. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away during this time, and as much as I love pro-wrestling, it certainly takes a back seat to that.
The thrill I felt when ECW television showed the entire match in later weeks, was unbelievable. And it was and still remains one of my favorite matches ever. The match ended in a tie. The two wrestlers were leaving ECW to go to WCW. The crowd gave both men a standing ovation as the two men hugged each other in the ring.
That was ECW. And that was Eddie Guerrero. I was a fan.
Other wrestlers grabbed my attention. I followed Eddie in WCW when I could. Good matches usually followed him. All of his problems in and out of the ring have been well documented.
He went to the WWF as one of the Radicals. Eddie quickly became a man who could make you laugh in the ring. His ringwork was awesome. Eddie gained that last little bit that made him into a superstar.
The Internet Wrestling Community had heard rumors that Eddie had gained enough popularity that the WWE was thinking of giving Eddie the world title. I laughed in disbelief that a wrestler who weighed 235 lbs at best would win the title.
Then I remember hearing that Eddie Guerrero was to face Brock Lesnar at No Way Out in February of 2004. Lesnar was due to face Goldberg at WrestleMania. It was a dream match. It was basically signed sealed and delivered.
The joy in my heart lept to the surface. Eddie Guerrero was going to win the World Championship!!!!!
I don’t know why I care that a person wins a championship when the sport is fake. I guess it’s confirmation or validation that the federation recognizes the wrestler’s talent that you yourself have always known was there. I was thrilled for Eddie. Especially knowing the problems that he dealt with over the years with pain killers, drugs, family problems, and wrestling problems.
Professional wrestling has not made me cry for joy on several occassions. The embrace of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit at the end of WrestleMania XX, had me bawling. Two wrestlers that I liked and respected were on the top of the mountain. A tear or two ran down my face.
Eddie Guerrero had made it. He would always be a world champion. Put him in the sentences with the Steve Austins, the Ric Flairs, the Hulk Hogans. Yes they are multiple champions. Yes, they are worldwide superstars. But Eddie gets mentioned in their company.
Eddie wasn’t a great champion, and they took the belt off him fairly quickly. Such is life. Eddie still gave great performances in the ring.
I came into work today. We were meeting the new VP of Development. I quickly hopped on the internet to see what happened in wrestling over the weekend:
My heart entered my chest when I saw the headline. Now, there are two Guerreros in the WWF. (And you will never read this Chavo, but please forgive me.) I was so hoping that it was not Eddie. But in my heart I knew that it was.
Eddie Guerrero died in a hotel room over the weekend from a heart attack.
Eddie was three years older than me. He was 38 years old.
The life of a professional wrestler kills your body. It’s that simple. Whether it’s pain pills or recreational drugs or steroids. They have no off season, and those at the top (at the WWE level), work 4-5 days each week. And it kills at lease 1/3 of them before they reach the age of 50.
I don’t want to preach, so let me stop. If I really cared enough, I would stop watching the stupid mindless crap.
Goodbye Eddie Guerrero. You have thrilled me. You have made me laugh. You have made me cry. You made me care about you. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you…. and god rest.