To me the Hot Topic with this is why Eddie’s passing has caused the level of emotion and sadness it has, why we all care so much, and what it means for the future.
There is no disputing Eddie’s talents or achievements in the ring, few wrestlers below 250lbs have made it into the main event, much less become World Champion, even fewer have captured the imagination of fans the world over as Eddie did, and even fewer still, total and universal respect amongst his peers.
While the tribute shows have yet to air, the fact WWE changed it’s major programming, indeed allowed members of staff to arrive late for a major international tour to attend his funeral proves the regard they held Eddie in.
However more important than the fans loss or WWE’s loss, there is Eddie’s family, three daughters and a wife who have lost their “Papi”, cruelly, just when they had got him back.
Some small crumb of comfort they may have is that Eddie’s last day was spent with family, travelling and talking with his nephew Chavo. It would be a bittersweet comfort however and my thoughts and prayers are with his family more than anyone at this time.
So why is Eddie’s death having the effect it is, on all facets of life? Why do we care so much about this man?
For wrestling fans in general, death is not new, we have seen high profile wrestlers dying since 1993 Andre, Davey Boy, Owen, Brian Pillman, Hawk…. Eddie’s death even already is eclipsing them all in impact.
This is down to one simple truth, Eddie is the first to die at the peak of his powers and the peak of the business. Owen Hart hadn’t been WWE champion when he died, he was not the focal point of WWE TV, he was well known but hadn’t “made it yet”. Others mentioned were similar or had been out of the public eye for a while, though even Owen was wrestling as the Blue Blazer that fateful night…
Eddie is the first example of a wrestler passing while he not only on TV, but at the pinnacle of the business. Millions watched Eddie beat Mr. Kennedy this past Thursday, just 72 hours later, he was gone. We will never know if WWE was 100% going to give the belt to him that night, but the fact he was in contention and held in such regard as to be a pair of “safe hands” makes it all the more saddening.
To those in the IWC, it is numbing because Eddie was “one of ours”, when he began to rise up the card the IWC felt like he was our guy, we were being listened to and the smaller guy was finally getting the belt, which is what we all wanted. Indeed this week the IWC was abuzz with the rumor Eddie was favourite to carry the ball for Batista. Once more, our guy was making a difference so we all felt like we were.
To those read the news on the many mainstream media outlests, many will read that Eddie liked to “Lie, Cheat & Steal” and had had past addiction issues and dismiss him as a poor role model. That is a mistake, the reason Eddie made such an impact was arguably that he was the first true hero many had seen in a long time.
Eddie wore his heart on his sleeve, admitted and ultimately embraced his flaws and mistakes and turned them into an amazing positive. Many have flirted with this, Steve Austin in particular, but Eddie turned flaws that would have destroyed many lives and turned it into something we all had to watch every week and something millions were inspired by.
Eddie made it OK to “Lie, Cheat & Steal” as everyone has to do at some point in their lives, it is OK to stray from the path as Eddie proved you can still succeed and be redeemed. Eddie had faced death many times & been saved not only by his faith, but his strength of character,he had been to the bottom and rose back to the top.
Indeed this is reflected in Eddie’s last two major WWE feuds. Eddie’s dark side was plain to see in his feud with Rey Mysterio, jealousy, insecurity, rage, fear of loss; all the demons Eddie faced in such a public way, brought large.
Indeed some of the most painful TV to watch of Eddie’s in years to come will be the episode that involved his own family. Yet, his final acts in WWE were those of redemption, in Batista he had found a new “amigo” and had been welcomed back into the fold by the fans for showing loyalty, faith and courage to his friends, ultimately to Team Smackdown. These are the traits that helped Eddie conquer his demons.
Where will Eddie be placed in years to come? It is hard to mourn his promise as being cut short, as he had fulfilled that promise.He had been World Champion and had one of Wrestling’s finest moments at WMXX. It is also hard to call Eddie a Legend or an Icon as it’s impossible to know where he could have gone in the business. He had the potential to either rise higher or burn out spectacularly. That was his nature.
I would argue Eddie will become more of a symbol than either a Legend or an Icon; He will be remembered not so much for his achievements in the ring or being a WWE legend, but as a symbol of triumph…triumph of the human spirit, that if you accept who you are and never give up, however easy it would be to, you can conquer anything, and come out the other side someone special.
That is the legacy of Eduardo Gory Guerrero…and it will live forever…
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