Today is like any other Sunday within the realm of professional wrestling. One company gears up for an annual pay-per-view event, while the other is recovering from a huge tour in the United Kingdom. Fans from around the globe are attending religious services, stocking up on chips and soda for the big game, or spending the last day of the weekend with family. Wrists are tapped, boots are laced, and the gears keep on turning… But I wanted to take a time-out today to remember the legacy of one of the all-time greats, not only in pro wrestling, but in the whole of entertainment. On this day just six years ago, November 13, 2005…Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room.
I have nothing to say about Eddie as a critic or as an editorialist. What I have to say comes from the perspective of a fan – as some one who took in the passion of "Latino Heat" and in a strange way was made better for it. Eddie Guerrero lived and breathed professional wrestling, but his impact on me was, and still very much is beyond that of the many classic matches he would put on.
Eddie was my first "favorite" in pro wrestling. I started watching when I was younger, usually at my friend's house because my own parents didn't want me exposed to the sexuality and violence of the industry. I'd catch certain feuds, broken by the weeks or months that would pass in between. And when a friend at school would ask me who my favorite wrestler was (and in the 90s ALL the kids were obsessed with it!) I'd try desperately to remember the names of guys like Bret Hart of Shawn Michaels. Sting and the Undertaker were easy, and of course everyone knew "Macho Man" and the "Immortal" Hulk Hogan. But I'll never forget the first pay-per-view I saw that would captivate my attention and turn me into a full-fledged fanatic of professional wrestling.
It was WCW/nWo Fall Brawl 1997. Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Jericho to win the WCW World Cruiserweight title in an almost twenty minute match to open the show. I remember having to leave before the main event, and I wouldn't see that particular War Games until nearly a decade later, on YouTube. The match itself was lengthy, with over two dozen different types of submission holds and grapples. They would go back and forth with Jericho playing to the crowd and Eddie harassing the referee for making "bad calls" throughout. Eventually Guerrero would counter a Superplex and hit his signature Frog Splash for the pinfall, becoming the new champion.
What got me about this match wasn't the spectacular ring work of either man (although it's definitely there), but rather that Eddie was somehow different than every other guy I'd seen so far. On paper he was an angry-looking Mexican man with a jet-black mullet and a full goatee to match. I doubt he could have been any more stereotypical if he had tried, but still something was different about him. I had no idea at the time why, but from that moment on whenever a friend asked me who my favorite wrestler was, I'd quickly respond with "Eddie Guerrero!"
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