That "something different" I picked up on as a kid evolved as Eddie got older and was given more time in the spotlight. I lost track of him for awhile after WCW started tanking and my priorities shifted to things that were, at the time, more important (mostly girls and whichever terrible Star Wars movie came out around that time). Eventually my parents would cave and allowed me to watch wrestling in my own home, and I started tuning in to WWE Smackdown on a fairly regular basis.
At the time I had no idea about all the political shenanigans that went down between WWE and WCW, or the differences between either company; I was just happy to see a few of my old favorites on television again. Rey Mysterio, Tajiri, Ultimo Dragon… And eventually Eddie Guerrero made his way to the "blue brand". The rest is history… I legitimately have not missed a single week of WWE programming since the night I saw Eddie on Smackdown, and I think I owe that in great part to how good he was at his job.
Looking back on his career, I realized what it was that made "Latino Heat" so very different than all the other Superstars out there. You've heard the phrase "lived and breathed pro wrestling" dozens of times, but Eddie was the one guy you could actually see living out that metaphor. Heroic babyface or dastardly heel, Eddie was the most charismatic wrestler I've ever seen. Everything from his grand entrance in a brightly painted lowrider to the shaking of the shoulders before he came off the top rope; every movement he made was his character.
There are a lot of guys that will play the part of a character during a backstage promo, only to go out to the ring and wrestle a cookie-cutter match pieced together so that anyone could have pulled it off. A couple of big moves at the beginning, slow pacing for a few minutes by the heel to get the crowd behind the face, and a big swerve finish with with one guy coming from behind to hit their finisher and score the pinfall. We see it done by a dozen guys every single week. Not Eddie Guerrero… As soon as he stepped through the curtain he was Eddie. The way he walked, swayed, and motioned was Eddie. He didn't just go through the motions and pick up a win, he toyed with everyone out there. His opponent, the referee, the announcers and timekeepers, and especially the fans! He wasn't even limited by his personal moveset, but instead used the ropes, foreign objects, the outside area, and even parts of the ring in unique ways nobody else was trying! Every match of his was unique, and every time he was in the ring you knew you were about to see an Eddie Guerrero match. Not that all of them were 5-star classics, but most of them were special.
He was the one guy that was always a heel, even when he was a face. His motto was "I lie, I cheat, I steal" so there's a good chance that if he was out there, he wasn't supposed to be the good guy… But he had this charm about him that made you want to cheer for him, no matter what he was doing. Even near the end of his career when he would enter into a very serious feud with Rey Mysterio involving a custody battle over his son where Eddie was clearly the most hated man in wrestling, you still wanted him to win. Even while cheering for Mysterio to come back and hit that 619, a little (slightly sadistic) part of you wanted Eddie to hit that Frog Splash or lock in the classic Lasso from El Passo. Passion dripped from his expressions, and I don't think that's something anyone in the industry has done quite as well, or will likely ever accomplish to the same degree. When it comes to pure charisma and portrayed passion in his character and in-ring ability, there will never be a man or woman better than Eddie Guerrero.
The most important lesson that Eddie taught me, though not directly and certainly with a lot of help from Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels, was that if you're going to do something and truly succeed, you have to have more passion than everyone around you. You have to keep studying and keep saturating yourself in your craft until you emerge on the other side as something truly spectacular. Until everything about you is changed and passion oozes out of every facial expression. Even those who hate pro wrestling and will never understand why people like me love it can look upon Eddie Guerrero and see a man of great passion.
And at the end of everything when we all look back on history, only those who lived with great passion will ever be remembered. Only the men and women who spend every waking hour of the week training, studying, and taking extreme chances will ever become great professional wrestlers. Only the people who spend every hour of the day practicing will ever become great musicians. Only those who spend years failing and learning from their mistakes will ever become great tycoons of business. And even then, those great people can still be limited by their own passion and drive. Eddie inspired a lot of people to be the best of the best. For me that means spending hours every day learning the ins and outs of pro wrestling. The nooks and cranny's of writing and creative thinking. I understand that I'm not the best – not even good in comparison to some of my inspirations. But because of the passion men like Eddie Guerrero have displayed I refuse to give up until I am the best of the best at what I choose to do.
What will that mean for you?
R.I.P. Eddie Guerrero.
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