“Lie, Cheat and Steal”
A Tale of Two Heels
Eddie Guerrero would be forty nine years old today as I write this. He made the phrase “Lie, Cheat, and Steal” central to his role as a sports entertainment “heel” (antagonist) character in the WWE. Eddie’s amazing athleticism, story telling psychology, and wealth of charisma framed his in-ring persona and made Eddie one of the all-time greats. Eddie was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 and even there, in the company of some of the most gifted performers whose names are synonymous with being the best of the best, Eddie Guerrero stands proudly as one of the truly great characters the industry has seen over the past two decades.
As someone who has played a heel role throughout his nearly thirty years in the industry I have my own point of view on what makes an effective heel character. Being willing to emotionally embrace characteristics that truly evoke the kind of crowd reaction a heel character is paid to create isn’t easy. It is the art of that particular craft that is both subtle and sublime. Thats why there are so few truly great ones.
While not associated with Stanislavski, Strasberg, or Adler’s school of method acting Eddie lived a life where these characteristics were on display all around him in the people he grew up with. Growing up in a tough part of El Paso as a young boy hanging around his father Gory Guerrero’s wrestling promotion, Eddie saw flawed characters (and worse) in his daily life.
Eddie Guerrero had the instinct and the chops to portray those worst aspects of a human being. He would weave those characteristics into an on-screen persona that audiences around the world loved to hate.
But that’s where it ended. In the ring-or on the screen.
In real life, or what little of it a performer who works on the road 300+ days a year has, Eddie was a loving husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. In my experience working with Eddie, he could be as hard headed, easily agitated and unreasonable as any other performer I have had the privilege to work with. A man who wasn’t just in it for the money and who truly cared about his fans, his character and his industry. We had some epic differences of opinions but I never once doubted his intentions or his honesty. Eddie was a gifted talent who portrayed a heel but was someone I could trust.
Which brings me to last nights debate.
The closing moments of last nights debate (which had all the build-up and hype of a combined WWE/UFC Pay Per View promotion) saw Karl Becker, a town hall participant, ask both candidates, “Can you name one positive thing you respect in one another?”
To me, Hillary Clinton’s response was politician perfect. It was smooth, had enough warm fuzzy accolades and just enough truth regarding Trump’s children to sound sincere for a moment. One of those subtle keys to being a good heel but it was forced.
I didn’t believe when I saw it and after seeing it several times in re-caps I am certain it was the well crafted, improvisational acting skill of a battle hardened career politician who had no other way out.
Trump’s response was the opposite to me. While I am sure it pained him to do so in light of the tone of last nights mud match I am convinced his compliment of Hillary and, “her instinct to fight and never quit,” was sincere. It’s the same way he views himself, how he has built his business empire and. yes Hillary-how he seems to have raised his children.
I realize that some of you reading this may be irritated at me for paying homage to Eddie Guerrero and writing about politics in the same story. If doing so offends you. So be it. We will all get over it.
Watching what’s happening to our culture, our politics and our respect for one another decay like the time-lapse film open of rotting roadkill from the HBO Series True Blood I’ve become even more committed to separating the ‘actor’ from the person.
Trump closed the debate by being honest. Hillary closed it by continuing to play her role.
For the record, Trump wasn’t my choice to lead the Republican ticket. I am also surprised and saddened, and disappointed by his crass, frat house audio bites from 2005. However unpolished his delivery, at the end of the day, I feel more comfortable with an honest, successful, crass, unrefined non-professional politician than a Secretary of State who let four Americans die under her watch THEN lied directly to the faces of the family members who lost their loved ones and blamed the massacre on a video, only to protect her political future, fortune, incompetence and greed.
That was not Hillary playing a heel, it was Hillary Clinton being Hillary Clinton.
Every Wednesday night Eric has also begun contributing a weekly “Controversial Story Of The Week” segment for Sports Illustrated’s 120 Sports app with his Bischoff on Wrestling co-host Nick Hausman.