Eddie Guerrero is an all time great of the professional wrestling. He’s one of the last stars of international repute who truly traveled the globe to hone his craft. Guerrero started out working in the lucha libre style before he went to Japan to take his game to the next level, then working his way up through ECW, WCW, and finally WWE to arrive at the top of the business, not least of all successfully defending the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
Over the course of a nearly twenty year career, Guerrero had arrived as a truly outstanding all around performer. He was a high flyer whose frog splash off the top rope remains an all time great finisher in the wrestling business. He was highly skilled from the perspective of technical wrestling. He demonstrated tremendous heat that fed into his abilities as a brawler. And while Guerrero was never the biggest man on the card, he even developed impressive muscle mass, particularly in the late stages of his career, to hold his own as a small powerhouse.
Even greater than his in-ring gifts, though, Guerrero had tremendous charisma. He was a memorable promo man who connected with the audience wonderfully as an undercard face who loveably bent the rules to succeed. He was quite arguably an even better heel for his ability to sell devious scheming and arrogance.
Guerrero’s passing came too soon. In November 2005, he was found dead in his hotel room. The loss of a talent of his stature is, in and of itself profoundly sad, but there are many specific details related to the loss.
15 Guerrero’s Passing Resulted From Mistakes Earlier In His Life
The official cause of death announced for Eddie Guerrero was heart failure. There has been some speculation about him using performance enhancing drugs in the months leading up to his demise, and that that contributed to the issue. The more general consensus, however, seems to be that his abuse of substances in preceding years, including alcoholism, a pain killer addiction, and potentially other performance enhancing drugs set him up for tragedy later on.
It’s tragic to think that this great performer did not overdose, or get into a car wreck because of current substance abuse, but rather had past transgressions catch up to him after he had cleaned up his act, leading to a premature death for a man who was only 38 years old.
14 He Left Behind A Widow
In one of Eddie Guerrero’s last, best remembered angles, he feuded with long time real life friend, and long time on air rival Rey Mysterio over the custody of Rey’s son Dominick, under the kayfabe rationale he was Eddie’s biological child. The angle included the WWE audience meeting Vickie Guerrero. Vickie was Eddie’s real life wife, who played a face character in trying to get Eddie to come to his senses, and ultimately working against him in a ladder match for custody of the kid.
When Eddie passed, Vickie was left a widow. WWE offered her employment in the aftermath. No one could have guessed what a star she would become in her own right, primarily working as a heel authority figure who was most notably kayfabe attached to Edge and Eddie’s nephew Chavo.
13 His Nephew Found His Body
Though Chavo Guerrero was only three years Eddie’s junior, you can follow the family tree and see that he was legitimately Eddie’s nephew. Still, given how close the two were in age, their careers were largely intertwined. They teamed up in both WCW and WWE, in addition to engaging in brief on air rivalries with one another.
The two were close, and it was sadly Chavo who discovered Eddie’s body. According to news coverage at the time of Eddie’s death, Chavo and hotel personnel went to Eddie’s room to check on him after he failed to respond to a wake up call, only to find him already unconcious on the floor.
Chavo’s career and legacy would always remained intertwined with his more celebrated uncle, though sadly he would not reach the same heights.
12 Eddie Was In His Prime
While Eddie Guerrero may have had his best matches in WCW or even earlier than that, there’s little question that he reached his peak as an all around performer, between psychology, personality, technique, and ability to connect with the crowd when he was working under the WWE banner. He reached the top of the mountain as WWE Champion in 2004 when he pinned Brock Lesnar and progressed to a sensational rivalry with Kurt Angle. There’s every reason to think he’d remain an upper card to main event player for years to follow had he survived.
It’s absolutely tragic to think that, for someone as hard working as Eddie was, his talents and push came together to bring him to the top of the business, then everything got short when he passed away too soon.
11 He Chose To Give Up The WWE Championship Before He Passed
Eddie Guerrero won his first world championship when he pinned Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004. He’d go on to successfully defend the title against Kurt Angle and JBL, before abruptly dropping the title to the latter challenger.
According to a variety of sources, most notably including Stephanie McMahon, Eddie chose to give up the championship, claiming it was too much pressure for him. It’s clear from the way she discussed the matter that this was not WWE’s choice, but that they honored his wishes. The choice demonstrated humility in Eddie and perhaps a sense of self confidence that he had not yet peaked, and could make it back to the top and reclaim the top prize in the business when he was in the right mental state. Sadly, he’d never get that chance.
10 He Was Mentoring Batista At The Time Of His Passing
There’s an urban legend that Eddie Guerrero was set to defeat Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. Sources close to the situation, including Batista himself, have indicated that wasn’t true—or at least not imminently so. Just the same, it was very clear that Batista and Guerrero had more than an on screen relationship.
On air, Guerrero had recently become connected to Batista as an ally The Animal couldn’t quite trust, who simultaneously framed as a challenger to his title. Guerrero’s character looked like he might be taking a left turn to actually become a full-fledged face again when he passed. Behind the scenes, Guerrero was working closely with Batista to chart out their rivalry and matches. The general understanding is that WWE was positioning the big man beneath Latino Heat’s learning tree to learn psychology and grow as an all around performer beneath the more experienced former champ.
9 Guerrero May Have Been Weeks Away From A Big PPV Win
Mere weeks after Eddie Guerrero passed, WWE held Survivor Series 2005, featuring a war between top stars from the Raw and SmackDown brand. Guerrero was booked to represent the blue brand in what wound up being a reasonably hot angle for its time. Batista was, naturally, featured prominently in the angle. Standing alongside him as second in command for the brand was Rey Mysterio, launching years of the twosome being associated with each other. You have to suspect, however, that Eddie would have been in that role, given the way he was booked in association with The Animal leading up to that point.
After Eddie passed, he was replaced on the team by Randy Orton, and Orton would wind up the sole survivor of the main event match, in a victory that would set up him to blow off his rivalry with The Undertaker, before continuing in the world title picture in the months to follow.
We’ll never know exactly what WWE had planned for Guerrero at Survivor Series, in it’s a minor subject of concern in the larger scheme of the life lost. Given his positioning alongside Batista, however, and the way Orton was booked, there is fair enough reason to think Guerrero might have been the star left standing from this main event match. Is it too much of a stretch to imagine he might have gone on to win the Royal Rumble like Mysterio did, and wound up in another WrestleMania world title match, like his collective replacements Mysterio and Orton did that spring? None of it is out of the question.
8 Eddie Was In The Best Shape Of His Life
Eddie Guerrero was always a great athlete, capable of impressive aerial feats and skilled at grappling. Toward the end of his life, Guerrero also developed his physique, and looked like he had arrived at his absolute physical prime come late 2005.
There is some speculation that Guerrero may have used performance enhancing drugs toward the end of his life, and that that drug use may have even contributed to his heart issues, or at least the fatal nature of them. We may never have the final word on that, but there is no disputing that Guerrero left the mortal coil looking like a million bucks, and delivering in the ring at the very highest level, even for a guy already known for two decades of excellent performance.
7 He Left Three Children Behind
Eddie Guerrero left behind a sensational body of work as a professional wrestler. He also notably came from a legendary wrestling family, complete with relatives like his father Gory, and his older brothers Chavo Sr., Mando, and Hector who preceded him as major stars of lucha libre, and his nephew Chavo Jr. who was largely his contemporary in the squared circle. His wife Vickie would wind up following Eddie into the business as well.
Eddie also had three daughters, Shaul, Sherilyn, and Kaylie. Shaul, the eldest, was fifteen when her father passed, Sherilyn ten, Kaylie—his lone child by another mother—just three. As tragic as Eddie’s passing was for the wrestling world and the millions of fans he’d earned the affections of over the years, it’s even sadder to consider the children left without a father.
6 He Had Another World Title Reign Ahead Of Him
As noted earlier, Eddie willingly gave up his first world title reign because he felt the pressure was too much for him. According to Stephanie McMahon, the company continued to believe in him and hand intentions of him returning to the top of the mountain.
Some aspects of how management saw Guerrero, and what they may have had planned for him, may have been romanticized in light of his untimely passing. Latino Heat had remained a featured enough player, however, that it’s not unreasonable to think that WWE did intend for him—one of the most undeniable talents of his generation---to have at least one more reign. Whether he would have been in line for the world title push when Batista got injured that winter, would have gotten the title reign earmarked for Mysterio at WrestleMania 22, or might have traded the belt with King Booker in the summer to follow, it’s unlikely that we had seen the last of Guerrero on top of SmackDown.
5 Eddie’s Death Contributed To The Benoit Tragedy
It’s well documented that Eddie Guerrero was close friends with Chris Benoit, to the point that WWE allowed the friendship to transcend kayfabe as the two were not only occasional partners and allies but shared a very special moment celebrating in the ring at the end of WrestleMania XX as the two WWE world champions.
It should be little surprise then, that many have spoken out about how hard Eddie’s death was for Benoit to absorb. While there’s not a direct link, it also makes sense enough that there was speculation some of Benoit’s profound unhappiness that contributed to him losing his mind toward the end of his life related to losing so many of his colleagues, and most particularly this dear, long-time friend. Friends of Benoit like Chris Jericho have suggested he never fully got over the loss of Eddie’s life.
4 He Died Unexpectedly In The Same City As Brian Pillman
Eddie Guerrero passed away in Minneapolis, Minnesota, far from where he grew up in El Paso or where he ultimately called home in El Paso. An intriguing piece of wrestling trivia? Guerrero passed away in the very same city where Brian Pill man had unexpectedly passed away eight years earlier, who also lost his life to a heart condition.
There’s significant overlap between Pillman and Guerrero in that both rose to fame as top-tier cruiserweights for WCW, before their personalities really started to show and elevate them to the next level. Pillmans’ body, unfortunately, largely gave out on him early in his WWE tenure, though his Loose Cannon character, complete with wielding a firearm opposite Steve Austin, was nonetheless groundbreaking. Guerrero hit his stride in WWE, finally arriving as a main event player. That the both stars would end up passing away in their mid-to-late 30s in Minneapolis, because of heart issues is an eerie coincidence, and made Minneapolis an especially tragic tour stop for talents who knew them both well.
3 Chavo Reached The Peak Of His WWE Career The Week Of Eddie’s Death
Chavo Guerrero never quite got the same opportunities as his uncle Eddie. Some of that is a matter of talent. While Chavo was nearly his uncle’s equal in terms of athleticism and technique, he never matched his level of showmanship and ability to connect with a crowd. Some of Chavo’s being underutilized surely has to do with creative choices, too, for example sticking him in a dead end feud with Hornswoggle that seemed to run forever and arguably squandered the end of his physical prime.
There’s a very real argument that Chavo achieved the peak of his wrestling career not at the climax of a big angle, but in one special night. In the main event of a SmackDown dedicated to Eddie’s memory, Chavo squared off against Eddie’s old WWE Championship rival JBL. Chavo won the match fair and square with a frog splash in very good match that paid tribute to his uncle nicely. It’s unfortunate he would never climb any higher than that moment, and unfortunate Eddie wasn’t there to see it.
2 He Never Got To See His Daughter Wrestle
Eddie Guerrero’s daughter, Shaul, followed him into the wrestling business. She’d make her debut in 2010, working for WWE’s developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling. Under the name Raquel Diaz, she was a Women’s Champion and feuded with the likes of AJ Lee and Aksana, before serving as a manager for other young acts including Rusev and The Ascension.
Tragically, Eddie passed on five years before he would have gotten to see his daughter debut at the age of 20. Working under the name Raquel Diaz, she was a successful performer, who probably oculd have made the main roster, but wound up choosing to step away, purportedly because she was dealing with an eating disorder.
1 Eddie Was Clean When He Passed Away
Eddie stood among a high volume of performers of his generation who had substance abuse issues. Issues related to his alcoholism and drunk driving led to him being released from WWE a year and a half into his first tenure with the company, and it was only his undeniable talent that earned him another opportunity.
The second go-round, Eddie was better. While he played a heel for much of this time, and started using the mantra, “I lie, I cheat, I steal,” in real life, he was overcoming alcohol and painkiller dependency and identified as a born-again Christian. While rumors persist of him using performance enhancing drugs, if he were doing so it was at a time before WWE policed them the way they do now, and by all indications, he had overwhelmingly cleaned up his act.
On one hand, it’s inspiring to know that Guerrero ended his life on these terms, not as slave to his addictions but largely healthy and happy. On the other hand, it’s tragic to think that wrestling and the man only got so little time with him fully in his right state of mind, and we’ll always be left to wonder what might have been if death hadn’t taken him too soon.
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