Where were you when the wrestling world stopped nine years ago? This week was the ninth anniversary (I hate using that term) of the death of Eddie Guerrero, one of the most decorated Latino wrestlers to ever grace the mat. What Guerrero lacked in size (5’8”) he made up for it with heart and determination. His death is still one that haunts the company and the wrestling community today.
2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his hotel room (The Marriott City Center) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Guerrero was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene. He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Guerrero’s wife Vickie Guerrero claimed that he had been unwell in the week preceding his death
He wrestled in Mexico and Japan for several major professional wrestling promotions. In the United States, Guerrero wrestled in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Guerrero’s gimmick was that of “Latino Heat”, a crafty, resourceful wrestler who would do anything to win a match. His catchphrase became “I Lie! I Cheat! I Steal!,” which was used in one of his entrance themes. Guerrero partly used this phrase in his autobiography Cheating Death, Stealing Life.
Despite being a villain for most of his career, he got over in and outside the ring being the youngest, yet most popular, athletic and successful of the Guerrero brothers. Guerrero was widely regarded as one of the most respected and gifted technical wrestlers in history.
Guerrero experienced various substance abuse problems outside the squared circle, including alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers. These real-life issues were sometimes incorporated into his storylines. Guerrero won 23 titles during his career, which encompassed the WWE Grand Slam Championship.
The business of professional wrestling for so long has been a nomadic journey of sorts that was detailed in the 1970s and 1980s and the addictions of the road that wrestlers were faced with night after night. It has been chronicled by many of the greats in the business including Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper and Ric Flair. The demons of the business, not the sport, are what have haunted the veterans of the past. Scott Hall and Roberts worked with Diamond Dallas Page to get themselves healthy – mentally, physically and spiritually.
Guerrero’s death, although not a result of the terrors other superstars have faced, is a reminder that these performers put their bodies and minds through such hell every night to make sure fans are entertained and the dollar is made at the gate. Wrestlers today are bigger, stronger and faster, and with that comes the outside influences that cloud judgment.
For the way he tragically left us before his time, he will always be remembered.
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