11 years ago today, Eduardo Gory Guerrero Llanes, best known to his many fans as Eddie Guerrero, was found dead in a hotel room in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was just 38.
Born October 9, 1967 in El Paso, Texas, Eddie would attend wrestling events his father Gory wrestled in the El Paso Count Coliseum, and during intermissions, he and Chavo would wrestle one another. Eddie wrestled collegiately for New Mexico Highlands University before moving down south to Mexico to follow the footsteps of his uncle Enrique, cousin Javier, and his brothers Chavo Sr., Mando, and Hector.
In Mexico, he wrestled primarily for AAA, teaming with El Hijo de Santo as a rebooted version of La Pareja Atomica (The Atomic Pair, originally consisting of El Santo and Gory Guerrero). Guerrero would turn on Santo and form La Pareja del Terror (The Pair of Terror) with Art Barr, arguably the most hated duo in the history of lucha libre. The two, combined with Konnan, Chicano Power, and Madonna's Boyfriend, would form Los Gringos Locos (The Crazy Americans), openly supporting the United States in front of Mexican crowds (think the Hart Foundation of a few years later).
Considered the Four Horsemen of Mexico, they feuded with El Hijo de Santo and Octagon, culminating in a classic match at When Worlds Collide in 1994, losing to Hijo de Santo and Octagon in a hair versus mask match. Barr and Guerrero were to head to ECW together in 1995, but Art died in November 1994. Guerrero also toured Japan in 1993 as the second incarnation of Black Tiger, though he was not nearly as successful as the original.
Eddie would compete briefly for ECW in 1995; in his debut bout, he defeated 2 Cold Scorpio to win the ECW World Television Championship on April 8. He would go on to have a series of matches with Dean Malenko, resulting in him losing and regaining the title in a one week span in July. Guerrero would lose the title back to Scorpio in August, and in his final WCW bout, went to a time limit draw in a two out of three falls match with Malenko. Eddie made such an impact in his brief stay, the crowd chanted "please don't go" and the wrestlers carried both men around the ring.
Guerrero returned to WCW later in the year (he actually wrestled for the company briefly in 1989 and 1991) alongside Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit. His PPV debut was in the 60-man World War 3 battle royal for the WCW title, where he finished ninth. Eddie would be a part of Team WCW for their showdown with New Japan Pro Wrestling at Starrcade 1995. He lost to Shinjiro Otani, but Team WCW would win the series.
Guerrero would feud with Ric Flair and Diamond Dallas Page throughout 1996, defeating Page to win the WCW United States Championship at Starrcade 1996. He would feud with the nWo's Syxx and Scott Norton, along with Chris Jericho and old ECW rival Dean Malenko, who would beat Guerrero for the US title. In the summer and fall, he transitioned to the Cruiserweight division, feuding again with Jericho and beating him for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. In October 1997 at Halloween Havoc, Eddie lost the title in a mask vs. title match to Rey Mysterio. He would get it back just two weeks later, and defeated Mysterio on consecutive PPVs. He defeated Dean Malenko at Starrcade, but lost the title the next night to Ultimo Dragon.
Eddie would feud with Booker T in the early part of 1998, which led to a feud with his nephew Chavo Guerrero following his loss to Booker. Chavo was forced to act as a slave for Eddie following a loss to him in March 1998, but after a few weeks, would exhibit some erratic behavior. The two met at Great American Bash, in which Chavo would win, and Bash at the Beach in a hair vs. hair match, won by Eddie. Chavo's erratic behavior reached a boiling point when post-match, he shaved his own head.
Eddie's own career would take a bizarre turn that summer when he and Eric Bischoff came to blows over Guerrero's lack of upward mobility in the company. Demanding that he get a push or a raise, Bischoff allegedly threw coffee at him (Eddie himself disputes the claim in his autobiography, saying Bischoff accidentally spilled coffee on him). Eddie demanded to be released live on Nitro in a worked shoot, but would return a couple months later and formed the Latino World Order with the intention of getting more exposure for WCW's Latino wrestlers. They would feud with Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman, primarily over the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
The angle came to an abrupt end on New Year's Day 1999 when Guerrero was seriously injured in an auto accident. He would return five months later as a member of the Filthy Animals with Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Konnan, feuding with the Dead Pool (which included the rap group Insane Clown Posse) and the Revolution. When Kevin Sullivan became the booker of WCW in January 2000, he was among a group of wrestlers that asked for and was granted their release from the company.
Eddie, along with Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Chris Benoit, debuted in the WWF just two weeks after their release as the Radicalz. However, his involvement in the group would be minimal as during his debut match, he injured his elbow performing his Frog Splash finisher.
He would then begin pursuing Chyna, calling her his "mamacita". After unsuccessfully trying to win her heart for about a month, Chyna cost Chris Jericho the European Championship and sided with Guerrero on the night after Wrestlemania 2000. The duo would feud with Essa Rios and Lita, then with former Radicalz Saturn and Dean Malenko. Just as they were gaining popularity, friction built between the loving couple, particularly over the Intercontinental Championship. Chyna would win the title at Summerslam in a tag match, but Eddie won the belt from Chyna in a triple threat match when he accidentally on purpose pinned her a few weeks later on RAW.
Tensions exploded when Chyna got uncomfortable with Eddie cheating to hold on to his title, while he got uncomfortable with Chyna posing for Playboy, even trying to invade the Mansion to stop the photoshoot. Despite the two getting engaged to be married, the duo broke up when Eddie was busted for cheating on her with two of the Godfather's Hos.
Guerrero would reunite with the Radicalz and feuded with a rebooted D-Generation X, then the Hardy Boyz briefly. Guerrero then feuded over the Intercontinental Championship with Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, and X-Pac before turning his attention to Test and the European title, with Guerrero winning it at Wrestlemania X-Seven. He would leave the group about a month later and join up with the Hardyz and Lita.
Around this time, Guerrero developed an addiction to pain medication and was sent to rehab in May 2001. He would not return to the company from his rehab stint, however, as he was released from the company after being arrested in November for drunk driving.
After a few months on the independent circuit, which included wrestling in the first ever Ring of Honor show and winning the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship from CM Punk in a triple threat match, Guerrero returned to WWE, defeated Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Championship, but would lose it a month later in a ladder match. He had a feud with Steve Austin going, but Austin abruptly left the company before a match could take place. After briefly feuding with Ric Flair and a one-off match with The Rock, Guerrero and Chris Benoit would join Smackdown, but go on go on their separate paths.
Eddie would feud with Edge through the summer and early fall, then reunite with his nephew Chavo to form Los Guerreros, a family pair that had a credo that "we lie, we cheat, and we steal, but at least we're honest about it." A series of vignettes were produced promoting their new gimmick. The two would be a part of the famed Smackdown Six, producing classics, particularly for the newly created WWE Tag Team Championship, with Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit, and Edge & Rey Mysterio.
Los Guerreros would defeat Edge & Mysterio for the tag titles at Survivor Series, and would hold on to them until February when they were defeated by Team Angle's Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. The duo would continue to chase the tag titles through the spring, but Eddie would wind up winning them with a different partner: Tajiri at Judgment Day (Chavo tore his biceps less than a week before the match). They lost the titles back to Team Angle in July, and in a fit of rage, Eddie turned on Tajiri after Tajiri accidentally hit his low rider.
In July 2003, Guerrero won the WWE United States Championship, defeating Chris Benoit in the final. Guerrero later said that the bout was a turning point for his Latino Heat character, saying fans wanted to see him lie, cheat, and steal his way to victory. After successfully defending the title at Summerslam, he feuded with John Cena (culminating in a parking lot brawl in September that saw the return of Chavo Guerrero) and The Big Show.
Guerrero would become a double champion with the returning Chavo around this time, winning the tag titles from Team Angle. Their moment of glory was fleeting, as in less than one week span in October, Guerrero was defeated by Big Show for the US title, then by the Bashams for the tag titles. After failing to win back the tag titles, Chavo turned on Eddie, leading to the family pair feuding. The feud was settled in the 2004 Royal Rumble event with the uncle Eddie defeating the nephew Chavo.
After winning a 15-man Royal Rumble match a few days after the 2004 Royal Rumble, Guerrero earned a WWE Championship match against Brock Lesnar, and at No Way Out, Guerrero, with the help of Goldberg, would score one of the biggest upsets in WWE history by defeating Lesnar for the title. He successfully defended the title at Wrestlemania XX against Kurt Angle; when the show ended, he and longtime friend Chris Benoit celebrated his win of the World Heavyweight Championship.
Guerrero would feud with John "Bradshaw" Layfield through the spring and early summer over the title, with Layfield defeating Guerrero via reversed decision from Kurt Angle, who had just become Smackdown general manager. After El Gran Luchadore cost Eddie the WWE Championship against JBL in a steel cage, Eddie pulled off the mask and revealed himself to be Kurt Angle. The two feuded again, this time with Angle submitting Guerrero. Guerrero and old rival Big Show would be the target of Angle and his new allies Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns. This led to a 4-on-4 Survivor Series bout won by Team Guerrero.
After failing to regain the WWE Championship, Guerrero teamed with longtime rival Rey Mysterio to defeat The Basham Brothers at No Way Out in February 2005. Expected to defend the tag titles at Wrestlemania 21, the two fought each other at the encouragement of Chavo Guerrero, with Mysterio winning. Tension would grow with the duo in the following weeks, exploding in late April when they lost the tag titles to MNM. Guerrero would begin a slow heel turn in the rematch when he walked out on Mysterio. The turn completed when Guerrero assaulted Mysterio and left him for dead.
Adopting a sociopathic gimmick, Eddie stopped riding to the ring in low riders and began walking slowly with a scowl on his face. This led to a controversial storyline involving both the Guerrero and Mysterio family over a dark secret. Despite losing to Mysterio (agreeing to not reveal the secret if he lost), Eddie revealed said secret in which he fathered Rey's son Dominick. This led to a ladder match at Summerslam in which Rey won custody of Dominick. However, Guerrero would win the feud when Eddie defeated Rey in a steel cage.
Guerrero's final storyline was with Batista over the World Heavyweight Championship. Though Eddie claimed he was Batista's friend, Batista played mind games to make sure he was on the up and up. Guerrero would lose to Batista at No Mercy for the title, but the two shook hands afterwards. Eddie would turn face following the match, coming out to his old theme and entrance (but still same video). Guerrero's lying, cheating, and stealing tactics came back one last time on November 11, defeating Mr. Kennedy, to earn a spot on the Survivor Series Smackdown vs. RAW match. At the time of his death, some reports had Guerrero set to win the title in a three way match that also featured Randy Orton.
Two days later, Eddie was found unconscious in his hotel room in Minneapolis. Despite attempts to revive him, paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. Eddie had died at age 38. An autopsy later revealed that Guerrero died of heart failure due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
At the time of his passing, Eddie survived by his wife Vickie (who would remain with WWE for years following Eddie’s passing), his daughters Shaul (who had a pair of stints in WWE’s developmental system), Sherilyn, and Kaylie. He had a relationship with Tara Mahoney during his separation from Vickie in the early 2000s, and the two remained friends until his death. Wrestling promotions around the country paid tribute to Guerrero, with WWE putting on a pair of tribute shows that week. TNA opened their PPV with a dedication to Eddie, while Ring of Honor, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and Combat Zone Wrestling put on tribute shows in the days following his death.
Eddie was posthumously inducted into the WWE and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Halls of Fame in 2006. He also would be posthumously inducted into the 2300 Arena Hardcore Hall of Fame in 2015 by his longtime rival and friend Dean Malenko. Numerous wrestlers have paid tribute to Guerrero in the years since his passing, including his nephew Chavo, his widowed wife Vickie, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, and Rey Mysterio, who won the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 22 just one day after Eddie's induction.
A short list of accomplishments for Eddie Guerrero:
- WWE Champion
- 4-time WWE Tag Team Champion
- WWE United States Champion
- 2-time WWF European Champion
- 2-time WWF/E Intercontinental Champion
- 2-time ECW World Television Champion
- 2-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion
- WCW United States Champion
- World Wrestling All-Stars International Cruiserweight Champion
- Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South Heavyweight Champion
- World Wrestling Association Trios Champion
- World Wrestling Association World Welterweight Champion
From Pro Wrestling Illustrated:
- 1999 Comeback of the Year
- 2-time Most Inspirational Wrestler (2002, 2004)
- 2005 Stanley Weston Award
- #2 singles wrestler in the world in 2004
- #81 singles wrestler of the PWI Years in 2003
- #18 tag team of the PWI Years in 2003 (with Art Barr)
From Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
- 5-star match (with Art Barr vs. El Hijo del Santo and Octagon, When Worlds Collide 1994)
- 2-time Feud of the Year (1994 vs. AAA, 1995 vs. Dean Malenko)
- 2-time Tag Team of the Year (1994 with Art Barr, 2002 with Chavo Guerrero)
- 2-time Most Charismatic (2004, 2005)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame Class of 2006
Feel free to share your memories of Eddie Guerrero in the comments.