A Dozen Great Ways to Remember Eddie Guerrero
1) Black Tiger & Great Sasuke vs. Wild Pegasus & Shinjiro Ohtani – Super Junior Tag League Finals (Oct. 16, 1994): Without exaggeration, this is one of the best, and one of the most fun, tag matches of all time. Black Tiger is Eddie, and Pegasus is Benoit, but I’m sure you already know that. This match has four of the best Junior Heavyweight Pro Wrestlers in the world, all entering into a peak period of their careers, just doing everything they can to make the last match of the tournament a memorable one.
2) Black Tiger vs. Pegasus Kid – Top of the Super Junior Semi-Finals (June 11, 1996): This is my favorite Eddie vs. Benoit match, which is really saying something. They build this match around a sleeper hold, of all things, and it works like a charm. Pegasus is the bad guy in this one, and he proves it by constantly trapping Black Tiger in the sleeper every time he gets an opportunity. The live crowd gets right into this simple but effective story, which makes it even more enjoyable to watch on tape.
3) Black Tiger vs. Pegasus Kid – Super J Tournament (April 16, 1994): Yet another great Eddie vs. Benoit match from Japan. This one doesn’t have the great story of their 1996 match, but it is remarkably fast, crisp, hard-hitting, and exciting. The ending is really, really cool as well. These two work as well together as anyone ever has. They had such great chemistry in the ring that it probably wouldn’t be difficult to make a list of their 20 greatest matches against one another.
4) Los Gringos Locos vs. El Hijo Del Santo & Octagon – AAA When Worlds Collide (Nov. 16, 1994): This all time classic Hair vs. Mask match has probably turned more non-lucha-literate fans on to Mexican Pro Wrestling than any other. It’s an untouchable classic, and one of the first matches to show to anyone when you are trying to convince them that Eddie was one of the best Pro Wrestling bad guys of all time. It is awe-inspiring how deeply Guerrero and Barr enrage the crowd by wearing head-to-toe American flag gear, by miming that the audience need to swim across the river to get into the States, and by using the banned-because-it-cripples-people-for-life Piledriver.
5) Lizmark/El Hijo Del Santo/Eddie Guerrero vs. Fuerza Guerrera/Marbunta/Jerry Estrada – AAA (I don’t know the date): I’ve got this match on a faded and worn out copy of a copy of an old Phil Schneider Compilation tape. What’s great about it is that it’s a chance to watch Eddie work as a good guy. As so many people have correctly acknowledged this past week, one of the most remarkable aspects of Eddie’s career was that he was very nearly as awesome wrestling as a technico as he was as a rudo.
6) Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko – ECW 2 out of 3 Falls (August 26, 1995): Proof that a great match doesn’t necessarily have to be about good guys vs. bad guys. In this case, of course, the match was all about respect. The respect that the two wrestlers had for one another, and the respect that the crowd developed for them.
7) Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko – WCW Saturday Nitro out of Los Angeles (I don’t know the date): This is off the same Phil Schneider Compilation as the AAA match. It’s great to watch back to back with the ECW match because in this one it is about good guys vs. bad guys, and Eddie is just so great at being bad. This is grainy hand held footage, and on my copy it’s practically two blobs moving around the ring, but you can still feel the hatred and anger.
8) Eddie vs. Rey – WCW Halloween Havoc (Oct. 26, 1997): The classic mask vs. title match. Amazingly, they manage to build a match that tells o coherent story mainly by stringing outrageous highspots together. The Springboard Reverse DDT is one of the craziest moves I’ve ever seen, but it isn’t even the climax of the match. Unlike a lot of junior type matches, the whole crowd seems to be into every moment of this one. And rightly so.
9) Eddie vs. Shinjiro Ohtani – WCW Starrcade (Dec. 27, 1995): So, we already know that Eddie Guerrero was able to convince pretty much any audience that he was either the biggest bad guy or the greatest good guy that they had ever seen. This is that match that proves he can do the same for other wrestlers, as well. Using little more than subtle mannerisms, Eddie and his opponent managed to quickly convince the crowd that Ohtani was a total dick and Eddie was a heroic underdog. Considering that in 1995 very few American fans had any idea who Ohtani was, this is a remarkable achievement. The match itself is tremendous, Eddie takes the most lethal Dropkick that Ohtani has ever landed, and Dusty is at his unintentionally hilarious best on commentary.
10) Eddie vs. Benoit – WCW Nitro Oct. 16, 1995): This is just a short little TV match, but I love it because it shows that two great wrestlers with real chemistry can put on a match that tells a compelling story even when they are working within those kinds of limits.
11) Eddie vs. Benoit – WCW Nitro (Oct. 20, 1997): This time, they were given more room to work with and built a fantastic wrestling match leading up to a Double KO finish that drove the live crowd crazy. This is yet another example of how Guerrero and Benoit brought out the very best in one another.
12) Eddie vs. Super Crazy – ROH The Era of Honor Begins (Feb. 23, 2003): When Eddie was released from the WWF due to drug problems, he went out, cleaned himself up, went on a tour with New Japan (Including a 45-minute elimination match that would have been #13 on this list), and then came back to the US Indies. Working for Ring of Honor and IWA-Mid South, Eddie put on wrestling clinics every night… that usually ended with him putting a young guy over cleanly. This is the perfect example of that, and it offers further proof – as if any is needed – that Eddie is a class act all the way.
That’s just a dozen of his many great matches, more or less off the top of my head, without even going into his WWF years. I’m sure that someone somewhere has made a list of his run with The Radicalz, the story of Latino Heat and his buff Mamacita, the comeback and his feud with RVD, the jump to SmackDown culminating in the SmackDown Six era, the Guerreros lying, cheating, and stealing, the team with Tajiri, The US Title run, the feuding Guerreros, The spectacular World Title win over Brock, and the feuds with JBL, Rey, and Batista, among many other great memories. Anyway, I can think of no better way to honour Eddie’s memory than to watch a bunch of his great matches and give thanks that we were able to experience them.
The Internet Wrestling Community
The value of the IWC, in my opinion, is in the fact that we are, in a way, a very real and viable community. It meant a great deal to me, on Sunday, to be able to go online and see that I was not alone in feeling a sense of loss. It was totally clear to me this past week that it is genuinely important for so many of us that we have a venue in which to express what we are feeling, and through which we can see that those feelings are shared.
Thank you all.
Not Everyone Feels Like We Do
Sadly, and regrettably, Eddie Guerrero’s death was used as material for cheap attempts at humour by numerous radio ‘personalities.’ Colin Cowherd was the focal point for a lot of our anger, but he was far from being the only offender.
In point of fact, what Cowherd actually said was a great deal less inflammatory and insulting than originally reported.
Here is a link to the sound clip: Cowherd clip.
I think it’s a credit to the IWC that over 9000 people have downloaded this version of the clip already. Before the clip was made available, reports had circulated claiming that Coherd had said, “Who cares if he died?” in relation to Guerrero. That is clearly not true. Still, Cowherd did come across as an insensitive jerk, and on Monday ESPN was flooded with calls and emails. Today they issued a partial apology for Cowherd’s statements.
Howard Stern and Boston’s Dennis and Callahan were among the others who reportedly made light of Eddie’s death. If you’d like to read more, or get email addresses for Dennis and Callahan and their radio station WEEI, please click here.
Some People Have Class
ESPN dot com’s Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, had an infinitely more tasteful take on Eddie’s passing. As did Sporting News’ Chris Russell.
Thanks for reading!
Next Week: I’m off to Japan. Feel free to write, though, I’ll still be checking my email when I can. See you again in about a month!