At first, I wasn’t going to write anything about Eddie Guerrero for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that a lot of my colleagues here on IP have done a tremendous job giving eulogies and expressing sentiments that I felt one more would be overkill. I also didn’t feel like I had anything interesting or special to say that hadn’t been expressed by everyone else. Sure, I’m sad about it … sure, it’s left me speechless, staring at a blank computer screen … and if you read my colleagues, you’ll see everyone has been hit by the very same problem: a lack of coherent thoughts, and an overwhelming sense of loss, with a little bit of rage mixed in. I’m certainly not unique in that, and until or unless I felt I had something specific to say, I thought I’d pay my respects in private.
And then, my wife and I had a disagreement over why one goes to a funeral or a memorial service; she holds the belief that one attends a service to show support for the living. I contend it is to pay respects to the dead. Neither of us is 100% right, really; people go for the reasons they want to. The issue is not cut and dry. There are no rules for the mourning of a loss, and when the lost is a beloved public figure, the non-rules become even less clear. We agreed to disagree, but it got me thinking about Eddie Guerrero, and how he will have had two memorial services: one, very private ceremony for Eduardo Guerrero, and one very public ceremony on television, for Eddie Guerrero.
So, here we are, a group of wrestling fans with varying likes and dislikes, all united over one thing: a strange, silent, awe-struck form of mourning over Eddie Guerrero, struck down at the pinnacle of his career, likely only hours away from regaining the industry’s top prize, the World Heavyweight Championship. As Eric made mention of on Sunday, the death is even harder to process since there is no singular source we can point a finger at and scream “YOU STOLE OUR BELOVED PERFORMER!” … no faulty safety harness, no bottle of pills, no killer’s hand … nothing. And it gets all the more painful (as if it needed any help in that arena) when one factors in the miraculous turnaround Eddie had made with his personal life … his passing almost becomes ironic, and surely it becomes insulting.
And what we are left with is a misplaced anger at fate for snuffing out the light of a candle that had a lot more wick to burn … a bizarre form of mourning for a man we never knew, a performer who felt like a best friend … a deeply-rooted confusion on how a man who had overcome so many personal obstacles could be rewarded for his hard work with an early demise. There is no sense, no rhyme or reason to find buried somewhere in the events that have transpired since Sunday morning. If there is, it seems to be “Life’s a bitch, and you’ll never know why.”
I was in the car, out shopping with my wife, her mother and a few relatives when I found out (well, truthfully, the mother-in-law and relatives were in the store … I’d hung back in the car because craft stores aren’t my idea of a good time). My best friend, spiritual brother, and IP newsboard poster (when he isn’t the second-laziest man alive) Kurtis Osterlund called and told me the news; he felt that, if I hadn’t already stumbled upon the nasty surprise online, which I hadn’t, I deserved to hear about it from someone who would share the feelings the news would undoubtedly stir in me. My first reaction was disbelief, naturally; my second was shame. Eddie Guerrero had been one my favorite performers since I first saw him in 1996, in WCW. I wasn’t a smark then … I knew it was all fake, but the inner workings and politics were still a ways off for me … and yet, for some reason, I cheered for Eddie. I’ve done it for 9 years … and yet, when they released his DVD some months ago, I didn’t jump on it. I can’t say why I didn’t, but I didn’t. And so here I am, a long-time Eddie fan with no Eddie in my DVD library save the scattered match or two on the collections of other people. I wanted to rush right out and get the DVD so I could honor Eddie in the only way a fan like me could: by remembering the good times through his five-star in-ring work. I still haven’t managed to get it … with a pregnant wife, money is a precious substance that can’t be tossed around lightly. I will get it eventually, and I will treasure it, as I treasure all the fond memories I have of Eddie … the “Mamacita” era … the “Lie, Cheat, Steal” promos … the amazing matches in WCW … seeing the only (to the best of my knowledge) Eddie Guerrero vs. Triple H singles match live in person … the hilarious antics he pulled earlier this year at a Smackdown house show.
I will not anchor my memories with the tragedy of his early death, for a man’s life is not measured in his manner of death.
I will not tie my remembrances to his problems with drugs and alcohol, for a man is much more then his failures. Only a failure should be judged by his failures, and Eddie Guerrero was far from a failure.
I will remember former WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero as the success story he was: the only luchadore to win a world championship. The purveyor of Latino Heat. The man who made it alright to lie, cheat and steal. The man who defied odds on all sides rose to the top of the industry.
And I will also be thankful that I got to know the man at all … that Vicki and her three daughters sacrificed so much time with their husband/father so that 10 million strangers could enjoy his company through a TV screen or a sporting arena. To them, I send my eternal thanks, and my most heart-felt condolences. Our loss as fans is nothing compared to yours.
And my eternal thanks go out, of course, Eddie Guerrero himself … thank you for nine years of some of the best professional wrestling I could ever hope to see. I’ll get that DVD soon, Eddie … you and me, we’ll have some fun again.
I see the storm is getting closer …
And the waves, they get so high …
Seems everything we’ve ever known’s here …
Why must it drift away and die?
–Guns ‘n’ Roses, Estranged
RIP Eddie Guerrero.