I’ve been meaning to write this column for a while now, but I was concerned that it might be misunderstood. Eddie Guerrero’s death was tragic and untimely. I was moved by his recent triumphs over his “demons” and I felt a great deal of sorrow that his family and friends would now have to go on without him. Days after his passing, I documented my feelings about Guerrero’s death in my column.
A hero, a man who lost everything in his life and then fought to recover all of it and more, was taken away from those who loved and admired him, and taken far too soon. That much is true, without a doubt.
TODAY’S ISSUE: The use of Eddie Guerrero’s name and memory in storylines.
Obviously, people like Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit, were hit harder than most by Guerrero’s death, as expected. They were his family (literally and figuratively). They were his brothers-in-arms and closest friends in the wrestling business. I even called for a push of Chavo, since the fans seemed desperate to support him in a quest to bring glory to his uncle’s name one last time.
I’m quite certain that each of them wanted to express their sorrow over Eddie’s death, and do something special in the ring, in front of Eddie’s millions of fans, to honor his memory and pay tribute to him.
If that were all that happened, I wouldn’t have written this column. But WWE took it a step further. Then another step, and another. They started making Eddie himself the focal point of angles and storylines. Whether it was meant to exploit emotions of performers and audiences, or if it was a genuine attempt to honor Guerrero, I honestly don’t know. I do know that it went from beautiful to questionable, at least for me.
I started to feel uneasy when Rey Mysterio called to Eddie during a match against The Big Show, in a pre-planned spot that was clearly meant to be noticed by the audience. Rey’s character was in trouble in the match, and he wanted Eddie’s spirit to strengthen him, I suppose. It seemed Rey was trying to cash in on fans’ sympathies to make a touching moment, and it wasn’t in keeping with the tradition of honor among warriors. It was over the top. Dedicating a match to a fallen comrade is one thing, but seeking his spiritual aid in a scripted scene simply seems wrong.
Rey (certainly on orders from WWE management) just refused to let it go. He dedicated his efforts in the Royal Rumble match to Eddie, which by itself might have been fine. But then he also joked about his unfortunate draw, having to start the match at the very beginning and survive all other 29 opponents in order to win. He implied that Eddie had a hand in Rey’s drawing number 2, saying directly to Eddie on camera, “You got me good, Eddie!”, as if Rey’s entry selection number was a final prank by Eddie, the master prankster himself.
After winning the match and earning a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania 22, Rey was goaded into defending his very WrestleMania title match by Randy Orton. This challenge came when Orton interrupted Mysterio during his “emotional” speech the first SmackDown! after the Royal Rumble ppv. As a typical heel, Orton manipulated Mysterio into the match at the No Way Out ppv in which the WrestleMania title shot would be up for grabs (that is what heels do, after all). He used time-honored heel tactics by decrying the emotion and joy of Mysterio’s moment. Orton claimed that looking upwards to the Heavens was NOT the way to seek counsel from Guerrero. Rather, Mysterio should look for Eddie in Hell, because according to Orton, Hell was surely where Eddie could be found.
Here’s where things get really outlandish. The fans of course shit on Orton’s comments, as they should have. His words were callous, rude, and insensitive. But they were just words! Look, if Orton (the character, not the actor behind the role) doesn’t think Eddie Guerrero is a saint, that’s his prerogative. Since Orton made those comments and manipulated Mysterio into the match at No Way Out, the SmackDown!, commentators Michael Cole and Used-To-Be-Cool Tazz have acted like Orton is worse than Hitler, Charles Manson, and Jeffrey Dahmer combined.
Their comments have included the following:
“He’s a low-life. I hope he does have a concussion.”
“How dare he make such disgusting comments?”
“Randy Orton is a poor excuse for a human being!”
“He deserves to have it stuck up his backside by Theodore Long!”
As far as Cole and Tazz are concerned, a lifetime in prison would be too good for Orton. Isn’t this America? Doesn’t the First Amendment not only give us all the right to HAVE our own opinions, but to EXPRESS those opinions as well? It’s not like Orton said that Guerrero’s death was a good thing, or that he wants all Eddie’s friends and family to die, too. He just stated that the Eddie Guerrero character was no saint, and let’s be honest, he wasn’t. The character was well known for “lying, cheating, and stealing”. In fact, it was perhaps one of his strongest attributes.
Lest we forget, the last main storyline between Eddie and Rey which lasted the better part of a year involved Eddie manipulating his own family and Rey’s, trying to take Rey’s son away from him, and crowing over the fact that Rey’s son was actually Eddie’s own illegitimate son, conceived while Eddie was still married to Vickie. Can’t you imagine how a snotty heel like Randy Orton, who witnessed all of this first hand, might possibly think Eddie didn’t make it through the Pearly Gates?
Speaking of Vickie, she and Chavo were there at the No Way Out ppv to support Mysterio. While Chavo’s presence seemed fitting, I thought it was too much to drag poor Vickie out to the arena. Then on the first SmackDown! after the ppv, Mysterio apologized to Vickie for losing the match, as if Mysterio’s pro wrestling success on ANY level can somehow bring her comfort. What does Vickie Guerrero care who holds what title in the WWE?
If Mysterio competing in the main event of WrestleMania 22 was going to provide Eddie’s spirit peace or something, Rey would never have allowed Orton’s comments to push him into the match to begin with. Also, please notice that heels cheat in every match they’re involved in, but since Orton cheated in THIS match, he’s “absolutely despicable” according to Cole and Tazz. Again, if Rey competing in the main event in Chicago was somehow
Again, I feel it’s important to point out that I am not saying anything negative about Eddie, his family, or his friends. I think the WWE Creative Department really needs to wrap up the active storyline that current revolves around Guerrero, and move on to other things. Honor him, remember him and cherish his memory, but please don’t make him a focal point of any more wrestling angles. It feels cheep, and in bad taste. Eddie Guerrero was a great man. He was a husband, a father and a friend. He was not a plot device.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
p.s. – As I did when Eddie Guerrero passed away, I’ll forgo the stupid observation this week. I hope WWE allows Guerrero to rest in peace.