Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era: #15 – Eddie Guerrero

From second generation superstar to legend, Eddie Guerrero’s legacy continues to grow to this day.

15. EDDIE GUERRERO

Real Name: Eduardo Gory Guerrero Llanes
Aliases: Mascara Magica, Latino Heat; El Gringo Loco; Black Tiger II; El Caliente
Hometown: El Paso, TX
Debut: 1987
Titles Held: AAA World Tag Team (with Art Barr); ECW World Television (2x); IWA Mid-South Heavyweight; LAWA Heavyweight; NJPW Junior Heavyweight Super Grade Tag League Championship (with the Great Sasuke); PWF World Tag Team (with Hector Guerrero); WCW Cruiserweight (2x); WCW United States Heavyweight; WWA International Cruiserweight; WWA World Welterweight; WWA World Trios (with Chavo and Hector Guerrero); WWE Championship; WWE Tag Team (4x – 2 with Chavo Guerrero (Jr.), 1 with Rey Misterio (Jr.), 1 with Tajiri); WWE United States; WWF European (2x)
Other Accomplishments: First WWE United States Champion; Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Feud of the Year award in 1994 (with Art Barr vs. El Hijo del Santo and Octagon); Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Tag Team of the Year award in 1994 (with Art Barr); Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Feud of the Year award in 1995 (vs. Dean Malenko); Winner of PWI Comeback of the Year award in 1999; Winner of PWI Most Inspirational Wrestler award in 2002 and 2004; Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Tag Team of the Year award in 2002 (with Chavo Guerrero); Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Best on Interviews award in 2005; Winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Most Charismatic award in 2005; Ranked #2 in the PWI 500 in 2004; Recipient of PWI Stanley Weston award in 2005; Winner of New Japan Pro Wrestling Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 1996; Author of autobiography Cheating Life, Stealing Death; Eleventh WWE Triple Crown champion; Fifth WWE Grand Slam champion; Recipient of El Paso’s Star of the Mountain award in January of 2006; Inducted to WWE Hall of Fame in 2006; Inducted to Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2006; Inducted to AAA Hall of Fame in 2008

Eddie Guerrero was born to wrestle. As a matter of fact, it was a given that he would. His father, Salvador Guerrero, had been nicknamed “Gory” due to the bloodbaths that his matches usually degenerated into. To this day, Gory is considered one of the greatest luchadors to ever compete due to his skill at wrestling. Two of the holds that he created, the Camel Clutch and Gory Special, are still used regularly to this day.

Gory’s three older sons wrestled as well. Hector, Chavo, and Mando were not only known for competing in Mexico, however. They also competed regularly in various US promotions.

Eddie, however, was quite a bit younger than his brothers. As a matter of fact, his nephew Chavo Jr. was only three years younger than he was. Eddie has told stories of how he and Chavo Jr. used to wrestle each other at Gory’s home while Gory worked as a promoter in El Paso. After wrestling for New Mexico Highlands University in college Eddie returned home to learn the family business.

In 1987 Eddie began wrestling for CMLL under his real name. Eddie had some success in CMLL, taking the hair of Negro Casas, La Fiera, Ari Romero (twice) and Lobo Rubio. CMLL management later gave Eddie a gimmick change – now he would compete as the masked Mascara Magica. In November 1992 Eddie made lucha history.

Mascara Magica jumped from CMLL to Antonio Pena’s upstart promotion AAA. In his first appearance Magica came out, unmasked, and revealed his true identity as the son of Gory Guerrero. This unprecedented act in a sport where masks were revered made an immediate impact. Eddie soon found himself tagging with El Hijo del Santo as La Pareja Atomica (the Atomic Pair). This was in reference to a tag team that both men’s fathers – Gory and El Santo – had been part of decades earlier.

Eddie’s first taste of true international fame came in 1993 when he began competing for New Japan Pro Wrestling as the second Black Tiger where he battled Tiger Mask III, who unmasked as Koji Kanemoto in 1994. 1994 also saw Black Tiger II and the Great Sasuke win the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Super Grade Tag League Title. Eddie went on to take third place in 1994 and 1995’s Best of the Super Junior Tournaments before winning it in 1996.

Back in Mexico, however, a legendary feud was brewing. Eddie had turned on El Hijo del Santo and allied himself with Love Machine Art Barr as La Pareja del Terror. They also added Madonna’s Boyfriend (Louie Spicolli), Konnan, and Chicano Powers under the stable name of Los Gringos Locos. For his part, Hijo del Santo had chosen Octagon for his partner.

This led to Eddie’s debut on American pay-per-view. At November 6, 1994’s When Worlds Collide, Eddie and Art Barr faced Santo and Octagon in a hair vs. masks match. Eddie and Barr lost and had their heads shaved.

The pay-per-view opened another door for Eddie and Barr. ECW’s Paul Heyman saw the show and immediately contacted the two. It was arranged that they would come in to ECW shortly in order to begin feuding with Public Enemy.

However, tragedy would intervene. On November 23 Art Barr was found dead in his apartment. The cause of death was initially ruled an aneurysm, but later reports changed it to unknown causes. Eddie would begin using Barr’s Frog Splash as a finisher in tribute to his late friend.

Eddie made his ECW debut on April 8, 1995’s Three Way Dance. At the show he defeated 2 Cold Scorpio to win the ECW television title. This led into a feud with Dean Malenko, the man that Scorpio had won the title from. Malenko took the title from Eddie on July 21 and Eddie regained it a week later. Eddie lost the title back to Scorpio on August 25th.

The feud with Malenko ended in a two out of three falls match that wound up as a draw. This would also be Eddie’s last match in ECW as both he and Malenko had signed contracts with WCW.

Late in 1995 Eddie began wrestling in WCW dark matches. His debut was on the October 2 Nitro where he defeated Dean Malenko. The next week he defeated Chris Benoit.

On December 18 Eddie found himself wrestling WCW champion Ric Flair. Flair won the match by pinning Eddie with the Figure 4.

Eddie spent much of 1996 chasing the United States title. In September the title was vacated when then-champion Ric Flair suffered a shoulder injury. A tournament was set up to crown a new champion, and at Starrcade Eddie defeated Diamond Dallas Page to claim the title.

Eddie wound up battling such opponents as the Four Horsemen, nWo representative Syxx, and Scott Norton as he defended his title. At March’s Uncensored his reign came to an end at the hands of Dean Malenko. During the match Eddie also tore one of his pectoral muscles and went onto the shelf for three months.

Eddie returned in June and promptly set his sights on both the Horsemen (after his return attack on Dean Malenko) and Cruiserweight champion Chris Jericho. In August, Eddie had unsuccessful attempts to capture Jericho’s title as well as Mongo McMichael’s United States title.

At September’s Fall Brawl Eddie’s luck changed as he defeated Jericho to become the new Cruiserweight champion. Eddie then focused on Rey Misterio Jr. and wound up losing the title to Rey at Halloween Havoc in a mask vs. title match.

Two weeks later Eddie regained the belt by defeating Rey. He held the belt until the December 29 Nitro when he lost the belt to Ultimo Dragon.

Eddie didn’t waste time. He briefly battled Booker T for the Television title and attacked his own nephew Chavo when Chavo laughed at him following a loss. Eddie defeated Chavo in a match that made Chavo his personal slave.

Eddie soon had Chavo facing old foe Ultimo Dragon. Things got strange at Slamboree. Eddie defeated Dragon even though Chavo had tried to help Dragon. After the match, Chavo began to act as if he was becoming unhinged.

At Bash at the Beach, Chavo and Eddie faced each other in a hair vs. hair match. After Eddie won, Chavo seized the clippers and shaved his own head.

Backstage, problems were cropping up between Eddie and Eric Bischoff that culminated in Eddie demanding his release during a live Nitro. Eddie vanished and returned in October to found the latest New World Order knockoff the Latino World Order.

Eddie wound up feuding with Rey Misterio Jr. When Eddie defeated Rey in a match, Rey was forced to join the LWO.

That angle slammed to a halt on New Year’s Eve, 1998. Eddie was in a serious car accident that nearly killed him. He would be absent for months while he recovered.

Eddie returned to action in July and soon joined Konnan and Rey Misterio Jr. in the Filthy Animals. Billy Kidman would soon join as well and the group would begin feuding with Shane Douglas’s Revolution.

Backstage politics again reared their head, however. In January head booker Vince Russo was stripped of power and sent home. Kevin Sullivan gained the position in his place.

At Souled Out Chris Benoit had won the WCW world title. Benoit had married Sullivan’s ex-wife and feared retribution from Sullivan. In addition, several other wrestlers worried about how they would be used under Sullivan. In the end, Benoit, Eddie, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko asked for (and were granted) their releases from WCW.

The January 31 Raw opened with Head Cheese taking on the New Age Outlaws for the WWF World Tag Team titles. Suddenly the camera revealed Eddie, Benoit, Saturn, and Malenko in the front row. The four got involved with a brawl and their WWF tenure had begun.

The four allied with Cactus Jack and it was announced on Smackdown that there would be a gauntlet of three matches to decide whether they got WWF contracts or not.

In the first match, X-Pac defeated Dean Malenko. The second saw Eddie and Saturn vs. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. Again, things didn’t go as planned. Eddie was still rehabbing an earlier arm injury and landed his frog splash awkwardly enough to damage his left elbow. Dogg pinned Guerrero quickly to end the match and allow Eddie to get medical attention.

On Raw, the four gained WWF contracts anyway by turning on Cactus Jack and allying with D-Generation X.

Eddie’s eye soon landed on Chyna and he began pursuing her. After Wrestlemania the two became a couple. On April 3, Eddie (with Chyna’s help) defeated Chris Jericho to capture the European title.

Eddie kept the title until July when former Radical stable-mate Perry Saturn defeated him to capture the gold.

However, problems were beginning to appear in Eddie’s relationship with Chyna. At Summerslam Chyna won the Intercontinental title. On the September 4 Raw, Eddie defeated Kurt Angle and Chyna to win the belt. Eddie told Chyna it was an accidentally win, but he celebrated behind her back.

While this was going on Eddie was also growing more and more jealous of the fact that Chyna was preparing to pose for Playboy. The relationship finally ended when Chyna caught Eddie in the shower with two of the Godfather’s hos.

Eddie rejoined the Radicalz and they resumed a feud with DX. On the November 23 Smackdown Chyna helped Billy Gunn defeat Eddie for the Intercontinental title.

However, problems were once again brewing backstage. Following his car accident Eddie had grown more and more dependent on painkillers. In late May Eddie was “injured” by Albert to explain his absence as he went to rehab.

Eddie completed his rehab period and was being phased back into the WWF house show schedule while he was also wrestling for Cincinnati’s Heartland Wrestling Association.

On November 9th Eddie fell off the wagon and wound up arrested for DUI. Three days later he was released by the WWF.

Eddie decided to pick himself up and began working independent dates. With dates for Ring of Honor, Australia’s WWA, and IWA Mid-South, Eddie rebuilt his name and his reputation by putting on excellent matches against foes like Low-Ki, Super Crazy, CM Punk, and Rey Misterio Jr.

Eddie’s hard work paid off as he was re-signed in April of 2002. On April 27 he and the Amazing Red teamed to face the Maximos at “A Night of Appreciation.” After the match, the ROH roster came out to pay their respects to Eddie.

On April 1, 2002, however, Eddie had made his return to the WWE by jumping Rob Van Dam after a match on Raw to start a feud. The feud grew as at April 21st’s Backlash PPV Eddie defeated RVD to recapture the Intercontinental title. In May, after retaining the title against RVD, Eddie attacked Stone Cold Steve Austin in a bar. This helped wrap the RVD feud as Eddie lost a ladder match to RVD on May 27th that saw Austin attack Eddie and Chris Benoit come to the defense of his friend. Unfortunately, shortly after the Austin feud started Austin decided to leave the WWE, also leaving Eddie directionless apart from his tag team with Benoit.

In August, Eddie and Benoit were sent to Smackdown. They got off to an incredible start by defeating a team composed of Hulk Hogan and the Rock on their first night.

This also ushered in an era known as the Smackdown Six by wrestling fans. The Six were Eddie, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Edge, Benoit, Kurt Angle, and Rey Misterio. The way the Six earned their name was because whenever fans saw one of these six men in a match, they knew it would be a good one regardless of who their opponent was.

Chris Benoit soon began to turn his focus to Kurt Angle, so Eddie began tagging with his nephew Chavo as Los Guerreros. Vignettes were produced around the team’s catchphrase “we lie, we cheat, we steal.”

In October, the Guerreros were eliminated from the WWE Tag Team title tournament by Angle and Benoit, although a week later they earned another title shot. At Survivor Series, the Guerreros won a triple threat match against the champions and the team of Edge and Rey Misterio to win the belts.

As 2003 dawned, Eddie also was feuding with John Cena and his ally B-2 (the former Bull Buchanan). Eddie finally got the win, but another challenge was already on the horizon.

On February 6, Eddie and Chavo’s reign came to an end at the hands of Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas). Eddie and Chavo lost a rematch at Wrestlemania, but were still undeterred. The feud escalated going into May as the Guerreros stole the tag team belts. On the May 3 Smackdown, they returned the belts and stole Kurt Angle’s gold medals.

At Judgment Day on May 18, Eddie was at a severe disadvantage. He and Chavo had earned a rematch against Team Angle, but Chavo had torn his bicep and was sidelined for six months. Eddie selected a new tag team partner – Tajiri – and we had our match. When the dust cleared, Eddie and Tajiri held the belts.

Team Angle kept trying to regain the titles. Finally on July 3 they found Eddie and Tajiri’s weak spot. During the match, Tajiri landed on the hood of Eddie’s lowrider. Eddie freaked out and rushed to check on his car while Team Angle pinned Tajiri to win the match and the belts. After the match Eddie snapped and assaulted Tajiri, finally throwing him through the windshield of the car and turning heel in the process.

With the tag team belts gone, Eddie’s attention shifted to Chris Benoit’s United States title. On July 27 at Vengeance Eddie defeated Benoit (with help from Rhyno) to win the belt.

However, John Cena soon resurfaced and targeted Eddie, even going so far as to steal Eddie’s lowrider (which of course returned Eddie to the face side). Eddie was set to take on Cena in a street fight on the September 11 Smackdown. Eddie won the match after Chavo returned and the two cousins made sure Cena lost.

Eddie became a double champion a week later as he and Chavo once again defeated Haas and Benjamin (now calling themselves the World’s Greatest Tag Team) to recapture the tag team belts.

October would prove to be a bad month for Eddie. At No Mercy, Eddie lost the US title to the Big Show. That same week on Smackdown the Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny) took the tag belts away.

Chavo was furious. He finally told Eddie that he was sick of how Eddie was letting the team down. Eddie tried to apologize and wound up attacked by the Bashams for his trouble.

In January tensions continued to grow between Eddie and Chavo with Kurt Angle having to keep them apart at the first Smackdown of the year. On the 15th, after Chavo had busted Eddie open the week before, Chavo’s father Chavo Sr. appeared on Smackdown. He addressed his brother and apologized for what Chavo Jr. had done. Chavo Jr. then attacked Eddie and his father joined in.

At the January 29 Smackdown things turned around for Eddie as he won a mini-Royal Rumble and was guaranteed a title shot against Brock Lesnar at No Way Out.

Eddie capitalized on his opportunity and won the belt. Soon after, however, Kurt Angle started setting his sights on the champion. This culminated at Wrestlemania XX when Eddie defeated Kurt Angle to retain the belt.

Eddie soon ran roughshod over Smackdown with his trademark style. He defeated the Big Show in a loser leaves the WWE match. However, a feud with the rich JBL beckoned, especially after Bradshaw began insulting Eddie’s Hispanic heritage.

At Judgment Day, Eddie retained the title over Bradshaw in a bloodbath. The match was so bloody that after the match Eddie reportedly went into shock and had to be rushed to the hospital.

At the Great American Bash a month later Bradshaw captured the belt from Eddie. Their feud ended with a cage match that Bradshaw won with help from Kurt Angle. This exposed that an injury of Angle’s that had confined him to a wheelchair as fake. This caused Vince McMahon to strip Angle of his duties as Smackdown GM.

Eddie and Angle feuded with Eddie even going so far as to auction off the contents of Angle’s office. Angle retaliated by having Luther Reigns in his corner as backup. On the September 16 Smackdown Eddie got his own backup as the Big Show returned and began feuding with Angle.

After this, Eddie began tagging with Rey Misterio. On February 20, Eddie and Rey defeated the Basham Brothers to win the belts.

However, Chavo soon began getting into Eddie’s head to try and turn Eddie against Rey. After a few miscues, Eddie wound up challenging Rey to a match at Wrestlemania that, he claimed, was only in the spirit of competition.

At Wrestlemania, Rey defeated a notably-irritated Eddie. Things only grew worse following, as both partners would attempt to help out during a match only to wind up costing their partner the match.

Finally things came to a head on April 28. MNM captured the tag team titles by pinning Rey after Eddie refused to tag in. The next week Eddie assaulted Rey and then began pinning opponents (including Jimmy Jacobs) after pulling Rey’s mask over their heads.

As the feud went on, Eddie kept finding himself unable to defeat Misterio. Finally Eddie said that he would reveal a secret of Rey’s past – something that had Rey doing whatever Eddie wanted to prevent that.

This culminated at the Great American Bash. Eddie lost a match and the stip was that Eddie could never reveal the secret.

However, that didn’t mean much to someone whose motto was to lie, cheat, and steal. Eddie promptly revealed the secret anyway – that he was the father of Rey’s son Dominic.

This led to Eddie filing paperwork to take custody of Dominic. At Summerslam, Rey defeated Eddie in a ladder match to retain custody. The feud ended on September 9 when Eddie defeated Rey in a cage match.

The next week Eddie found himself promoted to the #1 contender’s spot to Batista’s world heavyweight title. At No Mercy Batista defeated Eddie, but Eddie defeated Randy Orton by DQ to again become the #1 contender.

On November 13, 2005 Eddie Guerrero passed away from heart failure. His nephew Chavo had attempted to check on him and discovered the body.

Eddie Guerrero’s contributions to professional wrestling will never be forgotten. He carried the banner of his family high throughout his career.

Although Eddie’s career had its highs and lows, he never gave up. At his career (and life’s) lowest point, he focused on overcoming his obstacles and returning to the career he loved. His heart and determination drove him to success and one of the WWE’s highest prizes.

His sudden death only cemented his place as one of the most athletic and beloved competitors in wrestling. And his tradition lives on as Chavo Guerrero Jr. has adopted the frog splash as one of his trademark moves in honor of Eddie, just as Eddie had done for Art Barr.

Eddie has done what few other wrestlers have done. He successfully crossed over from lucha libre to American pro-wrestling. He worked in each of the Big Three (WWF, WCW, and ECW) and held titles in each. When he passed away, it was acknowledged literally worldwide from the US to Mexico to England (where Vampiro paid tribute to his friend). Even TNA, where Eddie had never worked, paid tribute to him before their pay-per-view that night. The WWE’s next week of programming was devoted solely to paying tribute to him.

Eddie also had that special knack to take a ridiculous gimmick (such as one where he was working to earn his GED) and was still able to get it over with a crowd with his sheer charisma and personality. For that, Eddie has earned his place not only in this top 100 list, but also in wrestling history itself.

The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.

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