|Odds are that you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news on November 13, 2005. |
I do. I certainly do.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and I hopped on the net to check my mail and see what was going on in the world of wrestling. There was lots of comedy taking place about this time: Jillian Hall’s mole had just debuted; WWE was in a mad scramble to find a replacement for Jim Ross (yes, again); and Steve Austin, after being asked to job to Jonathan Coachman (yes, as in THE COACH) had just left the company (yes, uh, again). Lots of good WrestleCrap material, to be sure. Stuff that we could laugh about for weeks.
“WWE is deeply saddened by the news that Eddie Guerrero has passed away. He was found dead this morning in his hotel room in Minneapolis. Eddie is survived by his wife Vickie and daughters Shaul, 14, Sherilyn, 9, and Kaylie Marie, 3.”
My heart just collapsed into my chest. It wasn’t possible; it couldn’t be possible. I had just watched him on Smackdown a couple of days earlier. How could this great star, who seemingly was in the midst of yet another career revival, be taken away from us?
More likely, you were hoping to find verification that it WAS a rumor, a horrible prank gone wrong.
And then, when you saw it confirmed on site after site, you probably, like me, just sat and wept.
All the funny stuff I was looking for, the Austin stuff, Jillian’s mole…it wasn’t so funny anymore. WrestleCrap was out the window; in its place, the most horrible of tragedies.
Truly, this is not the case. I understand why all of you who voted for the exploitation of Eddy Guerrero did so; I may not agree with it, and I may – no, make that I DO – wish that I had never offered it up as a nominee for the infamous Gooker Award. I always want WrestleCrap to be a home for comedy, a place you can come on Fridays, unwind and get ready for the weekend with a cheap laugh.
Such won’t be the case today. Instead, you’ll likely get pissed off and just sit and shake your head in anger. I can almost guarantee you as I work on this, I will.
On the marquee of this site, it says, “The Very Worst of Professional Wrestling.” Truly, this induction is the very embodiment of that tagline. The seemingly never ending exploitation of the late, great Eddie Guerrero is the absolute worst of pro wrestling, bar none.
I just wish I didn’t have to write about it.
But I will. Yes, I will. Because it is important that we remember Eddie, and it is important to see how those involved in WWE decision making remember him. And I hope that somewhere, somewhere within WWE, those that have been involved with this most tasteless of storylines takes just a minute to step back and realize what they’ve put all of their most hardcore fans through. And when they recollect it, I hope they think twice about ever doing something like it in the future.
Before I continue, please note – there will be no pictures or sound clips in this induction. To do so, I’d have to go back and re-watch all of this stuff that made me sick to my stomach in the first place. I will not subject myself – or you – to that again.
The day after Eddie Guerrero’s passing, those within WWE were in a total state of shock, devastated more than any of us were, to be sure. After all, they worked with the man on a daily basis, whereas we just watched his exploits on TV.
And let it be known, for the record, that I believe WWE did a very classy tribute to their fallen competitor. The show opened with a fantastic video of Eddie clips, set to the Johnny Cash tune “Hurt.” Following that, various WWE performers talked about their memories of Eddie; nearly all were in tears. In particular, his good friend Chris Benoit couldn’t contain himself, and gave a truly fitting eulogy to his long-time running buddy. That…that was so hard to watch. It was something that most assuredly I will never, ever forget.
And then there was WWE’s head of creative, Stephanie McMahon. Now I’ve picked on Steph in the past, dubbing her “Nipple H” and mocking her at pretty much every turn. But on this night, she was like the rest of us: absolutely devastated. She openly wept as she talked about how Eddie’s number one priority was his family, and, as a father of a newborn at the time, I was touched by the sincerity of her words.
And then 2006 hit. And I wonder…how could someone who said such things have later greenlighted some of the absolute garbage shown on WWE television?
November 29, 2005: Smackdown:
Sitting on the stage of the Smackdown set is a low-rider. Not just any low-rider, we are informed, but an “Eddie Guerrero Memorial Low-Rider”. That’s odd, but I guess it’s ok.
Or it was, until Randy Orton beat the Undertaker with a tire iron, threw him in the back of it, then crashed it into an electrical area, destroying both the vehicle and presumably killing the Undertaker. Just in case there was some doubt as to what was going on, the following week on Smackdown, Randy Orton said, and I quote, “I killed him. I killed the Undertaker!”
Oh, one other quick thing of note – about this time, the WWE Shopzone website also began running banner ads with Eddie, with the slogan “Viva La Savings!”
Two weeks. All this happened a mere two weeks after the real-life Eddie Guerrero had DIED.
December 18, 2005: Armageddon:
Yet another “death angle”, this time in the name of comedy. We guess.
Tim White, long-time WWE official, had hit the skids, and decided to take his own life. He appeared on screen with a shotgun, and then the camera panned away as a blast was heard. Undeterred, the commentary team rambled on about whatever match was taking place, with the “joke” being that White had actually shot his foot by accident.
Knowing how furious fans were at this, White’s website, friendlytap.com, posted the following: “Unfortunately, with the recent passing of WWE Superstar (and friend of Tim White) Eddie Guerrero, people have been outraged at what transpired. Please be aware, that sometimes storylines are created over a long period of time. Just because this angle happened after the death of Eddie Guerrero doesn’t mean that Tim or the WWE is disrespecting his memory.”
I guess it was important that this storyline go on, as it had apparently been planned beforehand. This being such an important storyline, which would lead to huge matches for WWE, it is understandable.
December 9, 2005: Smackdown:
The Undertaker-Orton feud continues on, as the Undertaker, like a phoenix, rises from the ashes and begins playing “mind games” with his nemesis. One such mind game saw Orton revisiting the Hogan-Warrior magic mirror, with equally craptastic results. Another saw Orton’s dad Bob talking like the Undertaker. Captivating stuff.
On this night, however, Undertaker tormented Orton with a video package which included all of his previous victims in the ring. Footage was shown of Taker hanging Big Bossman (yes, with a noose).
You might recall that Bossman, aka Ray Traylor, passed away just a year prior.
February 3, 2006: Smackdown:
Some may feel we are being too broad, pointing out other tasteless angles in this induction. Fine. Let’s get back to Eddie then.
Rey Mysterio wins the Royal Rumble, and is headed to WrestleMania to attempt to win the World title in honor of Eddie. As he makes a speech, he is interrupted by Orton, who says, and we quote, “Eddie ain’t in heaven. Eddie’s down there – in hell.” He would later in the interview state that Rey had as much chance of beating him as Eddie had of coming back to life.
I’d like to now quote from my good friend Bryan Alvarez in the February 13, 2006 edition of Figure Four Weekly:“I should note that I have heard from several people who have noted that their friends believe this whole thing is an angle, that Eddy Guerrero is not really dead and is going to be coming back soon. Please think about this for awhile. The thing that really strikes me now is the fact that in the world of WWE, Eddy Guerrero is still a character; a MAIN CHARACTER, in fact. Here is a man who has really died yet is still the top star on both the Raw and Smackdown rosters, and he is being played by Rey Misterio now. It is SO bizarre, and so weird, and really quite uncomfortable.”
And it would only get worse, ironically, as Rey achieved his dream and became World champion on WWE’s biggest show of the year.
June 30, 2006: Smackdown:
It should be noted, however, that Rey was without question the worst booked champion in wrestling history. He lost match after match, and was never made to look like a threat to anyone. And when we say he lost continually, he didn’t just lose to main eventers. He was losing – via clean pins, mind you – to folks like Mark Henry.
And yes, indeed, Rey versus Mark Henry was a feud, one now involving Eddie’s nephew, Chavo. Henry summed up Chavo by stating that he was a parasite on the Guerrero name, and telling Chavo point blank, “I spit on the Guerrero name. I spit on you. And if your Uncle Eddie were alive, I’d spit on him, too.”
August 04 , 2006: Smackdown:
So Chavo gets involved, and what happens?
If you guessed Chavo, Eddie’s nephew, would turn heel, step right up and claim your prize. Chavo’s explanation: “Rey Mysterio is a thief. Let me tell you what he stole. He tried to steal the spotlight, my spotlight. He did everything he could to tie himself to Eddie Guerrero because Rey couldn’t stand on his own two feet. I saved you from losing your title over and over. He used the Guerrero name… I’m the Guerrero Rey, not you. Rey, you didn’t just steal Eddie from me, you didn’t just steal him from the Guerrero family, you stole the memory of Eddie from each and every one of those people out there. You’re nothing but a leech living off the blood of the Guerrero name.”
And just when you thought it would never end, it didn’t – as no less than Vickie Guerrero, Eddie’s widow, raced down to the ring and attempted to separate the men.
Well, at least they didn’t do something really dumb, like make Eddie’s widow a heel or something.
August 25 , 2006: Smackdown:
So now Vickie Guerrero turns heel, clobbering Rey with a steel chair.
I could spend the next 5,000 words explaining how idiotic this was, but really, I feel as though I am beating you over the head with not only the tastelessness of this angle by this point, but the stupidity of it as well.
At least kids weren’t involved.
September 15 , 2006: Smackdown:
Rey’s son Dominick appears on WWE TV. Remember Dominick? The kid that Eddy claimed was his own son because Rey was impotent? What a great angle that was.
Anyway, Dominick shows up and cheers Rey on, only to later start hanging out with Vickie and Chavo. Amazingly, given everything else, this storyline was basically dropped without further mention.
And when you come to think about it, “amazing” is probably an understatement given the rest of this horrific angle. Heck, I half-expected them to show Dominick taking a piss on Eddie’s grave.
October 13, 2006: Smackdown:
Chavo, having been defeated twice by Rey, demands yet another match in this feud that would never end. Rey refuses. Vickie Guerrero then states, and we quote, “The difference between my Eddie and you Rey is that Eddie had balls.”
Chavo would defeat Rey and force him into “retirement.” Finally, this horrid feud and storyline was at an end.
December 11, 2006: Smackdown:
Except, of course, it wasn’t.
The feud simply switched from Chavo/Vickie vs. Rey to Chavo/Vickie vs. Chris Benoit. And all the other stuff, with Eddie’s name on nearly every single telecast and all that crap? All still here.
At this point, I seriously don’t know that the tastelessness will ever end. It seems WWE is very happy just continuing this story, dragging a great performer’s name through the mud ’til the end of time.
And screw those who say it’s in bad taste; there’s money to be made.
As I wrap this up, I just want to address those that defend this storyline by saying, “This is something Eddie would have wanted. He would have wanted to be remembered.” Rey himself has even said this in interviews.
But let’s be real. What is Rey, a WWE employee, going to say? Or Chavo? Or Vickie, who is attempting to make up for Eddy’s income? They’re not going to come out and say, “This is horrible, I hate Vince for making us do this.” They’re just going to do whatever they’re told as they attempt to support their families.
Look, I cannot speak for Eddie Guerrero. I never met the man. But I will retell a story of something that Eddie did that may make you think twice about your justification. Before Eddie hit it big in the states, he was a tag team wrestler with a man by the name of Art Barr. Long-time Crappers will recall that this man was WCW’s Juicer, a take-off on the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton flick Beetlejuice. Following his stint in WCW, Barr went to Mexico and became a star as the “Love Machine”, and formed a fantastic tag team with Eddie Guerrero, Los Gringos Locos. The way the duo was tearing it up south of the border had all the major promotions interested in bringing them in. Sadly, it never happened as Barr passed away on November 23, 1994, leaving Eddie a solo act.
Although Eddie was asked on numerous occasions to do angles that would have brought up his deceased partner, he always refused. The one concession he did make, however, was to use Barr’s finisher, the Frog Splash, as his own as a tribute. He never did an interview stating why he did it; he simply did it out of love for his late friend.
Obviously, thousands of you weren’t either.