It’s Been 14 Years Since The Untimely Death Of Wrestling Icon Eddie Guerrero And His Legacy Is More Relevant Today Than Ever
Today marks 14 years since the untimely passing of Latino wrestling icon Eddie Guerrero. Many fans can remember the exact moment when they heard the news that the 38-year-old wrestler was found unconscious in his hotel room. It was untimely and it came out of nowhere.
For me, it was the first huge celebrity death I could recall that emotionally affected me. I was just 10 years old at the time but it felt like I lost a family member that I never met. Guerrero was one of the few wrestlers that embraced his background and spoke Spanish in the ring. He turned stereotypical Latino gimmicks like his ‘Lie Cheat & Steal’ persona into his own. More than a decade after his death, his legacy shines brighter than ever and is an icon not only in the world of wrestling but for Latinos.
Eddie Guerrero passed away on November 13, 2005. It was a day many wrestling fans can remember as an end of an era for a star that left way too early.
To understand the importance of Eddie Guerrero you must start with his humble beginnings as a young wrestler. As part of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family, Eddie followed in the footsteps of his brothers and father and went to Mexico to wrestle. After a few years in the indie wrestling scene, Eddie would make his way through New Japan Pro Wrestling ( NJPW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), wearing multiple championship belts along the way.
It was in WWE that Eddie made that big leap to wrestling stardom. He enjoyed success in the company in the early 2000s but that would come to an end when he was arrested for drunk driving on November 9, 2001. The company would release Guerrero just three days later. He would use this as motivation to make an eventual return to WWE, who rehired him a year after his arrest. This second chance was an opportunity for Eddie to not only prove to himself but to fans that he could live up to his name that for years followed him.
Thanks in part to his unmatched charisma and lovable personality, Eddie quickly became a fan favorite in 2003. Teaming up with his nephew Chavo, they formed the tag team Los Guerreros and became a force in the company. The duo embraced common Latino cliches and produced skits that showcased their unique personalities. Whether it was the “Latino Heat” persona or him coming out to the ring in a shiny low rider, Eddie became a star in just a few years in the company and Latino fans like myself connected to him. Maybe it was that he sounded like us or that he looked like he could have been your uncle. Either way, he was becoming a star right before our eyes.
Eddie reached the pinnacle of his wrestling career on on February 15, 2004 when he defeated Brock Lesnar to become WWE champion.
Eddie became WWE champion by defeating Brock Lesnar in what would become the signature match of his career. It’s a day that stands alone in the world of wrestling and a moment that you can argue stands up there with other Mexican-American sport achievements. It was significant because of how far Eddie had fallen just a few years earlier and how he was a heavy underdog entering the match. While his title reign would only last a few months, Eddie had become a household name and was revered like no other Latino wrestler was in years.
Unfortunately, things would change over the next year for Eddie as his role as a main event wrestler changed. In 2005, Eddie become tag team champions with another rising Latino star in Rey Mysterio and even later feud with him. By the end of the year, his dark past would return. Eddie was found unconscious in his hotel room by his nephew Chavo. When paramedics arrived at the scene, Eddie was already declared dead. It would later be known that he had died due to the result of acute heart failure.
The wrestling world was left with a huge void that many argue is still being felt today. Fans pay tribute every year to the legacy of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
At the time of his death, Twitter didn’t exist and the only place where wrestling fans could find out about his passing were blogs. I logged onto WWE.com on that Sunday afternoon to see the words “Eddie Guerrero October 9, 1967 – November 13, 2005.” Like other fans, I couldn’t believe the news that one of the greatest wrestlers in the sport was gone. More importantly, Eddie was one of our own and he represented Latinos every time he took to the ring. That’s why 14 years later the name Eddie is relevant to so many and is celebrated annually.
Many took to Twitter to pay tribute to Eddie and speak about the impact he had on their lives. One person wrote “I am not who I am without you. 14 years and I still remember you like you never left. To the man that gave me purpose, gave me hope – I can never repay you. Rest peacefully, always.”
“I remember Eddie beating Brock Lesnar for the championship belt. One of the happiest moments in my childhood. The day Eddie died, I cried. One thing he always did was represent our heritage and culture. My favorite wrestler of all time. #VivaLaRaza“, another fan wrote.
There is no further proof of the impact that Eddie Guerrero has had on the lives of many people still today. In a day and age where Latino representation is needed more than ever, Eddie represented the best of us. He showed the power of second chances and the ability to resonate with fans who weren’t like him.
He was and will always be a legend in our eyes. Viva La Raza!