Every year World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) hosts their Royal Rumble, a mega brawl where 30 wrestlers, well, rumble, until one is left standing. It starts with two fighters, then every minute another is added to the ring. Wrestlers are eliminated by being tossed out of the ring over the top rope.
This is one of WWE’s biggest events and this year there was a very special surprise appearance.
The legendary Rey Mysterio surprised everyone as he made an unexpected appearance to compete in this year’s Royal Rumble.
CREDIT: WWE / YouTube
Oscar Gutierrez, commonly known as Rey Mysterio, became most popular during his time in the WWE in the early 2000’s. He’s an icon in wrestling and within the Latino community thanks to his skills, Lucha Libre mask, and the pride he showed for his Mexican heritage and hometown San Diego. Although Mysterio is short compared to other wrestlers, he is fast on his feet and known for his popular wrestling move called the “619,” which is the area code of his hometown.
Mysterio fans across the Internet were immediately taken back to their childhood as they saw the icon make his return to the ring.
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!
Mexican wrestling is much more than mere popular entertainment. The theatrical mix between professional sport and kitsch spectacle is where popular fears and desires meet, where good and evil fight, and where the audience can let go of worries and just scream their lungs out. Even though the main fights take place in the legendary Arena Mexico in Mexico City, wrestling matches are staged all throughout the country. The mythology or rudos against tecnicos, or the buenos contra los malos, has permeated Mexican imagination for decades. Of course, legends like El Santo and Blue Demon also filmed now classic B-movie projects that pit them against monsters and all sorts of inmundicias.
We have chosen some of the most popular luchadoresof all time, both classic and recent, so you are up on your lucha libre game when you next chat with your abuelito and primos. Lucharaaaaaan de dos a tres caidas, sin limite de tieeeeempo!
1. Psycho Clown
If you were terrified by the movie IT then this wrestler is your worst nightmare. Born on December 16, 1985, this enmascarado has taken on three personas: Brazo de Plata Jr., Kronos, and his current Pyscho Clown. He is obviously a rudo and his extravagant outfits are worn alongside Monster Clown and Murder Clown, with whom he forms the team Los Psycho Circus. He is obviously a big fan of KISS.
2. Bestia 666
In a primarily Catholic country, being named after The Antichrist is great publicity when it comes to selling yourself as a rudo. Leonardo Carrera Lizarraga was born on May 14, 1989, in Tijuana, a wrestling crazed town. He built his impressive physique playing American football as a defensive back, but after a few injuries he decided to follow on his father’s footsteps: his dad was Leonardo, better known as Damian 666, a persona of clear Satanic overtones.
3. Mil Mascaras
After El Santo and Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras is perhaps the most venerated Mexican wrestler of all time. Aarón Rodríguez Arellano was born on July 15, 1942, in San Luis Potosi. He comes from a wrestling family. His brothers are Dos Caras and Sicodelico. He starred in over 20 films and became the face of wrestling worldwide, taking on the legacy of the two great ones, El Santo and Blue Demon.
4. Dr. Wagner Jr.
Juan Manuel González Barrón took his name from that Cold War tradition of naming villains with German names. He was born on August 12, 1965. His first moniker was El Invasor, but it wasn’t until he became Dr. Wagner that he really found his footing. In the early 2000s, he fought regularly in Japan, an expanding market for the kitsh paraphernalia of lucha libre.
5. Espectro 1
Antonio Hernández Arriaga was born in 1934 and died in 1993, aged 59. He was a pioneer in introducing elaborate theatrics into the world of lucha libre: he would usually be carried into the ring in a coffin, which added to his personalida de ultratumba. His legacy was carried on by his nephew, Espectro Jr.
6. Blue Demon (no, we hadn’t forgotten about him of course, nomas faltaba!)
One cannot talk about Mexican wrestling without mentioning this true legend. Alejandro Muñoz Moreno was born in Nuevo Garcia, in 1933 and died of a heart attack aged 78, in the year 2000. His blue mask is a national treasure. He was the son of farmers and started his wrestling career in 1948 after his coworkers noticed his huge hands, ideal for the sport. He was a rudo, and often fought alongside The Black Shadow in a team known as Los Hermanos Shadow.
7. An now…. el enmascarado de plata, the unrivaled El Santo!
Lucha librewould not have become a huge national and global entertainment industry if it wasn’t for Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, the unparalleled Santo, who was born on September 23, 1917, in Tulancingo, a small town in the state of Hidalgo. His legacy in the ring was built over five decades, and his status as a popular icon derives from his acting career in over 50 movies between 1958 and 1982. He became an industry in himself. His kitschy films, by the way, are now being studied as serious examples of Mexican surrealism. He died in 1984, aged 66.
8. Rayo de Jalisco
Another great legend, an old-fashioned wrestler that with his simple black mask captured the imagination of millions. He was born in 1932 and died in 2018, aged 85. Because the wrestling world is pretty much concentrated in Mexico City, this hero from Jalisco really resonated with Guadalajara natives. He also partook in the luchador film genre in titles such as Superzam el Invencible (“Superzam the invincible”; 1971), El Robo de las Momias de Guanajuato (“The Robbery of the Mummies of Guanajuato”; 1972), Vuelven Los Campeones Justicieros (“Becoming the Champions of Justice”; 1972) and El Triunfo de los Campeones Justicieros (“The Triumph of the Champions of Justice”; 1974). They are true masterpieces of campy moviemaking.
9. Blue Panther
Genaro Vázquez Nevarez is a true performer! Instead of acrobatic jumps from the ropes, he developed a style known as “Ras de lona”: he would defeat his opponents through locks, holds, takedowns, and submissions. He overpowered his adversaries with indomitable strength and skill in applying knots to their legs!
10. Charly Manson
This dude obviously took his name from the famed serial killer Charles Manson. His real name is Jesús Luna Pozos and he was born on February 17, 1975. He is obviously a rudoand his style is characterized by Satanic themes and heavy metal music, to which he often walked into the ring. His bad ways also defined his life outside the ring: in 2011 he was sentenced to jail after he got into an altercation with two police officer. He was released in 2015 due to good behavior.
11. Super Muñeco
Formerly knows as El Sanguinario Jr., this wrestler was born in 1963 and his ring persona was clown-like. His real identity has not been revealed yet. He is the son of another professional wrestler, El Sanguinario, on whose legacy he took before finding his calling as Super Muñeco. He often teamed up with El Hijo Del Santo, which increased his popular appeal.
12. Dragon Lee
Mexican lucha librehas expanded globally, in part because of the multinational personas that its wrestlers take. This is the case of Dragon Lee, who obviously references Bruce Lee and Hong Kong action cinema. He comes from Jalisco and is a young legend: at merely 24 years of age he has captured the sport’s imagination. He is one of the good guys. He tales a lot of risks, like jumping out of the high rope and towards the outside of the ring.
13. Demus 3:16
OMG, this dude is like really scary. He was born in Tijuana in 1980 and has established himself as a household name of el bando de los rudos. He has had other ring names such as Mini Eskeleto and Troll, all referencing dark forces. He has won several championships and is married to a female professional wrestler, Hiroka Yaginuma.