I feel like I’ve already written this column before, except that the name on it was “Chris Candido” and not “Eddie Guerrero”. In fact, I’m still not sure how I can even put the words “Eddie Guerrero” and “dead” in the same sentence and have it mean that “dead” is what “Eddie” is. While everyone else here might be writing their tributes and thoughts in a state of mourning, I’m writing, right now, more in a state of denial. Eddie can’t be dead. Not Eddie. Not now.
I actually don’t want to talk about this. I want to be talking about Christian’s TNA debut, or who is going to carry the World Title now that Batista is injured and has opted for surgery. Unfortunately, one of my most favorite performers… maybe one of my most favorite people on the planet… is dead, and I, for the life of me, am just not ready to handle it. Not Eddie. Not today. Maybe not ever.
A lot of people are going to talk about how Eddie worked hard to overcome his addictions, and they should. That right there is a much greater testament to the man’s greatness than anything he ever did in the wrestling world. Hopefully, someone close to him will get to talk about how good a father he was, and how good a husband he was, or how good a friend, brother, or uncle he was. But me? What am I going to say? That Eddie, over the past 10 years, has probably given me more moments of joy and entertainment than I can count? That I cheered for days when the WWE finally gave him the Main Event push he had worked so hard for? That I might have been one of Eddie’s biggest fans? Yeah… and while I should be writing some sort of tribute to that, I’m instead flooded with memories of conversations I had with my friends Terry and Chris on the subject of Eddie Guerrero.
Now, I don’t want to paint the wrong picture here of one of my friends, but Chris has never been a fan of Eddie as a character. And, it’s weird, because my most vivid memories of Eddie Guerrero actually involve me, being a huge Eddie fan, having some rather dumb arguments with Chris about how Eddie was actually born in America and, therefore, can’t be deported to Mexico, because he isn’t Mexican. Of course, after a while, it became apparent that Chris would only say things like that about Eddie because he knew I was such a big Eddie fan, and he knew that I’d immediately come to Eddie’s defense. Looking back, those arguments were so funny and stupid… I’m actually trying not to laugh right now just thinking about them. The crazy thing about this is that, while Eddie was such a great wrestler and had some amazing matches, the thing I’m likely going to remember most about Eddie Guerrero was the fact that Eddie, in a strange and round-about way, helped me become better friends with Chris. Men are very strange creatures who can mess with each other and make fun of one another, and have that be a sort of bonding ritual that makes them better friends. So, yeah… while I could be thinking about Eddie’s triumph at WrestleMania XX or the big celebration on Smackdown right after Eddie defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title, or the night when I realized that the fans weren’t going to let Eddie’s heel turn on Tajiri stop them from cheering for him (and thus, pushing him to near Austin-like status in the wrestling world)… I’m actually thinking about how, at nearly every PPV over the last 6 years, I would find myself arguing with Chris over Eddie Guerrero’s citizenship.
I don’t want to keep writing these columns. I feel like they come every six months. Since I started, I’ve done columns like this for Miss Elizabeth, Curt Hennig, Chris Candido and now, Eddie Guerrero. But Eddie, it’s different. Eddie, I knew better than I ever knew any of the others. I wouldn’t go on to say I’m Eddie’s biggest fan, because he’s had bigger. If this were Chris Jericho, then yeah, I could get away with saying I was his biggest fan, but not Eddie. I’m not going to say something that isn’t true, but I am going to say that I was, and may always been, one of Eddie’s biggest supporters. After seeing him disappear from the WWE in 2001, possibly never to return after Eddie’s drug problems became their most apparent, then to seem him return later in 2002, sober, then seeing him rebuild his career in what seemed to be a matter of days… just to see him peak in 2004, becoming the WWE Champion. I’ve seen Eddie rise, fall, and rise again. I’ve seen him in almost every manifestation of his career, and now, I’ve seen it all come to an end. But I didn’t miss out on Eddie, and I didn’t miss out on what made him so special. At least, not from a fan’s perspective. I just wish none of this was true. It doesn’t seem right, you know… Eddie being dead. This was completely unexpected. I mean, at least when Chris Candido died, I wasn’t entirely surprised. I wasn’t expecting it to happen, but when it did, it didn’t shock me the way it did when I saw the words “Eddie Guerrero” and “dead” posted all over the Internet and scrolling along the bottom of TV news screens.
When I first saw those words, I called Terry immediately, but he wasn’t available and I left him a message. I decided to go out later that night and catch the Browns/Steelers game at the local pub, and about five minutes after I left, Terry called. On one hand, I’m sorry I missed that call, because he probably would have helped me put together a better column, but at the same time, I’m glad I missed the call, because I still don’t really want to believe Eddie is dead. Not yet. Maybe later tonight when I see the first of the two tribute shows the WWE is putting on. But right now, somewhere out there, Eddie Guerrero is still alive to me. He just can’t be dead. Not Eddie. Not today.
Anyway, thanks for listening, and don’t forget to check out my space at http://www.MySpace.com/MikeJohnsUSAW for news about everything I’m up to these days, as well as the development of Northeast Ohio’s newest wrestling promotion, Ultimate Shock & Awe Wrestling.