Eddie Guerrero: Drugs, Lies and the WWE Title Part 3
February 8, 2006 by Daniel "Flash" Williams
Eddie Guerrero returned to RAW on April 1st, 2002, attacking Rob Van Dam and reuniting with long-time friend, Chris Benoit. On April 21st at Backlash he defeated RVD for the Intercontinental Championship. He lost the belt back to RVD a month later in a five star Ladder Match, in the course of which an over enthusiastic fan ran into the ring and knocked the ladder over while he was climbing it. Eddie then attacked Steve Austin in a bar, beginning a feud, but Austin left the WWE shortly after before a single match could take place. He went on to feud briefly with The Rock.
On August 1st Eddie and Benoit jumped to SmackDown! With Benoit starting to focus on Kurt Angle, Eddie decided to align himself with nephew Chavo, forming the successful tag team Los Guerreros. In contrast to previous WCW storylines, Chavo fully adopted his uncle's policy of "Lie, Cheat and Steal" to win matches as part of the gimmick. The duo entered the 8-team tournament for the new WWE Tag-Team Championship and began a feud with the newly formed tag team of Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, who just defeated John Cena and Billy Kidman. Chavo told Benoit that his tag team partner Kurt Angle was assaulting his former friend Eddie. Benoit ran to make the save, only to have himself locked inside a room. Eddie, who was inside with a steel chair, assaulted Benoit.
Benoit and Angle managed to overcome their differences and eventually defeated Eddie and Chavo in the tournament semi-finals. Benoit and Angle won the WWE Tag Team Titles at No Mercy defeating Rey Mysterio and Edge. It was also on this day that Benoit and Angle got revenge on the Los Guerreros, with Benoit telling Eddie that Kurt Angle was currently assaulting his nephew. Eddie chose not to fall for it, and in fact Chavo was assaulted.
Later on, Benoit and Angle fought for a trophy (for being the first WWE Tag Team Champion). Surprisingly, Eddie and Chavo helped Benoit win this match, to the surprise of the Crippler. Angle quickly attacked his tag team partner and destroyed the trophy, ensuring that neither man would have it.
Los Guerreros were then given another shot at the WWE Tag Team titles. Meanwhile, new champions were crowned (Edge and Rey Mysterio). At Survivor Series 2002, Eddie made Rey Mysterio submit to The Lasso From El Paso. Los Guerreros had just started their first reign as the WWE Tag Team Champions.
Team Angle, a young tag team consisting of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin challenged Eddie and Chavo and eventually captured the Tag Titles. Prior to Judgment Day, Chavo tore his bicep. This forced Eddie to look for another partner. He chose Tajiri. They won the Tag Titles at Judgment Day in a Ladder Match. In the following weeks, Eddie and Tajiri managed to retain their titles by cheating. In addition, they also defeated the legendary Roddy Piper and his young partner, Sean O'Haire. However, Eddie and Tajiri lost the titles to Team Angle again. Eddie turned heel for the third time on Tajiri, slamming his partner through the windshield of his low-rider injuring Tajiri.
In mid-2003, Eddie competed in a tournament for the new WWE United States Championship. He managed to defeat Ultimo Dragon and Billy Gunn to advance to the final round, where he would meet Chris Benoit who had just eliminated Rhyno. In this match, Eddie got up to his dirty tricks, clocking Benoit with the belt and hitting a Frog Splash. Benoit managed to kick out, however. Eddie tried to get Benoit in trouble by placing the title belt on top of the unconscious Benoit. It didn't work, however, since he knocked out the ref earlier with a belt shot to the kidneys. The match ended thanks to interference by Rhyno who Gored Benoit allowing Eddie to get the pin.
At SummerSlam, Eddie retained his title by defeating Rhyno, Benoit, and Tajiri in a Fatal Four Way match. He reverted to being a face again by engaging in a rivalry with John Cena after Cena stole a tire from his low-rider. Eddie challenged Cena to a US championship match, Latino Heat Street Fight style match. Which basically was a Street Fight in the Parking Lot. Eddie countered Cena's F-U and connected with a Frog Splash for the three count. It was also in this match that Chavo made his return, assisting Eddie in executing his Frog Splash on Cena.
As Eddie's popularity grew, Eddie began seeking the WWE Title. Eddie's singles title ambitions made Chavo jealous and Chavo broke from the team and they engaged in a low-rider. At this time Eddie became identified so sufficiently with low riders that he appeared on the cover of the February 2004 issue of Lowrider magazine; he is the first man ever to appear on the cover of that publication (Normally, the cover includes a low rider and a bikini-clad woman; the Guerrero cover has the same features but adds him).
After finishing up his rivalry with Chavo at the Royal Rumble. Eddie won his first WWE Championship at WWE's No Way Out pay per view on February 15, 2004, defeating Brock Lesnar. He would enjoy many months of success as champion; a big highlight of his reign was defeating Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 20, but this proved fateful as Kurt cost Eddie the WWE Title to JBL at the Great American Bash.
At SummerSlam, Kurt Angle made Eddie submit to the Angle Lock. However, this feud was far from over. Eddie made an alliance with Big Show, who also despised Kurt Angle (then General Manager) for firing him. Kurt Angle and Luther Reigns, along with Mark Jindrak, took down both Eddie and Big Show. The trio eventually shaved Show's head. At No Mercy, Eddie pinned Luther Reigns thanks to the police baton he stole from a police officer. Big Show also defeated Kurt Angle with a big chokeslam.
Kurt Angle and his henchman however did not give up. Each week they began targeting Eddie and his giant pal, the Big Show. On an episode SmackDown! Eddie assisted Rey Mysterio with a Frog Splash to Kurt Angle. General Manager Theodore Long booked a Classic Survivor Series Elimination Match between Eddie's team and Kurt Angle's team. Eddie found his three members easily. Rey Mysterio's tag team partner, Rob Van Dam, came along to help Eddie. Big Show came along as well. Meanwhile, Angle managed to find the fourth member for his team. He decided it would be Carlito Caribbean Cool, who was United States Champion at the time.
Eddie was forced to find another member for his team because Rey Mysterio had just been given an opportunity to win back the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Eddie then picked John Cena, who was feuding with Carlito at the time. At Survivor Series, Eddie eliminated Mark Jindrak, and made the Frog Splash to Kurt Angle for the victory.
Eddie, along with Booker T and The Undertaker, challenged John "Bradshaw" Layfield for a WWE Championship rematch. Along the way, Eddie found a partner in Booker T. Despite losing two matches in a row as a tag team, Eddie and Booker managed to get along. At Armageddon, Eddie and Booker worked as a unit, taking down both Bradshaw and Undertaker. The two quickly broke apart and made it clear that it's every man for themselves. During the match, Eddie had several highspots, Frog Splashing The Undertaker twice, and hitting a Frog Splash from the top of a ladder. Undertaker and his patented Chokeslam would then take Eddie out for the remainder of the match.
After Armageddon Eddie and Booker began seeking the Tag Titles. They defeated the team of Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree, and later came close to winning the titles from Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam. Then they would participate in a Four Way Elimination Match for the titles. They were second to be eliminated after Eddie was pinned by Rey again. The following week they would face new Tag Champions Doug Basham and Danny Basham. Once again, Eddie cost Booker the chance to win the titles. Eddie would then help Booker from an assault by the Bashams. Eddie and Booker separated since the two wanted the WWE Championship more than anything else.
On February 20, 2005, Guerrero once again became a tag team champion, this time with long time friend and rival, Rey Mysterio when they defeated Doug and Danny Basham at No Way Out.
Many expected the new champions to defend their titles at WrestleMania 21, but after encouragement from Chavo, instead Eddie challenged Rey, to a one-on-one match so they could "bring the house down". The two wrestled a match at WrestleMania with Mysterio getting the win. Although visibly frustrated, Guerrero congratulated his partner.
After several mishaps in the weeks following WrestleMania, the growing tension between Guerrero and Mysterio finally erupted when they lost their tag titles to new team MNM on the April 21 episode of SmackDown! After a brief but intense shoving match, it appeared the team was irreparably damaged, thus setting the stage for a feud between the former partners.
On April 28, 2005, Eddie and Mysterio faced MNM in a rematch for the WWE tag team championships. During the match Mysterio tagged in and then accidentally hit Eddie off the side of the ring and onto the floor. Eddie got back up, but he refused to tag Mysterio. MNM double teamed Mysterio and threw him out of the ring. Eddie then gave Mysterio a glare and a frown and walked off. As a result, Eddie officially turned heel for the fourth time in the WWE betraying his long time friend, Rey Mysterio, who he had dubbed "his family" earlier in the show. The next week on SmackDown! Guerrero appeared to adopt a new, somewhat sociopath gimmick. Though Guerrero had historically been characterized by his emotion in the ring, on this edition of the show he viciously and emotionlessly beat up his former tag team partner, leaving him bruised and bloody on a set of steel steps. At Judgment Day 2005 Mysterio defeated Eddie again by disqualification after Eddie hit him with a steel chair.
Several weeks after the match at Judgment Day, Eddie threatened to reveal a secret about Rey and Rey's son Dominick. The storyline (which involved equal parts of work and truth, and had Rey's full approval) grew to involve the families of both men, with both sides pleading for him not to reveal the secret. Rey defeated Eddie at the Great American Bash, a match with a stipulation that if he lost, he would not tell the secret. Yet Guerrero revealed the secret any way on the following episode of SmackDown! - telling Dominick and the audience that Eddie was his real father. The following weeks had him revealing the details of the secret in a series of what he called "Eddie's Bedtime Stories". He claimed that he had a child out of wedlock (Dominick) while his marriage was going through hard times. He claimed he then allowed Mysterio and his wife, who were "having trouble conceiving", to adopt the child as their own.
At SummerSlam 2005, Eddie lost a ladder match over Dominick's custody to Mysterio. Their emotional feud ended at the premiere of Friday Night SmackDown! where he finally gained a victory over Mysterio in a steel cage match.
Following his feud with Rey Mysterio, Eddie was named number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship and given a title match with the champion Batista at No Mercy 2005. Despite this, Guerrero quickly proclaimed himself to be Batista's friend. However, Batista was wary of him and a series of matches with MNM only supported his suspicions, as Guerrero appeared to have reverted to his cheating ways. In response to Batista's suspicions, Eddie helped him win a match against his tag team partners, JBL and Christian.
Batista defeated him at No Mercy to retain the World title. During the match, Guerrero struggled with a decision about whether or not to use a steel chair to secure the victory, eventually opting not to use it and losing as a result. Though the two demonstrated mutual respect after the match, he seemed displeased by the loss. Eventually, Batista and Eddie became allies against Randy Orton, Cowboy Bob Orton Jr and Ken Kennedy. He told Batista that he realized how low he had sunk since being WWE Champion in 2004, having attacked his best friend Rey Mysterio. Eddie told him that Batista shaking his hand at No Mercy had returned his respect to him.
On the November 11 edition of Friday Night SmackDown!, Eddie Guerrero wrestled what turned out to be the final televised match of his career, a victory by disqualification using his trademark cheating tactics over Ken Kennedy who proceeded to blast Eddie with a hard steel chair shot to the skull.
On November 13, 2005, Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Marriott City Center Hotel by his nephew, Chavo. Several hours later, WWE.com released the following announcement:
"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."
The same day, WWE held a press conference with a speech from his nephew Chavo, who spoke of Guerrero's four years of sobriety that would have come on November 15 of that year. Chavo adamantly defended his uncle, saying he had defeated his "personal demons." WWE Chairman Vince McMahon declined to speculate on the causes of Guerrero's death, and both men said that Guerrero would have "wanted the show to go on."
An autopsy later revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure, caused by undiagnosed arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and enlargement of the heart as a result of prior anabolic steroid abuse which is common amongst wrestlers. Although Guerrero had not taken alcohol or illicit drugs for over four years, his past excesses contributed to his heart failure. At the time of his death, he had recently used narcotics.
Guerrero's wife Vicky said that he had been lethargic and unwell in the week preceding his death, but that this had been attributed to the stress of continuously travelling and performing. She added that the doctors had told her that Guerrero's blood vessels had shrivelled and weakened owing to undiagnosed heart disease, and that he had simply dropped into a deep sleep.
On the November 30, 2005 edition of Byte This!, Chavo Guerrero, Jr. said that Guerrero had been working very hard and was at peak physical fitness as a result, doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises every day. There had been no symptoms or cause for concern. Guerrero, Jr. noted that, while many people abuse drugs for over ten years with no ill effects, Guerrero, despite having ceased to abuse drugs four years earlier, had suffered heart complications that were not detected in time to prevent his death.
And that is the story of Eddie Guerrero.
by Daniel "Flash" Williams..
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