A Night To Remember
November 25, 2005 by Phil T.
November 14, 2005 marked the first time in over a year that I was proud to be a WWE fan. When the news broke on the passing of Eddie Guerrero, every wrestling fan on the planet knew the WWE would pay tribute in some way to its fallen hero. The question was. How were they going to do it? I personally thought they would pay tribute to Eddie through personal videos as they did, but also keeping on going story lines fresh heading into Survivor Series. For Vince McMahon to totally put Survivor Series plans on hold for the entire RAW as well as SmackDown showed true class and was the correct thing to do not only for the fans but also for the locker rooms.
For anyone who has ever read one paragraph of any one of my columns thus far knows how strongly I disagree with the approach Vince McMahon has decided to take the WWE over the last few years; but I am a stand up man and I will always give credit were credit is due. I would like to publicly thank Vince McMahon for choosing to dedicate a total of four hours of WWE programming that week all to Eddie Guerrero. Was it the right thing to do morally? Yes! Was it the right thing to do business wise? I hate to say it, but I must lean toward no. With one of WWE’s longest running PPV’s, second only to WrestleMania, two weeks away. To do what Vince McMahon did not only made me extremely happy, but also made me a bit surprised. By rewriting both RAW and SmackDown at the last minute, McMahon chose to forgo pushing the Survivor Series angles, which if you stop and think for a minute, must have been a tough call for him to make and opted to give Eddie Guerrero the going out he truly deserved. For that Vince, I thank you.
Not since ECW’s One Night Stand have I been glued to a WWE broadcast, but for that RAW I didn’t change the channel once. To relive some of the best moments of Eddie’s career was both joyful as well as tearful. I smiled from ear to ear at times and I also shed a tear from time to time. It wasn’t till I saw the longest video tribute for Eddie that WWE ran that night filled with many great moments spanning through many years of his career that it really sunk in that we fans were no longer going to have the privilege of seeing Eddie Guerrero again. There is an old saying, “You never know what you have till it’s gone.” Well Eddie Guerrero is gone and I know exactly what the wrestling world has lost. Eddie was one of the best ever and there will never be another like him. Another phrase that I will remember Eddie with that I haven’t heard in professional wrestling for a long time is, “A champion’s champion.” Guerrero was just that. He had the respect and love of all the fans as well as every WWE employee both past and present. That respect was crystal clear with all the personal goodbyes made by some of the WWE personnel on RAW and SmackDown.
Everyone knew Benoit and Mysterio would be emotional, but the two goodbyes that truly touched me were Batista and JBL. I had no idea Eddie and Batista were as close as they were. It was clear as day that Batista lost a very good friend in Eddie and it was hard to see that pain just pour out from that goodbye.
The personal goodbye that stood out the most for me that night was by far JBL. Over the last few years the internet hasn’t been too kind to JBL for what he is supposedly been like when the cameras are off or hell, even when the cameras are on JBL is always taking some heat for his ability on the internet as well. To see another side of JBL and to see how much he loved Eddie showed another side of himself that the fans I hope will never forget. JBL’s stock went up for me that night and I am truly sorry that it took such a horrible tragedy to see that side of JBL come out.
As far as the matches were that night, it was refreshing to see guys go out and do what they do best and not worrying about making sure they get the story line over first and the wrestling match second. Benjamin and Angle were great as well as Michaels and Mysterio. Everyone that night wanted to give Eddie one last show of respect and in my opinion they all delivered. I know Eddie was watching from above that night and I guarantee he was smiling from ear to ear at the respect that was shown to him both from the wrestlers as well as the fans.
I’ve been a wrestling fan for over twenty years. I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. I have followed Eddie’s career since the early 90’s when he was with AAA and I can say without a doubt Eddie delivered every night. Whether it was in a match or an interview/skit Eddie always left a smile on my face. There are not to many wrestlers out there that I would say could have been a blue print for the superstars of tomorrow, but Eddie Guerrero was just that. Again, whether it was a match or an interview Eddie was pure perfection. The reason for that perfection can be explained in one word, “Love.” You don’t excel at the level he did night after night, month after month, and year after year if you don’t truly love what you do. All you have to do is watch one of his matches and it’s clear as crystal Eddie loved professional wrestling. I’ve seen Latino Heat many times live and every time on the ride home we talked about what Eddie was involved in that night because Eddie made sure of it. He always left the crowd entertained in some shape or form. The last match I saw of Eddie’s was his classic with Angle at WrestleMania 20 and then to see him and Benoit at the end was a WrestleMania moment that will stay with me till the day I die.
The one regret I have toward Eddie is that I never had the privilege of shaking the man’s hand. There aren’t to many people out there today I respect as much who I haven’t even met, but Guerrero is one that is right at the top. It’s easy to respect Eddie for all he has accomplished in professional wrestling, but it’s what he’s done out of the ring that has earned my respect. We all know the darker part of Eddie Guerrero’s life thanks not only to the internet, but also Eddie himself. Eddie was human and he was no different then anyone of us. We all have are little demons, Eddie's happened to be substance abuse. The list of wrestlers for that category both past and present are endless. It’s hard to live the life of a professional wrestler and not fall down here and there. Eddie however, admitted his addictions, faced them head on with raw guts and pure heart, and when the smoked cleared beat his demons with a definitive three count. The list of not only professional wrestlers but also everyday people who can say that is a lot shorter then those that live with their personal demons everyday till the day they die.
My final thoughts will be this. First off, Vince McMahon I will offer one last thank you to you and the WWE on the amount of class you showed toward Eddie Guerrero and by giving him the final goodbye he richly deserved. To Eddie, I truly feel I can’t thank you enough for all the memories and inspiration you have given me over the years. The road you traveled was shorter then any of us would have liked, but I am happy to say you went out on top. I will not be alone with wishing I could see you wrestle one last time and I will cherish your past classic matches more then ever now that you are gone. You are a true inspiration to not only wrestling fans, but also to the everyday man. The world is a little emptier without you here. I will never forget you Eddie Guerrero, both you and your family are in my prayers. Rest in peace Eddie, a true champion’s champion.
by Phil T...
Phil, I agree with you 100 percent. Vinny Mac did the
right thing in his tribute to Eddie Guerrero. He
learned his lesson from Owen Hart's death and that
debacle. Vinny showed true class in his handling of
Eddie's unfortunate and untimely death. As one of
Vince's strongest critics, my hat also goes off to
him. A job well done for him and his organization.
That week was a week in which all could honestly say
that they would be proud to be WWE fans. In the short
term Vince may have lost some cash for doing what he
did for Eddie, but in the the long term he will gain
from it because he will regain some of the prestige he
loss in his "Montreal Screwjob" of Brett Hart and his
debacle when Owen passed away. Remember Phil, not all
profits are instant profits. Vince will profit in the
long run in the amount of class he showed with Eddie
I, too, shall miss Latino Heat for the pure
entertainment he brought to the industry. I only wish
that Eddie could have been WWE champion more than once
during his life. Thanks for a column well written and
to Vince and all of WWE,
"A JOB WELL DONE AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS".
Scott Binns wrote:
Best column I've read here in OWW. Bravo.
Wow, that was an emotional week for me in the life of wrestling, I have to
admit, it had me crying a few times. I thought I was over it, but after
reading this column and thinking about Eddie, I'm getting upset all over
again. It really makes me appreciate the wrestlers that I have now, because
after what happened to Eddie, who knows what could happen to anybody else.
He was a great wrestler and a great human being. This is one huge loss to
the WWE. I do think it was good for what they did for Eddie, but I was
expecting them too. They may sometimes be thoughtless about some of the
superstars but to continue with storylines would of been ridiculous. I think
what they did was nessisary for sure. We lost a very special wrestler but we
lost an even more special person, and Eddie, you will be missed.
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