In the decade since Eddie Guerrero’s tragic death, the former WWE Champion’s legacy has only grown in stature, providing inspiration for a new generation of wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd and Sasha Banks. That said, as respected as Eddie Guerrero is, many still don’t realize just how accomplished and far-ranging his career truly was.
From lucha libre royalty to the bottom of the barrel, from Mexican flea markets to WrestleMania, Eddie Guerrero saw and did it all. Here are a few things you might not know about the life and career of the man who was born to wrestle, and did it better than almost anybody…
Eddie Guerrero wrestled (and won) his first wrestling match at the age of 9.
Frog splashin’ since he was a tadpole.
Born October 9, 1967 in Juarez, Mexico, Eddie Guerrero (real name, Eduardo Guerrero Llanes) was lucha libre pioneer Gory Guerrero’s youngest son (the other three being, in order of age, Chavo, Mando and Hector). Eddie was born, and first came to fame, in Mexico, but he was raised in El Paso, Texas and would continue to live there for most of his life.
There was a large age gap between Eddie and most of his siblings (Chavo was nearly 20 years older than him), so, as Eddie grew up, he not only had his father to look up to, but his three brothers, who were already active and successful in the wrestling business. The family had a wrestling ring in their backyard, and Eddie’s brothers would “teach him the ropes,” because what good is a kid brother if you can’t body slam him occasionally (or often)? When Eddie’s bros weren’t putting him through his paces, he was wrestling with his nephew Chavo, Jr., who was closer in age to Eddie than any of his actual brothers.
At an age when most kids aren’t allowed to cross the street on their own, Eddie wrestled his first match in front of an audience. When Eddie was only 9, he teamed up with a 6-year-old Chavo, Jr. to take on their dad/uncle, the legendary Gory Guerrero, at an exhibition show as a small, local carnival. Eddie and Chavo got the win over Gory, something even Mexican wrestling giants like El Santo and Tarzan López struggled to do. Clearly, this kid was destined for greatness.
Eddie had a brief run with WCW back in 1989.
Most Eddie Guerrero fans fondly remember his mid-’90s WCW run, but he actually had a brief run with the company at the tender age of 22. Terry Funk, who was friends with Eddie’s dad, brought him in to act as “enhancement talent” in 1989. He didn’t last long with the company, but Eddie and his barely post-pubescent mustache did make TV once in a match against Funk. You can watch the match, above.
He was a co-founder of the most hated heel faction in Mexican wrestling history.
I didn’t know Uncle Sam had such a beautiful mullet.
Eddie’s career really took off in 1993, when he turned on his tag partner El Hijo del Santo (the son of the original zombie and vampire-fightin’ El Santo) and allied with Art Barr to form La Pareja del Terror (The Pair of Terror). Eventually, Guerrero and Barr would add guys like Konnan and Louie Spicolli (under the amazing name, Madonna’s Boyfriend) to their faction to form a full-on heel stable, Los Gringos Locos.
While Eddie identified with and drew on his Mexican heritage for most of his career, during this period, he, a born-Mexican living in the U.S., and Barr, a straight-up white dude from Oregon, played the villainous outsiders. They’d fly the American flag and victimize Mexican heroes El Hijo del Santo and Octagón, and the crowds hated them for it. Being attacked with mace, rocks and flying bags of sh*t was an all-too-regular occurrence.
Los Gringos Locos weren’t just working on a character level, they were cooking in the ring, with the combination of Eddie, Art Barr, El Hijo del Santo and Octagón producing many acclaimed matches (including a tag match that got a rare five-star rating from the Wrestling Observer). American promotions began to take notice, and it looked like Los Gringos Locos were set to explode.