Glenn Andrew Napier
At eighteen years old, I don't have a prolific collection of tapes. I haven't seen old World Class, Mid-South or even much of the "glory days" of the NWA from the 1980s. I'm no expert by any means. I don't have the encyclopedic knowledge of pro wrestling that Dave Meltzer possesses, and I'm not even Canadian like Scott. So, knowing all of this, if you're still reading, I appreciate it. Because as uninformed as they may be, I do have opinions, and I certainly know what I like. And I like Eddy Guerrero.
The first time I saw Eddy Guerrero was in late 1997, the period of my life that I got back into watching wrestling. When I stopped watching in 1993, I was eleven years old and Hulk Hogan wasn't around much. That's all I knew. So I stopped watching and didn't give it a thought after that. So it was with great apathy that I sat down to watch wrestling for the first time in over four years. It was a bit of a culture shock.
Hulk Hogan was definitely there, but he was being backed by a smallish, weasly guy with a bad dye job. He was also wearing clothes that were distinctively not red and yellow. It was intriguing at first, but my older, wiser cousin quickly informed me that Hogan was not what I should be looking for on the show. Instead, he made certain that I paid close attention to Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis, Booker T, Chris Benoit, Ultimo Dragon and the like. I did, and I guess that with age comes a heightened ability to see past hype and distortion, because I began to see things for what they were. The tremendous talents listed above became (and still are) some of my favorite wrestlers. I looked to Hogan and saw an old man desperately grasping at straws, unable to leave the bright lights. This saddened me for a moment, but then I just resolved to skip the Nitro main event from then on.
Where does Eddy fit in? Well, after settling into my new Monday night viewing pattern and watching a couple of months worth of shows, I began to realize that as spectacular as the again aforementioned wrestlers were, it seemed that WCW was just throwing them out there to fill television time. There didn't seem to be a purpose for the matches. They just were. And it started to bother me. Awesome or not, matches shouldn't just happen. For me to be completely involved in a wrestling match, I need a good story, a feud, just some sort of hook. WCW was writing off their entire undercard.
1998 rolled around and not a whole lot was different. And then it happened. A storyline in the WCW Cruiserweight division. And although I haven't seen any of the division prior to 1997, probably the first Cruiserweight storyline. And front and center was Eddy Guerrero.
It seems little Chavo was too much of a goody goody for Uncle Eddy's tastes, thus the "Eddy Guerrero Cheat To Win Boot Camp" was commissioned. And along with Chris Jericho's antics, this became pretty much the only reason to watch Nitro at the time. Bridging the gap between Bret Hart's debut and subsequent flop and the stellar Chris Benoit/Booker T series, Eddy berated Chavo every week, blaming his lack of success on his refusal to resort to deceitfulness in the ring. Not exactly high concept, but funny as hell, and it made Eddy one of the hottest heels in the company. The best part of the whole angle? Eddy and Chavo's matches began to mean something!
So WCW missed the boat on Mr. Guerrero. Who haven't they missed the boat on? Whoa. that's another three columns in of itself. My point is, Eddy was doing something new. He was injecting a new dimension into the undercard. Not only were we getting great matches, we were getting great matches with a sense of importance.
Eddy Guerrero is not just an amazing wrestler. Or a solid interview. Or great facial expressions. Or the best heel psychology in the business. He is all of this and much more. I know it, you know it, Paul Heyman knows it, and hopefully. Vince McMahon knows it. Because as tragic as a squandered talent is, it's all the worse when the talent is as remarkable as Eddy Guerrero.
Glen Andrew Napier
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