Musings of a Mark #13: Who’s Your Papi?! (Pt.1)
For those who didn?t read the first edition of ?Musings ?? a few months back and / or don?t lurk our discussion boards here, I am absolutely enamoured with Eduardo Gory Guerrero. Having lovingly put up with my blatant reverence for the late great, my darling girlfriend presented me with the newly released (at least here in Australia) Viva La Raza: The Legacy Of Eddie Guerrero DVD set for my birthday late last year. But I hadn?t watched it until now. Why?! Because as the doldrums of University begin to take hold, I knew there would be need for some refreshing entertainment to clear my mind of the difficult labour ahead ? And a dose of Latino Heat is what the doctor ordered.
Put simply, it’s my belief that Eddie Guerrero is one of the most versatile performers ever. He could wrestle, go airborne, compete in an intense brawl and trade bombs whilst sticking to his prescribed character. He was a hilarious stooge of a heel (or conversely a face when discussing his ?lie, cheat and steal? mantra), a fiery antagonist, a charismatic face and a convincingly obsessive sociopath. In my view there wasn?t a match style he couldn?t deliver in, and there wasn?t a character he failed to do justice.
This week’s column is an epic two-part look at the amazing versatility of a performer whose talents were tragically lost before they reached their (seemingly limitless) peak. It should serve as a neat little introduction to Guerrero’s catalogue prior to his employment in the WWE, covering his stints in ECW and WCW, with a smidgeon of WWE on the side to cap us off. This was the half of Eddie’s career where he was a workhorse inside the squared circle, but wasn?t really granted enough emphasis for his character to gain momentum and prominence. That phase of his career will be explored next week. For now, we?ll see how Eddie Guerrero performed under different roles in the ring, adapting to the varying flavour of opponent to provide a usually satisfying performance. Enjoy!
Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero, Two Out Of Three Falls ? ECW 08.26.95
Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero never produced a match that failed to entertain, as they display such impressive chemistry. This particular performance is the pinnacle of their work, engrossing a crowd infamous for its pronounced bloodlust and anarchic behaviour with a variety of wrestling holds. The respectful handshake at the beginning transcends both performers and envelops the crowd, crafting a remarkably emotional atmosphere as the fans chant ?please don?t go? to the WCW-bound talent.
Neither Guerrero nor Malenko disappoint the appreciative group, delivering arguably one of ECW’s finest matches broadcasted as an independent company. The first fall witnesses numerous examples of great chain-wrestling, with both Eddie and ?The Shooter? looking competitive on the canvas. However Eddie Guerrero does utilise a broader range in his offense, resembling a role I call the ?anchored lucha?. Malenko operates as an ?anchor?, grounding Guerrero with a variety of holds and impact moves which create a gradual pace for the performance. Eddie counteracts this sporadically with bursts of swifter, often riskier, offense that’s designed to prevent the crowd f rom losing interest. It doesn?t compromise the logical progression of the narrative either, conveying Guerrero’s urgent desire to regain control. I maintain that, although being far f rom an expert on lucha libre, ?lucha? is an appropriate word choice here (opposed to ?high-flyer?) because, if successful in ascertaining control, Eddie can interweave risky moves with those of a grapple and power distinction.
I believe that this role works far more effectively than the typical high-flyer, especially when competing against an opponent of similar size / build. Once a risky move has paid off, the performer needs to sacrifice their body no longer, instead opting to safely dominate their foe with conventional moves. Voila! During the second fall Malenko’s attack is more focused as he targets the knee, setting up for the Texas Clover Leaf. The final fall centres around that ?killer blow?, as both men dismiss meticulous chain-wrestling in favour of trading bombs to seal the victory. As the pace quickens, both performers exchange near-falls until the conclusion, which is blatantly appropriate for the occasion.
This was a fantastic ?wrestling? match void of any dramatic fluff (Beyond the emotion regarding their departure), delivering a great display of ?wrestling? interspersed with some aerial material, whilst managing to reinforce the evenness between the two performers.
Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero ? WCW Nitro 10.16.95
Perhaps a better match in regards to showcasing the ?anchored lucha? role as occupied by Eddie Guerrero. He damages his arm via an overzealous clothesline into the ring-post, with Benoit quick to relentlessly exploit the injury. ?The Crippler? uses several impact moves to pressure the targeted area effectively grounding Guerrero. Out of need to end the contest in swift fashion, Eddie must implement his proficiency in risky moves. This creates a performance that is to the point in its narrative (Benoit attacking the injured arm, Guerrero risking his body to survive), establishing a pace that ebbs and flows with the bursts of Guerrero’s desperate offense. Benoit’s control segments never drag, whilst the adrenaline shots by Guerrero never degenerate the performance into a spot-a-thon. Guerrero’s selling deserves special note, as every move is followed up with either a notable grimace or directly affects the arm. Ultimately this makes for a satisfying finish, as a lapse in thought positions Guerrero to accidently punch his opponent with his injured arm, the resultant pain distracting him enough for ?The Crippler? to finish him off. Great television match.
Eddie Guerrero ? vs. Rey Mysterio, WCW Cruiserweight Championship Title vs. Mask Match ? WCW Halloween Havoc 10.26.97
Fun Fact: This was the first professional wrestling match I ever reviewed. OMGWTFLOLZ indeed!
Since its initial acclaimed reception, the Guerrero / Mysterio classic of 1997 has received a split in opinion of sorts. It’s still considered a great performance by many, but the extent to which is disputed. Those criticising it claim it’s a finely worked spot-fest, though contributing not a great deal in terms of narrative. I disagree, but I can see the logic behind those with differing views.
Eddie Guerrero takes upon the ?anchor? role here, attempting to prevent Mysterio’s insane high-flying antics by dominating him. He mixes up his control segments with power moves, whilst wearing down Rey via a number of rest-holds. Guerrero’s utter disdain for the crowd and Rey Mysterio makes his control segments even more engrossing, though they hardly needed it due to the depth of Guerrero’s move-set. His dominance grants reason for Mysterio to risk his body’s safety to gain back the advantage. There’s no denying the amazing athleticism on display as Mysterio works his spotty magic, and with the narrative grounded by Guerrero, it makes these flashy moves bear meaning and purpose as well. Overall Guerrero performs just as well in the ?anchor? position, as he does taking to the air.
The ?heel? persona of Eddie here presents the untapped charisma at this point in time. His expressions of disgust, frustration and anger are great, whilst his attempts to rip the mask off Rey not only gathers him more heat, but also emphasises the significance of that piece of attire to Mysterio and the match as a whole. It’s a performance that possesses that immediate ?wow? factor, without compromising a surprisingly simplified narrative. Essential material for both individuals.
Eddie Guerrero ? vs. Dean Malenko, WCW Cruiserweight Championship ? WCW Starrcade 12.28.97
Rather than return to the ?anchored lucha? responsibility in this match, Guerrero and Malenko simply wrestle each other. It’s proof that Latino Heat could deliver a straight-up wrestling match, though he does spice this specific performance up with some great heel antics. Instead of risk his body to regain control a la the ?anchored lucha?, Guerrero scrambles f rom the ring and manipulates the situation. As a stooge heel, he allows Malenko the majority of offense, bumping around in a portrayal signifying Dean enacting retribution. Eddie Guerrero begs, complains, cheats and claws throughout, displaying that engagement with his character that would become so impressive in the next decade whilst performing for World Wrestling Entertainment. Not only does he garner good heat during the match, but he provides comic moments as well, such as when he scurries out of the ring, or when he actually kisses Dean’s feet to stop his stalking!
When his antics work, the technical game of picking apart a limb begins. But to keep in conformity with his characterisation, Eddie maintains his heel-ish approach by using illegal means to damage Malenko’s leg (the ring-post, apron and steel steps for example). This ultimately factors in on the finish, with Guerrero capitalising on it to retain his title. And like I?ve mentioned in the past, when limb work plays a role in the finish, I get giddy!
This was a good quality wrestling match, encased within a great heel performance by Eddie Guerrero. Fans of both professional wrestling and sports-entertainment (even if I don?t consider there to be a difference between the two concepts) will find something of worth in the opening contest for WCW Starrcade 1997. Eddie’s proficiency as a stooge overall is quite clear even before the turn of the new millennium.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Edge ? WWE SummerSlam 08.25.02
There are a number of reasons why I fondly regard this match:
1.)Prior to establishing a ‘signature move-set? (as required in the WWE apparently), this specific encounter with Edge showcases the depth and extensive wrestling knowledge that Eddie Guerrero possessed. That is, if it weren?t obvious f rom his series with Dean Malenko and co. in ECW / WCW.
2.)It’s another good example of how Latino Heat could work as a technical wrestler exclusively, not to mention shades of out-wrestling the larger opponent in Edge. Yes, so this contest during SummerSlam 2002 reveals Guerrero performing in another two roles, the technician (not designed to ?anchor? a high-flyer) and the smaller, capable grappler competing with a larger opponent.
This is a good one for those who adore a meticulous attack on a bodily region, here being Edge’s left shoulder. Guerrero uses a variety of impact moves and rest-holds to punish Edge’s tweaked shoulder, keeping sure to not let the performance drag. His ?Latino Heat? temper and confidence are present, once again coating the match with a degree of personality to engage the viewer. Edge does a fine job selling the injury (his left arm appears useless f rom the point where he lands on it to begin with), although he momentarily forgets during the finish when he spears Eddie for a sudden victory. It’s a minute quibble merely concerned with Edge’s swiftness in covering Guerrero after using his injured shoulder to plant him into the canvas, but alas nothing that?ll ultimately ruin a respectable mid-card delight.
Watch for Eddie Guerrero’s intelligent use of moves and holds, which are neatly divided between Edge comeback sequences to stop the judgmental crowd f rom chanting ?boring!?.
The ?Anchored Lucha?
Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko, ECW World Television Championship Match ? ECW Hostile City Showdown 04.15.95
?Black Tiger? Eddie Guerrero vs. ?Wild Pegasus? Chris Benoit, Super J Cup Semi-Final ? NJPW Super J Cup Tournament 04.16.94
Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar, WWE Championship Match ? WWE No Way Out 02.15.04
Anything involving Rey Mysterio!
Juventud Guerrera vs. Eddie Guerrero ? WCW Nitro 08.03.98
Psychosis vs. Eddie Guerrero ? WCW Thunder 06.24.99
Eddie Guerrero vs. Jeff Hardy, WWE Intercontinental Championship Match ? WWE RAW 04.29.02
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle, WWE Championship Match ? WrestleMania XX 03.14.04
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle, WWE Championship Series ? WWE SmackDown 04.14.05
Bombs-Fest / Brawler
Eddie Guerrero vs. Edge, No Disqualifications Match ? WWE SmackDown 09.26.02
Something I have neglected to discuss this week, but will certainly arise next week when I explore more of Eddie Guerrero’s performances this side of the new millennium.
Tune in next week for the totally awesome and radical follow-up to Who’s Your Papi?! (Pt. 1), where I examine that endearing charisma Latino Heat deployed in his tenure in the WWE, and how he performs under an even more diverse range of scenarios as WWE Champion and beyond.
If ya?ll have any questions, queries or quizzes for me (please don?t send quizzes), by all means message me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until then, keep enjoying the build towards WrestleMania 25!