Crisp, lovely day in Norman, Oklahoma the home of the Oklahoma Sooners who will have their last home football game this Saturday on Fox Sports 1 vs Iowa State that I'll be attending. The four, Norman Homeland stores carry JR's products as do the three Lawton, Oklahoma Country Mart stores. For most fans, I encourage you to shop online for JR's delicious products from http://www.wweshop.com, http://www.americansoda.co.uk or http://www.beyondtheropes.co.uk. Our products are as great in the kitchen as they are on the grill and make super, holiday gifts. Get quick, home delivery without any shopping hassles by shopping online.
I remember the first time that I ever met Eddie Guerrero. It was around 1999 and Eddie flew himself to NYC after a WCW TV taping to meet with Vince McMahon and me at the McMahon home in Greenwich, Connecticut to discuss coming to work in WWE.
Eddie appeared to be nervous and also somewhat 'beaten down' and depressed. It was obvious that his tenure in WCW was getting the best of him. Eddie's brown eyes always told a revealing story and his eyes that day screamed "please get me out of this hell and just give me a chance to be the best that I can be."
Eddie was old school respectful and, growing up in a pro wrestling family of significant distinction, was very soft spoken and humble especially to McMahon was who and still is the top decision maker in the business.
The second generation wrestler wanted out of WCW and simply wanted an opportunity to prove that, even though he wasn't the biggest dog in the fight, that he could more than carry his own and become a major star in WWE.
Obviously, 'Latino Heat' was on the money on that one.
I eventually finalized our contractual arrangements with Eddie along with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn to all come to WWE after getting their release from WCW and the four debuted on RAW on Monday night January 31, 2000 as a group called the Radicals.
Unfortunately, during his very first match in WWE, Eddie severely injured his shoulder executing his signature 'Frog Splash' and had to miss significant time due to the injury.
I think that this may have been where Eddie and I bonded because he was untrusting of authority figures in the business and was deeply concerned that we were going to void his contract if he couldn't perform after 6 weeks of inactivity based on the language in the contract. I assured Eddie that language was in all contracts to protect WWE from dead beat talents who might want to to milk the system and get paid while being 'injured.' I promised him that he was going to be fine, that we loved him and his work and that he would be paid his weekly check while he was on the injured list plus we would obviously paid for his medical bills.
But, I stressed, you have to trust me.
Eddie did trust me and that trust held our relationship together for years. Even when Eddie would come to me with problems including battling demons that he had to have professional help to get under control to having issues with 'creative' and the direction at times that they wanted to take "Latino Heat.'
I vividly remember the day at a RAW TV when Benoit, Malenko and Saturn came to my make shift office at the arena to tell me that their dear friend Eddie Guerrero needed help and that he needed it immediately. Needless to say, the fiery and proud Hispanic star was none to happy that his friends intervened or that I was confronting him about his 'issues.' I went to Eddie's locker room that he shared with his friends and found him unconscious. There would be no negotiating. It was professional help or goodbye.
Before Eddie became a born again Christian, there were multiple Eddie's. There was the 'good' Eddie who was soft spoken, caring and a pleasure to be around. There was the 'troubled' Eddie who carried massive amounts of guilt around after doing things that he knew were wrong and self destructive. There was the "let's have a few beers Eddie" who was a happy go lucky, funny guy. Finally, there was the hard liquor drinking, aggressive Eddie who perceived that he was 'Andre Size' when he was over served.
We sought help for Eddie but then I had to end up terminating his contract after an incident that occurred after Eddie had attended rehab. Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they can dig their way out of the holes that they dig for themselves.
When Eddie returned to WWE in 2002 he was essentially a new man. He carried his Bible with him on the road and when he was having a bad day, Eddie would absorb himself in the word of God and find peace. It was an amazing transformation. It was real.
Professionally, Eddie was, I'd suggest, never happier than he was the night of WM20 in NYC's Madison Square Garden. He and his long time traveling partner and friend Chris Benoit both left MSG as the top two champions in WWE. It was the culmination of a long, challenging journey for two, extremely talented men who both were literally obsessed, perhaps to a fault, with shedding the claim that they were both not 'big enough' to be legitimately considered as 'top guys.'
After 40 years in the business, I don't think that I've ever been associated with any one as multi talented, more complex, dangerously driven and passionate as Eddie Guerrero. He was simply an amazingly gifted man who I feel blessed to have known and to have worked with for the handful of years that we were together in WWE.
Any company who puts an automatic size limit on how big wrestlers must be to be hired with WWE, TNA. etc are making a huge mistake. Because one never knows on that rare occasion when one might find another amazingly gifted, passionate, charismatic, in ring genius who's all of 5'8" and reminds us all of the WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero.
Eddie was only 38 years of age when he passed away suddenly of heart issues on November 13, 2005 and no one ever I've known has left a more memorable legacy in the pro wresting biz in only 38 years on Earth than the unforgettable Eddie Guerrero.
RIP Eddie....and Viva La Raza.