By Mike Mooneyham
Nov. 14, 2005
World Wrestling Entertainment star Eddie Guerrero was found dead Sunday morning in a hotel room prior to a WWE television taping in Minneapolis, Minn.
Guerrero had failed to answer a wakeup call early Sunday at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Minneapolis and didn’t respond to a knock on his hotel-room door.
Security and Guerrero’s nephew, fellow WWE performer Chavo Guerrero Jr., forced their way into his room and found the wrestler on the floor. Efforts to resuscitate the 38-year-old Guerrero were not successful.
Chavo Guerrero said he and his uncle flew in together Saturday night and were supposed to meet for breakfast Sunday morning.
Police said there are no signs of foul play or indications that Guerrero’s death was a suicide. His death is under investigation.“This is a huge loss,” WWE chairman Vince McMahon said at a press conference Sunday. “Eddie was a wonderful, fun-loving human being. Eddie was a consummate performer.”
McMahon added that Guerrero, beset by substance abuse issues in the past, only days earlier had celebrated four years of sobriety. Guerrero, who was fired by WWE several years ago for drug and alcohol problems, later attended rehab funded by McMahon, cleaned up his act and became one of the most respected workers on the roster.
Guerrero, known as “Latino Heat,” was part of a legendary Mexican wrestling family that included his father, the late Gory Guerrero, brothers Chavo Sr., Mondo and Hector, and nephew Chavo Jr. (current WWE performer Kerwin White). He was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and grew up in El Paso, Texas, with a wrestling ring in his backyard.
The 5-8, 220-pound Guerrero, who began wrestling professionally in 1987, held numerous titles during his career. Guerrero was one of the most popular performers on the WWE roster despite being turned heel last year. He became only the second wrestler of Hispanic heritage to be WWE heavyweight champion when he defeated Brock Lesnar, a former University of Minnesota wrestling standout, in February 2004. Guerrero lost the title four months later.
McMahon said this week’s editions of Raw and Smackdown, which were both taped Sunday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis, would be tribute shows.
“Eddie would want the show to go on, and that’s what we’re going to try to do tonight,” McMahon said Sunday. “Eddie would have wanted the show to go on,” added Chavo Guerrero Jr. “He is 100 percent business … He had a huge heart, one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve known personally. He had a lot of love for the fans. He is going to be missed tremendously.”
WWE was scheduled to release a Guerrero autobiography next month, based on a WWE-produced UPN special and DVD, ironically titled “Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story.” The special chronicled the story of Guerrero turning his life around, reclaiming his family, winning the WWE championship and headlining the biggest pay-per-view of all time (Wrestlemania XX).
In addition his to his prior substance abuse problems, Guerrero narrowly averted death in a serious car accident on New Year’s Eve 1998. Guerrero, who fell asleep at the wheel, flipped his car going 130 miles an hour, suffering a fractured pelvis and lacerated liver, but it could have much been worse. His car was demolished, and had Guerrero been wearing a seat belt, he likely would have been killed. Instead he was propelled through a sunroof, which prevented him from being crushed inside the car. Guerrero landed nearly 100 feet away, but on soft sand, which once again saved him from more serious injury.
Guerrero is survived by his wife, Vickie, and three daughters, Shaul, 14; Sherilyn, 9; and Kaylie Marie, 3.
The service will be held Thursday in Phoenix where Guerrero and his family recently moved from central Florida. Phoenix resident Superstar Billy Graham (Wayne Coleman) has been asked by the family to conduct the service.