An interview with Eddie Guerrero
Conducted by Mike Mooneyham
The World Wrestling Federation sure didn’t need any extra help, but the acquisition last year of four of its rival’s most talented performers provided an instant bump in the ever-widening ratings margin between the two major promotions. “The Radicals”- Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero – in one fell swoop gave the WWF an immeasurable boost to its talent. All four knew they were taking a risk when they left behind their high-priced guaranteed contracts for the WWF which, with its emphasis on size and lower-paying downsided guarantees, could offer only the incentive of pushing four “hungry” stars who would be given the chance to break into that coveted top tier without the threat of being sabotaged due to backstage politics.
Guerrero, who had provided WCW with some of the company’s top matches over the previous couple of years, had been seriously injured in an automobile accident on New Year’s Eve 1998 near his home in Tampa. Guerrero, who had slept earlier in the evening, went out driving late that night when he fell asleep at the wheel. He suffered 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.
Earlier that year Guerrero had assembled a group of wrestlers billed as The LWO (Latin World Order) as part of an angle that stemmed from a disagreement with Eric Bischoff. Guerrero’s shoot-style interview on Nitro aimed at Bischoff was based on fact and was similar to the late Brian Pillman’s infamous “loose cannon” rant in 1996, but it was done as part of an angle. As in the case of Pillman, many of the WCW performers backstage initially thought the interview was a shoot and that Guerrero was leaving the company. The angle, however, was directed at only a small portion of the audience aware of Guerrero’s dissatisfaction with WCW management, and an even smaller percentage who knew that Bischoff had thrown coffee at Guerrero earlier during a meeting between the two in Bischoff’s office. The angle resulted in Guerrero organizing a stable of talented but disgruntled WCW performers who felt they weren’t getting a push.
Guerrero has received his acclaim since joining the WWF last year, although his stint has been somewhat hampered by injuries. In this interview, Guerrero discusses, among other things, the WWF, the car crash and the Bischoff coffee incident.
MM: How’s the WWF treating you?
EG: They’re taking care of me. I can’t complain.
MM:Was that a pretty good move for you?
EG: It was a chance that I took. Coming here was a chance all four of us took. The chance was on how the people would buy your character or what you do here. It’s not the chance of whether they’re going to give you the opportunity or not. The opportunity is given to you, and that’s what we always wanted. We knew by coming here, God willing, we’d have that opportunity. It’s been given to us, and they continue to work with us. That’s what I love about this place.
MM: You’re pretty much on an even playing field. You’re not limited by backstage politics as much as you were in WCW?
EG: No. Not at all. There’s one boss, and that’s Vince McMahon. He’s the one who calls the shots. I’m not knocking them over there, because there’s a lot of good people who I really love. My nephew’s over there, and I love him to death. But here there’s really an atmosphere of team playing. Everybody works together for one thing – for the team – and that’s great.
MM: Who came up with the “Latino Heat” gimmick?
EG: That’s something that just sort of came up. I just ran with it.
MM: Have you had any problem with stereotyping your character?
EG: I don’t think it’s stereotyping. That’s like you saying that to Cheech Marin. How can you stereotype a guy? We are what we are. I’m a Mexican-American. I am an Hispanic. I talk like this right now, but a lot of guys have that accent, you know. I mean, hey, I grew up with those guys. They’re from the barrio. They’re from the neighborhood. Our guys talk like that. It’s second nature. To you guys, it’s not, because you’re up here north or south, and you don’t see that. To go down southwest, and it’s natural, man. The only time you’ll see that is with Cheech Marin and stuff like that, and you do think it’s stereotyping, but go up to California, go up to Texas, even Chicago, and you’ll see it’s not really stereotyping. Let’s face it. America is a melting pot. If you want to say who the true Americans are, it’s the native Indians. I crossed a river. You guys crossed an ocean.
MM: You still think a lot about Art Barr?
EG: I think about him all the time. That’s why I called my Low Rider the Love Machine in tribute to him.
MM: Do you think you were a little ahead of your time with the Los Gringos gimmick?
EG: I think we were ahead of our time in Mexico. It wasn’t really me. I was just the workhorse of that team. Art was the charisma and the life of the team. That’s why when he passed away, there was no more Gringos Locos, because it was him. He was the spirit of the team.
MM: I can see you guys fitting very well as a team right now in the WWF.
EG: We would have fit in well. One of the things Art wanted to do was to come back here and start working in the states. Unfortunately he never got to realize that dream. I’m positive that he’s here at my side right now.
MM: Do you keep in touch with the family?
EG: I try to stay in contact with them. Unfortunately I don’t keep as good of communication as I should.[ad#MikeMooneyham-468×15]
MM: How are things different working in the WWF? Obviously, with Vince, you have just one boss. Does the morale seem better in the locker room? EG: I can’t really speak for WCW right now, because they’re in a different direction. You can really see they’re trying. But as far as here, this is the best organization, bar none, I’ve ever worked for. And I talking New Japan – I’ve worked everywhere. This is the best place professionally – from the bottom to the top. They give you direction. They let you know what’s going on. Over there they give you very little direction. Here they work with you, they show you where they want your character to go, what state they want the character. They let you give your input. They’re concerned about your feelings. What I love about them is that they accept a lot of our input, and they work around what we feel. If you don’t feel what you’re doing, it’s not going to get over. I’ll be honest. When they were there (WCW) they gave us a chance. Then everything got turned around. Eric wasn’t there. That’s another reason we left. I don’t know what it is or what it was, but the situation just didn’t work out. That was a desperate cry for help. We had had it. We were at the point where we wanted to go work in Japan. We didn’t know if we were going to come here or not. We just said the heck with it. We knew we could go work in Japan. We could work independents.
MM: What was your relationship with Eric?
EG: We had our little coffee incident. I can’t blame him. Maybe he thought I was ungrateful or something. I just wasn’t happy with the situation. He had mentioned once that if I wasn’t happy, to tell him, and that’s what I did. He really felt I was ungrateful at that time, and I can see his point. He didn’t throw the coffee at me. He kind of threw it at the ground, but it still got on me. I think he was a little upset. But it’s been blown out of proportion. The good thing is that we apologized to one another and we got things straightened out, and we never had a problem after that. We had discussions, but we never had problems.
MM: And the end came when Bill Busch was in charge. It didn’t seem like things were going to get any better?
EG: I’ll be honest with you. I never thought they would give us a release. When we got our release, it was like, “Wow, all right,” and then it was like, “Oh man, what am I gonna do?” We were very fortunate. We talked to Vince. We talked to the whole company after we had received our releases. We were able to get hooked up, and thank God, Vince ddd not take advantage of our situation.
MM: He could have had you for nothing?
EG: That’s right, and that’s what I respect about him.
MM: I’m sure WCW regrets that move.
EG: I don’t know. They’ve got a lot of talent over there. Maybe they do regret it in some way. They have a lot of talent, and I don’t want to put anybody down over there. They just need to work their talent the right way.
MM: I know you’ve always had pretty strong convictions. Do you ever feel you might be compromising some of those beliefs, not only in the WWF, but in the wrestling business in general?
EG: God knows my heart and He knows that this is entertainment and what I am portraying is a character. That’s like you asking any actor in Hollywood why he does that part. God provides me the opportunity to wrestle. And as a wrestler, I have to portray a part, and this is my part. I have my rules, and I stick to them, and although I played Chyna’s partner, I don’t think I’ve ever touched her or done anything vulgar.
MM: Could there ever come a time when they ask you to do something that you don’t feel comfortable with?
EG: They haven’t, and let’s just leave it at that. They’ve been very good to me.
MM: What would your dad (late Mexican star Gory Guerrero) feel about wrestling today?
EG: He would probably roll over, because it’s made a complete U-turn. But it’s part of the business. You take people like Pat Patterson and Jack Lanza and the agents here, Michael Hayes, Tom Prichard, Tony Garea, these are people who wrestled in the past with my dad. They, themselves, have changed their ideas on the business. They changed with the times. Like in any field, all sports, things change, and you’ve got to go with it, or you’ll get left out. I remember when I used to wrestle 20 or 30 minutes. That was a good night’s work. Now you go more than 10, and they’re yelling at you. But it’s different. They want fast action on TV. It’s a different crowd. The fans are different. Bottom line, they’re the fans, and they’re the ones who are keeping this show alive. You have to give them what they want.
MM: You liked your angle with Chyna?
EG: I was given the opportunity. Rubbing shoulders with her is great. With all the exposure she had, it was great. I had the opportunity to do some acting, different parts of me that I was able to show. In the few years I was with WCW, I never got the opportunity to express myself. I have here. They gave me an opportunity to produce my character, and they have helped me develop my character.
MM: Do you feel some of the Lucha Libre guys were discriminated against in WCW – especially in light of the statements made by Vince Russo.
EG: If that were all true, then he would have never given me or Rey Misterio the opportunity. Maybe he discriminated against other people. I don’t know. I don’t even want to get into that. Both sides are friends.
MM: How long were you out after the car accident?
EG: I was out a total of six months. I was supposed to be out eight to nine months, but I rushed it.
MM: A pretty scary experience?
EG: It was scary going back and wondering if you were going to be able to produce the same type of match. The people there were relentless. They don’t care what you’ve gone through. Not everybody, but just a lot of the people. Sometimes things happen in your personal life – like the car wreck, that was my fault. It happened, and I almost died from it. But by the grace of God, I was able to come back. I don’t know if I was ever the same, but I produce different stuff now. Maybe I not as high a flyer or as spectacular or daring as I used to be, maybe I take care of myself a little more, but I make up for it in different ways.
MM: You fell asleep at the wheel?
EG: Yes. I had never gotten a ticket for anything. I think I was overtired and had a long road trip. I had gone for breakfast. It was New Year’s Day, and I had forgotten the store was closed. I went up the road eight miles to a 7-11, and coming back, the tiredness hit me, and I guess I fell asleep and my foot pressed the gas, and here we go. I was shot out 100 feet through the top of the car. What saved me, and I don’t want to promote this because I should have been wearing it, but what saved me was not wearing my seat belt. If I had worn my seat belt, in that car, I would have been crushed because the car was totally demolished. That’s how bad it had tumbled. The only thing that saved me was that I was shot through the T-top. I know I’m here by the grace of God.
MM: When did you regain consciousness?
EG: I regained consciousness while they were working on my leg.
MM: How is your physical condition overall now? Obviously you’re not the same as you were.
EG: I live with it. Right now it’s raining up here, so I have pain. It’s like arthritis pain. I have three compressed vertebrae in my back that give me problems sometimes. I’ve had reconstructive surgery on my chins and calves. I lost a little bit of my calf. But gosh, just to be able to be working again, and to be alive.
MM: How old are you now? You’re much younger than your brothers (Chavo, Hector and Mando).
EG: I’m 32. Maybe.
MM: Definitely. Chavo was working 30 years ago. He’s been around. He had some great programs with Ric Flair. What’s your take on the Nature Boy?
EG: He’s one of the best there’s ever been.
MM: Have you been impressed by the workrate of the guys in the WWF?
EG: Definitely. It’s unbelievable. Really professional. They work hard here.
MM: As opposed to Kevin Nash?
EG: No comment.
MM: OK. How do you really spell your first name: Eddie or Eddy?
EG: I spell it Eddy, but everybody else spells it Eddie. When I sign my autograph, I always spell it with a “y.”
MM: Is that your real name?
EG: No. My real name is Edouardo (Edward). Eddy’s short for Edouardo.