I've been watching old episodes of Monday Nitro, and I just wrapped up the 95 batch last night.
Eddie featured on those early episodes fairly frequently, moreso than I remembered. For all the crap that was going on in WCW at the time, there were glimpses of signs of change too. The Nitro set looked awesome and the live atmosphere added a lot, but you also had guys like Eddie, Benoit, and Malenko who were bringing a different flavor to a show that had The Dungeon of Doom running around (BTW, Paul Wight was actually booked effectively as a giant in those early stages, but that's a discussion for another time).
The December episodes of 1995 largely centered on the World Title situation and making the top three contenders (Sting, Luger, and Flair) look good heading into the Triangle Match at Starrcade 95. To do that, they were put in enhancement matches on the week's leading into the PPV. These weren't full on jobber squashes as the opponents generally had more cred than the standard no name. Additionally, Flair would be challenging Savage on the Christmas episode of Nitro, but the week before that, Flair took on the guy that would go onto become everyone's favorite cheater, Eddie Guerrero.
At this point, Eddie was more of a blank slate, kind of like what Jericho was when he first got there. Great athlete with some potential, but still needed to find that personality that would help connect him to the audience. At this point, Eddie was largely seen as a face that could have exciting and athletic matches, and here he was put in the ring with one of the all time greats, Ric Flair.
It was a solid bout that, of course, saw Flair get the win, but some of that excitement that Eddie would bring to the best years of his career were starting to creep out at this point and it showed in this match. One of the joys I get out of watching old stuff on the Network is really getting to see the evolution of my old favorites from the humble beginnings, all the way to superstardom, and Eddie was no exception.
As he grew, Eddie became one of those guys that was Mr. Reliable as far as on screen content goes. You need him to be intense and angry? He can do it. You need him to be funny? He can do it. You need him to be in a tag team? He can do it. You need him to have a 5 star singles match? He can do it. Eddie was a guy you could stick anywhere on the card in any situation and 99 times out of 100, he was going to deliver.
My favorite Eddie Guerrero memory? Probably him beating Lesnar for the title. Eddie was one of those guys that I never thought would ever make it to the World Title picture, so to see him finally get it was a pure delight for me.
My favorite Eddie Guerrero match? Well I am tempted to say the Ladder Match with Rey at Summerslam 05 since that was the one time I got to see Eddie in person, and while the live experience was great, it admittedly isn't his best match with Rey. That would probably go to their heralded Halloween Havoc 97 match.
But my personal favorite Eddie match has got to be the bloodbath he had with JBL at J-Day 2004. It was one of the few times I was yelling at the TV for the match to be stopped, only for me to get completely lost in the moment when Eddie made his comeback towards the end of the match. They took a situation where nobody thought JBL belonged there, and nobody thought the match would be any good and turned it into something that I still remember vividly 15 years later, a true testament to Eddie's effort and dedication. That was also the match that made JBL as Eddie did everything he needed to do to get the heel over, and JBL found himself having to lead the dance to the match's conclusion as Eddie bled buckets in the ring.
Wow. It feels like yesterday I went on wwe.com and saw the news of him passing. I was only 10 at the time and he was my favorite wrestler R.I.P. There will never be a more well rounded worker imo. Charisma,intensity,fire,atlethism,heel,babyface whatever. The guy could do it all and then some.
There's so many great moments of his but if I had to pick one I'd say his actual title win against Brock Lesnar. It was so emotional and even all these years later I still cry watching him win.
Eddie was incredible, he could literally do it all and I think there is a legit case to be made that he is the greatest professional wrestler of all time. If anyone was ever born to entertain it was Eddie Guerrero.
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