November 13 marked the 15th anniversary of Eddie Guerrero’s passing. For the anniversary, many wrestlers paid tribute to the late superstar on both social media and inside the squared circle.
Bruce Prichard spoke about Guerrero on a recent edition of the Something to Wrestle podcast, sharing stories and perspectives on Latino Heat. Prichard recalled a car wreck Eddie was in on New Year’s Day in 1999, saying that incident changed his life for the better.
“Well I don’t know if it was the catalyst,” Prichard said. “But I also don’t know if you could remove this moment in time of Eddie’s life, which was somewhat self-destructive in how the rest of his career would have turned out. So it’s pivotal as far as what happened in the results after the fact, because it pretty much did change his life forever, and you always get sad when you see this happen to someone. And you are helpless for a while when someone gets hooked on pills.
Before his career-defining run in WWE, Eddie Guerrero was a popular cruiserweight in WCW, where he formed a strong bond with three specific men. Guerrero, alongside Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn, formed The Radicalz, a stable that quickly became frustrated with the political environment of WCW. The four men jumped to the then-WWF at the turn of the century, which Prichard said was a necessary reset for Guerrero and company.
“Well the four guys were definitely not happy with WCW,” Prichard said. “In their mind, when Vince Russo came, this is what they needed to have a fresh start and to be able to do something different – non-traditional wrestling with Russo at the helm.
“So it was a moment of hope, and then they quickly came into a moment of dread when they realized what exactly they had there, or didn’t have. So WCW I guess made the change to Kevin Sullivan, and there was some personal heat with Sullivan where these guys did not feel that they would be treated fairly moving forward, so they asked for their release and they called me. It was actually Perry Saturn that originally called me and then talked to Chris Benoit, talked to Eddie, talked to Dean [Malenko], and got them up. The Radicalz episode we have in the archives explains it and lays out the entire story.
“There’s a hilarious story with Konnan that we’ve gotten over since then, and the fact that the four guys coming over only wanted to come as those four guys. No matter what anybody says, thinks, or what have you, that is how it happened and what happened.”
After Guerrero broke into WWE with The Radicalz, he began a singles career where he pursued the affections of Chyna. The two worked together as a pair for many months, with Chyna even helping the irresistible Latino Heat capture the European Championship. Tension brewed between the two towards the tail-end of their storyline, and eventually, things boiled over on an episode of RAW. Guerrero got himself inserted into Chyna’s Intercontinental Title defense against Kurt Angle, where he swore he was only there to protect her. Prichard recalled the wild finish of that match, saying what went down was very much unexpected.
“He was just going down to check on her,” Prichard began, “make sure she was okay and let her know that he loved her. He kind of gave her a hug and just wanted to be affectionate. The referee, being the a-hole referee, counted the fall, and next thing you knew, s–t, history was made.”
Guerrero and Chyna had an on-screen partnership for about a year, and while it elevated both superstars, Prichard said the pairing eventually ran its course.
“You want Chyna to go on her own with the playboy stuff, and Eddie in many respects was stealing the show there,” Prichard said. “So it was time to move on with Eddie as well. They didn’t need each other anymore.”
While Guerrero won world titles and had show-stealing WrestleMania matches in WWE, his first run with the company left a lot to be desired. In November 2001, Guerrero was arrested for drunk driving and was released by WWE three days after. There have always been rumblings of Guerrero being scheduled for a big match against ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin at King of the Ring 2002, but any potential plans were scrapped after Guerrero got his pink slip. Prichard revealed the segments between Austin and Guerrero likely would’ve led to some sort of in-ring payoff, but the nature of those segments were a lot for Guerrero to handle personally.
“Well they did do stuff on TV leading up to it,” Prichard said. “We did the horrible bar room karaoke thing, where Steve sang and Eddie was there to heckle. That was a hell of an ordeal because of Eddie’s addictions and everything. Eddie was uncomfortable being in the bar. It was, ‘Look, Eddie, you’re either a performer or you’re not.’ He got over it pretty quickly.
“I think we did it in Nashville… It was probably some of the worst TV that I ever did, because I don’t think Steve was really into it. I don’t think Vince was really into it and Eddie was a little apprehensive. So, it was an idea that Steve had that was only half thought out, and it was a situation where Vince really wanted to do it because Steve really wanted to do it. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it because it just did not work.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.