Eddie Guerrero was asked about the best year of his life." />

 

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Wrestling world mourns Guerrero
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


Eddie Guerrero


Six months ago, in an interview with the Calgary Sun, Eddie Guerrero was asked about the best year of his life.

"I still haven't had it," Guerrero responded. "(Life) just gets better and better. And the best is yet to come."

Sadly, that would prove not to be the case. On Sunday morning, Guerrero was found dead in a Minneapolis hotel room. Heart failure was listed as the cause of death, although more detailed toxicology and autopsy reports are pending.

Guerrero was one of the most popular stars in WWE, largely responsible for a boom in wrestling viewership among Latinos over the past two years.

He was regarded as one of the better in-ring workers in the industry and beat all odds in 2004 when he was crowned WWE champion, despite being only 5 ft. 7 in. in a league usually dominated by giants.

He was also considered one of wrestling's success stories outside the ring, having beat the demons that plague so many others in the industry.

A 2004 UPN documentary chronicled his battles with drugs, alcohol and depression, which tore apart his family and nearly cost him his life. Guerrero went through rehab, cleaned up his act and reunited his family, leading to the most successful run of his wrestling career.

He celebrated his fourth year of sobriety just before his death.

On the night he died, WWE scrapped plans for the Raw and Smackdown TV tapings, instead presenting two shows that paid tribute to Guerrero.

No angles. No storylines. Just straight-up wrestling matches and heartfelt tributes from his friends and colleagues.

The 10-bell salute at the top of the show had most of WWE's stars and much of the audience in tears.

Guerrero had flown to Minneapolis the night before. He was booked to take part in a three-way Smackdown main event, acting as the workhorse in a match that was expected to see the world title moved from Batista to Randy Orton.

On Sunday morning, when Guerrero missed his 7 a.m. wake-up call, security was alerted by his nephew and fellow WWE wrestler, Chavo. They found him lying face-down in his bathroom and he was pronounced dead soon after. He was 38.

Guerrero is survived by his wife, Vickie, and three children.

There are questions that naturally surface after such a tragedy.

Questions about the toll the business takes on wrestlers and why so many of them drop dead before the age of 40.

But those are questions for another day, as the focus right now should remain on the loss of a wrestling legend.

Guerrero's passing hit hard within the wrestling world. Thousands of e-mails and letters of condolence have arrived at WWE offices, with his death garnering more mainstream coverage than any wrestling death since Owen Hart.

According to John Bradshaw Layfield, Guerrero's close friend and storyline nemesis, the reaction is because Guerrero connected with the audience in a way few others could.

"Eddie touched hundreds of lives personally," Layfield tells the Sun.

"He overcame more obstacles than I'd ever seen to get his life and his family back. It was an amazing story and I think a lot of people relate to that."

Layfield, known to fans as Smackdown star JBL, said it won't be easy for the wrestlers to recover from the loss.

"He was incredible in the ring and an incredible man outside of it. There'll never be another Eddie Guerrero."

EDITOR'S NOTE: We'll have more from JBL on Eddie Guerrero on Monday on SLAM! Wrestling.

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