November 21, 2005
Everybody wants to know... about Eddie GuerreroJBL talks candidly about the passing of a true wrestling great
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Layfield was composed and articulate, and deserves all the credit in the world for keeping it together, even though he must have been emotionally exhausted and inwardly heartbroken.
He spoke candidly about the circumstances surrounding Eddie's death, and the gaping hole it left in the WWE locker room.
John, how did you personally hear about Eddie's death?
"When I walked into television. We had to be there at 10 a.m. in the Target Centre in Minneapolis. That's when one of the referees came up and told me right away."
When was the last time you saw him?
"The previous Tuesday. We were all in Indianapolis and one of the restaurant owners kept the restaurant open so the wrestlers could come by and have something to eat after the matches. We wanted Eddie to join us, but he spent two hours talking with one of the younger wrestlers who was having problems with his family. It was typical Eddie."
There are a lot of similarities between what happened to Eddie and the death of Brian Pillman a few years earlier. I'm guessing that fact isn't lost on you guys?
"Of course not, I was there for that as well. I think it's different circumstances since Eddie had beaten his demons, which makes it even more tragic.
"There's never a time for young guy to die, but this is about as bad as it can get. Eddie seemed so much in the clear, celebrating his fourth year of sobriety. Brian, bless his heart and God rest his soul, was still fighting those demons daily and not always winning."
Did Eddie's family attend the Raw and Smackdown tribute shows?
"No, they weren't there. Only Chavo, who was Eddie's nephew, but only a few years younger and was like a brother to him. He was there."
Any death is tragic, but why do you think Eddie's passing has hit people so hard?
"It wasn't a matter of just a guy dying that we knew for a long time. It was a guy who personally had an impact on nearly everybody he met. The thing with Eddie, and I guess this is transparent enough, is that Eddie was... Well, let me give you a story.
"I went through a divorce several years ago and I didn't want anybody to know. We were actually in Calgary, I went to get my car and Eddie asked 'Can I ride with you?'. So we stopped at a restaurant for something to eat and when we got there, Eddie said 'What's wrong?'. He knew something was up and we stayed there for three hours and he tried to help me.
"Every day, he would talk to me about my problems. He would bring it up each time, I would never bring it up. Every week, he would bring me scriptures from the Bible to read -- he was very religious -- just for me.
"After that, I noticed that he was doing that kind of thing with everybody, not just me. It's how he was."
You were one of the guys who held off the European tour to go to his funeral?
"Yeah, there was a few of us who stayed. Eddie was the groomsman at my wedding, he called off work to be there, and there's no way I could have gone to work and missed his funeral. I was given the great honour of being allowed to speak at it, accompanying his body to the grave."
I'll leave this one open-ended... What would you like to say about Eddie Guerrero?
"Eddie had a feel for things that nobody did. It's almost indescribable, the way Eddie had a connection to the crowd. Nothing was rehearsed with Eddie, everything was a matter of feel and passion. And that's highly unusual in any business. He really stood out.
"I've been in the ring with him more times than anybody. In fact, when they first put me in the main event with Eddie, there were a lot of people within our company that didn't think I could do it. Eddie was a great wrestler in the ring, and it was hard to keep up with him physically, and there were people who didn't think I had the talent or ability to keep up with him. Eddie went personally and stuck up for me. Because of that, I owe my entire career to Eddie.
"He touched hundreds of lives personally, not to mention the millions he touched that were his fans."
WWE has produced a t-shirt in memory of Eddie Guerrero, with all proceeds going to Guerrero's wife and children. It can be ordered at wweshop.com.
TJ Madigan is a sports writer for the Calgary Sun and his "Everybody wants to know..." columns appear exclusively on SLAM! Wrestling.