In November 2005, professional wrestler Eddie Guerrero passed away. He was a husband, father, and a Born Again Christian – a crucial piece of knowledge for me.
Eddie Guerrero serves as an inspiration to me for a few reasons… Firstly, as a professional. He ascended to the height of his work as a WWE superstar, winning the WWE Championship in February 2004 with a dramatic match against future UFC legend Brock Lesnar. He was also loved and well received by the majority of his peers and fans (mark and ‘smark’ fans alike). Eddie was crisp and smart in the ring, and charismatic outside of it – go and check out the Los Guerreros short videos. They are amazing comedy. 😀 Eddie reached the peak of his professional life through intensity and hard work. As a person who struggles to stay motivated in secular activities, knowing Eddie passion for his work helps me to soldier on in my own.
Secondly, Eddie is an inspiration to me because of his redemption story. You can say wrestling isn’t real but there was nothing faked about what Eddie Guerrero overcame with God’s help. He was a self-confessed addict, with problems with prescription drugs and alcohol. In 1999, he fell asleep at the wheel of his moving car from an overdose and almost killed himself. He received a DUI in 2001 and was fired from the WWE. And he admitted to not being close with God, despite being Born Again as young man. He lost his family’s confidence and his wife, Vickie, decided to end their marriage.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
However like a phoenix from the ashes, Eddie Guerrero rose again starting with rebuilding his relationship with God. He prayed and read his Bible, went through counselling and was checked into rehab for his addiction. He wrestled for smaller companies such as Ring of Honor (ROH) until early 2002 when WWE offered him a new contract. Eventually, he wiped away his bad reputation by the grace of God. And later that year, he rekindled his relationship with Vickie Guerrero, leading to them renewing their vows in 2003. By 2005, Eddie celebrated 4 years completely clean and sober by God’s grace.
Eddie went through separation from his wife and family, disgrace in his industry, and a life-long addiction and came out on the other side of the valley, thanks to the Good Shepherd.
Finally, Eddie Guerrero was open about sharing his faith with people in his workplace. In a business known for drugs, sex and violence, Eddie became a light for Christ in the WWE locker room.
He gave other wrestlers Bibles. He openly discussed his love for Jesus Christ with people. led people in prayers. By the brief accounts I’ve read from others, he was not overly preachy, but loved others. To me, Eddie was the consummate professional Christian – he was at the top of his line of work and not afraid to show others the love of Christ that got him there.
Here’s a story from Ken Anderson, a TNA wrestler and former WWE superstar who worked with Eddie in the months before his passing:
“He loved the business and he loved people. He loved people that loved the business. He loved his wife and children. He was a devout Christian and used to share scriptures with me in the locker room and discuss their meanings even though he knew that I was a non-believer. He didn’t do it with any sort of condescension but in a gentle caring way, and he valued, listened to and understood (to a degree) my rebuttals and the reasons for my skepticism. He treated everyone with the same amount of respect.
“Once, Chris Benoit, Eddie and I went into a Bob Evans on a Sunday morning to eat breakfast before hitting the gym. The line, as you can imagine, looked like the line for Space Mountain at Disneyworld during peak season. The host recognized us and said, “Don’t worry, a booth just opened up. I’ll get you guys seated next.” Eddie very calmly said “No man, all of these people have been waiting patiently. We’re not special. Don’t treat one group of people better than you would another. Thank you, but we can wait.” Life is precious folks. Treat people the way that you want to be treated. Love the people that you love as hard as you can. Enjoy them while you still have time. I’m a better person for knowing this man, if but for a brief moment in time. The wrestling world misses him dearly. If I believe in any sort of afterlife, it’s the fact that while he was here he touched so many lives and continues to do so 10 years after his passing.”
In the end, you see that what Eddie Guerrero accomplished in his life was not only his determination, but due to the grace of God. The man they called ‘Latino Heat’ wrestled his way to the top of life but not against flesh and blood, but by beating out principalities, powers, and the demons he encountered. He wrestled life with God on his side and won.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
It’s been said a thousand times… Eddie, you lied, cheated, and stole our hearts. Thank you for your great example, and rest in peace in the comfort of heaven.
For more reading on the life and times of Eddie Guerrero, buy his book: Cheating Death, Stealing Life – The Eddie Guerrero story. Such an awesome book. 🙂