With the 12th anniversary of Eddie Guerrero’s passing just last month, I wanted to look back at his tremendous career. Latino Heat had a short time as a full-fledged main-eventer, but his in-ring excellence, energy and unbridled charisma made him a star in the eyes of wrestling fans long before he ever won a world title. Guerrero’s legacy is the inspiration he gives the many men and women who follow in his footsteps. This list of his greatest matches and moments will hopefully highlight why Guerrero deserves to be in the conversation of greatest of all time.
20) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (New Japan Pro Wrestling, June 12, 1996)
After starting in CMLL and AAA, Guerrero moved to New Japan and adopted the Black Tiger II character. It was at this point in his career that Guerrero was really coming into his own, developing the his mixed style of lucha libre, puroresu and chain wrestling. This is a great watch: Both men trade off spectacular and innovative moves such as the brainbuster, Ligerbomb and the tope atomico. On this night, Black Tiger II bests Liger, a legend who still competes today.
19) Turns his back on Rey Mysterio. (WWE Smackdown, June 5, 2005)
One of the highlights of 2005 was the back-and-forth friendly rivalry between Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. It’s perhaps one of the great rivalries of modern wrestling because these two men fought across multiple countries and between multiple wrestling companies. At first, Guerrero just wanted to beat Mysterio, but Rey kept finding a way to win. Then it all changed – Guerrero saved his buddy from a 2-on-1 attack, only to mercilessly beat and bloody him without a mask. This led to one of the best heel promos of Eddie’s career the week after, and arguably set him up to be a ruthless top guy if he wanted, too.
18) vs. Chris Benoit (Pegasus Kid) (NJPW, April 16, 1994)
This a controversial entry for obvious reasons and I’m in no way ignoring the horrifying acts of one Chris Benoit. However, these two men were lifelong friends and a Guerrero top 20 would be woefully lacking if you didn’t acknowledge the tremendous chemistry these two men had. So if you bear with me, jumping back to New Japan Pro Wrestling, it’s wild that this match happened in 1994. If you find it and watch it you’ll see that it would stand up easily against many of the jaw-dropping NXT matches we’re accustomed to nowadays.
17) vs. The Rock (WWE Monday Night Raw, July 22, 2002)
The Rock was the newly crowned WWE Undisputed Champion and on a collision course with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. While celebrating and electrifying as only The Great One can, Guerrero interrupted. This promo is a great back and forth – without giving too much away, Eddie stands toe to toe with Rock and held his own not only in the promo, but in the match to follow. It’s been said by some that this match was the first time Vince McMahon saw Guerrero as future world champion.
16) vs. Dean Malenko (ECW TV, August 29, 1995)
In a two-out-of-three falls match, this was the ECW swan song for both Guerrero and Malenko. This match, as well as the series that lead up to it, was ECW’s version of a premier league. It was 1990’s American technical wrestling at its finest – Eddie and his friend Dean avoided the blood and guts ECW fans were used to, instantly catapulting the hardcore promotion into a new light. It ends with a double pin and a touching goodbye for both competitors.
15) vs. JBL (WWE Judgement Day 2004)
How could this one not be on the list? Eddie met his match versus his greatest villain in John Bradshaw Layfield. JBL had gone from beer-drinking, cigar-smoking tough guy to wannabe tough guy millionaire. In a rivalry that became racially charged, JBL attacked Eddie’s heritage, even threatening his family. JBL starts the match with a promo against the Los Angeles crowd before the bell so the crowd is ready to get their pitchforks out, too. Unlike any of the other matches on this list so far, this was a brawl. Eddie, who’s full of P and V, comes into this match with the swagger of a hit-man with one mission. However, one chair shot heard round the world turned Guerrero into a bloody mess. It’s one of the goriest events in WWE history and arguably the best match JBL ever had.
14) vs. Diamond Dallas Page (WCW Starrcade 1996)
Two future hall of famers face off in this one. These two have a natural chemistry: Page, who is known to be incredibly unselfish in the ring, sells well for Guerrero. After some exciting near-falls, Guerrero gets a big victory to help build his career.
13) vs. Syxx (WCW NWO Souled Out 1997)
So between 1996 and 1997 there are a few big banner matches in a row for Eddie. Here’s the second one: Eddie was fighting for his stolen United States Championship and for the pride of WCW during the first and only NWO-sponsored pay per view. Guerrero had to combat the shady officiating of Nick Patrick and the lightning offense of Syxx. A few tremendous high spots and an upset victory had the crowd going nuts.
12) vs. Chavo Guerrero (WWE Royal Rumble 2004)
While it may have come too soon, Los Guerreros were torn apart by the jealousy of Chavo Guerrero. He betrayed his Uncle Eddie and fans of their team. It’s a story that had played out between these two before in WCW. As for the match itself, it seems like an act 1 because the rivalry was cut short. However, the emotion shared between both men in this match is a lesson in wrestling psychology
11) Los Guerreros Vignettes (WWE Smackdown 2003)
Who could forget these classic promos? It’s Eddie and Chavo, Los Guerreros, in their “real life” supposedly. It’s still pretty hilarious to see how they lie, cheat and steal their way into a golf victory, or steal a woman’s belongings while complementing her baby, or sneak into a private pool to host a pool party by pretending to be pool safety inspectors. Some of these are a little cringe-worthy but it fits right in with the times and made these two fan favorites.
10) Lies, Cheats and Steals
Stepping away from Chavo as a single star, Eddie fully developed his lie, cheat and steal persona. Here’s a few classic moments you should check out:
Stealing JBL’s limo with him in it…Stealing, defacing and then selling Kurt Angle’s stuff to the crowd…Apologizing to General Manager Paul Heyman…Stealing a win over Mr. Kennedy…Stealing Angle’s Real American award.
9) Bedtime Story to Dominick (WWE Smackdown, June 2005)
In the lead up to Wrestlemania 21, Guerrero and Mysterio reignited their friendly rivalry. After failing to beat his little buddy, Eddie became crazed and desperate. In his zeal, he brought up that he was the real father to Rey’s son Dominick. The promos from Guerrero and the confrontation between these two are electric. Eddie is so filled with jealousy that he chooses to ruin his best friend’s family and threatens to take Rey’s son away from him. It sounds like a crazy angle but the delivery was excellent.
8) vs. Rey Mysterio (WCW Halloween Havoc 1997)
This is a classic title vs. mask match where Eddie plays the villainous champion, only the tip of the iceberg of how extreme his heel character could be. Meanwhile, Rey brought all the high-flying and underdog tactics that he could muster. Go out of your way to see this and remember when the Cruiserweight Championship actually meant something.
7) vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit (WWE Survivor Series 2002)
This tag team classic is an under-appreciated gem in a Survivor Series that is arguably one of the best events of all time. Edge and Mysterio are great as the underdogs, Angle and Benoit are great as the team that can’t get along and Los Guerreros rule the ring as the sneaky heels.
6) vs. Rob Van Dam (WWE Backlash 2002)
The battle of the Frog Splash: Two future world champions in this one so you know you’re in for a treat. RVD used his 100mph offense against the technical mastery and ruthlessness of Latino Heat. In what would later be his calling card, Guerrero lies, cheats and steals his way to victory.
5) vs. John Cena (WWE Smackdown, Sept 11, 2003)
Back when John Cena was the Doctor of Thuganomics, Eddie was the sneaky babyface getting the better of him at every turn. They faced off in a parking lot brawl surrounded by cars and WWE superstars acting as lumberjacks. All sorts of weapons and vehicles were used in painful and occasionally hilarious ways, including a lawn mower!
4) vs. Batista WWE Championship Match. (WWE No Mercy 2005)
Dave Batista has credited Eddie with helping him as a mentor behind the scenes. So back in 2005, this was two real-life friends having a feud. While battling his inner demons, Guerrero tried to beat Batista fair and square. This match is one of my personal favorites as the psychology is excellent. Eddie was an expert at showing his emotion in the ring. It sets up a future match but this was, unfortunately, the last pay per view Eddie would ever appear on.
3) vs. Kurt Angle (WWE Wrestlemania 20)
Angle plays the role of the overzealous villain who wants to cleanse the WWE of poor role-models. Eddie plays the imperfect hero that the fans relate to. They tear it down in this match with the crowd hanging on the edge of their seats. Eddie uses his lying, cheating and stealing to outsmart Angle in incredible fashion.
2) & Art Barr vs. El Hijo De Santo & Octagon (When Worlds Collide, Nov 6, 1994)
This was my first time watching this match; I had only heard that it was great. Now that I’ve seen it, it definitely deserves all the praise heaped upon it. Guerrero and Barr were amazing heels in this stunning two-out-of-three falls match. It was one of the first heavily circulated lucha libre matches so that makes it historically important as well. Check this one out. You’ll be blown away.
1) vs. Brock Lesnar (No Way Out 2004)
It has to be this match, right? This is the pinnacle of excellence with the perfect location of the historic Cow Palace and a molten hot crowd. It’s the classic underdog versus monster story as Brock Lesnar took over early but Eddie starts inching back after Brock makes a mistake. Then Eddie focuses on the leg to keep the big man disabled. Finally, with a little help from Goldberg and escaping an F5, Eddie hits the frog splash to finally become WWE Champion.
He had conquered his demons. He had beaten Brock Lesnar. It’s impossible not to tear up seeing Eddie jump into the crowd and kiss his mom. It’s a moment that will stand the test of time.