Before I get started I would like to acknowledge the difference between “opinion on who’s best” and “favorite”. For example: I believe Michael Jordan is the best player in the history of basketball, but my favorite is an “off the bench” player named Manu Ginóbili. Jordan has the stats and rings, but Manu has what I value; exciting, unorthodox, fearless play and actions that seem to show an unselfish, kind nature.
This series is neither an in-sequential-order list, nor an opinion piece on who I believe to be the greatest of all-time. It is meant to be a poetic-prose ovation of loving homage to ten (of the countless) entertainer-athletes that continue to inspire, influence, and enthrall me.
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In the Spring of 2003, my backyard wrestling buddy, Joe Evans, asked me, “Who do you think would make a great World Champion?”
“Eddie Guerrero.” I replied, at the speed of a brookesia micra blink.
“Eddie Guerrero?!” Joe echoed, with perplexed shock in his reverberation. “Maybe Cruiserweight, or Intercontinental, but...World?” He added.
“Yessir. He’s the best; he should be World Champion.” I explained, with high priest like authority in my teenage voice.
We exchanged rolled-eyes and moved on.
A year and some change later, I got to give my old pal Joe an extended and gratifying, smug look as Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar to win the WWE (World) Championship.
What was it about Eddie Guerrero that so captivated my wrestling fandom that I considered him “the best”, as a critical teenager?
He was the embodiment of everything that I loved about professional wrestling; spectacular and fluid movements, intriguing personality, and a connection with live audiences that carried over through my bedroom TV and into my heart, mind, and Ātman.
Shortly after I started having my first matches, one of my trainers, TJ Phillips, asked me, “Who do you think is the greatest of all-time?”
In the time it takes a fruit fly to ejaculate, I answered, “Eddie Guerrero.”
“Really… Of all-time?” He asked, a little taken aback, but not completely surprised, given my preferences when asked what I want to learn in training (TJ’s an awesome trainer.), but maybe expecting a more historically common answer.
“Yessir. He’s the best all-around ever; he can talk, he has charisma, he has great ring-psychology, he can fly, he can mat wrestle, he has great awareness of both the live fans and the cameras.” I, as a trainee, explained to my trainer, with the arrogant authority of a Sith Lord.
“Well… S__t. I can’t argue with that.” TJ kindly yielded.
Was it just the well-roundedness of Eddie Guerrero that so snared my wrestler-to-wrestler appreciation that I had declared him “the greatest of all-time”, as a hypercritical late-teen?
That had a lot to do with it; I have always had eclectic tastes and his, not only incorporation, but, mastery of Lucha Libre, Puroresu, Euro, and traditional American styles into Sports Entertainment would certainly make me an easy sell for an “Eddie Guerrero is my favorite wrestler” t-shirt.
But, it was more than that. There was something extra special about him that I couldn’t quite figure out.
Then I watched an interview he did where he said, “I was never one to work for myself. I always worked for the match.”
Ah. That was it.
“For the match.”
What does “for the match” really mean? It means: for the fans, for his opponent, for the company, for professional wrestling.
It means selflessly dedicating your life’s labor to something greater than yourself.
And that’s why, all these years later, Eddie Guerrero is still my favorite wrestler.
Without him this article wouldn’t exist.
Thank you, Eddie, so much.