Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eddie Guerrero is dead

I may stop watching pro-wrestling for awhile. I’m doing this because Eddie Guerrero is dead. It might also be because Miss Elizabeth is dead, and because Crash Holly is dead, and because the Big Boss Man is dead, and because Chris Candido is dead, but mostly it is because it’s because Eddie Guerrero is dead. They say that fisherman is the most dangerous job in America, but professional wrestler can’t be far behind. They drop like flies. There’s no real link between them, and the other dead wrestlers, except that they were wrestlers. Congress is all worried about steroids in Baseball, but some pro-wrestlers shoot up like heroine junkies. That and amphetamines and pain killers. Lots of pain killers. It’s a rough life. They’re on the road for most of the year. The pay sucks. They abuse their bodies like no other performers. And they die. They die often.

And we watch them die. They abuse themselves like this because it enables them to perform for us. Mick Foley, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, once said “The more we hurt each other worse, the more people like it, the more money we make, and the better friends we become.” We love them to be gladiators. Big and strong and cut from stone. We all know Eddie Guerrero had had drug problems. We know that Miss Elizabeth did drugs. Crash Holly drank. But look at the number of them. A website called Deansplanet.com has a “Dead Wrestler Tribute.” It lists twenty-seven…TWENTY-SEVEN…wrestlers who have died since 2000. With the exception of five of them—Classie Freddie Blassie, Stu hart, Lou Thesz, The Sheik and Wahoo McDaniel—they were all under sixty years old. Most were in their thirties. A few of them were listed as “natural causes,” a few as “heart attack,” a lot were ascribed to drugs. The conclusion is inescapable. Wrestling kills.

And we keep watching.

I watched Raw Monday night. It was very strange. Raw is a show that thrives on over the top melodrama. To see wrestlers sit before the camera in their obviously heart felt tributes to Eddie was surreal. We are used to seeing them fake emotions. How are we supposed to react when they cry on screen for real? It was strange.

Eddie had become one of my favorite wrestlers. He was great. He had charm, he had skill, he had it all. He was great. And now he’s dead. Since the Rock, Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin went into semi-retirement, Eddie became the guy I most loved to watch. I didn’t like what they’d done with his character recently, but I still loved him as a fan. He was funny and exciting and, well, raw.

Fan is short for “fanatic,” a person with an extreme, uncritical zeal. We identify with these guys. We love these guys. They are our heroes. As with other celebrities, even though we’ve probably never spoken to them, we feel we know them. We come to care about them, and we feel their loss as though they were family. And when they die it hurts. I never met Eddie Guerrero. I have no real reason to feel a deep sense of lass at his death, but I do. And I’m not sure I can watch anymore.

Of course, I’ll give in.


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8:46 PM  
Blogger Captain Zorikh said...

I only saw a little bit of Smackdown the week after Eddie died. I was a bit put off with the way they used his death in the storyline, having Rey Mysterio call on him to help him in his match. I guess I feel that real death should not be used to heighten the drama of a staged fight.

I have not had the time to watch much wrestloing lately, and when I have I have been disappointed in that there seems to be much fewer matches per show than there used to be (ca. 2000-2002) and that the women's matches seem to be noithing but bra&panties matches, despite the physical talents of the performers. But the use of Eddie's death that way just felt wrong.

10:55 AM  

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