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OO RAW RECAP
Remembering Eddie Guerrero 
November 15, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

It's funny...

Eight years ago, Brian Pillman was found dead in a Minneapolis hotel room on a Sunday autumn morning, and when the WWF decided, the next night on RAW, to pay homage to "the Loose Cannon" with video packages and comments from his friends and family, they were raked across the coals -- by fans and whatever media were paying attention at the time, alike -- for "exploiting" Pillman's death for ratings.

People *did* watch, and ratings *were* up that night. 
 

More recently, Owen Hart died in the ring during a Sunday night PPV. The next night on RAW, the WWF turned the entire 2 hour telecast into a Tribute to Owen. Months later, WCW would pay homage to Owen in their own way on the first Nitro telecast from the arena in Kansas City where Owen died.

Cries of "exploitation" were present, but 

much quieter... and in both cases, people *did* watch, and ratings *were* up. And a few fans even admitted that WWF and WCW's tributes to Owen were some of the most compelling, memorable television they'd ever seen.

Today, with Eddie Guerrero's sudden death still leaving us numb, sad, and confused, WWE has already taped not one, but two 2-hour telecasts all focused on remembering Eddie Guerrero. This time around, not only have I heard nary a whit of "exploitation" talk, but fans almost instantly just ASSUMED they'd be getting a heart-wrenching Eddie Tribute Show, and in a way, were looking forward to it. Not in the way you look forward to putting on your dorky robes and standing in line to see the new "Harry Potter," mind you, but in the way that you know you have to tackle some difficult task so that you can move on with your life.

And that's really what last night's RAW (and what Friday night's SmackDown!) are gonna be: difficult-but-required viewing for fans looking for a bit of cathartic relief, that'll help us all past this, and leave us -- eventually -- ready to enjoy wrestling again. It's what I argued 8 years ago, as the world seemed to go collectively insane with self-righteous douchebaggery: I said that the WWF couldn't possibly make things any worse by handling Pillman's death as openly (or as "sensationally," as some would have had it) as they did... when a man (a talented performer, a friend to many, a father, a husband, etc., etc., etc.) dies, no TV show is going to make things any worse for the people who have truly lost something significant. But maybe, just maybe, it can make things just slightly, nominally, marginally better by helping us to remember all the good stuff, and have that start to move in and over-shadow our own (sometimes-selfish) sadness.

I don't know if this vindicates the Standard Practice that the WWF launched 8 years ago, but it kinda seems like it does... however, more than anything, I'm just so sad that they've had this many opportunities to fine tune the formula, and hope that we don't have to do this again for a long, long time to come.

For whatever it's worth, this isn't the kind of show that one can render funny or entertaining (in the traditional sense)... well, at least not without being a total dick. And a secret between you and me, folks: I really like pretending to be an asshole, but I've not really got the temperament to really be one for any appreciable stretch of time. Trying to squeeze any morbid, dark humor out of last night's RAW is a task I'm probably not up to (and a task no decent person should really embark upon).

That said: for those who did not or could not see the show, and for those (myself included) who I know are going to want to remember this show for years to come, let's give this the old college try...

Cold Open: Ten Bell Salute and Video Tribute

No theme, no pyro, no welcome from the announcers, no nothing... and it's because the entire WWE roster (wrestlers, referees, agents, announcers, everybody) is standing at the top of the entrance aisle. Anybody who didn't know about Eddie would only be confused for about 3 seconds, though: despite the lack of exposition, one can instantly hear the thunderous "Eddie, Eddie" chant from the live crowd, and instantly see men like Kurt Angle, Big Show, and Chris Benoit openly sobbing. 

For those who didn't piece it together, Vince McMahon is standing at the front of the group, and waits for the chants to subside before somberly announcing "Eddie Guerrero has passed away." Vince goes on to quickly eulogize Eddie, saying that he was in the prime of his career, was a fantastic performer, and an even more fantastic man. And on top of all of that, he loved the wrestling business, and he loved performing: so tonight, because it's what Eddie would have wanted, the show will go on and be a 2 hour tribute to Eddie Guerrero.

But before we get started, we're going to send Eddie off with the traditional Ten Bell Salute and a special video presentation. Vince asks the crowd to please rise and stand in silence for the Salute. And maybe it was just me, but for all the world, it almost sounded like the ring bell was as choked up as Eddie's closer friends on the stage (and more than a few fans in the audience) were: strangely subdued and its "voice" even wavering at times.

After the bell tolled 10 times, we cut to a Video Tribute to Eddie, set to Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." There's no way to summarize it other than to say it was Eddie with his family, Eddie with his friends, and Eddie in the ring: all good stuff. But there's no way this wasn't gonna tug at your heartstrings given the musical selection. On Sunday night, after spoiler reports had trickled in, Erin Anderson and I wound up talking a bit about Eddie; and she said to me that she thought "Hurt" was just too sad a song, its lyrical subject matter too inappropriate and too insensitive given Eddie's past abuses, that somehow this would be an unfair way to memorialize Eddie. I understood the sentiment, but I gotta say: if we're gonna remember Eddie, we're going to remember ALL of Eddie. And if I could say that Eddie's death and this song choice combine to make us say because "the truth hurts," without it being just about the shittiest pun of all times, I probably would. It's real, it's part of what Eddie was at one point, and it's probably a part of why he's not with us any longer. 

But more than that: I knew that however sad, however tragically fitting the first two verses/choruses are for what Eddie had been through in the past, it was the crescendo that would bring us back to what Eddie *is*: "If I could start again [...] I would find a way." Best part is: with Eddie, it wasn't hypothetical... four years ago, he did get to start again, and he did find a way. After losing everything and getting fired-- after letting people down and making them hurt -- Eddie won back his family, and he climbed to the top of his profession. To me, it might be a sad song; but when applied to Eddie Guerrero, it's almost an uplifting climax: instead of the song's lyrical "if," you were presented with video evidence that Eddie *did*.

Anyway: I found it an almost perfectly-fitting tribute. Sad, yes, but a lot of what Eddie went through was sad. That song would never have worked six years ago for Owen, but trying to find something falsely hopeful or cheerful for Eddie would have rung just as hollow last night. 

Following the video, to break the audience out of their own introspection and gentle sobbing, Vince fired up a mighty "Viva la raza," which goosed everybody out of their funk. First another "Eddie, Eddie" chant. Then, as that died down, a "Thank You, Eddie *clap* *clap* *clapclapclap*" chant that lasted a good long time. All the while, plenty of reaction shots of those closest to Eddie: Benoit, Chavo, Dean Malenko, Angle, Rey, Big Show. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has to admit that seeing all them crying or on the brink of it, made me feel a bit better about that huge lump in my throat as I watched all this play out.

Finally, the guys started filing to the back, our intensely sad (but necessary) opening duties thus dispatched.

Taped Tribute, John Cena Edition: Cena says Eddie was a great man, passionate about everything he did in life. Personally, Cena not only learned a lot from Eddie about wrestling and performing, but also about being a man outside the ring. Cena says that he knows Eddie's family and the guys in the lockerroom who were closer to Eddie must be feeling even worse, and sends his condolences out to them. And finally, "I know Eddie was a man of faith, so I'm sure he's in a better place now. But selfishly, we all wish you were still here, Eddie. We miss you." Well said, Champ.

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Eddie Highlight #1: In late 2003, Eddie Guerrero and the Big Show were embroiled in an ill-conceived feud based on poop. Ex-Lax here, and you get the idea. So one night, Eddie drove a sewage truck to the ring and doused Big Show in crap. You know, WWE didn't do a whole lot wrong on this show, but they should never have let this clip see the light of day again. I mean: they didn't memorialize Big Bossman by showing clips of him towing Big Show's father's casket around, did they? Some things are best left forgotten... but I guess it serves a purpose, at least, as a segue into our first match:

Big Show/Kane vs. MNM (Non-Title Match)

During ring entrances, Joey Style, Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman welcome us to the show, and for the first time, we are told that tonight, it's not about RAW or SmackDown!, it's about Eddie Guerrero. So brand alliances and titles and stuff are not in play: it's all about competing and honoring the memory of Eddie Guerrero.

So it might be the RAW Tag Champs vs. the SD! Tag Champs, but there will be no lasting repercussions.

Kane and Show start out fast, but after a minute or so, Melina causes a distraction, setting off a chain reaction of events that starts with M and N double-teaming Kane behind the ref's back, then the ref getting distracted by Big Show trying to come in to even the odds, and finally Melina tossing M or N a tag title belt to whap Kane upside the head with. I'd feel guilty about still not being able to quickly or accurately identify the members of MNM by name (other than Melina, obviously), but Joey Styles was having the same trouble, and the other two guys in the booth weren't of much help.

Standard heel beatdown sequence, with MNM displaying the kind of quick tags, teamwork, and devious double-teaming that would no doubt make Eddie proud. Their mistake came when they tried to double-team suplex Kane, but that only made Kane angry. He responded by turning it into a double suplex of his own, and then tagging in the well-rested Big Show.

House o' fire routine, as Show decimated both M and N. Then Melina tries to distract show again, and in that outfit, has no trouble catching the eye of any heterosexual male. But she got more than she bargained for: after a few moments of enthusiastically flirting with Big Show, Melina is treated to a big, sloppy kiss from the giant. The subsequent gesturing (appropriately enough, it was done quite Broadly) indicates that Melina no-likey. But she might have provided the distraction her team needed, anyway: because as Big Show turned around, he found M or N sneaking up on his with a tag belt again.

Instead of being scared, Show just gave M or N a look along the lines of "Oh, really?" and M or N was immediately cowed and started retreated. A moment later, Big Show spotted his partner perched on the top rope and told M or N, "And you know what, dum dum, instead of threatening me with that belt, maybe you should look behind you." M or N did, and walked right into a top rope clothesline from Kane. M or N was then tossed out of the ring, leaving the other of N or M to futilely attack Kane from behind and then eat a Double Chokeslam seconds later.

Your Winners: Big Show and Kane, via pinfall, in about 4-5 minutes. Purely formula, but MNM have got the kind of chemistry/timing that makes that formula seem very smooth, and even kinda convincing, even against a pair of giants. Plus, the finish was kinda fun; pundits who say it buries the SD! champs may kinda shut the hell up. That's not what anybody's gonna remember from this night.

After the Match: Show and Kane celebrate. In so doing, Big Show becomes the first guy to do the Eddie Guerrero Shuffle Dance. We'll be keeping a list (and should probably keep it going on Friday, too), but secretly, I've already got my favorite one picked out, and don't think anything on SD! will top it. Oh, just go ahead and guess....

Taped Tribute, Lillian Garcia Edition: Lillian says she and Eddie bonded almost instantly, since they'd kind of come into the company around the same time and "had the whole Latino thing going." She says the most remarkable thing about Eddie was his humility and humbleness, relaying a story of how they were paired together during a tour of Iraq, and how Eddie couldn't quite grasp the soldiers thanking *him* for coming to visit, when the whole reason he came to visit was the thank *them* for what they were doing for the country. Lillian closes with a lengthy comment in Spanish. I'm sad to report that I took German in high school, so....

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Eddie Highlight #2: over the course of their memorable feud last year, Eddie -- shall we say -- "accumulated" a lot of Kurt Angle's property. Then he'd deface it and ultimately auction it off on WWE's website. Now this? Was as funny now as it was then.

Kurt Angle vs. Shelton Benjamin

Kurt is visibly on the brink of tears as he makes his way to the ring, and even says a brief prayer in the corner before removing his Eddie t-shirt. The crowd still chants "You Suck" at him. That's cold, people... but Kurt no-sells it, as he's here to do his thing in Eddie's memory, and he's got a more-than-capable dance partner to do it right. Joey Styles is quick to note that this is exactly the kind of wrestling match that Eddie would love to watch.

Shelton out-amateur-wrestled Kurt in the opening minute, but then he got cocky and took it to the mat once too often. Shelton: NCAA wrestling champ. Kurt: Olympic wrestling gold medalist. Kurt took over. He kept it on the mat quite a bit, trying to maintain the appearance of quasi-amateurness by riding Shelton and controlling him with a waistlock and stuff like that... but there were some higher-impact moves peppered in, too, including a couple suplex variations. But out of one of those suplex attempts, Shelton made his comeback: first he reversed (as we've seen him do before) into a neck-breaker position, but Kurt re-reversed that into what looked like it was gonna be a Northern Lights Suplex, but Shelton re-re-reversed that into a DDT. I only remember because Joey called it a "counter-to-the-counter," but I was left thinking it was actually a counter-to-the-counter-to-the-counter.

Both men down for a double count, but when up, Shelton takes over with a bit of back-and-forthy punching. He starts hitting big moves, actually, but as I recall, every single one of them was contested or the result of a reversal or something. It was still a string of offensive moves for Shelton, but they made it look like he earned every single one of them, which was cool. The best example I still remember: Kurt tried for the run-up-the-ropes-superplex, but Shelton shoved him down and hit his hooking clothesline. 

The one-ups-manship and counter-wrestling continued. Shelton whiffed on a Stinger Splash, and Kurt tried to follow up with the Hat Trick of Germans. But on the third one, Shelton surprised him with a sudden Small Package Roll-Up. Angle managed to escape at two, and both men popped back up, but Angle was a hair quicker and immediately snatched Shelton in for the Angle Slam. Victory? Nope, Shelton kicked out at 2.

Kurt apparently sensed the need to bust out something special to win at this point, so he went up to the top rope, clearly intending to hit the Moon Sault (haven't seen that in ages)... but again, Shelton was there with the counter. In this case, he got up on the ropes behind Kurt, waistlocked him, and..... HOLY SHIT: OVERHEAD GERMAN SUPERPLEX?!?!?!?!?! I don't know if that one's for Eddie or who it's for, but that's something you don't see everyday. You're crazy, Kurt. Freaking crazy.

Kurt rotated just enough to avoid landing square on the top of his head, and Shelton sold it as taking a lot out of him, too, so he was slow to make the cover... when he did, Kurt had enough to kick out at the last second. Shelton was stunned, and began arguing a bit with the ref about a slow count, convinced that Kurt wasn't gonna be getting up soon. Mistake, Junior: when Shelton finally walked back over to Kurt's seemingly-limp carcass, Angle surprised him by picking an ankle and cinching in the anklelock. Shelton made one attempt towards the ropes, but Kurt dragged him back to the center, clamped in the Ultra Super Mega Anklelock (With Bonus Grapevining Action), and Shelton had no choice but to tap out.

Your Winner: Kurt Angle, via submission, in maybe 8-10 minutes. Really good stuff here, and you know it's just a taste of what the two could do if given a chance, too. And that Overhead German Superplex? Why do I have a feeling that Vince McMahon didn't OK that one?

After the Match: Angle got some boos and "You Suck" chants, but when he took off his "E.G." arm-band and held it up, the crowd got the message: big props to Kurt on his performance in memory of Eddie.

Taped Tribute, Shawn Michaels Edition: Oddly, Shawn was the one man all night (who got a "speaking part") who didn't seem emotional at all... I won't say he was "happy," but he sure seemed at peace and content in a way absolutely nobody else was. The reason for that was quickly made clear: "I have a lot of fond memories about Eddie Guerrero and not a one of them has anything to do with inside the ring. It was all about faith." As born-again Christians who found their faith around roughly the same time, Shawn and Eddie bonded and became friends. And now, Shawn says he knows that Eddie's in a better place, a place he strived to get to by being the person he was here on this earth, and Shawn's happy for him. And then Shawn notes that he never got to wrestle Eddie Guerrero, but that someday, he knows the two WILL get to have that match together and it'll be "On the grandest stage of them all, and I'm not talking about WrestleMania. And in front of the most important audience of all. An audience of one." You know, I'm not as friendly with The Jesus as some people, but I've also got absolutely nothing against the guy either. Till now: I'm insanely jealous that He'll get to see Eddie vs. Shawn. Meantime, my Envy is one of the Deadly Seven, which is why I'll be burning in hell, while Jesus is kicking back and enjoying the kind of glorious five-star wrestling action that we earthly mortals never got a chance to see. Lucky bastard. 

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Eddie Highlight #3: in a clip from Eddie's DVD/TV Special from last year, we get a montage of Los Guerreros most diabolical (and thus, most beloved) displays of lying, cheating, and stealing. Eddie sums it up at the end: "Sure, we lied and cheated. But at least we were honest about it." Good times.

Taped Tribute, Chavo Guerrero Edition: Chavo says that though Eddie was biologically his uncle, they were really brothers, just three years apart. They grew up together, they grew up knowing that they'd be wrestlers together, not because they saw it on TV, but because it's what their family did. Chavo tells the story of them having their first matches during intermissions of an uncle's wrestling shows; although Eddie was 7 and Chavo was 4, fans knew who the two were, and would stay in their seats as the kids got up in the ring and fooled around. It got to the point that the uncle had to tell Eddie and Chavo to cut it out cuz nobody was going to the concession stands. From there, Eddie and Chavo had the dream of one day being tag team champions together, a dream that came true in 2003, when the pair were put together and won the SD! Tag Titles; from Chavo's emotion, you can tell this honestly was a dream come true for him, and probably the peak of his wrestling career (to date). Chavo says, "I'll never have another tag team partner like you, Eddie," and that opens up the floodgates, as Chavo relates all the other irreplaceable things Eddie was to him before gathering himself up and saying simply, "I miss you, Eddie."

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Rey Mysterio vs. Shawn Michaels

Early talk centers on this being a "dream match" not unlike what Shawn vs. Eddie would have been; and I think it is, in fact, the first time Michaels and Mysterio have faced off. Somebody (I think Joey started it), mentioned that Michaels is going to be the captain of the RAW team at Survivor Series, and couldn't help but continue that Eddie was going to be a member of the SD! team. Which made me realize just how near a miss it was seeing Michaels and Eddie tie it up.

Though they open the match with a handshake, the unspoken/subtle things quickly cast Michaels as the "heel," using less-flashy moves and letting Rey excite the crowd with his big spots. In fact, the early story of the match is that Shawn is discombobulated by being the bigger, stronger (and SLOWER) man in the ring, and is having trouble adapting to Rey. As a result, Rey controls the opening 4 minutes or so, culminating in taking Shawn out following a slingshot plancha to the floor. A perfect time for...

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Back, and we discover that Rey couldn't follow-up on the big high-flying move, and got caught in a neck-breaker by Shawn, leading to Shawn working a sleeperhold when we got back. Again: subtly making sure Rey's the stronger fan favorite. Rey got the fire-up out of that, but then Shawn went to Plan B, which was a concerted focus on Rey's back and neck. This goes on for a couple minutes until Rey hits a spinning, tilt-a-whirl, where-it-stops-nobody-knows head-scissors as a counter to something. That softens Shawn up, and when Rey follows up with a springboard crossbody, his rally is officially ON.

In the middle of it, Rey pauses long enough to be Member #2 of the Eddie Guerrero Shuffle Dance Club for the night. Rey even punctuated it with Eddie's chest slaps. The whole time, Shawn is bumping like he's in the ring with the Ghost of Andre the Giant, not a 5"5' guy. It gave Rey the option of using nothing fancier than kicks and chops as offensive moves, since Shawn was selling them like mad.

But after a missed (619), Shawn immediately followed up with the Flying Burrito. Both men down, but eventually Shawn does, indeed, nip up. Might as well go for Move #3: and the Macho Man Elbow hits. Then the Band gets fully Tuned Up... but when Shawn moves in for the Sweet Chin Music, Rey gets under the leg, grabs it, and rolls Shawn up for a very close near fall. Both men up, and Rey strikes first with a hurricarana; except, instead of planting Shawn head-first into the mat, Rey deposits Shawn throat-first across the second rope. Nice. It looks like the set-up for the (619), and it is, and it hits. A springboard legdrop later, and it's all over.

Your Winner: Rey Mysterio, via pinfall, in about 12-15 minutes. Really good stuff, especially after the break where they kind of seemed to get on the same page and clicking a bit better.

After the Match: a very long and tearful celebration by Rey, who makes it clear this one was for Eddie. When Shawn deems it appropriate, he begins stirring, and is assisted to his feet by Rey. The two shake hands, but that ain't gonna be good enough tonight: so they hug. For all the world, it looks like Rey is the emotionally destroyed child, and Shawn is the father who is calmly saying, "Don't you worry, son, everything is gonna be alright."

Taped Tribute, Dave Batista Edition: Big Dave holds it together for all of 10 seconds, the part of the story where he says he got a voice mail telling him what had happened on Sunday morning... and then there was no more sticking to a prepared train of thought. Dave just broke down crying, and said, "God, we'd gotten really close," and explained how, in a very short span of time, Eddie had become one of his closest friends. And I don't know why, but this almost got me more than Benoit later on: you knew how important Eddie was to Benoit over the course of 15 years... but right here, Batista is in tears over a guy who was probably little more than a professional acquaintance till five months ago. All because Eddie took an interest in Batista both as a person and as a wrestler. You don't even have to read too hard between the lines of Batista's comments: he is, right now, going through EXACTLY what Eddie went through last year as champion, and Eddie took the time to make sure that Batista had what Eddie didn't... not just in terms of what Eddie was doing with and for Batista on-screen and in the ring (which truly had evolved into a good reason to watch SD! over the past 2 months), but what he was doing backstage, quelling Batista's insecurities over the pressure and expectations being placed on him at a time when business is down. That says a ton about Eddie, to have that dramatic an impact on somebody you'd only gotten to know recently, and to have that impact be so positive. Batista said that because of all that, he just loved working with Eddie, that it was so EASY to work with Eddie... and that Eddie loved performing. And then, Batista said something that will surly be latched onto, as he made it clear that Eddie was in constant pain backstage, but that Batista was amazed at how he could tune that out once he went through the curtain because all he wanted to do was entertain the fans. Batista closes by saying he just still doesn't feel like this is real, and that he'll miss Eddie very badly...

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Cross Brand Diva Battle Royale

Every single woman on the both rosters, sans Lita (still gimpy knee) and Stacy (dunno why), participates here. That means Trish, Victoria, Mickie James, Diva Search Ashley, Candice Michelle, and Maria the Mic Stand from RAW; Melina, Christy Hemme, and Jillian Hall from SD!. All are wearing Eddie t-shirts (as did just about every single performer who came to the ring), and all removed them in choreographed fashion. Because, Joey reminds us, Eddie *did* love the mamacitas. Some might call it tasteless, but I can think of worse ways to be eulogized than by having 9 babes taking off their shirts at my wake. Of note: Trish becomes #3 on the night to do the Eddie Guerrero Shuffle Dance. Somehow, when she does it, it works on entirely other levels, ones that I'm sure would be more-than-heartily endorsed by Eddie.

Full disclosure: the night's wrestling is over. It ended when the bell rang at the close of Rey/Shawn. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the fun is over. Which is what this is. There are some wrestling spots, some better than others, but mostly it's disjointed brawling leading to seemingly-random eliminations. The only story of note is that Maria is timidly staying away from the other eight, because the delicate flower doesn't want to fight. But then an odd thing happens: Maria sees openings to attack precariously positioned opponents from behind, and manages to send them flying out of the ring. It happens once, it happens twice, and then it happens a third time as Maria sneaks up and boots Victoria out of the ring from behind.

All of a sudden, Maria thinks she's Diesel at the 1994 Royal Rumble, and decides she's invincible. She does the International Sign of Put Up Yer Dukes, and challenges the two remaining women to bring it on. The remaining two women happen to be Melina and Trish, who share a Meaningful Glace, shake their heads in pity, and then destroy Maria. Thirty seconds later, she is tossed out of the ring, and the crowd actually musters up some pretty decent boos. Gotta say, that was a pretty funny little bit o' shtick, and I'm not surprised the fans latched on to it.

But fun time's over, and Trish and Melina gotta figure out who's the most dominant female in WWE. Or, if you're Melina (or her proof-reader) the "Most Dominate." After some back and forth, the two end up near the ropes, with Trish on the apron and Melina on the inside. There are some teases by both; Kurt/Rey-caliber battle royale teases they were not, but they got the job done. Finally, Melina got free long enough to boot Trish in the stomach, sending Trish to the floor. Melina wins? Huh.

Your Winner: Melina, via Trishlimination, in about 3-4 minutes. Quick, painless, and with just a little bit 'o fun leading up to the finish... which, I gotta say, was a bit perplexing. Unless you want to bring Melina (and N and the other M) to RAW, which would be fine with me. Let SD! have Boobies McTitsalot in return. Speaking of which: what the hell was up with her costume last night? Halloween is over... that didn't possibly register as sexy with anybody, did it? At the polar opposite end of the spectrum, I'll respectfully refrain from making any Ass Cleavage Observations at this point. Much as it pains me.

Taped Tribute, Rey Mysterio Edition: Rey is a man of few words here, as he tries to hold it together. He says he's got a lot of fond memories of Eddie, not just for himself, but for his whole family, which bonded with the Guerreros. He says he wishes this was all a dream, and that he's gonna miss Eddie. That he misses him already. Then a passage in Spanish. Then a long pause. Then another quick comment, ending with "I love you, Eduardo" and tears. Rey drops his head, and actually takes off his mask as he wipes his eyes.

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Eddie Highlight #4: Eddie and Chris Benoit celebrate in the ring together at the end of WrestleMania 20, holding the top two titles in the wrestling business. Something I didn't notice (or didn't remember): Benoit was the won who had just won his match and won the title -- Eddie had won his over a month before and some of the magic should have worn off -- but in those clips, it's Eddie who is clearly gregariously, passionately happy... and in that spot, you know it was for his friend, not for himself. Benoit -- the Crippler, the Wolverine, Son of Spock, whatever you want to call him -- wouldn't even let himself crack a smile, so Eddie decided to be happy enough for both of them. Good times....

Eugene vs. Simon Dean

Again, no wrestling here, but a very cute and entertaining bit of fluff... starts with Dean getting Eugene to try an untasty Simon System Protein Bar, and then taunting him with push-ups. So Eugene decides to out-push-up Simon. Simon starts frantically doing push-ups while Eugene stops and laughs... and then strikes with the JYD Attack (kneeling headbutts, ending with some ass-biting). Joey Styles: "It's gotta be humiliating to be out-smarted by Eugene." Coach (speaking from experience): "It don't feel good." HA!

Simon gets a brief advantage, as Eugene gets distracted by Simon's Segway Scooter, wanting to take it for a ride. Sadly, because of the assclowns at FOX, jokes about Simon's Segway making him GOB Tennyson Lund's favorite wrestler have been rendered anachronistic. 

Simon's offense is non-noteworthy until he makes the mistake of trying to ram Eugene's head into a turnbuckle. Bad idea. Eugene hulks up, Simon tries to seek safety by latching himself to a turnbuckle with his elastic rubber resistance bands (you know what I'm talking about, right?). But Eugene is tenacious, and tries to drag Simon out of the corner to finish him off. But Simon won't let go. Once Eugene drags Simon out into the middle of the ring, he gets an idea: he lets go of Simon. Who goes slingshotting back into the turnbuckle at Warp 8. Cute. A Rock Bottom later, and it's all over. Eugene even got to ride off on Simon's Segway after the match. A happier ending, you could not imagine.

Your Winner: Eugene, via pinfall, in maybe 3-4 minutes. Pointless fluff, but cute and funny. A little something to lighten the mood on a very heavy night. And necessary since things are about to get really heavy....

Taped Tribute, Chris Benoit Edition: Benoit seems unexpectedly collected, and stays that way for several minutes as he runs down all the kinds of things that you'd expect. In a way, you could tell he was bottling things up and just trying to stick to the types of things that he knew wouldn't trigger an outburst. It was a lot of the kind of stuff that we've already known and written about: the 15 years they had on the road together, the battles they've had in the ring, the friendship that they had outside of it, the way Eddie's personal battles made him a better person and how that made him somebody who was always looking to impart that wisdom upon his friends, how as bad as Benoit hurts he knows it's even worse for Eddie's wife and three daughters and his thoughts and prayers go out to them. Just as you thought Chris was gonna wrap it up, though, he opened up, started sobbing, and said, "Eddie, you made such a great impact on my life, and I want to thank you for everything you've ever given me. I want to thank you from my heart and tell you that I love you and will never forget you. I hope we see each other again. I love you, Eddie." That ain't TV, that's reality, and if it didn't hit you like a sac punch, I don't know what to say...

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Eddie Highlight #5: At No Way Out, in February 2004, Eddie pinned Brock Lesnar to become the WWE Champion. And like I've been saying for the past few days, one of the unlikeliest -- but most-deserving -- champions of all times.

Taped Tribute, Triple H Edition: Starts off a lot like Benoit's, kinda saying the things that any of us could have (and have been0 saying... Trips talks mostly about what an incredible performer Eddie was, not just in the ring, but his personality and ability to make the fans care about him and feel whatever he wanted them to feel (whether it was making them angry at him, or making them love him); Eddie really could do anything, and just with a smirk or a twinkle in his eye. He talks about how to get to the top, Eddie had to overcome a lot of those infamous Personal Demons, which made Eddie's professional excellence all the more remarkable. Then we cut to later in the interview, as Hunter starts leaking just a bit talking about Eddie's love for his wife and his two daughters (why two? I believe the situation is that Eddie has two daughters with his wife, but had a third with another woman while he was separated from her; Eddie remained close with that daughter, something his better friends might know but which HHH didn't). HHH says he's sure Eddie's now in a better place, and that up there, "I know he's lyin'... I'm sure he's cheatin' somebody... and he already stole all our hearts." OOOOOOOOOOOh-kay, Trips, way to get back to your prepared line, but maybe now is when you oughta wrap it up before you give the idiot smarks something to bitch about. Simply enough, Hunter does just that: "I'm gonna miss ya, man."

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Ric Flair vs. William Regal (Non-Title Match)

A few years ago, or with a bit more time to develop and tell a story, this could have been a good one, but as it was on this night, it didn't quite find its groove.

Start out with about a minute of "feeling out" (which consisted of Regal upper-cutting Flair, and Flair firing back with chops). Then a minute of Flair trapping Regal in an Abominable Stretch; but Regal "escaped" by untying one of Flair's boots, causing a momentary distraction for Regal to go on offense. So a minute or so of Regal pounding away on Flair. Then a chopblock by Flair out of nowhere, about 30 seconds of softening up the knee, and a Figure Four.

Your Winner: Ric Flair, via submission, in about 3-4 minutes. The boot-lace thing was cute, and Eddie-esque for sure, but other than that, nothing leapt off the screen here, and they didn't have the time to tell more of a real story.

Video Tribute, Stephanie McMahon Edition: Steph immediately launches into how she met Eddie right as he made his jump from WCW to WWE, and how quickly she discovered -- by working with him in a behind the scenes capacity -- just how incredible a talent he was. Not just in the ring, but with his personality, too. How he could do anything, make you love him, hate him, laugh, cry, all with just a single look. Steph also talks about how much Eddie loved his family, especially his wife and his "two" daughters. You know what I always say: when a couple starts saying the exact same things, you know it's true love. So it's good to see that Trips and Steph are clearly having the happiest of marriages. From there, Stephanie does relate a tale of her own, about how she'd just talked to Eddie on Friday, and in the conversation, Eddie said he was going to be World Champion again someday, and he wanted Steph to know it, and pass the word on to her dad. No hint of if "some day" was going to be Sunday night, but Steph broke down with the revelation that that was something that Eddie aspired to, and likely had awaiting him in the future. Steph breaks down a bit more as she closes with comments about how she knows others have lost a lot more than she has, as Eddie was a son, a father, a husband, a brother, and a friend to so many people, and he loved them all.

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Eddie Highlight #6: Eddie Guerrero wins his first InterContinental Title by appearing to embrace his wounded "mamacita," Chyna, in a three-way IC Title match... but actually pinning her shoulders to the mat for three. After the match, Eddie plead innocence, but the twinkle in his eye after he finally coaxed Chyna into a hug told the whole story. I said it in the retrospective: for a storyline that started out so silly, Eddie's relationship with Chyna certainly got interesting and had some funny and compelling moments. It's what put Eddie on the map and established him as (at the very least) the #2 Radical, and perhaps every bit as marketable as his buddy Benoit. History wound up bearing that out.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton

Which one of these things is not like the other? Which one of these things just doesn't belong? I think even the kids on Sesame Street would be able to point out the incongruity of these two being asked to anchor a strongly-wrestling-centric Tribute to Eddie Guerrero, but it's already after 11pm, and I think we'll make do.

Here's everything that happened in the match.... I do not think I'm making this up (or leaving anything out):

Lock up. Orton clamps on a minute-long side-headlock. Cena escapes, but a brief distraction by Cowboy Bob Orton puts Orton back in control. Punch, stomp, lame, punch stomp, lame. Zany Orton Backbreaker finally does some real damage. So Orton clamps Cena in a 90-second-long chinlock. Cena is on the brink of passing out (?), but magically gets re-energized at the last second. Big comeback by Cena. Wacky shoulder tackle. Wacky hip-toss. Somewhere in here, Cena becomes #4 on the list of Eddie Guerrero Shuffle Dance club members. And then his own Shuffle, the Five Knuckle variety. And then Orton gets hoisted up for the F-U. And then Cowbody Bob runs in before Cena can hit the move, and clubbers Cena in the back. Right in front of the ref. Things briefly look bad for Cena in a 2-on-1 beatdown, but he rallies, and sends the Ortons scurrying away.

Your Winner: John Cena, via disqualification, in 3-4 minutes. The match? Sucked, there's no other way to say it, and if the announcers' shtick about these two representing the future of the business were to be believed, a lot of fans might just decide to not bother showing up next week. But this isn't the time nor the place, and this "match" wasn't even about the match. It was about....

After the Match: Cena celebrates briefly, but then he has his own homage to Eddie Guerrero. See: I knew that match wasn't all Cena had for Latino Heat... Cena takes off his Eddie t-shirt, and lays it down in the ring. Then he takes his WWE Title belt, and lays it across the shirt. "Eddie Guerrero: Latino Heat" with the WWE Championship laid across the t-shirt's waist. As if that didn't say it all, Joey Styles drove it home: "Eddie Guerrero wasn't just a former champion in wrestling. He was also a champion in life." That's everything that the final 30 seconds of this show needed to be. Way to be, Cena. Way to be, Joey. Way to be, WWE. 

We all still miss Eddie the same. But you've all just given us one amazing 2 hours by which to remember him.

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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