Miami – Although it has been more than a decade since the world of professional wrestling lost WWE heavyweight champion Eddie Guerrero, the Hall of Fame inductee’s presence still can be felt inside arenas.
Just about every day, at some wrestling match somewhere in the country, fans start to chant, “Eddie! Eddie!”
Guerrero’s nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr. – who in the early 2000s teamed up with his uncle as a championship tag team – says Eddie left behind a legacy that fans still honor.
“It just shows you how good Eddie was, and how well he connected with the fans,” Chavo told Fox News Latino. “Not only was he great in the ring, but his promos and everything … People really connected with him. They loved him. He always wore his heart on his sleeve, and people saw that.”
He added, “He was a great performer.”
Chavo continues to wrestle and is part of the second season of Lucha Underground, which airs on El Rey Network. Fox News Latino caught up to Chavo recently at a Legends of Wrestling event at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming in Miami.
Eddie died as a result of heart failure in November 2005 in a hotel room in Minneapolis. Chavo, who found him and attempted to revive him with CPR, says it can be overwhelming to hear his uncle’s name being chanted in the arena during a match.
“It’s a bitter sweet,” he said. “You’re happy they’re chanting his name, but, at the same time, it makes me miss him more. Sometimes you want to move on, but you can’t. He meant so much to so many different people.”
He and Eddie fought under the team name of Los Guerreros, and Chavo says he thought they were unbeatable.
“I believed at that time we were the best tag team in the world,” he said. “There was no one who could touch us. The chemistry we had was undeniable. We just clicked. It was magic.”
Before that, in the late 1990s, uncle and nephew were involved in highly theatrical feuds under the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling banner.
The Guerrero family has a long, storied history in the world of professional wrestling, dating back to the 1930s, when Chavo’s grandfather Gory debuted in in Mexican Lucha Libre.
"The way wrestling is [now] in Mexico, my family paved the wave for that," Chavo said. "When you see high-flying – really that’s Lucha Libre. My family were pioneers in that, along with others of course. We cemented a legacy of bringing Lucha Libre to the world."
Eddie, and Chavo after him, grew up wrestling the way children in the U.S. play baseball or basketball after school. Chavo recalled heading to a wrestling ring in their backyard.
"It’s not like I sat and trained, or I had to go to a wrestling school," he said. "I didn’t have to pay to get trained, or something like that. We had a wrestling ring in the backyard, so we trained all the time. It wasn’t training, we played.”
Eddie started his career wrestling in Mexico under the name of Mascara Magica. Later, he fought in Japan and finally headed to the United States, where he performed for Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment – which he joined for good in 2002.
In the WWE, Eddie brought his image to life with his “Latino Heat” character, who would do anything to win. Eddie had a catchphrase -- “I lie, I cheat, I steal” – which was used om his theme song too.
He’s known as one of the best technical wrestlers of all time.
He won the WWE title in 2004, taking on opponents like Brock Lesnar and John “Bradshaw” Layfield.
Although Eddie is no longer around, Chavo and other Guerrero family members continue to be prominent in the wrestling world.
Eddie’s wife, Vickie, had a long run in the WWE after her husband’s death. One of his daughters Shaul Marie Rehwoldt worked for the WWE under the ring name Raquel Diaz. She left the company in 2014.
“We are synonymous, the Guerreros and wrestling,” Chavo told FNL. “We are like peanut butter and jelly: When you find one, you find the other.”
Rodolfo Roman is a Miami-based journalist covering MMA and professional wrestling. He is the host of the weekly sports podcast, The Roman Show.