Before guys like The Miz and Roman Reigns, there was Eddie Guerrero. The “Latino Heat” was a wrestling icon in the 2000s, drawing a legion of fans with his signature attitude and sense of humor. Needless to say, the wrestling world was devastated when the former WWE champ was found unresponsive in a Minneapolis hotel room. With 2021 marking the 16th anniversary of Eddie Guerrero’s death date, we are taking a look back at his career and health. Let’s sift through the rumors and get the final word on Eddie Guerrero’s cause of death.
Eddie Guerrero Was A Famous Wrestler In The 1990s And Early 2000s
Eddie Guerrero was born to rumble in the ring. As the son of Lucha Libre pioneer Gory Guerrero, and the father of professional wrestler Shaul Guerrero, Eddie—otherwise known as Latino Heat—was by far the most famous member in a rather large wrestling family.
He got his start in Mexico and Japan in the 1990s, and stints with ECW and WCW followed. But an eventual move to WWF/WWE made him a household name.
Guerrero earned five titles during his WWE tenure. The biggest score was when he upset champion Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004. Check out the nail-biting match below:
When Did Eddie Guerrero Die?
Guerrero died on November 13, 2005, after being found unresponsive in a Minneapolis Marriott hotel room. Given that he was only 38 at the time of his passing, many fans are curious to know the official cause of death. Some have speculated that he had overdosed on drugs, and others wonder if he had relapsed into alcoholism. (The disease was the reason he was released from the WWF in 2001.)
Whatever the reason, the wrestling world was hit hard by the loss. Guerrero was a wrestler’s wrestler, and many pros raved about his legacy. WWE.com named him one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time. And in 2017, Kurt Angle named him one of the top three wrestlers of all time.
“As good as he was in 2004, 2005, he had to be 10-times better back then,” Angle told the Talk is Jericho podcast. “That’s mind-blowing. I mean, he could have been the absolute greatest of all time because when I wrestled him, he was still in that top three we were talking about, so Eddie had it all. He was so entertaining, but he also had all the technique. He was such a great wrestler and he got it.”
What Was Eddie Guerrero’s Cause Of Death?
An initial police report stated that there were no signs of foul play or suicide in relation to Guerrero’s death.
On December 8, 2005, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner released the findings of an autopsy. Guerrero’s official cause of death was “natural causes related to arteriosclerotic heart disease.” In layman’s terms, he had heart disease.
Our own hearts go out to his nephew, fellow WWE star Chavo Guerrero Jr. In an interview with Vice (via Complex), Chavo explained that he was the one who was notified by hotel security that Guerrero didn’t respond to a wake-up call. Unfortunately, his uncle was on the bathroom floor clutching a toothbrush by the time he and security accessed Guerrero’s room. He died in his nephew’s arms while waiting for 911 responders.
Did Eddie Guerrero Have Any Underlying Health Conditions?
Guerrero’s heart disease may have been caused by multiple factors.
In 2009, Rey Mysterio announced that he would be entering rehab for a pain killer addiction. He mentioned Guerrero by name and said he didn’t want to meet the same fate as the late pro wrestler. He seemed to suggest that Guerrero’s past drug abuse had contributed to his heart health.
Guerrero was never shy about his demons. After a 1999 car crash, he had become hooked on pills. He hit rock bottom in 2001 and checked into a treatment center for help.
“The thing to do when guys got hurt, instead of missing work, they took pills. And so, to me, I thought it was the norm at first,” said Guerrero’s widow, Vickie. “I thought everything is okay–he’s just trying to cover up his injuries, but then I started seeing that I was driving him everywhere. I was picking him up because he couldn’t function… what y’all saw in the ring, he would turn on his lights in the ring. He loved what he did, but coming home, it was a mess.”
However, it’s worth nothing that Guerrero had been sober for at least four years at the time of his death.
Other critics believe that long-term use of performance-enhancing drugs hurt his heart. A 2007 exposé by Sports Illustrated revealed that Guerrero was among 14 WWE employees who had used steroids and human growth hormone. According to California rehab facility Asana Recovery, “researchers use the late wrestler’s case as a viable confirmation of the link between steroid abuse and cardiovascular failure.”
It sounds like there’s an unfortunate dark side to a sport that is otherwise wildly entertaining. We hope that things behind the scenes have since changed and that the latest generation of wrestling fans don’t see a loss of this magnitude in their lifetime.