Date: September 7, 2004
Location: Tulsa, OK
Source: PWInsider, RFVideo, Wrestlinginc.com, Armpit reader Zeeboe
A year before Eddie Guerrero passed away, he was already showing signs of mental and physical decline. The performance enhancing drugs were taking a toll on his heart, his mind was reeling from concussions, and his body was breaking down from a prior car accident and years of working a hard style in the ring.
Kurt Angle worked with him regularly in 2004 and began to notice it. The problem was that Eddie was such a perfectionist in the ring, that he put unreasonable demands on himself to perform at the highest level possible (a trait he shared with his friend Chris Benoit). So when his body broke down, it frustrated him immensely because he couldn’t figure out what was going on. This was before anyone knew he had heart issues.
On some nights, Eddie could barely move. On others, he was fine. He prayed every night, hoping to get better. He trained every day, not realizing it was doing him more harm than good. Often times he was white as a ghost, and other times he showed good color. As much as it frustrated Angle to work with him during this period, it frustrated Eddie far more.
At a SmackDown taping in Tulsa, the main event was Angle vs Eddie in a lumberjack match. It had to be heavily edited for television, with one person there live said it’s a miracle it looked as good as it did when it aired. Eddie was spacing out and feeling like he couldn’t do anything, to the point Angle wanted to end the match sooner than was planned.
When Angle tried to work some spots with him, he’d say “Get away from me! Don’t touch me!” It made no sense. Eddie told him to throw him outside the ring, which he did. The lumberjacks beat on him as planned, and Eddie told them the same thing. Angle brought him inside the ring to work a spot, and again he said to get away from him, and he just clutched the ropes. Much of this never aired on TV.
Bubba Ray asked Angle what was going on, and Angle told him something was wrong with Eddie. Finally they did the finish, and the lumberjacks ran in. Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak, who are both very large men, were a little stiff with Eddie. This only made things worse.
When they got backstage, Eddie was screaming how they were all taking advantage of him and beating the crap out of him. Angle was secretly frustrated that he and Eddie hadn’t been having good matches lately, but always hid that frustration from him. He was tired of Eddie not doing much in the ring and having to carry him every night, not realizing it wasn’t Eddie’s fault and that he was the furthest thing from lazy in the ring. But when Eddie screamed at him, Angle lost his temper too. He thought to himself, “Screw you!”
Angle shoved Eddie, telling him the things he had been hiding all this time. Eddie continued screaming things, so Angle shoved him again. And in the Guerrero tradition of starting fights with men way tougher than they are, Eddie went for a leg dive and tried to take him down. As an Olympic gold medalist wrestler, Angle easily stopped the takedown and turned it into a front headlock and started choking him out.
Angle held him there until Big Show came along to break it up. Angle could’ve easily stretched him or inflicted much worse damage, but wisely just held him until others came in.
It’s believed Vince McMahon sat them both down for a talk before the night was over, and there were no problems after that. Angle and Eddie were friends, so there was no heat between the two. It was more frustration and Eddie’s condition at the time. Angle said in hindsight he should’ve just let Eddie vent, and didn’t realize he was suffering from so many health problems.
JBL later asked Eddie why on Earth he’d try leg diving a gold medalist. Eddie was still seething and shouted “Because I’m stupid!”
That quote was a humorous moment from an otherwise sad and tragic story. Eddie passed away a year later, as his heart couldn’t handle the things Eddie was doing to his body. Angle had his own issues with drugs in the years that followed, to the point WWE released him. He did better in TNA, but still had his share of publicized DUIs there. Angle’s past condition was such that McMahon has been leery of re-hiring him, thinking it would be a PR disaster if anything happened to an Olympic gold medalist on their watch. Because of Angle’s legit athletic credentials, the media scrutiny would be far worse than most wrestler deaths.