WWE: Viva La Raza – The Legacy Of Eddie Guerrero DVD Review

Much like when I reviewed the recent Ric Flair collection, this Eddie Guerrero set will not be compared to the previously released (and unfortunately titled) ‘Cheating Death, Stealing Life’ due to me having never actually getting around to seeing the earlier compendium of Guerrero’s work.

wwe-viva-la-raza-the-legacy-of-eddie-guerrero-dvd-cover

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 675mins (excluding extras)

Discs: 3 (4 if you live in Europe)

Chapters – Disc 1

  • The Complete Package
  • Vickie Guerrero – Early Eddie
  • ECW World Television Championship Match: 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Eddie Guerrero – Hardcore TV (April 8, 1995)
  • Dean Malenko – A New Style in ECW
  • ECW World Television Championship Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko – Hostile City Showdown (April 15, 1995)
  • Jim Ross – Arrival in WCW
  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani – Starrcade (December 27, 1995)
  • Ric Flair – US Title
  • United States Heavyweight Championship Match: Ric Flair vs. Eddie Guerrero – Hog Wild (August 10, 1996)
  • Chris Jericho – Battling for Respect
  • United States Heavyweight Championship Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho – SuperBrawl (February 23, 1997)
  • Rey Mysterio – Striving for Perfection
  • WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero – Nitro (November 10, 1997)
  • Dean Malenko – Rivalry Renewed
  • WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko – Starrcade (December 28, 1997)
  • Chavo Guerrero – Adapting Wrestling Styles
  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Ultimo Dragon – Slamboree (May 17, 1998)
  • Chavo Guerrero – Ring General
  • Juventud Guerrera vs. Eddie Guerrero – Nitro (August 3, 1998)
  • Vickie Guerrero – Car Accident
  • Psychosis vs. Eddie Guerrero – Thunder (June 24, 1999)

Chapters – Disc 2

  • Chris Jericho – Latino Heat
  • European Championship Match: Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero – RAW (April 3, 2000)
  • Matt Hardy – Master of Psychology
  • King of the Ring Qualifying Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Matt Hardy – SmackDown! (June 8, 2000)
  • Jerry “The King” Lawler – Frogsplash
  • WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero – Backlash (April 21, 2002)
  • Jeff Hardy – The Perfect Wrestler
  • WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Jeff Hardy – RAW (April 29, 2002)
  • Edge – The Conclusion
  • No Disqualification Match: Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero – SmackDown! (September 26, 2002)
  • Chavo Guerrero – Los Guerreros
  • WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros – Backlash April (27, 2003)
  • John Cena – Low Rider
  • Latino Heat Parking Lot Brawl: John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero – SmackDown! (September 11, 2003)
  • Chavo Guerrero Sr. – Family Rivalry
  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero – Royal Rumble (January 25, 2004)
  • Vickie Guerrero – Champion
  • WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero – No Way Out (February 15, 2004)

Extras

  • Los Guerreros Vignettes
    • Los Guerreros Vignette – Baby Carriage
    • Los Guerreros Vignette – Pool
    • Los Guerreros Vignette – Low Rider
    • Los Guerreros Vignette – Golf
    • Los Guerreros Vignette – Vale
    • Los Guerreros Vignette – Outtakes

Chapters – Disc 3

  • Rey Mysterio – True Champion
  • WWE Championship Match
  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio
  • SmackDown! March 18, 2004
  • JBL – Heated Rivalry
  • WWE Championship Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield – Judgment Day (May 16, 2004)
  • JBL – Wrestling a Live Wire
  • Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship: JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero – SmackDown! (July 15, 2004)
  • Michael Cole – Entertaining
  • WWE Championship Series: Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle SmackDown! (April 14, 2005)
  • Rey Mysterio – Born with Charisma
  • Steel Cage Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero – SmackDown! (September 9, 2005)
  • Batista – Losing a Friend
  • World Heavyweight Championship Match: Batista vs. Eddie Guerrero – No Mercy (October 9, 2005)
  • Remembering Eddie

Extras

  • Chris Jericho Meets Eddie for the First Time
  • Eddie’s Final Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Mr. Kennedy – SmackDown! (November 11, 2005)

Chapters – Disc 4

Exlusive to the UK and the rest of Europe:

  • RAW Tribute Show
  • Smackdown Tribute Show

Instead, this four-disc set will be reviewed on its own merits, which, as the talking-head interviews will have a more reflective outlook on the subject matter, is how it should be.

The first disc opens with a shot of the memorial dedication that aired on WWE programming the week of Eddie’s death. From there, we have a selection of people (Vickie, Mick Foley, Edge, Chris Jericho, Jeff Hardy, Michael Cole, John Cena, Jim Ross and Rey Mysterio) extolling the virtues of the man and the wrestler.

We find out about Eddie and Vickie’s first date and how the romance blossomed as well as recapping how and why Eddie (and his other brothers) broke into the business and why they were such huge stars in the El Paso area. The team of Art Barr, a guy who I’ve heard so much about, yet only seen one match of, is discussed and the love Eddie and Vickie had for “Love Machine” is told once again (including why Eddie began using the frogsplash). It’s a shame that the really early days are rushed over, but also understandable.

The first match on the disc is an ECW Television Title match against 2 Cold Scorpio that is a very good, especially for the time it took place. I won’t go into detail on the matches until later on in the review as there are twenty-five of them (of various length) and not all of them deserve discussion.

After the ECW match, Dean Malenko tells us about how they first met and the path they both took to become friends. He also mentions that he was unsure about coming to ECW due to the reputation the promotion had (blood & guts) and whether his and Eddie’s style would work there. He had nothing to worry about; a standing ovation from the ECW fans would become a common occurrence. It really can’t be understated how much ECW did for getting this style of wrestling over in the US. The second match on the disc is a TV Title defence against Malenko that is one of the best matches ECW put forth in its early days.

The farewell match between Eddie and Dean is not on this collection (probably because it’s been on a few other sets), so we end up jumping to WCW without chronicling why. Jim Ross mentions that Eddie (and the other cruiserweights) came into the promotion and stole the show from the gigantic main-event “has-beens” almost on a nightly basis (which, more or less, is what really did happen).

Eddie v Ohtani  (the Japanese veteran was only in his third year as a pro at this point in his career) was a bout from the co-promoted “World Cup of Wrestling” between WCW and New Japan… and it is a belter of a contest. Ohtani, who I had been watching on Eurosport (NJPW was shown in the mid-90s in the UK), was a fantastic talent and he matched up well with Guerrero.

Ric Flair pops up to give his thoughts on Eddie (and tell us that he has known him since Eddie was 5yrs old) and tells us that he feels Eddie is in the top ten-to-twenty guys Naitch has ever been in the ring with (and that covers a lot of wrestlers).

The rest of the first disc follows this format; someone discusses Eddie and then a match from his days in WCW are shown. Rey, Malenko, Chavo and Vickie talk about his work ethic and talent between the ropes. Jericho also pops up and goes over his experience of when they were a tag-team combination (which is something I didn’t actually know about) and travelling around, staying in hotels together and fighting with each other over nothing. Another highlight of this is that it’s always fun to see WCW Jericho on my screen.

The other matches on the first disc are all singles matches that have Eddie taking on Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko, Ultimo Dragon, Psychosis and Juventud Guerrera… and all of them are astounding. It’s wrestling matches like this that makes you think it has to be deliberate with Vince and WWE not being able to put out a good cruiserweight division for longer than a few months at a time. It seems so easy to book; you let the guys do what they can and get the crowd fired up. It really does seem that bloody simple.

Vickie closes the disc (before the Eddie v Psychosis match) reliving the car crash that nearly killed her husband and put him on the shelf for a long time. The actual details of the crash are glossed over, as is the drug use that led to it, so the darkness that Eddie was under at the time is touched upon, but never really explained.

The second disc takes us into his WWE days and we have Chris Jericho being humble in explaining why Eddie and Chyna worked while Y2J and Chyna bombed. The introduction of the low-rider and “Latino Heat” is discussed and Jericho says that, to him, this was the moment Eddie began to become the talent he always deserved to be. Jericho v Eddie for the European Title is the first WWE match of the collection (and takes place just after Wrestlemania XVI).

Why the reasons for Eddie (along with Malenko, Saturn and Benoit) coming to WWE isn’t mentioned is a mystery. I know that it will have been covered before, but it was, and is, a huge deal, both for the calibre of wrestlers who made the jump, but also because of the political reasons for the switch as well.

Matt Hardy, Edge, Jeff Hardy, Jerry Lawler, John Cena (who tells a touching anecdote about the low-riders), Chavo Guerrero and Chavo Senior all talk about Eddie and his grasp of ring psychology, why Eddie was the perfect wrestler, the frogsplash (in regards to his feud with RVD), Los Guerreros, the rivalry between uncle and nephew and, most importantly, the stunning WWE Championship victory over Brock Lesnar (that was, when watching live, a really emotional moment for me). Edge, in particular, goes into great detail about working with the man and what it meant to him, especially at the time. Their “No Disqualification” match is an absolute blinder and is one of the best matches, with one of the best finishes, in the history of the show.

Another pity is that the “Smackdown Six” series of matches is pretty much ignored. For a time period in 2003 (when Paul Heyman was in charge of the show), the teams of Los Guerreros (Chavo and Eddie), Edge & Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit were stealing the show and putting on the best series of singles and tag matches you could hope to see. I can understand why the rivalry was omitted (with Benoit being blacklisted and all), but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

With Eddie now the WWE Champion (and Benoit the World Champion) it was an exciting time in WWE as smaller wrestlers were the face of the company and were main-eventing the Smackdown shows. Rey Mysterio (a future World Champion in his own right) would be a constant rival throughout 2005, and the first match of disc three is a WWE Championship defence with both guys shaking hands before the bell. This, through the worst storyline of Eddie’s career, would change not too long afterwards.

JBL, a man who I believe is underrated as an in-ring performer, and Eddie Guerrero, when put together in a rivalry, just seemed to click. Bradshaw, out of character like everyone else, exudes respect for the man he took the title from and gives Eddie credit for putting him on the main-event map. We also get a great glimpse at the monumental juice-job Guerrero did at Judgment Day 2004 before the match itself is shown in full. The chair-shot that leads to the blood loss is one of the most brutal you’ll ever see (even for a Balls Mahoney fan like myself) and the rate the blood flows is actually disturbing. Eddie, famously, needed a transfusion after the event went of the air. As for the canvas, it was stained with blood from corner to corner. Two JBL matches, regardless of how good they were, is too much for any collection though.

“I Lie, I cheat, I steal” is not the mantra you would want your kids to take on board, but Eddie (and Chavo) were so great as Los Guerreros that it was hard not to cheer for them. Michael Cole, who gets a lot of unwarranted stick, relays his feelings on the character and why he and Kurt Angle were so good together in the ring and with segments and promos.

The “Dominic” storyline is mentioned, but not in any great detail. This, to me, is a good thing. It was unsavoury (even if it did lead to some great matches) and unnecessary when the Rey and Eddie had such a history anyway. The cage match on Smackdown to end the feud was another belter and had an in-built storyline that Eddie had been unable to defeat Rey in WWE.

Once the Rey storyline was done, Eddie moved on to a rivalry with Batista over the World Heavyweight Championship that turned him face once again. They had a great match at No Mercy in 2005 (shown here) and were set to have another (were Guerrero was set to win the title) when we all learned about Eddie’s passing.

Batista, who had become really close friends with Eddie, has a really emotional interview about how Eddie helped him as a performer and about the day he found out about the death of his pal. It’s a stunning sight to see someone like Batista, a hugely muscled bad-ass, fight back tears and let his emotion come forth for all to see. It really makes Batista more of a man in my eyes for doing that. Particularly after their No Mercy match and he tells us about calling Eddie back to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.

They say that pictures say a thousand words, and if that is the case, then the candid photos taken of both Eddie and Dave in the ring after the PPV has gone off the air tells us all you need to know about how much Guerrero meant to Batista, the other wrestlers and all of the fans around the world. Watching the wrestlers, his brother, his nephew and his widow shed tears as they let us know how much they miss him  will bring a tear to your eye.

I know it did with me.

Extras

The first and fourth disc don’t have any extras (although an argument can be made for the fourth disc being an extra all on its own). The second and third discs, however, have some nice extras.

Disc 2 has the comedy vignettes for Los Guerreros and are still funny today. Disc 4 has a nice little anecdote from Chris Jericho and  a Smackdown match against Mr. Kennedy that would end up being his last. What’s great about this match is the finish. It’s pure Eddie Guerrero and made sure he went out as he would like to be remembered. I can’t help but smile along with him as his ruse worked to perfection.

Disc 4, as touched upon, is really a set of extras. They contain edited versions of the RAW and Smackdown tribute shows that were taped after his death. The shows have been edited to erase Chris Benoit from existence, but they are still emotional and special to watch. Rey v Michaels is the highlight of the two shows for me.

Both shows are selected separately from the main menu and have chapter listings contained within.

Overview

This is a fantastic tribute to a fantastic man. The documentary sections are brilliant and feature people who are both relevant to the piece, but also people who have known Eddie, respect Eddie and have had his respect in turn.

The matches (or most of them, some are simply filler that could have been left out) are top quality. On the disc, there are great contests against 2 Cold Scorpio, Ohtani, Rey Mysterio (both in WCW and WWE), Dean Malenko, Chavo Guerrero, Edge, RVD, Batista, JBL, John Cena (the Parking Lot Brawl is really good and has a sweet finish), Jericho, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle (although, in my opinion, their Wrestlemania and Summerslam matches were superior).

My only criticism of the DVDs is that his firing from WWE, the rehab, drug abuse and other demons are glossed over or disregarded entirely. They needed to be shown as an education for the younger wrestlers and WWE should also promoted their Wellness Policy that was introduced in the wake of Eddie’s death.

As for the two tribute shows, both of them are a great legacy to the man and the wrestler. Watching the entire roster stand on stage as Vince pays tribute to Eddie is a sight to behold. Watching them, alongside the fans in the arena, openly weep as the bell is tolled ten times is a stark reminder of exactly what this man meant to them all.

I cry every time I watch the “Hurt” tribute video and I’m not ashamed to say so. The lyrics, so fitting for both Trent Reznor and Johnny Cash (I cry when I watch his video too), just seem to resonate when laid on top of the video for Eddie. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), WWE have changed the music to a generic piece of sad music. The visuals, however, still hit a nerve.

The words and matches are also a fitting tribute to Guerrero (the omitted Benoit/HHH match was a blinder) and the week-long tribute was a fitting epitaph to a great man, a great husband, a great father, a great friend and a great wrestler.

WWE deserve criticism at times, but with this collection, they’ve shown that they can get it right. I urge you to buy this set and see what all the fuss is about. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I can honestly say that there hasn’t been another wrestler before or since who has made me cry at their passing.

I miss you Eddie and I hope you’re looking down on us with a smile on your face.

Points: 9.5/10 (half a point deducted for whitewashing the darker side of Eddie’s life.

Buy It:

UK: DVD

USA: DVD

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