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Celebrating Eddie Guerrero
WWE was deeply saddened by the loss of Eddie Guerrero, who died Sunday morning in Minneapolis. In response, the entire WWE family gathered on RAW to remember Guerrero. Superstars from both rosters took part in interbrand matches dedicated to their dear, departed friend. Between matches, Eddie's peers paid tribute with video messages. Many cried, all were overwhelmed with emotion. Each cited stories particular to their friendship with Eddie, but all spoke of his inspirational role in their lives, his love for his family and his uncanny ability to summon any emotion and convey it to an appreciative crowd. Eddie was remembered as a consummate in-ring technician and exceptional performer. He is missed, and in the words of Stephanie McMahon, he will always be a champion.
The night began with a 10-bell salute as WWE Superstars stood in silent remembrance. As Mr. McMahon introduced a special video tribute, the fans in attendance chanted, "Thank you, Eddie!"
What followed was a truly rare match pitting World Tag Team Champions Kane & Big Show against WWE Tag Team Champions MNM. Mercury, Nitro & Melina did everything they could to try to outwit the bigger men — knowing they couldn't overpower their monster opponents. Melina also attempted to distract the World Tag Team Champions, but when she jumped on the ring apron, she received a big, wet kiss for her trouble. For a second time, an increasingly desperate Mercury attacked Kane with a championship belt. But that would prove to be as close as MNM could come to stealing the win. Soon after, Nitro found himself on the receiving end of a double-chokeslam and was out for the three-count. Following the match, Big Show imitated Eddie's signature strut in homage.
The evening's next tribute match brought mentor and student back together. Kurt Angle battled former protégé Shelton Benjamin and was forced to cope with all he had taught his athletic pupil. Benjamin, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, also enjoyed the support of the Minneapolis crowd.
Despite the circumstances of the match, Angle brought intensity and focus to the ring — immediately going to work on Benjamin. But the acrobatic Shelton shifted the momentum with a soaring tope-rope clothesline. The Stinger Splash that followed missed the mark, allowing Kurt to connect with rolling German suplexes and eventually an Angle Slam. To Angle's shock, Shelton kicked out, but the series of events seemed to launch the Olympic gold medalist into yet another gear. Shelton was able to hit a jaw-dropping suplex off the top rope that rotated Angle completely in the air, but Kurt played possum and caught Benjamin with the ankle lock. Immediately, Angle grapevined the hold, spelling doom for Shelton who tapped soon after.
Angle then held his black, "E.G." armband high in victory.
In the next truly special interbrand contest, Eddie's close friend Rey Mysterio took on "The Showstopper" Shawn Michaels. Both men wore Eddie t-shirts to the ring. The match would turn on a series of attempted finishers. Twice Michaels successfully ducked the 619 and escaped, but Rey returned the favor by dodging Sweet Chin Music after absorbing a top-rope elbow smash. From there, Rey connected with a hurricanrana that propelled HBK into the ring ropes, allowing Mysterio to finally hit the 619. With lightning speed, Rey followed with Droppin' Da Dime and earned a classic victory. An emotional Rey began to cry, then pointed to the heavens as an act of dedicating the win to Guerrero.
The Divas of RAW and SmackDown took to the ring next. Each wore Guerrero tees into the ring, then pulled off that layer to reveal the sumptuous outfits underneath. In the frenetic atmosphere of the Diva Battle Royal beautiful bodies were flying everywhere. Mickie James exited first, followed soon after by Jillian Hall. Backstage announcer Maria tried to stay out of the fray while the other Divas went at it. Candice sent Christy to the floor with a right hand, but surprisingly Maria used the opportunity to eliminate Candice. With her newfound confidence, Maria attacked both Trish and Melina and was immediately tossed out in response. That left the Women's Champion alone with the vixen of MNM. The match turned when Trish attempted the Stratusfaction only to be caught by Melina. Trish was left in a precarious position and couldn't quite fight her way back to solid ground. Melina picked up the huge victory and put another notch in her belt.
With sadness and palpable emotion in the air, it was a welcome distraction as the entertaining Eugene took to the ring against Simon Dean. The fitness guru inadvertently sent himself into the top turnbuckle, then walked into a Rock Bottom for the pin. Two savvy ring veterans followed, as Intercontinental Champion Ric Flair finished off William Regal with the Figure-Four Leglock.
In the final tribute match, WWE Champion John Cena defeated SmackDown star Randy Orton when Cowboy Bob prevented an FU, causing the disqualification. Randy afterward attempted an RKO, but Cena pushed away and caught Randy with an FU coming off the ropes. The Champ then removed the Guerrero shirt he wore all match long, placed it flat in the center of the ring, then draped it with the WWE Championship belt.
Monday night was filled with heartfelt tributes from Eddie's friends and peers. John Cena called Eddie a great man and a father figure. Lilian Garcia cited their Latino connection and remembered their time together with the troops in Iraq. Shawn Michaels spoke of their shared deeply held faith, and how they'd meet again in the Kingdom of Heaven. Triple H remembered the little things Eddie could do to make you laugh or cry — anything he wanted to emotionally accomplish as a performer in the ring. Stephanie McMahon explained just how humble and sweet Eddie was, saying that he just stole your heart. A distraught Batista spoke of just how close the two friends had grown, and how Eddie helped him carry the heavy burden of the World Heavyweight Championship.
Rey Mysterio explained the bond between his family and Eddie's. Overcome by emotion, Rey dropped his head and removed his mask. (WATCH)
Chris Benoit spoke of Eddie as his best friend — a friend of just about 15 years. He said Eddie was one person he could always pour his heart out to and someone he could always call on. (WATCH)
Nephew Chavo said that he and Eddie were truly brothers with big shoes to fill growing up in the Guerrero family. He spoke of their instinctual bond, in the ring and out, and the inspirational role Eddie played in his life. (WATCH)