RAW last night was an Eddie Guerrero tribute show. I don't remember if it was taped on Sunday along with Smackdown, or if RAW was live last night like it usually is, but this must have been incredibly difficult for the performers. Vince McMahon gave every wrestler the option of performing or not and every single person elected to perform as a tribute. It's an odd thing about the wrestling business, but it is the way things seem to work. These men (and women, but mostly men) spend way more time with each other than they do with their families, so to say that they become family is likely not an exaggeration.
The show opens up with all of the wrestlers of RAW and Smackdown standing in front of the "curtain" where they make their entrance. Vince McMahon (owner of WWE) was standing in front with a microphone announcing to the crowd about Eddie's passing. Everyone already knew as many had signs saying goodbye and even before Vince said anything the crowd was chanting "Eddie, Eddie" and "Thank You Eddie" in respect. Vince talked for a short while as the camera panned around the other wrestlers, some who were barely holding themselves together. Chris Benoit, in particular, was having the hardest time as he has been friends with Eddie for fifteen years. Then there was a tribute video showing some of Eddie's accomplishments and just giving a little bit of a feel for who Eddie was. The song playing with the video was Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt". That's a beautiful, painful song as it was. When it was over most of the wrestlers were crying and as the camera panned, so were many in the Minneapolis audience. After Vince spoke, but before the video the WWE gave the traditional 10 bell salute to a fallen wrestler. It's a chilling sound to hear.
Interspersed throughout the show and between matches were segments where the wrestlers talked about Eddie. Some talked about his professionalism, others his heart and how good of a friend he was. Benoit broke down at the end of his as he talked about his friendship. As Benoit spoke and got more emotional, this was the only one that I had a tear fall. The pain was too raw for so many of these men. Eddie's nephew Chavo Guerrero talked about how he really thought of Eddie as a brother since they were only three years apart and how everything they dreamed of came true except that Eddie isn't here anymore. Shawn Michaels gave a completely different perspective and said that he can't talk about Eddie as a wrestler because he never had wrestled him. Instead he talked about Eddie's faith and how they had shared their faith in Christ for the past few years and how Eddie was the only man Shawn had ever seen to get the entire company together from Vince to the road crew and lead them all in a prayer meeting.
I'm not really going to talk about the matches because they weren't terribly important. They did not advance storylines but served to just entertain the audience as well as show respect to Eddie. Many wore Eddie's t-shirts to the ring and several wore black arm bands with EG on it. A couple almost broke down just walking to the ring. The best match, by far, though was Shawn Michaels against Rey Mysterio (Mysterio is a good personal friend of Eddie's and their families are close). It was a well wrestled match, and if you can give respect through your actions and performance, this one gave the most.
Smackdown, which will air on Friday and was recorded the same day as RAW (this is why I think Sunday night) is also going to be a Tribute Show and is likely just the second half of the Super Show which ended up being one great big Tribute to Eddie Guerrero