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“The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” by The Mountain Goats Reviewed

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The Mountain Goats Wrestling Fans

 

The Mountain Goats, everybody’s favorite indie/folk/lo-fi pop band, will be back in April with a professional wrestling themed album titled Beat the Champ. An advanced track, “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” has been released on iTunes. In the song, the narrator relates watching Guerrero’s wrestling conquests while listening to Hispanic announcers and getting his need for justice fed. The tale is delivered to someone in who has passed away, but left lingering disappointments (“You let me down, but Chavo never once did”). I watched Chavo as a kid, too. He wasn’t my hero, but he was very gifted at his craft.

The regional professional wrestling territories were often a family business for practical reasons. For one, during that era, one of the overriding concerns was “protecting” the business – a family member would be less likely to expose that it was all just a show verses finding a musclehead from the gym for a slot. Also, if someone had family members in the promotion, they could be pushed as top stars and they would be less likely to leave the territory. However sometimes sons of promoters were so ineffective in their jobs (such as Mike Von Erich in Texas and George Gulas in Tennessee) that the idea backfired and hurt the credibility of the promotion.

Which leads us back to the Guerrero family. Salvador Guerrero Quesada was born in Arizona in 1921 and became famous using the name Gory Guerrero wrestling in Mexico and working the weekly El Paso matches on the West Texas circuit (he also promoted Lucha Libre shows in Jaurez). Gory worked for several decades, as was the norm, as was credited for inventing the Gory special (a form of a backbreaker) and the Cobra Clutch. He had a wrestling ring in his backyard and had four sons that grew up around the grappling game – Chavo, Mando, Hector, and Eddie.

Chavo was born in 1949 and started working on the West Texas circuit in the early 1970s. The Los Angeles promotion marketed heavily toward the city’s large Hispanic community and Chavo was the lead babyface in that territory throughout most of the late 1970s, often facing a young Roddy Piper, whose explosive charisma would make him a huge national star in the 1980s. Chavo could work the Mexican lucha libra style of wrestling or the more grounded American style. In a way, he was one of the bridge performers that lead to a more high flying style. As late as 1986, his top rope moonsault block was voted best maneuver in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Chavo’s brother Mando dabbled in the family business, but worked more as a Hollywood stuntman and action scene choreographer than in the ring. Brother Hector was a respected territorial journeyman. Eddie Guerrero was eighteen years younger than Chavo and became famous to a different generation of wrestling fans. At one point, Eddie was the best in ring performer in the business and despite being small in stature, won the WWE Heavyweight Championship belt. Unfortunately, Eddie loved the business too much. The sacrifices he made to bulk up his small frame and the punishment has body took lead to his death in 2005. Even though Eddie became a much bigger national star than Chavo, he would always state that his eldest brother was the superior performer.

In 2004, Chavo returned to the national wrestling scene briefly, known as Chavo Sr. or “Chavo Classic.” His son, Chavo Guerrero, Jr., was working in the WWE and Chavo Sr. was used in a lucrative, comic role. Unfortunately, he had personal issues that cut short his return to the spotlight.

I miss Chavo Guerrero and I miss being fed justice (fabricated or anticipated) on a weekly basis. Yet, as the song concludes, “It’s real sweet to grow old.” Might as well enjoy the ride, there’s no good alternative.

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