How did Eddie Guerrero die? The underlying reasons behind the wrestler’s sudden death

Eddie Guerrero

Eduardo “Eddie” Guerrero was one of the biggest names in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) during his peak in the 90s and early 2000s. Coming from the prominent Mexican-American Guerrero wrestling family, Eddie was a second-generation professional wrestler who began his career by performing in Mexico and Japan before venturing to America.

He was known as the ‘Latino Heat’ for his perseverance and tenacity to win any match in the ring. Just a year before his untimely death, Guerrero had won the title of the WWE World Championship at the ‘2004 No Way Out’ event and was on the cusp of getting another world title.

At 38 years old, Eddie Guerrero died of natural causes related to “arteriosclerotic heart disease”

Eddie Guerrero passed away on November 13, 2005, at 38 years old in his hotel room at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, Minnesota.

He was travelling with his nephew and fellow WWE wrestler, Chavo Guerrero, for the ‘WWE Super ShowDown’ and was supposed to take part in the scheduled ‘Raw’ and ‘Smackdown!’ tapings that very evening.

However, when the hotel’s front desk staff gave the wake-up call at 7 am that morning, Guerrero failed to respond and was suspiciously silent in his room. After numerous calls and knocks went unanswered, the hotel security entered the room by force.

Guerrero was found dead on the bathroom floor of his room and had seemingly died while brushing his teeth as he was found face down with a toothbrush in his mouth. Earlier investigations by the police ruled out possible suicide or foul play.

The autopsy later confirmed the cause of death to be related to acute heart failure. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said that he had died of “natural causes related to arteriosclerotic heart disease”. The report did not detail the underlying causes of his coronary heart disease.

Along with Chavo Guerrero, wrestlers Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and Dean Malenko visited Eddie’s hotel room to say their final goodbyes before his body was taken away from the scene.

Guerrero’s past substance abuse and alcoholism are generally said to be the underlying causes of his heart failure

Although Guerrero was four years sober at the time of his death, it is speculated that his previous substance abuse and use of anabolic steroids contributed to his heart troubles. Moreover, the autopsy found that Guerrero’s organs were unusually enlarged – a side effect of the use of growth hormone.

The wrestler’s wife, Vickie Guerrero (who is also a wrestling personality and manager) attributed his death to an “aggressive workout regimen” combined with his alcoholism and drug abuse. In an episode of ‘The Talk is Jericho’ podcast, she detailed Guerrero’s addiction to painkillers in the aftermath of his 1999 car accident, saying:

“The thing to do when guys got hurt, instead of missing work, they took pills, and I thought it was the norm at first. I thought everything is okay – [Eddie’s] just trying to cover up his injuries, but then I started seeing that I was driving him everywhere. I was picking him up because he couldn’t function. [But] he would turn on his lights in the ring. He loved what he did, but coming home, it was a mess.”

By 2001, Guerrero’s alcoholism took a turn for worse so much so that the WWE gave him an ultimatum to either join rehab or be released from the show. As a result, he went to rehab to overcome his addiction in the same year.

However, just months after he came back from rehabilitation, Guerrero was involved in a drunk driving incident on November 9, for which the WWE immediately terminated his contract. Nonetheless, he finally quit drinking in 2002 and returned to WWE, forming the ‘Los Guerreros’ wrestling team with Chavo Guerrero.

Guerrero’s death was a contributory factor in the WWE’s decision to institute a drug-testing program for wrestlers

Eddie Guerrero
Photo by J. Shearer/WireImage

Shortly after the death of Eddie Guerrero, the WWE announced its plans to form a drug-testing program and policy on December 4, 2005. The procedure was to conduct frequent and random drug testing among the wrestlers to detect any use of steroids, illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse.

The WWE previously tested for drugs only when called for or during extreme circumstances. The spokesperson for the agency, Gary Davis, believed that the new policy would be essential to “ensure the health and well-being” of the performers and to prevent further premature deaths.

“The policy is going to be very fair. No special consideration for anyone,” said Vince McMahon, the Chairman of WWE.

The ‘Substance Abuse and Drug Testing Policy’ of the WWE were finalized a year later and came into action on February 27, 2006.