Alright, before anything, apologies to ODBJBG, because this post is about to be a blatant gank off of your style, only instead of mid-south, I’m going deep south. But as I see it, since we have Eddie Guerrero as WWE world champion, and Chavo Guerrero Sr.’s recent behavior, expecting to be treated like a legend on the weight of his name, perhaps we should examine the history of the Guerrero lineage, and learn just how synonymous the name “Guerrero” is with professional wrestling. Specifically, we should examine the man who started the legend, and left a progeny of champions.
Salvador Guerrero Quesada, a.k.a. Gory Guerrero
Born in Arizona and educated in an American elementary school, Salvador was able to use his knowledge of the English language to make a decent, but meager living both in America and Mexico, moving back to the country of his parents’ birth at a young age. As you can guess, Salvador was part of a big family with several brothers and sisters, and was obviously not in the best of financial situations, so he looked to sports as a chance to make it big. If it’s not clear enough he’s Mexican to you, just go and sit in the corner until you learn how to fire a synapse.
Funny enough, the man who would soon leave an indelible mark on the wrestling world initially wanted to be a boxer! But when he went to his local gymnasium to sign up for boxing training, he saw two people training for wrestling, and he was that easily hooked, and changed his mind. He was taken under the tutelage of El Indio Mejía, and another trainer who would soon become a legend in his own right, Cuauhtémoc “Diablo” Velasco (who amassed in his lifetime an enormous roster of lucha stars who trained under him, names you might recognize from my recaps or otherwise: Atlantis, Apolo Dantés, Emilio Charles Jr., El Dandy, Satánico, Shocker, and Mr. Aguila, among others.) Although, despite Diablo’s posthumous legendary status, at this point in his career he knew very little and could only afford the eventual Gory a couple of weeks of basic training before he debuted on September 14, 1937 in Guadalajara, using the name “Joe Morgan”, jobbing, and earning a paltry payment of 15 centavos.
Right from the start, Gory Guerrero had some characteristics that set him apart from the crowd. In an era where the archetype of a Herculean physique had not exactly taken hold in the wrestling world, Gory was ahead of his time and exhibited a body that could only be a testament to hours of devoted training in the gym. He also picked up on technique quickly, and through continued studies and work, including training in amateur wrestling from another wrestler named Raul Romero, he came to develop a solid mat style that would show its influence decades later in his sons and grandchildren.
With Gory’s obvious talent, his star rose rather fast, finding himself leaving the small town promotions and landing a job in EMLL (currently CMLL), and winning titles. Even though Gory was a technical wrestler, back in the 40’a and 50’s before Sabu, before Cactus Jack, before the Original Sheik, he was having extraordinarily bloody brawls with Cavernario Galindo. This wasn’t limited to one simple bloody match, but a series of sanguine encounters where they juiced to degrees even to this day considered impressive, which is no doubt how the “Gory” moniker evolved. It is only a shame that the Internet can only provide me so much information on this man, and even less in pictures. Gory clashed with all of the big names of his era in Mexico, and he even managed to wrestle and defeat Lou Thesz himself in November 16, 1954 at the Arena Coliseo. This match would lead to future mutual respect between the two international greats.
Perhaps one of Gory’s greatest successes in early in his career came in his time teaming with El Santo, the silver-masked man who many could (and probably will) argue was the most popular wrestler in all of the history of lucha libre. Gory’s tough-man mat-based style seemed to blend perfectly with Santo’s wild rudo brawling, and they were put over almost all the teams they went against. Both stars were individually established already by then, but the team only served to catapult them to their inevitable immortality.
”La Pareja Atomica” (the atomic pair) in 1944.
Gory, being the consummate mat specialist, of course gave to us the “Gori Special”, a back-to-back backbreaker submission…
(Not Gory, this is Satánico)
BUT…Gori is also responsible for inventing a submission move that is so extremely commonplace in the wrestling ring no matter what country you go into, to a point it’s almost rarely even thought about nowadays, the Camel Clutch. Yes, that which you would probably attribute to the Iron Sheik (or someone else, I don’t know, I can’t read your minds, just as long as you don’t say Scott Steiner) was actually created by the Guerrero patriarch. Originally christened “la de a caballo”, or “like mounted on a horse”, he was the first to exhibit this effective maneuver, which was quickly adopted by other wrestlers, most notably Gory’s one time rival as well as tag team partner, El Santo, who used it as his key finishing hold.
Bloody and in a camel clutch, this has Gory written all over it.
As age set in, after an illustrious career gaining every important title there was for him to gain in Mexico, including the NWA welterweight and middleweight titles, and the Mexican National Welterweight Title, he settled down, and focused his duties more on promoting in the California, Texas, and northern Mexico/Baja California region, working occasional wrestling dates, eventually retiring completely from the business in all forms in the early 80’s.
Unfortunately, Salvador Guerrero Quesada died in El Paso, Texas on the 18th of April 1990, just a few short years before WCW and ECW were able to finally begin the mass American exposure of the lucha libre style and Mexican stars, of which his son Eddie would become one of the biggest stars. Even though he wasn’t able to see it himself, as I bring this article to a close and reflect upon the career and the man about whom I have just written, there is no doubt, not a single doubt in my mind that when Eduardo Gori Guerrero Llanes, who bears his father’s name, found himself to be the champion of the most powerful and most recognized wrestling promotion on Earth, he was only thinking of his father, whom in blessing him with his knowledge and wisdom, allowed him to get as far as he’s gone…to a feud on the B-show nobody cares about with a redneck nazi…oops! *Polishes his altruism goggles* Yeah, to get as far as he’s gone, and who knows how much farther. All of you who love Eddie, in fact, all of you who love any badass mat technician, like Malenko and Benoit, owe it to the guy who pioneered and popularized the style half a century before and half a hemisphere away, the master Gory Guerrero.
(Post Script: Pretty much all the information necessary for this piece came from Gory’s La Arena profile, but I hope you all enjoyed my take on things.)