Randy Orton has explained why he was not comfortable using the tragic passing of Eddie Guerrero as part of his storyline rivalry with Guerrero’s long-time friend, Rey Mysterio.
Guerrero passed away unexpectedly in November 2005 at the age of 38. Two months later his friend and former tag team partner Rey Mysterio outlasted twenty-nine other men to win the 2006 Royal Rumble.
Before Mysterio could claim his World Title match at WrestleMania against champion Kurt Angle, the Viper intervened. At No Way Out in February Orton defeated Mysterio to earn his WrestleMania title shot. SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long then had to insert Mysterio back into the WrestleMania bout making the match a triple threat.
It was during this feud between Mysterio and Orton that the Legend Killer took to saying some distasteful things about Guerrero. Most famously Orton told Mysterio during a promo on SmackDown:
“Rey, you’re lookin’ up towards the heavens like you’re lookin’ at Eddie. Let me tell you something, bro, Eddie ain’t in Heaven, Eddie’s down there … in Hell!”
Speaking to Kurt Angle and Conrad Thompson on The Kurt Angle Show [available via AdFreeShows.com] Randy Orton revealed that he was not at all comfortable using Guerrero’s death as part of a wrestling story.
“100% was not comfortable with it [using Eddie’s death in a promo]. Rey assured me that it’s something that Eddie would have wanted and even still, Rey and myself went to Vickie [Guerrero]. Vickie gave us her blessing and she said the same thing ‘Eddie would have wanted to help you guys in this manner’, if he could have used his death in some way to help the business, as morbid as that sounds, he would have wanted us to do it. Especially with Rey being involved.”
“So although it was a horrible tragedy and we lost a friend, it was kind of something that helped me along my way in my career, and a lot of people, as a bad guy talking about that, that’s heat. It worked, and it helped with the angle between me and Rey. Looking back, it will always be something that was a little – there were a lot of things I’ve done in my career that have made me uncomfortable, I think we can all agree on that. That, in particular, was something that I put at the top of that list.”
The story had a happy ending as Mysterio vanquished Orton and Angle at WrestleMania to claim his first World Championship. Following the bout, Mysterio celebrated with Eddie’s nephew Chavo and wife Vickie.