Last New Year’s Eve Eddie Guerrero lay prone in a hospital bed wondering if he’d ever wrestle again. He had miraculously walked away from a terrible car accident. His thoughts turned to his family. A devoted husband and father, wrestling had allowed him to provide for his family. Now his livelihood was in jeopardy.

Eddie Guerrero. Courtesy WCW.

He was told his return would be an uphill battle. “It’s not going to be easy,” the doctors told him. They questioned whether or not he would make it.

But he did make it. Through hard work, determination and the power of prayer, Eddie Guerrero returned to action. And now, as a member of the Filthy Animals, he’s on top of the world.

“I’m ecstatic (about the Filthy Animals),” Guerrero told SLAM! Wrestling from his home in Florida. “It’s the biggest opportunity I’ve had in my career. I’m working with guys I really like to work with.”

Part of a major program in WCW for the first time, Guerrero is quick to give credit to head writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera.

“What Vince and Ed bring to WCW is phenomenal,” stated Guerrero. “They’re really blessed in what they do. I’m very honoured and grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me.”

He’s also impressed with the job they’ve been doing thus far.

“(With Russo and Ferrera) this is a wrestling company now,” joked Guerrero. “We went from being so disorganized to everything being organized now.”

Despite being kept in a mid-card position by Eric Bischoff, Guerrero has nothing but nice things to say about his former boss.

“I can’t say anything bad about Eric Bischoff,” admitted Guerrero. “I had problems with him here and there but he gave me an opportunity and he brought me in and I’m very grateful for that.”

“I really didn’t get a push because Eric had given so many people so much power you couldn’t do anything. It was the politics of him keeping his word to other people that kept me, Chris (Benoit) and Dean (Malenko) down.” Although he’s returned to his old form, Guerrero is still leery in the ring.

“I want to go out there and produce but I still don’t feel 100%,” admitted Guerrero. “I was scared to death when I came back. People are always going to be looking at you and ask, “does he still have it?”

“I’m dealing with a reconstructed ankle and three fractured vertebrae that I’ll have for the rest of my life. I have constant pain.”

Guerrero also feels a little self-imposed pressure about living up to his name. As the son of legendary wrestler Gory Guerrero and with three older brothers who wrestled, being a Guerrero isn’t always the easiest thing in the world for Eddie.

“Having the name Guerrero opened up doors for me but at the same time I have to live up to the expectations of my brothers and my dad. It’s the hardest thing because people expect you to live up to the name.”

As a member of the Filthy Animals, Guerrero is one of the few Mexican wrestlers being given a push by the new booking regime. His fellow countrymen haven’t been so lucky.

“They can’t speak the language,” conceded Guerrero. “It’s hard to get a character over if you can’t speak the language. Nowadays, if you’re not on the mic and don’t have interview time, you can’t get it over.”

“They’re great in the ring,” continued Guerrero. “I tell them all the time that no matter what (WCW) does to them backstage or in the locker room, they can’t take away what they do in the ring. That’s theirs. Nobody can take that from them.”

Looking ahead, Guerrero is excited about being a part of this weekend’s Mayhem PPV in Toronto. Guerrero has a wealth of experience competing in Mexico, Japan, Central America and several other countries around the world. Amazingly, this will be his first time wrestling in Canada.

“I’m really excited,” said Guerrero. “I’ve been wanting to come to Canada for a long time. Especially for a PPV because you get hyped up and the adrenaline gets going. It’s a big deal for Benoit as well.”

“Although I’m not looking forward to the cold weather,” laughed Guerrero. “I’m a Florida-boy so if it gets below 70 I start to shake.”

Guerrero is also excited about the prospect of Japanese sensation and IWGP Junior heavyweight champion Jushin “Thunder” Liger touring WCW next month.

“I’d love it if he came,” exclaimed Guerrero. “What a worker! He’s the most professional guy in the business. When I wrestled him in Japan, he taught me more about being a professional than anybody else.”

The chance to square off against Liger will also make up for the fact that WCW sent Benoit and Malenko on a tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling last month, leaving Guerrero behind.

“I was real mad,” kidded Guerrero. “I kept asking why did they get to go and not me?”