On October 5, 1998, the late Eddie Guerrero interrupted a match between Damián 666 and the late Héctor Garza to drop some truths about World Championship Wrestling’s treatment of Latino talent. Truths that, if we’re being honest, apply in other industries as well. “I got one question for you: What has Eric Bischoff done for you? What has Eric Bischoff done for you? That’s exactly what. He hasn’t done nothing for you. Just like you, and you, and me. He’s got us wrestling each other week in and week out,” Guerrero said. “He never gives us the opportunity to wrestle somebody else, to try to climb the ladder of success.”
In three minutes, Guerrero created a faction of lucha libre style fighters. While the New World Order (NWO) wore black and white and the Wolfpac wore red and black, his faction – the Latino World Order – proudly wore the green, white, and red of the Mexican flag. He formed the group by railing against the travel conditions for wrestlers and the backstage politics that kept them fighting each other and not the big names in the company.
Of course, you might think: if World Championship Wrestling (WCW) allowed Guerrero to go on air with his grievances, how much of what he said about the lifestyle could actually be true? “A hundred percent,” Rey Mysterio Jr. told me during an interview at New York Comic-Con on what would have been Guerrero’s 49th birthday. “A hundred percent was true. I remember we would all grab mini vans and we would all jump in, four, five, maybe even more. ”
“None of the bigger guys wanted to work with the smaller guys.”
Many of the Latino wrestlers in the company weren’t the typical size of wrestlers that usually competed for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. For example, Sting, Randy Savage, Hollywood Hogan, Goldberg, and Kevin Nash held the title in 1998. “None of the bigger guys wanted to work with the smaller guys,” Mysterio said. Together with Guerrero he helped usher in a new era in WCW and later WWE in which cruiserweights – with their speed, agility, and crowd-pleasing style – can challenge for the most prestigious belts.
In addition to Mysterio and Guerrero, the LWO featured the talented Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis, La Parka, El Dandy, Silver King, Villano V, Damien, Ciclope, and Héctor Garza.
Guerrero’s speech also complained about the politics behind the scenes that made it hard for him and the other guys to move forward. Mysterio understood Guerrero’s beef, but avoided most of the drama because of his youth. “I wasn’t so mixed up in the politics because I was only 21,” he said. “I was just enjoying life. I was doing whatever they asked me to do and I would do it with a smile on my face, always.”
Even though Guerrero specifically complained about the federation only pitting luchadores against other luchadores, the LWO feuded with Mysterio before he eventually joined the group. The stable had many of its matches against other Latino wrestlers. “Eddie started to do his own thing with the LWO, and that’s true we worked against each other because we had the best matches,” Mysterio said. “So if we weren’t gonna get the push that we deserved we were at least gonna give them the best match every night.”
He’s right – I mean, just watch this damn match:
“I remember what Eddie did was try to pick out the best Hispanic wrestlers.”
Latino World Order only lasted a few months, and didn’t have the popularity of the main NWO, but as a little brown kid, to me, there was something so cool about watching Latinos proudly wearing their flag and doing their own thing. Mysterio remembers the time fondly. “That was such a brief moment for me but I do remember that we had a great roster put together. I remember what Eddie did was try to pick out the best Hispanic wrestlers and put them all in one group and try to dominate,” he said. “If it was gonna be complicated to work with the top talent, at least we were gonna have fun amongst ourselves. That’s what we did every night.”
These days, you can catch Mysterio on Lucha Underground, where he and other lucha libre style fighters don’t need to worry about getting the push they deserve.