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Lucha Tributes: Juventud Guerrera
That’s right everyone; I’m back with yet another column for you today! It’s almost like I’ve been rejuvenated after a few days off or I’ve been freed from a creatively stifling hell hole and have reason to live again! Wow, may have been too much info for you guys there. Anyways, I have here for you another Lucha Tribute tonight and, while it’s not Lucha Underground related, it’s a special one for me. This performer is one of my favorite wrestlers ever, a luchador I grew up watching in WCW and who I’ve followed ever since. He’s an amazing high flyer, he’s quietly one of the most charismatic luchadors to ever walk this mortal coil and he’s a performer who can only be described as “juicy”. And with that, I’ve totally given it all away. Ladies, gentlemen, Super Hoody, this is a Lucha Tribute for lucha legend, former WCW star, the Youth Warrior, The Juice, Juventud “Juvi” Guerrera.
What You Already Know
Lucha Libre fans will know Juventud Guerrera as one of the biggest lucha stars of the modern era, including runs with both Mexican wrestling powers AAA and CMLL. American wrestling fans will know him as “The Juice”, the charismatic high flyer best known for his five year run with WCW during the Monday Night Wars, a brief stint with both ECW and TNA and a one year run with WWE from 2005-2006 as a member of one of the worst stables in wrestling history, The Mexicools. Aside from that low point of riding John Deere tractors to the ring and being treated like a Mexican stereotype, Juvi’s US run was quite good thanks to a total of six Cruiserweight Championship runs between his AAA, WCW and WWE tenures, a WCW Tag Team Title run with friend/rival Rey Mysterio Jr. and a slew of awesome matches against the likes of Mysterio, Chris Jericho (who took Juvi's mask at SuperBrawl 1998), Psicosis, Konnan, Billy Kidman and numerous others. Though he never quite reached the heights Mysterio would, “The Juice” remains a cult hero for Monday Night War fans to this day and is considered to be one of the most influential luchadors to cross over from Mexico to the US. Think of him as the George Harrison of the legendary 90s class of luchadors, with Rey as Paul, La Parka as Lennon, Konnan as the manager Epstein and El Dandy as Ringo Star. Poor El Dandy.
What You Didn’t Know
You’ll never believe this, but Juvi is a second generation wrestler. Yes, we have yet another lucha libre star that grew up surrounded by past, present or future lucha libre stars. Much like his son, Juvi’s father Fuerza Guerrera is a lifelong veteran of lucha libre, having competed for every major promotion in Mexico and even having a brief stint with WWE during 1997 (which, with Juvi working for WCW at the time, put father and son against each other during the Monday Night Wars). In fact, you could make the argument that Fuerza’s career has been just as successful, if not more so, than his son’s has. You would be wrong, but you could at least make the argument. Regardless, the career of Fuerza Guerrera (still continuing to this day may I add) is something worth celebrating, and goes to show that Juvi was destined for success from the day he crawled out into this mortal coil. And I haven’t even mentioned that the two are three time Tag Team Champions together in Mexico! You didn’t see Dusty Rhodes and either Dustin or Cody doing that!
In recent years however, “The Juice’s” interests have extended beyond the ring. He recently attempted to launch a TV show down in Mexico called TVShow La Arena, a show that literally seems to be about anything and everything. More noteworthy however is his foray into music. A long time music lover, Juvi has branched out into that world as a songwriter and DJ in recent years, coming up with his own beats and even writing lyrics to some songs. That’s right; Juvi is a songwriter and a DJ! As best as I can tell, the gig has been pretty successful for him, as he’s made a few appearances in music videos (including a song fittingly called “Juicy Love”, where Juvi shows off some nice freestyle rapping skills) and usually performs with his famous mask on. I’m honestly surprised that word hasn’t spread more about this; when I informed my friend (and longtime wrestling fan) Joe Brown about Juvi’s new career as a DJ, he briefly considered the idea of “The Juice” DJing his wedding. Ultimately the inability to contact Juvi and the fact that his fiancé would’ve axe murdered Joe Brown prevented that from happening, but hey, it’s the thought right? Plus, how cool would that have been? Tell me a wrestling fan (especially a Monday Night War era one) wouldn’t want Juvi to DJ their wedding. That’s like saying a single dude wouldn’t want to have dinner with Ivelisse. Insanity I tell you!
Now clearly, it would seem that Juvi’s outside interests have kept him from continuing to have a career in the ring. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Though he hasn’t been on the same stage as he used to be in the US(aside from that WWE run), “The Juice” was had steady work since leaving WCW, with stints in Pro Wrestling Noah over in Japan, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), XPW (where he teamed with Lucha Underground legend Vinny Massaro), Pro Wrestling Revolution and countless others. Interestingly, Juvi might be one of the few wrestlers ever to have worked for all the major North American wrestling companies, seeing as he worked WCW, ECW, WWE, TNA, AAA and CMLL. Impressive? Most impressive. Even more exciting however is that “The Juice” has recently wrestled a few matches for Lucha Libre Elite, an indie promotion strongly (and I mean strongly) connected with CMLL. Though it hasn’t led to anything yet, there are hints of a program brewing between Juvi and fellow lucha legend/hero of mine Negro Casas. Is it possible that we might get both a Juventud Guerrera 2016 comeback AND a feud between him and the GOAT?! I want to believe dammit!
I know you’re expecting me to go with Rey vs. Juvi from ECW’s Big Ass Extreme Bash in 1996. It was after all given a five star rating by wrestling journalist/intergender match hater Dave Meltzer, and if we’re being real, Rey vs. Juvi is like a Stanley Kubrick film; even the weaker editions are better than almost everything else. However, as a long time Juvi fan, my favorite work of his doesn’t involve Rey (well, not entirely), but instead one Billy Kidman. For those of you who were still watching WCW in late 1998, Juvi and Kidman would have a series of matches that were just out of this world. In total, the two produced three amazing bouts on two Nitros and WCW World War 3 98, before capping it off with an excellent triple threat match involving Mysterio at Starrcade 98. There’s been a lot of great Juvi matches over the years, but for my money, this foursome is tops. While I'm only going to post one of those matches here (the World War 3 match), I highly, HIGHLY, recommend checking out the other matches on either DailyMotion, YouTube or the WWE Network (if you're into that sort of thing!). These matches are, as Randy Savage would say, the CREAM OF DA CROP YEAH!
In a recent podcast, both Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho declared that Juventud Guerrera was just as great a performer as Mysterio was when they both broke into the US back in the mid 90s. I couldn’t agree with that statement more. While he may have never become a top star for WWE like Mysterio did, Juvi was simply amazing, a one of a kind talent who if he broke into the business today would be someone AAA, CMLL, Lucha Underground, WWE, TNA, ROH and every other company around would be clamoring for. I’m proud to call him one of my favorite wrestlers of all time; he may not have been perfect, but he was exciting, charismatic and when on his A game one of the most underrated performers to ever step into the ring. I’m thrilled to see him possibly get a chance with CMLL now. And yet, the Lucha Underground fan in me is hoping that sooner than later The Juice and the Temple cross paths. One of the best things about being a fan of LU was the opportunity to see Vampiro, another mega lucha star from the 90s and a childhood hero of mine, revive his career long after people thought it was humanly possible. To see Juvi, "The Juice", do the same thing in Lucha Underground would be a dream come true. Perhaps it’s a long shot, but hey, here’s hoping.
And scene. That’s it for me dudes and dudettes; I’ll be back sometime tomorrow, probably with a review of CMLL’s Super Viernes show. Till then, how about a listen to Juvi’s “Juicy Love” song? One way or another, I promise you’ll have a good time!
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