November 18, 2005
Eddie Guerrero fans

In a letter published in the Star Tribune Tuesday, I wrote about the death of pro wrestling superstar Eddie Guerrero.

Since Eddie died in Minneapolis, the local paper has given a lot of coverage, including both the story of his death and a short followup on the grieving of Eddie's fan base and his fellow performers.

I was compelled to write in because I saw the hardcore wrestling fan community grieving in a way that most entertainers would not be mourned.

As a wrestling fan myself, I was amazed at the number of people I heard from who I hadn't talked to in months or even years. Newspaper reporters, university professors, several professionals from different walks of life, some pro wrestlers, and a lot of my childhood friends all called or e-mailed to participate in a process of collective grieving.

This is not quite unlike what the WWE is doing itself. Through its Monday night show and its Friday night show, as well as myriad reflections from fellow performers.

Fan communities, especially in a niche market like the WWE's, can share powerful feelings, as the WWE fans are doing right now.

For grown and sometimes (hyper)masculine men like the WWE performers to cry on television and show their vulnerability and their sorrow demonstrates the power of the connection between wrestling fans and performers.

Most of my friends, myself included, shed a few tears along with them, grieving the loss of possibly the best performer in pro wrestling today.

The WWE has already been flooded with over 100,000 e-mails that will be compiled in a book and given to Eddie's wife as a memorial from his fans. They have invited feedback here.

And, in Eddie's online funeral guestbook, there are currently almost 5,000 signatures on his online funeral guest book from all over the United States, Canada, Central America, and around the world, including India, Portugal, South Korea, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and many other countries.

I think this past week was a powerful demonstration as to why I believe WWE is a primary place to look for a company that creates lovemarks through its performers and develops emotional ties that have a real impact on people's lives.