Vickie Guerrero relishes her role as top WWE heel
Manager says she's 'quiet' off camera, but she'll hear jeers in Washington Sunday and Baltimore Monday
Vickie Guerrero (WWE photo)
However, the mere sight of this quiet homebody at Verizon Center Sunday night and 1st Mariner Arena Monday night is guaranteed to send thousands of spectators into a raucous frenzy of jeers.
And she'll be loving every second of it.
Guerrero, who performs as one of the vilest — and unlikeliest — villains in WWE, will be among the pro wrestling stars appearing Sunday at the Capitol Punishment pay-per-view in Washington and Monday at the Monday Night Raw broadcast in Baltimore.
"I'll be there to cause more trouble to get the Washington and Baltimore fans upset with me," she said last week in a phone interview.
Guerrero, 43, is not a wrestler. Playing the roles of an authority figure and a manager of wrestlers on WWE programs, she delivers verbal beat-downs rather than physical ones.
Whether it's her sneer, her sometimes screechy voice or her duplicitous actions, Guerrero definitely has a talent for getting under the skin of WWE fans.
Taunting the crowd over the microphone is a challenge for her, however, as it is often impossible to hear what she's saying over the booing that is reverberating throughout the arena.
That's obviously a good problem to have if you're a heel (a bad guy or bad girl in wrestling vernacular). The heated reaction that Guerrero receives has actually led to two simple words becoming one of the most recognizable catch phrases in WWE.
As soon as the crowd starts shouting her down, Guerrero will scream, "Excuse me!" That, of course, only gets the crowd riled up even more. "I said, excuse me!" she'll respond, her grating voice even more full of contempt.
Go to any live WWE event and there's bound to be some fans holding up signs that say "excuse me" in some form.
"That was just a fluke," Guerrero says. "I think I probably forgot my lines one night and just kept saying 'excuse me' to remember what I had to say next, and the fans just got louder. I tried it a couple more times and we thought, let's stay with it and see where it goes. Now I sign all my autographs with 'excuse me.'"
Nick Nemeth, who wrestles under the name Dolph Ziggler and is paired with Guerrero on screen, marvels at how much WWE fans love to hate her.
"I don't know how anyone can bring such boos and for so long as her just by walking through the curtain," he said. "It's tremendous being out there with her."
Guerrero married into a famous wrestling family — she is the widow of former WWE star Eddie Guerrero, who died in 2005 at 38 due to arteriosclerotic heart disease — but says she never had a desire to be a performer in the industry until WWE approached her with the idea six years ago.
"I was always happy with being at home, taking care of the kids and being there for Eddie," she said.
She agreed to make a series of cameo appearances in WWE during one of Eddie's story lines. She played herself, as she tried to convince her husband to renounce his villainous ways.
About six months after Eddie's death, WWE brought her back to participate in a story line with her nephew, Chavo Guerrero. She ended up with a WWE contract, and it wasn't long before her character went from prim and proper to cunning and callous.
"Oh, I was ready for it," she says of her character's transformation. "I think it goes back to watching Eddie do promos [wrestling monologues] in the living room and in the bathroom for 15 years. The louder I can get the fans and the angrier they are at me, the more it fuels the fire in me to just push them to the edge even more. It's a high."
Even though she performs in WWE under her real name, she is quick to point out that Vickie Guerrero the character and Vickie Guerrero the real person are completely different.
"When I get to meet fans in person, I like to show them the person I am outside the ring," she said. "And outside of it, I'm just a quiet, normal person. I've gotten to know a lot of fans on a personal basis, and it's really nice to have a conversation with them and see how they're doing when they come to the airports or I bump into them outside the arena."
That's not to say that Guerrero doesn't also experience some uncomfortable moments when she gets recognized.
"It is uncomfortable when people are yelling at me to go home or saying 'excuse me' really loud at the airport and everyone's looking at me," she said with a laugh. "I don't know how to explain it to 20 people there watching me, going, 'What are they talking about?'"
Not only does Guerrero have to deal with taunts from fans, but her character also gets an earful of biting remarks from WWE protagonists.
A lot of the insults directed at Guerrero over the years have been about her weight. Despite sporting a rather svelte figure these days after losing more than 50 pounds during the past year, the jokes about her being overweight have continued on WWE programs.
It just comes with the territory if you're a heel, Guerrero says.
"The jokes have helped grow my character to what it is," she said. "I just kind of roll with it and leave it behind me when I leave the arena. Again, there's the character and then there's the real person. You can't take what's going on at work personally."