Vintage Vault Reposts are Pay-Per-View recaps with Justin and Scott’s commentary, including star ratings. Please note, these were written in the past and may have dated references. Today we remember Eddie’s passing with a look back at his title win against Brock Lesnar.
Eddie Guerrero defeats Brock Lesnar to win WWE Championship with the Frog Splash at 30:05
Fun Fact: On the 1/25 Raw, Chris Benoit came out and announced his intention that he would be challenging Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship, meaning the Smackdown side had to still determine their Championship match at the biggest show of the year. Kurt Angle earned one of those slots earlier in the No Way Out 2004 show, but the question that remained would be whom he would face for the gold. On 1/29, Paul Heyman announced that a special fifteen man Smackdown Royal Rumble would take place to see who would face Brock Lesnar at this PPV. And the winner of that match would go to Wrestlemania as Champion. After a great thirty-seven minutes, Eddie Guerrero hung on and eliminated Kurt Angle. After years of great matches, political turmoil and personal tragedy, Guerrero would finally get his chance at the world heavyweight gold. The next week, the two men had a great verbal battle that ended with Eddie decking Lesnar and putting the belt around his waist. The next week, Brock delivered a classic Smackdown moment. When they returned from commercial, a mariachi band was in the ring and Brock emerged wearing a sombrero. After doing a funny Mexican jig, Lesnar announced that he was holding a celebration for Eddie because at No Way Out he will have nothing else to celebrate. Eddie quickly came out and ran off the band but what ensued was a tremendous promo by both men, bringing up Eddie’s past addictions and using them to put over the importance of the match and Eddie’s quest for the title. It was a great piece of work that really added a lot of heat to the contest. Later that night, Eddie teamed up with Kurt Angle to face off with Brock and Big Show. Eddie would upset the champ by pinning him with a low blow and roll up.
Scott: Here we are. Would this be just a stepping-stone for our Wrestlemania XIX rematch with Kurt and Brock? Or will the dream come true for a guy we never thought would ever have this opportunity? When this build started, Brock went back to his 2002 monster persona, just being a guy that no one could defeat. This started quickly in this match as Lesnar just threw Eddie around for the first ten minutes or so. The SF crowd was off the hook for Eddie, mostly because they thought maybe…just maybe? I didn’t think this match would be thirty minutes, but as the match progressed, the result was slowly starting to be in doubt. Why have this match surpass twenty-five minutes if Lesnar was going to win anyway? This isn’t like Shawn Michaels/Triple H where the result is always in doubt. Eddie would play it smart and occasionally go after Lesnar’s knees but usually Brock would end the momentum with a clothesline or other power move. The first time the crowd may have started to believe was when Eddie slapped the STF on Lesnar. Sure Lesnar powered out but suddenly this isn’t just another title match anymore. The psychology is perfect, as Eddie obviously can’t go move for move with the bigger champion, so instead he’ll attack a certain body part and work it over. Then Lesnar fires off a big power move to regain control. Eventually Brock’s nose is bleeding and he’s screaming “Just Die Eddie!” And please no one take offense to this as who would have known what would have happened eighteen months later. I just need to say that. At one point, Eddie misses a frog splash, and most of us thought that this one was probably over. However in the back of our minds, we knew there was one more card left to play in the equation. Sure enough, Brock hits the F-5, but when spinning Eddie around he knocks the referee out. As Brock grabs the belt, the crowd goes nuts and out comes…Goldberg! He spears Brock out of his boots. All three guys are out in the ring. Earlier in the night Goldberg jackhammered Brock and was escorted out. Fortunately for Eddie he doesn’t get the pin with this move, which would have made the win less of an accomplishment. Brock eventually goes for the F-5 again, but Eddie reverses it into a DDT, hits the Frog Splash and pulls off the biggest win of his great career. San Francisco hosts its first PPV, and ends up not only with an almost perfect match, but truly one of the warmest, happiest moments in WWE history. Eddie Guerrero was fired three years earlier, wrestling in Indies and going through rehab. Three years from that low point and he is improbably the WWE Champion. This was outstanding, and a moment that still gets to me simply because he deserved it. It was pure and simple, what a great ending. Grade: ****1/2
Justin: Despite only having three weeks of build, there was a lifetime’s worth of storyline to tell when it came to Eddie Guerrero. His history was all the build this needed, but two weeks of great promo work by both men certainly didn’t hurt at all. Eddie got a huge pop for his entrance and Cole did an awesome job telling a compressed version of his life journey to build the drama even more. As the two men stared down, this definitely had a big match feel. The dominant heavyweight monster against the smaller, plucky beloved underdog contender; it was a classic story. Brock was overpowering early, just tossing Eddie around and things looked grim from the outset. The story of the match, Eddie trying to overcome the size and power difference, was beautifully told by Cole and Tazz on commentary as the two announcers were in a great groove. Brock really wrestled a smart and dominant style that was completely believable. Eddie’s underdog undertaking continued to build with each moment as the crowd did their best to rally Latino Heat. Both men worked smoothly as always as Brock punished Eddie’s midsection with Eddie selling like a champ. The crowd began loudly chanting for Goldberg throughout the match, sensing that business hadn’t been finished earlier. Another thing I liked about this match was the inverted structure as Brock immediately took over off the bell but Eddie was able to gain control in the middle of the match. It was unique and added to the special feel. Things would slow up a bit when Brock hooked a submission hold, but instead of killing the crowd, the tension actually started to build and you could feel them buzzing. They nearly exploded as Eddie ascended to the top rope but he ended up whiffing on a Frog Splash attempt. Off of that, Brock was able to hit the F5, but as Scott mentioned, the ref got taken out during it. That allowed Goldberg to come in to a monster pop as he speared Brock across the ring. That led to a great near fall but Brock stayed alive and you could tell the crowd was ready to burst. And burst they would, when Eddie finally nailed a crisp Frog Splash to pick up the biggest win of his career. It was tremendous booking, and was really an epic win and a truly great moment for one of the all time greats. And the post match celebration was the icing on the cake. The whole moment just felt real and true and you could feel the emotion coursing through the arena. It had a similar feeling to Mick Foley’s first championship win when you factor in the long journey for a beloved star. It was such a feel good moment and a great end to a fantastic match. Grade: ****1/2