Eddie Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. Let that sink in. Nowadays, Lesnar is an undefeatable beast, but back in 2004, this beast was conquered by an unlikely hero.
The 2004 edition of the No Way Out pay-per-view took place on February 15th, 2004 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. It was presented by THQ’s MX Unleashed and boasted an attendance of 11,000, which equated to $450,000 in ticket sales. It also saw 350,000 pay-per-view buys. All in all, the event was instrumental in raising WWE’s revenue by $11.9 million dollars, as compared to the previous year.
Eddie Guerrero versus Brock Lesnar was a matchup that worked perfectly, at all times. From the buildup to the night of the execution, it was truly perfect. Eddie was fresh off finally getting clean from drugs and alcohol. He had brushes with sobriety before but always fell back down that particular rabbit hole. Not anymore. It seemed he actually defeated his demons.
During the buildup, Brock Lesnar, ever the heel, went after that aspect of Eddie’s personal life. It made for captivating television. Eddie allowed himself to be completely vulnerable in front of millions of people.
Eddie Guerrero had been struggling with various substance abuse problems for a while including alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers.
Eddie developed an addiction to pain medication stemming from a 1999 car accident and in May 2001 was sent to rehab. On November 9, 2001, he was arrested for drunk driving and was consequently released by then-WWF three days later. These real-life issues were incorporated into his storyline with Lesnar.
After that promo, the WWE universe was champing at the bit to see Eddie take the title away from Brock. By the time the opening bell hit, the crowd in attendance was at a fever pitch. The crowd was with the two competitors every step of the way.
The psychology of this match was so tight. While Brock was the dominant one in the ring, Eddie used everything at his disposal to stay in it. Luckily for Latino Heat, before this match, Lesnar managed to run afoul of Bill Goldberg. After some incidental contact, the ref went down, allowing for the former WCW World Heavyweight champion to eventually hit the ring and spear the living hell out of the (future) Beast Incarnate.
Still, Lesnar, the man who would eventually conquer the streak, was able to pull himself off the mat and set Eddie up for another F-5, which was swiftly countered into a DDT. As it happens, Eddie managed to drive Brock’s face into the WWE Championship that Lesnar himself brought into the ring, hoisted by his own petard.
Eddie Guerrero was famous for lying, cheating, and stealing, so obviously he had no problem winning like this. He promptly hit the top rope and delivered a Frog Splash which led to him pinning Brock for a three count, winning the WWE Championship for the very first and only time.
This is a moment that lives on in infamy for so many fans. It was also coincidently the moment that created The Boss, Sasha Banks. Michael Cole recently stated on commentary during a WWE broadcast that:
The night Eddie Guerrero won the title was when Sasha Banks decided she wanted to become a pro wrestler.
Never one to hide her love and appreciation for Eddie, Sasha had these passionate words to say during her appearance on Chris Jericho’s podcast, Talk Is Jericho:
CHRIS JERICHO: “What did you like best about Eddie?”
SASHA BANKS: “People ask me that, and I don’t know what made me connect to him so much, but he was the first match that I saw. That got me hooked on wrestling. Before that, I was such a girly-girl. I swear, I was going to be a beauty queen, but then wrestling was on my TV and I was instantly hooked. I couldn’t stop watching. Every single week. It was an Eddie match [that drew me in]. Just everything about him I just love. I want to be the female Eddie Guerrero. He’s the greatest of all-time to me. I love everything about him.”
She famously modeled her attire for the Women’s Championship triple threat match at WrestleMania 32 after the gear you see Eddie wearing in the picture featured above. It may have gotten a thumbs down from Chavo Guerrero, but it gets a huge thumbs up from us. As does this frog splash:
Interestingly enough, one of Sasha’s most famous rivals and close friends were in attendance at the Cow Palace when Latino Heat took home the gold.
It’s been over a decade since Eddie passed. As Chavo Guerrero put it, we say ‘passed’ because you only die when no one remembers you. Barring some sort of apocalypse that wipes out the pro wrestling world, we can definitively say that Eddie Guerrero will never be forgotten. He lied, cheated, and stole his way right into the hearts of millions.
CHAVO GUERRERO (posted November 13, 2015, via Instagram):
“Today is the 10 yr anniversary of Eddie’s passing. I say passing & not death because u only die when no one remembers u & when u don’t have an Impact on anyone anymore. Well, as u all know, Eddie has had SUCH an impact on people. I hear it every day, of how much Eddie affected their lives. I’m glad that the “Real” Eddie came through his wrestling persona. Eddie had the BIGGEST heart of anyone I have ever known. He loved BIGGER than anyone I ever known. I’ve learned so much from my Big Brother,& I continue to learn every day. “I’m trying Ed. I’m almost there. It’s been a struggle but it will only help me appreciate it more when I get there. I only wish u were here to see me. In a way u are. I guess what I’m trying to say, is I wish u were here so I could see U” I know I will soon! Love u & miss u Ewis!”