When WWE's stars face off against each other at WrestleMania 29, they would do well to study Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle's battle at WrestleMania XX.
Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio, in particular, can use that fantastic match as a template. Guerrero and Angle should be Swagger and Del Rio's muses. Their upcoming World Heavyweight Championship match can only be better for it.
There are some intriguing parallels between those four men.
Swagger, like Angle, is a self-righteous patriot seeking to shape WWE and the world to conform to his standards. Angle felt that Guerrero represented WWE poorly as champ because of his history of drug use. Swagger is on a similar misguided mission to punish Del Rio.
Del Rio, like Guerrero, is booked as a hero to the people. Both men, though, have no issues bending and breaking the rules despite their good-guy status.
If Swagger and Del Rio bring half the realism and excitement that Angle and Guerrero delivered in 2004, they'll make the MetLife Stadium crowd happy. From the build to the climax to the climax itself, that WrestleMania XX match offers ample inspiration.
Pace and Strategy
Angle and Guerrero opened the match leaning heavily on their technical wrestling skills.
The master mat-wrestler Angle was in control for much of the beginning. He wore down Guerrero with headlocks, grinding his arm around Guerrero's neck.
The slow pace built the foundation that the climax would later be placed upon. Both men seemed patient, cautious, both respectful and somewhat fearful of each other.
Neither Swagger nor Del Rio have the technical skills of those men, but are plenty capable of using mat wrestling to tell the beginning of their story.
Guerrero injured his ribs when he missed a dive, colliding with the barricade outside the ring.
Angle then attacked that injured torso with vigor. He delivered a backbreaker and a leg scissors and hung Guerrero on the top rope. This made Angle look like the strategist and Guerrero the survivor.
The gutsiness Guerrero showed as Angle punched him to the ground again and again is a way to highlight Del Rio's resilience. Swagger's aggression would be best focused on an injured body part, helping him dominate the match.
Angle and Guerrero's patient approach to their in-ring story made the ending far more satisfying.
After a grueling match, after failed frog splash attempts and several wrenches of Guerrero's ankle, their story came to a close.
In pain from several ankle locks, Guerrero writhed in the center of the ring. He loosened his boot and soon Angle came charging at him.
Angle once again tried to clamp on his ankle lock, but Guerrero's boot came loose. In the resulting confusion, Guerrero rolled up his foe, grabbed the ropes for extra leverage and remained champion.
Swagger and Del Rio certainly shouldn't copy this ending, but instead look to find something just as inventive and original to cap their WrestleMania match.
The Angle/Guerrero match left Guerrero looking wily and made Angle the frustrated challenger who came painfully close to winning.
With a submission match rumored to be in the works for Extreme Rules between Swagger and Del Rio, this kind of unsettled ending makes perfect sense for them as well.
It's too early for Swagger to tap out to Del Rio or vice versa. Their feud isn't at a boiling point yet. WWE needs to borrow from WrestleMania XX and utilize the unexpected.
Angle and Guerrero showcased technical wizardry and high-level showmanship. They worked the crowd to a boil with realistic strategy and ended their match in surprising fashion.
Swagger and Del Rio can benefit from using any of those elements in their upcoming match. They should seek to match the work the Guerrero and Angle did that night.