Sorry about this article being a week late. I was busy, so I didn't have time to write it. Anyways, here is the second volume of my Forgotten Classics series. Like some of you have said, future volumes will include Ring Of Honor, AWA, WWWF and early WWF matches as well, but this week's is a classic match between the late, great Eddie Guerrero and the, then WWE Champion, JBL.
Enjoy the article my B/R peeps!
JBL vs Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship in a Steel Cage Match on July 15, 2004 on Smackdown
At No Way Out 2004, Eddie Guerrero fulfilled his lifetime dream and became the WWE Champion. He, then, went on to successfully defend his coveted championsip against Kurt Angle on the grandest stage of them all: Wrestlemania 20.
As you all know, shortly after Wrestlemania 20, the second ever WWE Draft took place and after all was said and done, Kurt Angle became the new Smackdown General Manager as a result of Paul Heyman quiting, due to him being drafted to Raw. During his tenure as General Manager, he was choke-slammed of a 30-foot ledge by Big Show, resulting in Kurt Angle being put in a wheelchair indefinitely. Whilst this was happening, a new superstar emerged from the dust left by the draft, a superstar that was know previously as one half of the APA but was know going by the name of John Bradshaw Layefield.
The self-proclaimed "Wrestling God" went on a mission to become the WWE Champion and he pursued Eddie Guerrero relentlessly, even causing Latino Heat's mother to have an heart attack at a house show in Eddie's hometown of El Paso, Texas.
After their brutal encounter at Judgement Day 2004—a match Eddie won by disqualification, but left with his face drenched in his own blood—JBL was awarded a rematch at The Great American Bash 2004. In the main event, JBL controversially beat Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bull-rope match. After Eddie thought he had won the match, his nemesis, and General Manager, Kurt Angle announced that JBL's shoulder had touched the corner first, resulting in a new WWE Champion being crowned and the reign of Latino Heat was coming to an abrupt end.
The following Smackdown, Eddie Guerrero arrived at the end of the main event, gave JBL the Three Amigos and announced that in three weeks from that date, it would be Eddie Guerrero vs John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE Championship inside a 15-foot high Steel Cage.
The stage was set for a memorable encounter, but no one could have foreseen that shocking twist that occurred at the end of the match.
Here's Part One.
Watch Part Two here.
Here's Part Three.
Here's the video for Part Four.
Although JBL was not the best worker in the ring, he and Eddie Guerrero had a chemistry that made their matches must-see TV. Add to the fact that Eddie Guerrero was one of the best workers in the history of the WWE, a 15-foot high steel cage and the shock return of Kurt Angle to full health and you had the makings of a classic.
However, what will truly be remembered is Eddie Guerrero's frog splash from the top of the cage. Even though he had a chance to, again, become the WWE Champion, Latino Heat fulfilled the promise he made the previous week to JBL and to the fans—when he dressed up as El Grande Luchador—that he would deliver his finishing move from the top of the cage. The match showed great in-ring psychology and story-telling throughout, with the main theme being JBL trying to escape at every opportunity with his championship in tac,t but Eddie Guerrero intent on not only winning the most prestigious title in the business back but also making JBL suffer for all he has done to him across the months of their feud.
The ending was a shcoking conclusion. Just as it looked like Eddie was going to become a two-time WWE Champion, "El Grande Luchodor" climbed the cage and threw Eddie Guerrero back down, enabling JBL to escape and retain the title. What "El Grande Luchador" didn't expect was for Latino Heat to take of his mask, thus revelaing his true identity: Kurt Angle, a Kurt Angle that was supposed to be paralysed. Suffice it to say, the fans in attendance were shocked—as was I—which is why this match must go down as a classic of the past decade.
Why it is forgotten
Simply put, 2004 was a great year for fans of the WWE. A menagerie of rivalries, stories, and epic encounters made this one of the best years of wrestling in the WWE for me, personally.
From Chris Benoit winning the Royal Rumble, and subsequently becoming Heavyweight Champion of the World at Wrestlemania 20, to Randy Orton becoming the youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion, thus causing Evolution to turn on him; to Eddie Guerrero winning the WWE Championship; to wrestlers like Edge, Christian, Shelton Benjamin, and John Cena being pushed all contributed to a year of stand-out moments.
In my eyes, this is the main reason why this match is not recognised as one of the stand-out ones of 2004. Add in the fact that this match was on a Smackdown show and not on a Pay Per View resulted in it being a after-thought when considering great matches in that year. This was a culmination of a feud that had spanned several months and had become something much more than a professional rivalry. It had indeed become personal, and so the blow-off should have been at a Pay Per View.
That being said, the outcome of this match resulted in an excellent re-match between Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle at Summerslam and led to JBL facing The Undertaker, which didn't end up being as good as you would expect.
A match that had the twists and turns like this one should not be forgotten, and given the fact that it was the end of arguably the best feud in 2004 for Smackdown means that this match has to be remembered and cherished for fans of Latino Heat and fans of JBL, however few and far they may be.
I will just end my article by saying this:
R.I.P Eddie Guerrero. You are still missed by WWE fans everywhere and will live on in the hearts of Latino Heat fans across the globe.
Viva La Raza, Eddie. Viva La Raza.
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