Brock’s career in his own words.
Previous chapters can be found here: https://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/columns/brockumentary/
As you know if you’ve kept up with this series, Brock Lesnar debuted on March 18, 2002, the RAW after WrestleMania 18. Two weeks later, on April 1, another man would make his presence known on RAW.
#OnThisDayInWWE 20 years ago on #WWERaw:
Eddie Guerrero returns to the WWE
H/T @wavewrim pic.twitter.com/DvPYGQLFnT
— On This Day in WWE (@OTD_in_WWE) April 1, 2022
Eddie Guerrero was the youngest son of the world-famous Guerrero wrestling family. His father Salvador Guerrero made his name as Gory Guerrero, one of the greatest heels in Mexican wrestling history. His brothers Mando, Hector, and Chavo also wrestled, at first as a Von Erich-style family team, with Chavo later becoming a big name on his own right in Japan rivaling Tatsumi Fujinami. However, everyone he came across was convinced that Eddie’s talent would make him the best of them all. He traveled Mexico, Japan, and the United States building his name as one of the most talented professional wrestlers in the world. He blended the lucha libre and Japanese styles to make a compelling hybrid. He had feuds with legends like Jushin Thunder Liger and Hijo Del Santo before coming to the US and making his mark in ECW and WCW. After Guerrero jumped to the WWF in 2000 alongside the Radicals, and found his charisma through the Latino Heat character, the sky seemed to be the limit for him.
But in the spring of 2001, Eddie Guerrero was physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed. He was three years removed from a near-fatal car accident on New Year’s Eve 1998, an accident he never took the proper time to recover from. He had already developed a dependence on painkillers, which the accident and rushed rehab only worsened. He overdosed twice in 1999, the second time coming on Christmas Day in front of his entire extended family. The painkiller addiction came to a head on June 4, 2001, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Guerrero was found passed out in the locker room, forcing the WWF to send him to rehab. After an intoxicated Guerrero got into a car accident in November, the WWF fired him. His wife took their children and filed for divorce. All the while, the IRS was breathing down his neck for back taxes owed.
For a while, it looked like Eddie Guerrero would go down as just another pro wrestling horror story.
But the story didn’t end there. Through his faith, Eddie would get clean. He worked on independent shows, wrestling old foes like Liger and Rey Mysterio Jr, and new faces like CM Punk, Christopher Daniels, & Low Ki. Around the time Brock Lesnar debuted on RAW, serious discussions were had about bringing Guerrero back to the WWF. Those talks would come to fruition, with Guerrero re-signing with the company and almost immediately winning the Intercontinental Championship at Backlash 2002.
While Lesnar had the rocket strapped to his back from the get-go, Guerrero was never seen as a headlining name. Six months after his debut, Lesnar was main eventing television and PPV. Six months after his return, Guerrero was teaming with his nephew Chavo as part of the revered Smackdown Six, six wrestlers – Eddie, Chavo, Mysterio, Edge, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit – who head writer Paul Heyman made the centerpieces of SmackDown television over the summer and fall of 2002. While Lesnar was the marquee headliner, Guerrero was more often than not a part of the best match of the night. Eddie’s performances paired with his entertaining character got crowds to fall in love with him. Despite attempts to turn him heel over the summer of 2003, Eddie’s popularity forced the WWE to make him a babyface.
Eddie was popular in the buildings, and he was moving tickets and getting people to tune into his segments on SmackDown in droves. Hundreds of thousands of viewers would tune into Eddie’s matches. SmackDown crowds in the southwest were the biggest crowds the company was drawing. The phrase “the Latino Steve Austin” was being used internally, with real evidence to support it. With all the previous notions of “small guys” not being able to draw being debunked, the WWE decided to go all the way. At No Way Out 2004, a Guerrero would headline at the Cow Palace one more time. But instead of his father or his brothers, it would be Eddie Guerrero on the marquee. Through trials and tribulations, addictions, and personal strife, Eddie Guerrero was set to reach the pinnacle of pro wrestling.
As Guerrero climbed to the mountain top, the man at the summit was running out of patience. From the beginning, Brock Lesnar knew he was never going to be long for the world of pro wrestling. The words of Curt Hennig were always in the back of his mind: “Get in to get out.” Brock had already grown tired of the road life. The vodka, the Vicodin, the injuries, the flights. It was a life that Brock tolerated, not one that he enjoyed. The last thing he needed was for the company to start playing games with him. Unfortunately, being in Vince McMahon’s company meant playing his games.
This brings us to a seemingly innocuous house show in Miami. Brock was working in the main event against The Rock, who was in for Wrestlemania season. It was in August of 2002 when Rock did the honors for Brock in the main event of Summerslam, losing the WWE Title to him and officially stamping him as WWE’s new big star. Here, Brock was expected to return the favor, giving Rock his win back in this untelevised house show in Rock’s hometown. Brock would have been willing to do it. At least, he would have if anyone had asked him to do it.
“I showed up at the arena and was met by Jack Lanza, the road agent in charge of the show. Jack was a Minnesota boy and took me under his wing when I moved up to the WWE main roster. As the road agent, Jack would get the finishes on the phone or via e-mail from Vince, or J.R., or Laurinaitis. He would then produce the live event, and report back to the bosses on how the show went, who performed well, and who didn’t.
I had been up and down the road with Jack a few times, so this day shouldn’t have been any different from any other. I figured when the time was right, we would all sit down, and Jack would tell us how Vince wanted the match to end. No reason to believe this show was any different from all the others, except I was working with Dwayne, and that was pretty special for the both of us.
Then I realized: “Something ain’t right here.” The show had already started, and Jack hadn’t given us a finish yet. Dwayne and I started talking about our match, and I kept thinking “Okay, but what’s the finish here?” It was about an hour and a half before we were supposed to step into the ring for the main event of the evening, and Dwayne says to me, “. . . and that’s when I’ll hit you with the Rock Bottom, one . . . two . . . three!”
I actually laughed, because I thought Dwayne was ribbing me. I was the WWE Champion. The Golden Boy. It was my time to be on top. I was supposed to win. And here’s the Rock, who should know better, saying he’s going to pin the WWE Champion with the Rock Bottom. That was funny.
Dwayne had this nervous look on his face, and he wasn’t laughing with me. He just put all the heat on Vince right away, and said, “I can’t believe Vince didn’t tell you . . . didn’t he call you about this?” Dwayne made it seem like he thought I knew he was supposed to beat me, and that he was shocked I didn’t.
“I told you about things like this,” Dwayne said. “A lot of shit falls through the cracks, you gotta stay on top of Vince about everything.””
Brock’s anger wasn’t at the fact that he was going to lose. It was the fact that he was the last person to know that he was going to lose, and no one who made the decision had the heart to tell him.
“I wasn’t upset about losing. That wasn’t the point at all. What bothered me was that I was the last guy to know, when I should have been the first. No one had the guts to tell me the truth, until it was time to step into the ring. Just from the look on Dwayne’s face and the tone in Jack’s voice, I knew they were in on something I wasn’t. It was obvious to me that Vince, Dwayne and Jack were all in cahoots, and I wasn’t being smartened up to the situation until the very last minute.
That night changed my attitude toward the WWE, because it’s when I started to feel Vince was a manipulating bastard, and that I was being played…
Vince can’t tell me the angle, the story, and why it makes sense for me to lay down for the Rock in a “non-title” match? He doesn’t want my two cents’ worth? I’m the damn poster boy for this company, and I’m the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on? Even though I knew one day I would have to do a job for The Rock, I still kept thinking that Vince was really screwing with me, and that there was a lot more behind keeping me in the dark than just Dwayne wanting to get his loss back after a year and a half. Did I do something to piss Vince off? Did he need to show that he could keep me in my place? Something was going on.
If I’m Vince’s top guy . . . the guy he’s relying on . . . his go-to guy . . . his main event . . . why would he lie to me? Why would he play this kind of game with me, in Miami, for no reason? Just to mess with my head? Just to do it for the sake of doing it? To Vince, it may have been just another day in the wrestling business, but to me it was a lot more than that. That day was the first in a chain of events that led to my departure from the WWE.”
Now, a small note on this situation. To be clear, I am NOT calling Brock Lesnar a liar. I like my limbs, and I like the ability to use them. What I do think is that he got his timeline messed up ever so slightly. Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock II did happen at a house show in Miami. The Rock is listed to have won the match. However, my research found that this match happened on March 15, 2003. That would be in the lead-up to WrestleMania 19, one year before the point we are at now. In the book, the position of this story makes it sound like it happened before the Eddie Guerrero title match, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. But I want to be perfectly clear: whatever – and whenever – Brock says happened, happened.
These two men, whose careers were headed in different directions, were set to collide at No Way Out 2004. After Eddie’s SmackDown Rumble win, they only had two weeks to build to the title match in San Francisco. Luckily, they only needed one segment to do it.
31 Days of Brock Lesnar being a BEAST!
Day 31:I couldn't end this series without including Mariachi Brock! pic.twitter.com/udBOOzxuyT
— The Honest Jones Fan (@SmackdownLayer) March 31, 2021
There was also the elephant in the room that was Bill Goldberg. The writing was on the wall that Goldberg vs. Lesnar would be a marquee WrestleMania match. They had a face-off at Survivor Series, followed by another one at the Royal Rumble. The Royal Rumble face-off saw Goldberg punk Lesnar out, so Lesnar responded by eliminating Goldberg from the Rumble match. One of the big promotional points for No Way Out was the fact that Goldberg had a front-row seat gifted to him by Stone Cold Steve Austin. There was no doubt that Goldberg vs. Lesnar was happening. The only question was if it would be for the WWE Championship.
“The wheels were still spinning in my head about getting screwed over in Miami, when Vince tells me he wants me to lose the WWE title to Eddie Guerrero. Of course, Vince put his own twist on it: “Goldberg’s going to interfere, give the win to Eddie, and that’ll set up this huge match at WrestleMania between the two of you. Lesnar vs. Goldberg is so big it will sell itself, you don’t need the WWE title involved.”
Of course, Vince kept telling me how good it would be for my character to drop the title to Eddie, and then take on Goldberg. “You can beat Goldberg in thirty seconds. He’s leaving, so I don’t care. We can get Austin involved, and it’s going to be the biggest match on the card. WrestleMania 20. Madison Square Garden. Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg, and Stone Cold Steve Austin will be out there as the special guest referee. It’s big box office, it’s pure money.”
I knew what this was about. Vince was selling me hard on WrestleMania because he wanted to get the title on Eddie Guerrero. Vince kept telling me how the Latino audience was growing, and this was the right move for business. But after what happened in Miami, our relationship had already gone south. I never believed another word that came out of Vince’s mouth. I no longer had any faith whatsoever in the Federation.”
NO WAY OUT
FEBRUARY 15, 2004
EDDIE GUERRERO DEF. BROCK LESNAR (C)
This was Brock’s sixth defense of his third reign as WWE Champion.
Lesnar came out first, wincing after taking a Jackhammer from Goldberg earlier in the night. As it turned out, Stone Cold giving Goldberg a front-row ticket ended up causing some problems. Who could have seen that coming? Anyway, Goldberg was taken out in handcuffs by security, so he won’t be a factor in this one.
Lesnar overpowered Eddie to start, repeatedly shouting “you ain’t nothing” at him while throwing him to the mat. He quickly cut off Eddie’s comebacks, including a hurricanrana attempt that almost turned into the Bob Holly Powerbomb. Lesnar sent Eddie to a pre-developed version of Suplex City, tossing him with overhead belly-to-belly suplexes. Eddie rolled to the floor, baiting Lesnar in to drop him over the ropes. Eddie got Lesnar to the post and slammed his knee into it a couple of times. Lesnar pulled Eddie into the post to cut him off, but the damage was done.
Lesnar hit the Ryback-inspiring stalling Fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall. Eddie slipped out of a gorilla press and dropkicked the knee, but Lesnar flattened him with a lariat and another German suplex. Lesnar went for a jumping knee in the corner, a move he hit earlier on, but this time Eddie ducked and sent Lesnar to the floor. More legwork from Eddie, but a hotshot over the ropes by Lesnar scored him a nearfall. Lesnar talked trash to Eddie, but Eddie picked his leg out from under him and locked him in an STF to a massive pop.
Eddie tried to transition to a Figure Four, but Lesnar kept fighting out of it before hitting another belly-to-belly suplex. Goldberg chants, which were so loud that he may have heard them in the arena’s holding cell. Eddie countered another suplex with a headscissors before finally locking on the Figure Four.
Lesnar reached the ropes, so Eddie locked him in the Lasso From El Paso(!) before transitioning to the STF again. Lesnar powered out and dumped Eddie with a German suplex and a MAIN EVENT spinebuster. Lesnar laid on Eddie with a sleeper hold, which Eddie got out of by running Lesnar into the turnbuckle nose-first. Eddie went for a missile dropkick but missed, allowing Lesnar to take control with a one-legged vertical suplex.
Lesnar locked Eddie in a gut-wrench before trying to win with a pair of rolling amateur pins. Eddie broke out of the gut-wrench and fired up, hitting a headscissors and the Three Amigos before going to the top for the Frog Splash. Lesnar moved out of the way before grabbing Eddie for the F-5. He hit it, but the referee got knocked out by Eddie’s legs.
Lesnar rolled to the floor and grabbed the WWE Title. He got back into the ring before being greeted with a spear from Goldberg, rocking a broken set of handcuffs. Well, some poor security guy is getting fired for that blunder. Eddie went for the cover but got a slow two count from a recovering Hebner. Eddie grabbed the belt himself and went for a shot, but Lesnar got a shot in and went for the F-5. Eddie turned it into a DDT onto the belt. If you’ve seen this match before, you can see the finish in your head. Eddie went to the top rope and, with the big EDDIE letters in the crowd behind him, he hit the Frog Splash for the win to an amazing roar from the crowd. He hugged his mother and his brother Mando in the crowd before celebrating with the title and a California flag in an iconic image. ****1/2
With that, the stage was set for one of the most anticipated matches of 2004. Madison Square Garden. WrestleMania 20. The two most dominant forces in the WWE colliding in a dream match. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg. But for Brock, WrestleMania 20 wouldn’t be where it all began again.
It would be where it all came to an end. But that’s a story for another chapter.
Thanks for reading this chapter of the Brockumentary. I want to point all of you to the December 5, 2005 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, featuring Dave Meltzer’s obituary for Eddie Guerrero, as it was the guide to Eddie’s life that I needed to make this chapter happen as I envisioned. You can follow me on Twitter @SuitWilliams.
I’ll see you on March 14 for the final chapter of the Brockumentary.