February 15, 2004. Eddie Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship.
Guerrero had been one of my favorite wrestlers since I first saw him in 1996 in WCW. After that, I researched his career and discovered his past wrestling in Mexico, Japan, and ECW. I was excited when he jumped to WWE in 2000.
The excitement only lasted a year & a half, as he was released from his contract after being arrested for DUI. It came out years later that he was released because WWE had forced him to go to rehab months earlier, and he clearly wasn't sticking to his sobriety.
Guerrero got his life back together and was resigned by WWE in the middle of 2002. He was open about his past problems and became a wrestler that the fans respected. He was real person struggling with real problems and that's why it was extra satisfying to see him climb to the top of his profession.
And that's why it was especially sad when he died in 2005, at the age of 38. He had overcome all of his demons, being clean for nearly four years, but his body couldn't recover from the years of abuse. Heart disease took his life on Sunday, November 13. He was set to wrestle in a WWE Championship match that night against Batista and Randy Orton. Batista was the champion and nursing a shoulder injury; wrestling folklore has it that Guerrero would have likely won the title the day he died. Batista dispels those rumors in his autobiography, saying that he pushed for Guerrero, but that Orton was going to win.
Below are some videos, starting with Guerrero's win over Batista and continuing with some highlights of his championship run. The final video is a little NSFW-ish. It's not necessarily a great moment, but it's one moment that Guerrero's title run is known for; his brutal, bloody match against JBL.
Eddie wins the WWE Championship.
Eddie celebrates backstage.
Eddie's coronation ceremony.
Best Friends at WrestleMania XX.
Hardest chair shot ever. #NSFW