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Smark Henry’s Favorite WrestleMania Moments: A New Era of World Champion



As we count the days down to WrestleMania 34 on April 9, we here at Smark Henry want to do something different than our usual trivia promotion. Over the next two weeks, we'll be sharing and talking about our favorite WrestleMania moments in the hopes of getting some more this year.

Before you give me any grief over the image you see, consider the other half of the equation. And consider what this moment meant as it happened. Then, consider its impact today, some 14 years later.

By the end of WrestleMania XX in 2004, Chris Benoit had become World Heavyweight Champion, capping off an 18-year odyssey (as J.R. himself would say on commentary) to be recognized as the best in his industry. Just an hour prior to that, his best friend, Eddie Guerrero walked in and out of WrestleMania as WWE Champion, becoming only the sixth wrestler to achieve the feat at the time.

Seeing Benoit and Guerrero stand tall at the end of WrestleMania XX, both the world champions of their respective shows meant everything to me as a newcomer to pro wrestling. They were two of my early favorites, and I'd watched their on-screen characters get bullied and be denied of opportunities—making 14-year-old me identify with them and their journeys. To see them get their moment at the top of the pro wrestling world on the Grandest Stage Of 'Em All was everything I needed to solidify my faith into what wrestling and its storytelling meant.


In the larger picture, having both Benoit and Guerrero as the standard-bearers of WWE by the end of XX also signaled a changing of the guard—albeit for a short period of time. From the Rocks, Austins, Angles, Triple Hs, and Lesnars of the world, WWE finally recognized these two stars who were built and made outside of Vince McMahon's empire. It was the precursor to the Daniel Bryan Era we see (and enjoy) today, if you will.

The Benoit/Guerrero run wouldn't last long, as we now know. It was more akin to a transitional champion's run, serving as the link between the Rock/Austin/Angle/HHH/Lesnar era to the Cena/Orton/Edge/HHH era that would come to define much of the next decade or so. It doesn't help that Eddie would pass away 20 months after this moment, and that Benoit would almost singlehandedly torpedo the wrestling business through his double-murder and suicide in 2007. We can't even fully enjoy this moment on WWE programming because of Benoit's mere presence on it—something WWE has conscientiously omitted for PR reasons.

But we'll always have this moment—a moment in which two guys who were told they weren't big enough, don't have "it," or not WWE Champion material actually did it and became the WWE and World Heavyweight Champions. That they were two best friends in real life just made the moment sweeter as they stood side by side, tears in their eyes, championships in hand. It was their, "Hey, buddy, you made it" moment. And isn't that what WrestleMania is all about?


Want to catch WrestleMania 34 live? Join us at the official Smark Henry WrestleMania Viewing Party on Monday, April 9 at Skinny Mike's Sports Bar in Bonifacio Global City! P300 gets you entrance and a free drink, as well as the closest thing to watching the Grandaddy of Them All live in the arena. It's a holiday, too, so no reason for you to miss out! For more details, check out the Facebook event page here.

Read our previous entries:

1. Daniel Bryan Wins The Big One At WrestleMania 30
2. Seth Rollins Cashes In At WrestleMania 31
3. Savage and Steamboat's Perfect Classic
4. A Tremendous Stunner
5. Edge's Superspear at WrestleMania X-Seven
6. The (Double) Turn of the Century
7. Destrucity Trumps Immortality

Photo from WWE


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Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.


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