On a recent episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross talked about the WrestleMania XX moment between Guerrero and Benoit, what it meant to the guys in the WWE, and revealed the overwhelmingly positive reactions backstage after the show went off the air.
I know it was celebratory as hell when [Jerry] Lawler and I finally got to the back.
A lot of tears. Not just from Eddie and Chris, a lot of tears from other guys.
They were legitimately emotional and were so thankful that they saw two of their peers have career nights in the world’s most famous arena at the world’s most famous wrestling event and they were just glad they were there to witness it.
That’s the brotherhood that’s sometimes overlooked in this business and it shouldn’t be. Everybody was happy, I can recall that the post-WrestleMania party was very festive, everybody was happy. I’m privileged to be a part of that day. It really means something to me to this very day all these years later.
Vince McMahon is known to have a vision of what a template WWE Champion should look like, one of the key features being height. JR mentioned that it was ultimately the support the pair had from the WWE locker room that finally won Vince around to the idea of having Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero as the top stars.
The guys on the roster and a lot of us that were close to Vince kept encouraging him that were traveling in the right direction. These two guys would be great representatives and would ensure every time they’re in the ring they’re going to put on the best match or solid at worst.
I just think it took a little bit of gentle persuasion. It took him a little bit of time, breaking old habits, breaking the mould.
He saw that those two guys’ peers were very supportive of them and I think Hunter and Shawn looked at potential opponents going forward, how good does it get? You got Eddie and Benoit that you could be booked with.
That was another reason, everyone wanted to work for Benoit or Eddie, why wouldn’t you? I think it took [Vince] a little while but it soon became evident and they had such overwhelming support from the locker room that it could not be ignored.
Chris Benoit went on to feud with Triple H and Shawn Michaels after Mania, and would hold the World Heavyweight Championship belt until August 2004, losing it to Randy Orton at SummerSlam.
The feud between Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero continued. Angle, however, went in for surgery on his neck shortly after WrestleMania.
At The Great American Bash, Guerrero defended his title in a Texas Bull Rope match against John “Bradshaw” Layfield. The match ended with Guerrero appearing to have won, but Angle reversed the decision and awarded the match and WWE Championship to JBL
h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.