The Chrononaut Chronicles: It’s True! It’s True! – A Kurt Angle Compilation
– Subtitled “Better Than Watching The Marine“, this is a two-disc custom compilation DVD-R set created by my close personal long-time friend (tm, Gene Okerlund), our very own Andy “abadguy21” Halleen of the cWo Blog of Doom. I selected some of the matches and he selected the rest, so it’s fairly random and not in chronological order, but I will try to provide dates courtesy of Obsessed With Wrestling and the Wrestling Information Archive. The uniting thread here is that all the matches involve Kurt Angle, so they all kick ass.
– Kurt Angle vs. Tazz
From January 23, 2000, at the Royal Rumble with Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler on commentary. I might be the only one, but I miss Kurt with hair. Angle does some prematch micwork about how a famous building like Madison Square Garden deserves to have a true champion performing in it and that if they wait for the Knicks to bring home a championship, they’ll be waiting forever. Nobody does cheap hometown heel heat like Kurt because he always seemed to believe what he was saying, unlike guys like Edge who are obviously just trying to draw heat when they rip on the local sports team. Angle brings up his Mystery Opponent and the crowd chants “We Want Taz” as Angle claims that the mystery man will have something to tell his grandkids about and advises him to remember his Three I’s. Tazz’s theme kicks in and MSG erupts as Tazz marches out to make his WWF debut and attacks Kurt right off the bat. Angle reverses an Irish-whip, but Tazz avoids a leapfrog and back-bodydrops Angle over the top rope. Tazz attempts a vertical suplex, but Angle slips out the back door and suplexes Tazz in the aisleway before hitting a flying forearm in the ring for a one-count. Angle chokes Tazz in the corner and pops off an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, but Tazz catches him on the top turnbuckle and launches him with a head-and-arm superTazzplex for an extremely close near-fall as Kurt gets his leg over the rope.
The crowd boos and Tazz argues with the referee since it looked like the ref counted three, so Angle takes advantage by wrapping up Tazz in a small package for a two-count and scores another near-fall with a bridging German suplex. Tazz escapes the Olympic Slam and waistlocks Kurt from behind for a release German suplex that sees Angle land on his face, although it looked a little rough at first because Kurt tried to flip too early and they went ahead with the spot anyway. Tazz slams Angle with the head-and-arm Tazzplex and follows with the T-bone Tazzplex as JR annoys me by not even knowing the names of Tazz’s signature maneuvers and calling them merely “another suplex”. Tazz applies the Tazzmission and the ref drops Angle’s arm three times to signal the submission and end Kurt’s undefeated streak as Lawler calls it an illegal choke and JR explains that it’s Tazz’s version of a sleeperhold. Afterwards, Angle is still unconscious and has to be stretchered out. Good short match to debut Tazz in a big way as the first guy to beat Kurt in the WWF, although Kurt would go on to proclaim that he was still undefeated because Tazz used an illegal choke and should have been disqualified. Tazz could have been huge if pushed correctly, but he was really ahead of his time and the WWF completely dropped the ball with him.
– WWF Intercontinental Title/WWF European Title – Two Falls: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle [champion]
From April 2, 2000, at WrestleMania (XVI) 2000 with JR & Lawler on commentary, this is a two-fall Triple Threat match with the first fall deciding the Intercontinental Title and the second fall for the European Title as Kurt was a double champion. This was also the WrestleMania debut of all three guys as Jericho jumped from WCW in the summer of ’99, Angle debuted at the 1999 Survivor Series, and Benoit infamously jumped from WCW with the Radicalz a couple of months earlier. Jericho does his “WRESTLEMANIA is JERICHO” bit on the mic and predicts that he might not leave with two belts, but he will still be the “Ayatollah of Rock & Rolla” and Angle & Benoit will leave with plenty of bumps and bruises. The crowd was really into Jericho here and I’d make another “Vince dropped the ball” comment, but we already know that; in fact when Jericho made his WWF debut and had the confrontation with the Rock, I naively assumed they’d be building toward Rock/Jericho for this show. Benoit kicks off the match by attacking Angle while he’s removing his gold and Jericho unloads on both guys, but Benoit chops away at Y2J and whips him sternum-first into the turnbuckles. However, Jericho flips out of a back-suplex and dropkicks Benoit through the ropes before knocking Angle to the apron with another dropkick. Jericho goes for his trademark springboard dropkick off the middle rope, but Benoit trips him from ringside and kicks away at Angle on the apron until Jericho hits the springboard dropkick to knock both Benoit & Angle to the floor.
Jericho follows out with a sliding dropkick on Benoit, but Angle hotshots Jericho on the ringsteps and snaps off an overhead belly-to-belly in the ring for a two-count as Benoit breaks the pin by dragging Angle off and decapitating him with a clothesline. Benoit covers Angle for two as Jericho makes the save and pounds Benoit in the corner before crunching Angle with the double-underhook backbreaker across the knee and climbing to the top turnbuckle. However, Benoit knocks Jericho off the turnbuckles and Y2J crashes all the way to the floor, hitting the Spanish announce table face-first on the way down while Benoit snap-suplexes Angle for a near-fall and adds a back-suplex for another two. Jericho returns with a dropkick on Benoit and decks Angle with a missile dropkick off the middle turnbuckle for two as Benoit breaks the pin with an elbowdrop and covers Jericho after a backbreaker, but Angle makes the save and snap-suplexes Benoit for a near-fall. JR & Lawler discuss Bob Backlund negotiating this match for Kurt in a display of “tough love” (I completely forgot about the Angle/Backlund alliance, which I thought had some potential at the time) as Jericho bulldogs Angle for two and Benoit throws chops at Y2J, but Angle back-suplexes Benoit for a near-fall as Jericho dives off the middle turnbuckle to break the pin. Jericho locks Benoit in the camel clutch and releases him to drop Angle with a delayed vertical suplex as Benoit immediately covers Angle, but Jericho stops the count and Angle slams him with a trapped double-arm overhead suplex for a near-fall.
Angle whips Benoit toward Jericho in the corner and Jericho floats over Benoit for a sunset flip, but Benoit counters by sitting down and hooking the legs for a near-fall as Angle makes the save with a dropkick to the back of the head that knocks Benoit’s face into the middle turnbuckle. Benoit rolls out to the floor and Angle locks Jericho in the crossface chickenwing as we get a “Y2J” chant, but Benoit breaks it up with a basement dropkick to Angle’s head before throwing him to the floor and dumping him into the crowd. Benoit quickly climbs to the top turnbuckle and drops the swandive headbutt on Jericho to win the first fall and his first WWF Intercontinental Championship, but Angle breaks another pin attempt and earns a two-count on Benoit after a vertical suplex. Jericho catches Angle on the top turnbuckle as he’s preparing a moonsault, but Benoit climbs up behind Jericho and brings him down with a back-superplex. I thought we were about to see the first-ever WWF Tower of Doom spot there, but I guess not. With both Benoit & Jericho laid out, Angle soars off the top with the moonsault but both guys roll away and the pool is empty. All three guys are down as Angle rolls over and covers Benoit for two before Jericho covers Angle for a near-fall. Jericho locks Angle in a scary-looking high-angle Walls Of Jericho, but Benoit clotheslines Y2J to break it and stomps the hell out of him until Angle bodyslams Benoit and pounds Jericho himself.
Jericho avoids a charge in the corner and decks both Angle & Benoit before slamming Kurt with the two connected powerbombs and covering him. However, Jericho gets up when he sees Benoit and the new Intercontinental Champion snaps off the three Rolling Germans with a bridge on the third one for a near-fall as Angle clips Benoit’s leg to break the bridge. Benoit busts out a sick bridging dragon suplex for a near-fall on Angle even though Kurt’s shoulders aren’t on the mat, which both JR & Lawler point out; actually Benoit’s shoulders were down, so maybe the ref was counting a pin on him. Jericho attempts a flying forearm off the ropes, but Benoit ducks as Y2J inadvertently nails the ref and Benoit takes Y2J down in the Crippler Crossface. Jericho taps out, but the ref is down so Benoit releases Y2J to revive the ref and Jericho traps Benoit in the Walls Of Jericho until Angle breaks it by whalloping Y2J with a title belt. Benoit rolls to ringside and Angle covers Jericho as the ref awakens to count the fall, but Benoit drags Jericho out to the floor and drops Angle with a back-suplex. Angle avoids the swandive headbutt off the top and Jericho lands the Lionsault on Benoit to win the second fall and capture the WWF European Championship as Angle loses both of his belts without being defeated. Great match to mark the WrestleMania debuts of three of the WWF’s best workers in the post-Attitude era.
– WWF Title: Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin [champion]
From August 19, 2001, at SummerSlam with JR & Paul Heyman on commentary. I still dig Austin’s slowed-down heel entrance music as JR refers to Stone Cold as the “emotional leader” of the Alliance, which is an idea (the quintessential rebel leading a young rebellious Alliance against his archrival’s corporate company) that could have had so much substance if executed properly, but the way it was done it just came across as another SWERVE!!!. Angle stares down Austin from ringside and meets him in the aisle to kick off the match with a slugfest, but Austin thumbs him in the eye and pounds Kurt while taunting him with the WWF Title belt. The opening bell rings as Austin throws Angle into the ring and follows in, but Angle double-legs the WWF Champion and they roll around punching each other on the mat. Angle & Austin trade the advantage back-and-forth in the corner before Angle clotheslines Austin and scores a two-count with a crossbody off the ropes, but Austin counters a back-bodydrop attempt with an elbowsmash and goes to work on Angle’s leg as Heyman points out that Stone Cold previously attacked Kurt’s ankle with a chair. Angle beautifully reverses a stepover toehold into the anklelock, but Austin grabs the rope to break and bails out to the floor as Angle follows him out and receives a clothesline from the Rattlesnake.
Back inside, Angle comes back with punches until Austin back-bodydrops him over the top rope and brings him back in for a pair of vertical suplexes. Austin slaps the back of Angle’s head and executes another suplex for two, but Angle slips out of a fourth suplex and pops off three Rolling Germans as Austin fights off a fourth. However, Angle ducks a punch and snaps off an additional FOUR Rolling Germans to bring the total so far to seven, which JR notes is his favorite number. Angle lifts him for the Angle Slam, but Austin slips out to poke the eyes and rams Angle into the turnbuckles with a knee to the back. Austin sits Angle on the top turnbuckle and throws chops and punches before bringing him down with a great superplex and hitting the Stone Cold Stunner for a close near-fall. Austin argues with referee Earl Hebner and drops Angle with another Stunner that hits with such impact it sends Kurt sailing out to the floor, where Stone Cold rams Angle’s head against the ringpost to bust him open. The WWF Champion posts Angle several more times and punches away before returning him to the ring for a near-fall and tossing him back through the ropes. Angle bleeds to death as Austin batters him around ringside until Angle slips off his shoulders and dumps him into the crowd, but Austin suplexes Angle over the barrier onto the concrete floor. Fucking ouch.
Austin dumps Angle back to ringside and climbs over the barrier, but Angle quickly grabs him in the anklelock on the barrier and torques the ankle as he screams out a “WHOOOOO” in Owen-like fashion and releases him. In a wicked spot, Angle drags Austin by the leg up the steps into the ring and reapplies the anklelock, but Austin grabs the rope to break the hold and they both roll to the floor, where Angle snaps off an overhead belly-to-belly and drops Austin with a back-suplex. Christ, no wonder these guys have broken necks. Back inside, Angle lands a sweet moonsault off the top for a close near-fall and they go through a nice counter sequence that ends up with Austin taking Angle down in the Million Dollar Dream/Cobra Clutch as JR namedrops the Ringmaster. Angle fights to his feet and uses the Bret Hart counter off the turnbuckles for a near-fall, but Austin tenaciously holds onto the cobra clutch until Angle finally rallies back and breaks it by dumping Stone Cold through the ropes. Austin hobbles back in and drops Angle with the Stunner for another very close near-fall as Austin can’t believe it and slaps Kurt around a bit. Austin goes to kick Angle in the gut to set up another Stunner, but Angle catches the foot and plants Austin with the Angle Slam for a near-fall as Austin crawls to the ropes for sanctuary and Kurt applies the anklelock again.
The ref breaks the hold and Angle collapses to the mat while Austin purposely nails the ref, but Angle DDTs Stone Cold for a near-fall as another referee runs down to make the count. Austin lowblows Angle and Stunners the second ref before retrieving the WWF Title belt as yet another ref runs down and tries to stop Austin from using the belt, so Austin pastes the ref with the belt. Angle quickly plants Austin with the Angle Slam and covers him as WCW referee Nick Patrick runs in to make the count, but stops after one and calls for the bell to award the decision to Angle via disqualification so that Austin retains the WWF Championship. Afterwards, Angle screams about being screwed and puts Patrick in the anklelock. Goddamn, I remember liking the match when it originally happened but this was just awesome all around with sick suplex bumps, a heated storyline, good blood, and most importantly – perfect psychology with Angle working the leg and Austin selling it the whole time. A definite *****, or at least ****3/4 with points deducted for the DQ finish.
– WCW United States Title: Rhyno [champion] vs. Kurt Angle
From October 22, 2001, on Monday Night RAW with JR & Heyman on commentary. Man, Rhyno looks practically anorexic here. Angle wins the opening lockup and pops off one Rolling German, but Rhyno blocks a second suplex and clotheslines the challenger. The crowd chants “USA” and Heyman questions who they’re chanting for since both guys are American, but JR provides the logical answer that the chant is directed toward the guy in the stars-and-stripes singlet. Angle comes back with an overhead belly-to-belly as he takes the advantage with a series of clotheslines and chops before hitting a flying forearm off the ropes for a two-count. Rhyno reverses an Irish-whip and drops Angle with an airplane spin into a fireman’s cutter for a one-count as he positions Angle in the corner with his legs propped up (like Goldust’s Shattered Dreams setup) and crushes him with the Gore. The “USA” chants revive Angle briefly, but Rhyno slams him with a spinebuster for a near-fall and chokes him in the corner as JR hypes a RVD/Big Show Hardcore Title match for later on RAW, showing just how far WWE has come between 2001-2006. Angle rallies back to clothesline Rhyno over the top rope and throw chops at ringside, but Rhyno rams Angle into the barrier and returns him to the ring for a Faarooq-like mistimed spinning neckbreaker (Kurt turned the wrong way) for two.
Heyman claims that Rhyno used to Gore people on the streets of Detroit (now there’s an interesting visual in the middle of a gang war) as the Man Beast applies a chinlock and Angle fights out, but Rhyno yanks him down by the hair and soaks in the heel heat. This gives Angle time to grab Rhyno in the anklelock, but Rhyno grabs the rope to break it and rakes Angle’s eyes to regain control. Angle battles out of another chinlock, but Rhyno catches him in a belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall and stomps away until Angle drives him back into the corner and throws punches and chops. Angle earns two with a crossbody off the ropes and reverses a belly-to-belly into a waistlock, but Rhyno breaks free and Angle launches him with a nice overhead belly-to-belly off the ropes. Angle snaps off the three Rolling Germans, but Rhyno shoves him into the corner and levels him with a clothesline as both guys go down for the count. They struggle to their feet and Angle plants Rhyno with the Angle Slam for a close near-fall before missing the moonsault off the top turnbuckle as Heyman puts over the psychology of Kurt landing on his ribs. Angle pulls himself near the ropes as Rhino charges with the Gore and they both go tumbling out to the floor in a crazy-looking bump. Back inside, Rhyno covers Angle for a near-fall and applies a waistlock, but Angle counters into the anklelock and forces Rhyno to tap out to win his one and only WCW United States Championship while Shane & Stephanie McMahon look unhappy as they watch on the monitor backstage. This was a good competitive match-up that I’d like to see again in 2006 in TNA now that Rhino has a more defined character.
– Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle vs. Edge
From December 5, 2002, on SmackDown with Michael Cole & Tazz on commentary. We move into the “bald” phase of Kurt’s career for this #1 Contender’s four-way match with the winner challenging Big Show for the WWE Championship at Armageddon. Edge limps out last as Cole informs us that Edge was carried out earlier after Albert attacked his leg with a chair; this was the same night Albert also “injured” Rey Mysterio, although it was originally planned to be Matt Hardy in Albert’s spot before Vince reminded us that size does matter. In a cool bit, Angle has a shit-eating grin on his face watching Edge hobble out since he’ll be easy prey for the anklelock. When we come back from the break, the match has started as we see a replay from the break of Angle & Benoit swarming Edge right away to work over the injured leg. Edge mounts a comeback and unloads on everybody, but Eddie dropkicks his knee from behind for a two-count and Benoit & Angle work together to mercilessly assault Edge’s bad leg until Eddie sneaks in and rolls up Angle for two. Benoit continues to focus on the knee while Eddie back-bodydrops Angle over the top rope and Benoit clotheslines Guerrero over the top too, leaving Benoit alone to abuse Edge’s leg. Edge comes back with the half-nelson bulldog for two as Eddie returns to dump Edge to the floor and Benoit follows when Eddie suplexes him over the top. Angle takes over on Guerrero with a snap suplex for two and slugs away, but Eddie rakes the eyes and executes his own vertical suplex for two. Angle launches Eddie with an overhead belly-to-belly and goes for the Angle Slam, but Eddie armdrags out and back-suplexes Angle before diving off the top turnbuckle with the frogsplash for a very close near-fall.
Benoit sneaks in to slam Eddie with a release German suplex and scores with the swandive headbutt off the top turnbuckle, but Eddie gets the shoulder up at the last possible moment and Edge plants Benoit with the Edgecution DDT for another close near-fall. Angle charges from behind, but Edge sidesteps and tosses Angle through the ropes as Eddie knocks Edge to the floor. Benoit snaps off two Rolling Germans on Guerrero while Edge prepares the spear, so Benoit releases him and Edge spears Latino Heat before Benoit dumps Edge to the floor and locks the Crippler Crossface on Eddie. Eddie taps out to the Crossface since this is apparently elimination rules as Angle cranks off three Rolling Germans on Benoit and Edge nails Kurt with a missile dropkick off the top for a near-fall. Benoit clips Edge’s knee from behind and Angle clotheslines Benoit to go after Edge himself, but Edge slips out of the Angle Slam and counters with the Edge-o-matic for two as Benoit breaks the pin by snatching Edge in the Crossface. Angle breaks the Crossface by applying the anklelock on Benoit, but Benoit kicks him off into the referee to bump the ref. With the ref down, Guerrero sneaks in and whallops Benoit with his WWE Tag Team Championship belt before eating Edge’s spear. Okay, that just sounded wrong. Edge spears Benoit next to score the second elimination and Angle immediately cinches in the anklelock on Edge for several moments until Edge finally manages to break it by rolling through and leveraging Angle out through the ropes. Angle drags Edge out to the floor and rams his head against the ringsteps to bust him open as we go to break, and when we come back Angle is pounding Edge in the ring. Jake Roberts-style short-arm clothesline and a vertical suplex each get two-counts and Angle chokes Edge on the ropes, but Edge fires back with chops and punches before Angle launches him with an overhead belly-to-belly and applies a chinlock.
Edge battles out of it and catches Angle with an overhead belly-to-belly of his own to put both guys down as the ref administers the count until they both struggle to their feet and Edge unloads with clotheslines and a back-bodydrop. Edge-o-matic earns a near-fall and Angle pops off two Rolling Germans, but Edge blocks the third suplex and counters with a modified victory roll for another near-fall. Edge spears Angle for yet another near-fall and Angle tries to counter the Edgecution with the Angle Slam, but Edge slips out and drills Angle with the Edgecution for a very close near-fall. Edge foolishly climbs to the top turnbuckle and Angle runs up for his overhead superplex, but Edge shoves him down to the mat and connects with a missile dropkick for (you guessed it) another near-fall. Tazz thinks Edge might win if he hits the spear, so of course Angle counters with a kick and drops Edge with the Angle Slam for yet another very close near-fall. Kurt pulls down the straps because it’s time to get SERIOUS and applies the anklelock, but Edge rolls through with a modified victory roll for a near-fall and Angle drop-toeholds Edge. Angle hooks in the anklelock again and Edge tries the same escape, but Angle holds onto the anklelock until Edge grabs the ropes. Angle refuses to release the ankle, so Edge decks him with an enzuigiri and drops Kurt with an Angle Slam of his own for a near-fall. Edge climbs to the top turnbuckle, but Angle scampers up the turnbuckles and brings Edge down with a Super Angle Slam for the final three-count to win the WWE Title shot at Armageddon 2002. Afterwards, Big Show appears and chokeslams Angle. A great elimination four-way with hot near-falls and great psychology with Edge’s injured leg factoring into the finish. Really good stuff.
– Moving on to the second disc, we travel back in time to Kurt’s pre-bald era during a backstage interview conducted by Michael Cole on RAW. While the crowd in the arena annoyingly chants “WHAT?” (it was cool when Austin did it himself as a heel, not so much when the crowd started chanting it ALL THE FUCKING TIME) at every available opportunity, Angle talks about Kane interfering in his match against Stone Cold on SmackDown and quotes Shakira as he states that he’ll fight the Big Red Machine “whenever, wherever” since he made Kane tap out in their last match anyway. Angle admits that Kane had an impressive Royal Rumble last year, but warns him that it will be hard to throw guys over the top rope in this year’s Rumble with a broken ankle and calls the fans “idiots” due to the constant “WHAT?” chants. Funny stuff, as Kurt was still showing a comedic side while also revealing his intensity.
– Kurt Angle vs. Kane
From January 14, 2002, on Monday Night RAW with JR & Lawler on commentary. Before the match, the M&Ms Rewind shows us Kane interfering in the Angle/Austin match on last Thursday’s SmackDown and chokeslamming both guys. Kane is still wearing the mask here and Angle stands on his tiptoes trying to look eye-to-eye with the Big Red Machine, but Kane no-sells his punches and breaks a waistlock with a back-elbow so Kurt bails out and drags Kane to the floor. Kane batters Angle around ringside and throws him back inside, but Angle catches Kane rolling in with a basement dropkick to briefly take control until Kane catches him in a powerslam and pounds him in the corner. Angle tries to fight back, but Kane drops him with a double-handed choke and misses an elbowdrop as Angle uses a fireman’s carry takedown and throws punches and chops. However, Kane no-sells again as he catches Kurt’s hands to stop the blows and unloads with clotheslines, a back-bodydrop, and a sideslam. Kane climbs to the top turnbuckle, but Angle quickly runs up the turnbuckles and brings Kane down with a modified overhead superplex to take control. Angle tries to apply the anklelock, but Kane rolls through and kicks him off as JR notes that Kane learned from their last match. Angle goes after the leg again, but Kane busts out an enzuigiri and slugs away as he levels Angle with a big boot and beats him down in the corner.
Kane plants Angle with the tilt-a-whirl powerslam and climbs to the top again as Angle scampers up for another superplex, but this time Kane is ready and meets Kurt with a punch before landing the flying clothesline off the top and signaling that the end is near. However, Angle slips out of the Tombstone and armdrags out of a chokeslam as he hooks in the anklelock and drags Kane away from the ropes. The crowd chants “Kane” as the masked monster finally makes it to the rope to break the hold and we get a nice shot of Kurt drooling after arguing with the referee. Kane hobbles away from the ropes as Angle plants him with the Angle Slam for a near-fall and throws a tantrum since he didn’t get the three-count. Angle charges and Kane grips him by the throat, but Kurt grabs the ref and holds him hostage so Kane just chokeslams both of them with one arm. Nice bump by Charles Robinson with the back of his neck being driven down into Kurt’s chest. Kane applies a somewhat rudimentary anklelock and Angle taps, but the ref is down so Kane releases it and goes to revive the official. Why do wrestlers always do that? I’d just twist the ankle for like 10 minutes and hope the ref got up himself. Angle tries to attack, but Kane fights him off and reapplies the anklelock until Angle reverses into a cradle and grabs the ropes to pin Kane. Afterwards, Kurt limps up the ramp. Pretty cool match as it showed Kane learned from their last match and even turned the tables on Kurt by using the anklelock himself.
– Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
From January 28, 2002, on Monday Night RAW with JR & Lawler on commentary, this is a #1 Contender’s match with the winner challenging Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship at No Way Out. During Angle’s entrance, we see footage from last Thursday’s SmackDown of Angle attacking Austin backstage and trapping him in the anklelock while screaming “WHAT?” over and over. That’s awesome. Stone Cold comes in and fires off a series of punches as the bell rings, but Angle thumbs him in the eye and throws chops before Austin catches him in mid-leapfrog and powerslams him down for a two-count. Austin goes for the kick to the gut to set up the Stunner, but Angle snatches his foot and applies the anklelock until Austin reverses into the same cradle Angle used against Kane (without benefit of the ropes) and hooks the leg for two. Austin drops Angle with the Thesz Press + punches and follows with the elbowdrive off the ropes for two, but Angle reverses an Irish-whip and launches Austin with an overhead belly-to-belly for a two-count of his own. We get dueling “You Suck!”/”WHAT?” chants as Angle whips Austin hard to the turnbuckles twice, but Austin reverses the third one and Angle comes out of the corner with a clothesline for two.
Austin reverses another Irish-whip and slams Angle with the standing spinebuster for two as JR is still in his “spine on the pine” phase. Where the hell did he get that anyway? Angle slips out of a vertical suplex and pops off three Rolling Germans, but Austin elbows out of the fourth attempt and sits Angle on the top turnbuckle. Stone Cold unleashes a rapid-fire barrage of stiff chops (DAMN) and bites Kurt’s forehead for good measure before superplexing him off the top for a near-fall and following Angle out to the floor when he tries to flee the scene. Austin punches Angle down the ramp back into the ring and Kurt rolls out the other side, but Austin drops him face-first on the ringsteps and throws him back in. Angle bails out again and Austin rams him into the steps before they go back in the ring, where Angle misses a charge in the corner and posts his shoulder as he collapses out to the floor. Austin returns Angle to the ring and hammers him in the corner as the referee tries to stop him, but when Austin pushes the ref away Angle kicks the Rattlesnake between the legs and retrieves a chair. However, Austin grabs the chair first and Angle tries to goad him into using it as the ref warns him not to and JR notes that if Austin is disqualified Angle would receive the title shot, so Stone Cold discards the chair and stomps a mudhole in the Olympic Gold Medalist.
Austin sets up the Stunner, but Angle shoves him off into the ref and abuses Austin with chairshots to the head, back, and leg until the ref awakens as Kurt throws the chair away and covers Austin for a pair of near-falls. Angle gets SERIOUS by pulling down the straps and cinches in the anklelock as Austin tries in vain to counter before finally grabbing the rope to break the hold. Angle plants Austin with the Angle Slam and covers him for an extremely close near-fall, but Austin gets his foot over the rope and Angle gets up to celebrate because he thinks it was a three-count. I guess he didn’t notice the bell not ringing and his music not playing. Kurt argues with Earl Hebner until Austin levels Angle with the Stone Cold Stunner for the 1-2-3 to earn the Undisputed Title shot at No Way Out 2002. Afterwards, Stone Cold opens up a beer and Jericho runs in to receive a Stunner. Another good Angle/Austin match with the roles reversed from their SummerSlam ’01 classic, although obviously nowhere near the level of that match. One thing I’ve noticed rewatching their matches is that while I enjoyed them at the time, I never realized the awesome chemistry Austin & Angle had together. It’s too bad Angle didn’t debut a few years earlier during Austin’s prime because they could have had an ongoing rivalry over an extended period of time like Austin/Rock.
– “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle
From June 23, 2002, at King Of The Ring with JR & Lawler on commentary. This was one of my requests for the DVD because I’d never seen this match before. Surprisingly, Angle enters after Hogan and is in that stupid phase after losing the Hair Vs. Hair match to Edge the previous month when he wore a wig under his Rick Steiner amateur headgear. Hogan overpowers Angle to start and applies a standing headlock, but Angle counters into a top-wristlock to force Hogan to his knees. WRESTLING? In a HOGAN match? Hogan grabs the headlock and Angle pushes him off to the ropes, but he shoulderblocks Angle down and the Olympian bails out. Back inside, Angle slugs away and cuts Hogan down with a clothesline, but Hogan reverses an Irish-whip and tosses Angle over the top rope. We get a “Hogan” chant as the Hulkster batters Kurt at ringside and throws him back in to ram his head against the turnbuckles ’80s style and decks Kurt with a roundhouse right. Hogan attempts to remove the headgear since that’s what the little Hulkamaniacs want, but Angle scores with a mulekick to the stones and stomps and chokes Hogan in the corner. Angle throws chops and Hogan fights back with punches, but Angle gouges his eyes and drops him with a pair of back-suplexes for a two-count. Angle chokes Hogan on the ropes, but Hogan reverses a vertical suplex and unloads with punches and a bodyslam before Angle reverses an Irish-whip and applies a sleeperhold.
Kurt turns it into a chinlock on the mat and the referee drops Hogan’s arm twice, but the third time is the charm as Hogan breaks out and catches Angle in a sleeper of his own. Angle counters with a back-suplex and plants Hogan with the Angle Slam for a near-fall, but Hollywood Hulks-up and levels Kurt with the big boot as the crowd erupts. Hogan removes Kurt’s headgear and wig to reveal his shiny bald head and Angle retreats up the aisle while Hogan parades around the ring wearing the wig. That’s the one part of Hulk’s act I used to enjoy, when he’d wear Slick’s hat and do his posedown routine. Angle runs back in with a chair, but Hogan dodges it and Angle whacks himself when the chair bounces off the top rope. Hogan adds the big boot and unleashes the legdrop, but in the GREATEST MOMENT OF ALL TIME Angle counters by catching the leg and applying the anklelock! Hogan tries to kick Angle off and even rolls into the ropes, but Angle drags him to mid-ring and cranks the anklelock until HOGAN FINALLY TAPS OUT!!!!!!! Holy Christ. Afterwards, JR puts Hogan over for withstanding the anklelock longer than anybody else, but notes that it’s the first time the Hulkster ever submitted. I obviously knew the result already, but talk about a markout moment. That’s just f*cking awesome. It’s a puzzling result though, because you’d think forcing HULK FUCKING HOGAN to tap out would result in a monster push, but two months later Kurt was wrestling Rey Mysterio in the opening match at SummerSlam. Incredibly historic moment nonetheless. Hell I’d give it ***** just for the finish.
– WWE Tag Team Title Tournament – Finals: Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Rey Mysterio & Edge
From October 20, 2002, at No Mercy with Cole & Tazz on commentary. Benoit lets Angle start the match and he humiliates Mysterio early by effortlessly outwrestling him and demanding he tag Edge because Rey is too short, but Rey stays in the ring and breaks a waistlock by stomping Kurt’s foot. Rey follows quickly with a fireman’s carry takedown, a dropkick to the knee, and a legdrop across the back of the head as he outmaneuvers Angle and drop-toeholds him before paintbrushing the back of his head for a little humiliation payback. Edge tags in and does some chain-wrestling with Kurt as Cole recounts the Angle/Edge history and Edge fires off a hiptoss, armdrag, and dropkick. Angle tags Benoit for some more beautiful chain-wrestling as Edge ends up with Benoit in an armbar, but Benoit escapes and applies a headlock on the mat. Edge breaks out and flips Benoit with a knee to the gut, followed by a stomachbreaker for a two-count as Edge drops knees to the midsection and executes a backbreaker for two. Edge makes the mistake of throwing chops and Benoit reminds him that’s HIS game as he chops away, but Edge reverses an Irish-whip and flapjacks Benoit for two. Angle catches Edge with a knee to the back from the apron and Cole recalls that Benoit & Angle defeated John Cena & Billy Kidman (what a difference four years makes, huh?) and Los Guerreros in the earlier rounds of the tournament while Edge ducks a Benoit clothesline and knocks Angle off the apron with a spear.
Edge reverses a waistlock and rolls up Benoit for two, but when Benoit kicks out Angle grabs Edge by the hair and snaps his throat over the top rope. Benoit unloads on Edge and tags Angle, who stomps and chokes Edge as Cole notes that SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon threatened to suspend Angle & Benoit without pay for a year if they didn’t get along. Tazz says he wouldn’t come to work if he didn’t get paid, so Vince probably had Bradshaw rape him in the shower afterwards. Angle earns two off a knee to the gut and applies a chinlock with bodyscissors, but Edge fights out and Angle launches him with an overhead belly-to-belly. Benoit tags in to throw chops and whips Edge into the turnbuckles sternum-first as Edge takes the Bret Hart bump and Benoit drives knees into his midsection. Another chest-first Bret bump for Edge as Benoit pops off the three Rolling Germans and knocks Mysterio off the apron before making the cut-throat gesture and BLOWING HIS NOSE on Edge. I always loved that. Benoit climbs to the top turnbuckle for the diving headbutt, but Edge meets him up there and superplexes him down. Both men are down as Edge crawls toward his corner and Benoit tries to stop him, but Mysterio gets the hot tag and knocks Angle off the apron before snapping off a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and a seated dropkick in the corner on Benoit, who rolls out to the apron while Angle comes in to eat a dropkick. Rey catches Benoit hanging between the ropes and springboards in with a sweet guillotine legdrop for a near-fall as Kurt makes the save and Edge tumbles over the top rope with him with a clothesline.
Rey attempts the wheelbarrow bulldog, but Benoit drops him on his face and locks on the Crippler Crossface until Edge runs in to break it up and Angle drags Edge back out. Benoit counters the 619 by catching Rey in mid-move, but Edge dives off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick to knock Mysterio on top of Benoit for a near-fall. Mysterio ascends to the top, but Angle runs up the turnbuckles and launches Rey across the ring with a wicked overhead belly-to-belly superplex before knocking Edge off the apron while Benoit covers Mysterio for a close near-fall. Angle tags in to hammer Mysterio and executes a backbreaker for two, followed by a vertical suplex for two as Angle grounds Rey with a front-facelock. Mysterio struggles to his feet and escapes by countering Angle’s suplex into a release Northern Lights suplex, but Angle catches him off the ropes with an overhead belly-to-belly for two. Benoit tags in to score a two-count after a HIGH back-bodydrop and hits a back-suplex for another two, but Mysterio sends Benoit into the ringpost with a floatover headscissors and makes the hot tag to Edge, who faceplants Benoit with the half-nelson bulldog and drops Angle with the Edge-o-matic for two as Benoit makes the save. Rey whips Edge in to spear Benoit in the corner and Edge whips Rey in for a Bronco Buster (called merely “the Buster” by Cole & Tazz for some reason) on Benoit before Edge spears Angle in another corner and sits him on the top turnbuckle as we get the coolest double-team ever: Edge elevates a charging Rey high in the air so he can bring Angle off the turnbuckles with a superhuracanrana. VERY NICE!
Edge covers for a two-count and moves just in time as Benoit soars off the top with the swandive headbutt and accidentally lands on Angle instead. Mysterio dropkicks Benoit through the ropes while Edge covers Angle for a close near-fall, but Angle comes back with a release German suplex and waits for Edge to get up. However, Rey sacrifices himself as a human projectile again by charging at Edge, who launches him with an overhead belly-to-belly right into Kurt’s face. That’s awesome. Edge prepares the spear, but Benoit trips him from behind and Crossfaces him until Mysterio breaks it with a 619. Angle plants Rey with the Angle Slam and gets SERIOUS by pulling down the straps and applying the anklelock, but Edge kicks him off to the ropes and catches Angle in a small package for a believable near-fall. Edge ducks a clothesline and spears Angle for two as Benoit breaks the pin and Mysterio dropkicks him out under the bottom rope before Edge hauls Rey up in a powerbomb position so he can throw Rey out over the top with a moonsault onto the Rabid Wolverine. WICKED. Angle takes down Edge from behind in the anklelock and drags him away from the ropes, but Edge reverses into an anklelock of his own and Angle re-reverses it into his anklelock, forcing Edge to tap out and capturing the first-ever SmackDown-exclusive WWE Tag Team Championship, which Cole notes is also the first tag title win in Kurt’s career. This one definitely lives up to its hype as one of the best matches of 2002 with solid psychology, superb work, awesome double-teams, and hot near-falls. What more could you want? …other than perhaps a shorter recap of the match…
– WWE Title: Kurt Angle [champion] vs. Brock Lesnar
From March 30, 2003, at WrestleMania XIX with Cole & Tazz on commentary, this was the last SmackDown title bout to be the main event of WrestleMania and it even followed Austin/Rock. Chrono Fact: This was another of my requests because WMXIX is the only WM (other than WM22 now) I’ve never seen. Brock won the 2003 Royal Rumble to earn this shot and has his ribs taped as they stare each other in the eyes and do some nice chain-wrestling on the mat while Tazz notes that Tito Ortiz is in attendance. The crowd applauds after Lesnar kips up to escape a headscissors and they go through some more crisp matwrestling until Angle fires off a back-elbow and Lesnar armdrags him into an armbar, but Angle backs Brock into a corner and targets the taped ribs with a knee and forearms across the back. Brock fights back with shoulderblocks in another corner and catches Kurt in a powerslam for an early near-fall, but Angle snaps off a tremendous release German suplex and Lesnar basically no-sells it as he pops back up and clotheslines the WWE Champion. Angle baits Lesnar into chasing him out to ringside and slides back in first so he can pounce on Brock when he returns to the ring, but Brock drops him with a press slam as Tazz refers to Brock as the “Vanilla Gorilla”. Brock charges in the corner, but Angle meets him with a kick to the gut and German-suplexes him into the turnbuckles in a nice spot. Angle follows Lesnar to the floor and rams his back against the barrier before draping him over the apron and clubbing him across the back.
Back inside, Kurt back-suplexes Lesnar for two and kicks away at the midsection as he takes Brock over with a vertical suplex for another two and applies a freestyle bow-and-arrow, according to Tazz. See, this is the kind of matwrestling stuff Kurt should be doing now to prolong his career and introduce a fresh style to the mainstream fan. Angle eventually switches to a camel clutch chinlock while grinding his knee into Brock’s back, but Brock powers to his feet with Kurt on his back and rams him against the turnbuckles twice to break the chinlock. Angle reverses an Irish-whip and Lesnar forgets to bounce out of the corner, so Angle just slams him with an overhead belly-to-belly and knocks Lesnar out through the ropes with a knee to the back. Back inside, Brock levels Angle with a spinebuster and both men are down for the count until they stagger to their feet and slug it out. Lesnar comes off the ropes with a nice flying forearm and unloads with a clothesline, a big boot, shoulderblocks in the corner, and a pair of overhead belly-to-belly suplexes for two, but Angle blocks another belly-to-belly and pops off four big Rolling Germans. Brock slips out of the Angle Slam and executes the F5, but Angle lands on his feet and takes Lesnar down with a single-leg into the anklelock as Angle drags him away from the ropes and switches to a half-crab. Lesnar finally makes it to the ropes to break the submission and Angle scores with a knee to the back, but when he charges again Brock back-bodydrops him over the top rope.
Angle returns and charges his challenger, but Brock dodges him and drives shoulderblocks into Kurt’s back in the corner before Kurt reverses an Irish-whip into a waistlock and flips Brock onto his face with a sick release German. I think that’s what they were going for during Angle/Joe I and failed. Angle earns a close near-fall and gets SERIOUS as he pulls down the straps and snaps off the Angle Slam for another near-fall, but Brock counters another Angle Slam with a cradle (Tazz calls it a…”spleidle”?) for a near-fall of his own and plants Kurt with the F5 for yet another soveryclose near-fall. Lesnar goes to pick Angle up off the mat, but Angle snatches him in the anklelock and drags him away from the ropes as Kurt drops to the mat and grapevines the leg to increase the pressure. Lesnar finally grabs the ropes to break the hold and kicks Angle off before going for the F5, but Angle counters with a small package for two and sets up the Angle Slam. However, Brock slips out and annihilates Angle with the F5, but instead of covering the WWE Champion, Brock decides to go to the top turnbuckle and finally unveil his vaunted Shooting Star Press we’d all heard about from his OVW stint. Unfortunately, Brock ends up crashing down on his head in one of the scariest moments in wrestling history and should have broken his neck, but he gets the shoulder up when Kurt improvises by covering the challenger. Lesnar manages to plant Angle with the F5 for the 1-2-3 to win the WWE Championship for the second time. Damn, that was a really great match and I’d go so far to say that this was definitely one of the top three WrestleMania main events in terms of workrate, challenged only by the WMXX Triple Threat and maybe Austin/HBK or Austin/Rock. Great psychology, great matwork, great counter-wrestling, and a great finish obviously hurt by the botched SSP, but I’m just glad Brock was okay. Unless maybe landing on his head caused some brain damage and that’s why he thought he could become an NFL superstar as easily as he became a WWE superstar.
Afterthoughts: First of all, thanks to Andy for putting this set together and sending it to me as there were quite a few matches I hadn’t seen such as Angle/Hogan, Angle/Brock, and the No Mercy tag plus matches I don’t remember like Angle/Rhyno, Angle/Kane, and the SmackDown four-way. Awesome stuff to look back on and remind us why Angle was considered the best worker in North America (if not the world) alongside Benoit since WWE likely won’t be releasing an Angle DVD anytime soon. Thanks Andy!