Wrestler of the Day – September 20: Kurt Angle

Today is your Olympic hero and mine, Kurt Angle.

No timeline today as it’s just a bunch of awesome Kurt matches.

We’ll start things off with one heck of a tag team match from No Mercy 2002.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Rey Mysterio/Edge vs. Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle

This was the undisputed match of the year so this more or less has to be awesome. Edge is about as hot as possible here and Rey is pretty new here. Yeah he had been around only three months or so here. Edge is just straight up awesome here and the whole thing is just greatness. Angle vs. Rey to start us off. We have what, about 25 world titles in there? Angle takes him to the mat and slaps him in the back of the head to be a jerk.

Kurt is really the only heel in this match. He literally throws Rey into his own corner because he wants a grownup apparently. Rey won’t tag out though because he wants Angle. They had a great opener at Summerslam so this works for me. Rey can’t get out of much of anything so he steps on Kurt’s foot and hits him with what can only be called an FU.

He busts out the speed and slaps Angle in the back of the head just like Kurt did earlier. The announce table being in pieces is funny for some reason. Here’s Edge to a big old pop. This is before Edge hurt his neck so he’s a totally different worker here. Off to Benoit now. Expect a LOT of play by play here as if the reviews I’ve heard are any indication there isn’t going to be much to make fun of.

The Canadians do a much more technical sequence and it’s a lot more entertaining than you would think a side headlock should be. Edge gets a knee to Benoit’s ribs and focuses on them for a while. Flapjack and a rollup get two. And there’s a knee from Kurt as Edge hits the ropes to give Benoit an advantage. They try the same thing again but Edge spears him this time.

Benoit and Angle double team Edge in a very nice sequence. Back to Angle now. The fans are all over him which is always good to hear. Better for them to be making noise at all than to be bored. Rear naked choke to Edge and Rey is getting antsy. Tazz adds in something by saying Angle is making sure Edge is facing his partner to mess with his head. Nicely done Mr. suplex machine.

Edge gets a big boot but walks into a belly to belly for two and here’s Chris again. Here are the rolling Germans as Edge is getting the tar beaten out of him. Benoit goes a little heel by drilling Rey to keep him from making the save. Benoit goes up for the headbutt and down he comes off a big old superplex.

There’s the big tag to Rey and he cranks things WAY up. The good thing is that he’s in there against two guys that can do the same thing. He sets Benoit for a Bronco Buster but goes with a running dropkick instead. HUH-FREAKING-ZAH! Rey and Benoit crank things up ever more but Benoit gets a counter and hooks up the Crossface until Edge finally saves.

Edge vs. Angle on the floor along with Benoit and Rey in the ring. 619 is blocked by Benoit but Edge hits a missile dropkick to drive Rey onto Benoit for a long two. This is all happening at a very fast pace. Rey goes up but Angle JUMPS from the mat to the top for the HUGE belly to belly off the top for another long two. Benoit’s face is like WHAT at that.

Angle in now vs. Rey as things slow down a bit. Rey starts a bit of a comeback but gets caught in a quick suplex and crashes for two. Back to the short and crazy Canadian now. After more of a beating Rey gets a headscissors to send Benoit into the post and we get double tags to bring in Edge vs. Kurt. Edge-O-Matic gets two and everyone is back in again.

Spear in the corner to Benoit and there’s the Bronco Buster. I withdraw my former HUZZAH! Spear in the corner again to Angle and Edge sits him on the middle rope. Rey runs at Edge who throws him into the air for a big old rana. Benoit looks to save with the diving headbutt but it crushes Angle and only gets two. Angle busts out a German from nowhere for two. He shouts at Edge to go to the middle which Edge does.

In a VERY nice spot, Rey runs at Edge who belly to bellies him into Angle to take down the bald one. That’s what he gets for calling spots that loudly. Benoit saves the spear and grabs the Crossface and Edge is in trouble but he gets a rope. He won’t let go so Rey hits a 619 out of somewhere. Angle Slam takes out Rey and Angle locks on the ankle lock.

Edge kicks off and grabs a small package for two. Spear gets two as Benoit saves and Rey takes out Benoit. Rey gets a running start at Edge again and Edge catches him and gives him a very nice launch into a moonsault to take out Benoit. SICK counter out of the Edgecution by Angle into the ankle lock. Edge counters that into an ankle lock of his own but Angle is all like OH NO YOU DIDN’T and counters into an ankle lock for the tap out and the titles. Sweet goodness as Cole says he’s going to applaud them for it.

Rating: A+. OH YES. Now this is what you get when you have two teams out there that are young and moving as fast as they can to make something look awesome. Smackdown was supposed to be the wrestling show back then and it certainly was. This would be part of a series of matches that made Smackdown completely awesome around this time and it was a treat to watch.

Angle had one of the best triple threats ever at Vengeance 2003.

Smackdown World Title: Big Show vs. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar

Ok so if Show is knocked out for most of this it should be good. This was around the time where Brock was completely awesome and could do no wrong. This is no DQ also. When has a triple threat not been no DQ? Show is in the singlet and shorts now which are perfectly acceptable. Angle and Lesnar work together but Lesnar takes a chokeslam a minute in. Angle was at the point here where he could get a good match out of anyone and he’s showing why here.

Angle busts out some garbage can lids and they beat the heck out of Big Show with them. All three of these guys are just SCARY strong. They manage a double chokeslam. Ok, that was cool. And there’s an F5 to Angle. And there’s one for Show. That never ceases to amaze me, and that doesn’t happen often. Angle gets beaten down on the floor and we get Brock vs. Show. Brock looks more awesome with the elbow pads. Brock gets a running powerbomb out of the corner. WOW.

Angle comes back in and pops the tar out of Brock with a chair. Angle is getting into that zone. Oh and he’s bleeding. It’s table time and Taz makes me laugh by saying about the Spanish announcers “You would think they’d be used to it by now.” That was good. Angle Slam through the table. The announcers point out that it might have been stupid to knock him out on the floor though which is very true. Brock is bleeding now and we have him vs. Angle. This works.

Other than Benoit, Lesnar brings out the best in Angle and that’s saying a lot. After a little bit of them beating the heck out of each other, Brock locks in a body scissors and a chokeout similar to a Tazmission actually. Even Taz points that out. Show comes in for a double chokeslam and actually gets Lesnar with the left arm higher than Angle with the right arm. Since that doesn’t work, Angle comes back with Angle Slams for both and gets the pin on Brock. Very good match to close the show.

Rating: A-. I’m not big on triple threats but this was great. Brock and Angle are just freaking fun to see beat the tar out of each other since Brock could keep up with Angle on the mat and Angle could match Brock’s strength for the most part. Big Show was solid here too which made this just a great match all around. Very fun match and well worth seeing.

We better get a World Title on him. From No Mercy 2000.

WWF Title: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

This is announced as No DQ as Kurt comes to the ring which is a new development. Stephanie distracts Rock and Angle gets a quick advantage to start. Angle gets a chair shot on the floor and Rock is in trouble. Back in the ring a Samoan Drop gets two for the champion. Angle tries to leave for some reason but Rock makes the stop. Rock throws him through the set as this is a big brawl.

Ross says that Angle is challenging for the richest prize in the Game. Is this suddenly a match taking place inside of HHH? Is the belt his pancreas or something? Stephanie chokes Rock behind the referee’s back as Ross says she’s legally breaking the rules. If it’s legal, how is she still breaking the rules? Rock gets a chair shot to his ankle. This was before the ankle lock I think.

Dragon screw leg whip sets up the Sharpshooter and he taps out as Stephanie has the referee. Angle is continuously selling the knee having it start off as a big hindrance and moving on to a slightly weaker one which is very impressive. He gets a long chinlock to kill some time but winds up on the floor and we’re back outside again.

Angle tries to get a belt shot while Stephanie gets the referee. I don’t get the whole thinking here but they’re trying at least. Angle misses the perfect moonsault and we slug it out. Rock punches the tar out of him and takes over again. Again might be a stretch but you get the idea. A spinebuster sets for the Elbow but Stephanie makes the save. Rock Bottom for her but Angle stops the elbow.

And cue HHH who destroys….Kurt. Ah there’s the Pedigree for the Rock too. That’s more like it. HHH carries Stephanie out as Angle covers for two and a big pop on the kickout. Rock gets a DDT for two as you can feel us getting to the ending. He sends Angle to the floor, walks around the ring with him and throws him back in. Even Rock can have an odd moment I guess.

Here’s Rikishi too as they continue trying to force this push down our throats no matter how hard it fails. He beats on Angle a bit as apparently he’s helping out his Samoan brethren. Rock Bottom out of nowhere but Rock can’t cover. The fat Samoan gets in and accidently nails Rock in the corner and accidently superkicks him. Both guys get Olympic Slams to give Angle his first of 9 (not 12 idiotic TNA) world titles to date.

Rating: B. This was of course solid as you would expect for these two. Angle was still kind of in over his head at this point as he hadn’t locked in that total insanity thing yet. The Rikishi interference was annoying but I get the HHH aspect at least. Amusingly enough Angle won the title once Stephanie left rather than while she was there. Solid match but their rematch in February where Rock would get the title back would be better.

So there was a pay per view five days after September 11 and Angle was in his hometown and challenging for the WWF Title. Has there ever been a more perfect set up? From Unforgiven 2001.

WWF World Title: Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin

Angle gets the hometown boy pop and Fink milks it perfectly. “From PITTSBURGH PENNSYLVANIA!” Angle meets him on the ramp and here we go. Austin is hammered down and Angle is all fired up. The champ is all afraid to try the Stunner because either it won’t work or the kick to set it up could result in an ankle lock. Angle hits a Thesz Press and hammers away in the corner.

We head to the floor and Austin is reeling. Austin blocks a superplex but Kurt is like oh yes you are going and hits it on the second attempt. Austin grabs a sleeper but gets countered by a jawbreaker. He tries to leave with the title but Angle catches up to him and throws Austin off the ramp just like Austin did to him a few weeks ago. Angle puts him against the railing and pounds him down with punches and chops.

Kurt picks Austin up and carries him back to the ring, ramming him into the post. We’re seven minutes into this and it’s been 95% Angle. He stops to peel back the mats and Austin gets a knee to the back to take over. Piledriver on the floor doesn’t work and Austin is cut above the eye. Angle chops away and tries an Olympic piledriver but is backdropped as well.

Angle tries a suplex out there but Austin reverses and drops him onto the table. He does it again and the table is sturdy. Here’s a third try and it STILL doesn’t break. That’s a good table! Austin drives knees to the neck back inside. He talks trash to Kurt’s family in the front row which is why he’s a great heel: he knows how to get a crowd riled up which so few people today know how to do.

Off to the chinlock and I’m cool with that as they’ve been going hard for almost 15 minutes. Austin pounds on the back but gets caught in the Germans. It’s just three this time but Kurt is holding his neck. Austin tries a super belly to back but Kurt reverses into a bad looking cross body for two.

Release spinebuster puts Angle down and Austin kicks him in the little Olympians. The referee is shoved so Angle kicks Austin low to even things up. A DDT sends Austin to the floor and we’re running out of time. This has been pretty good but it’s certainly no classic. Back in Angle stuns Austin for two. Austin hits a belly to back suplex called the Angle Slam. I mean he didn’t even try to change it. A piledriver gets a close two and Austin is getting mad. He loads up the Stunner but Angle grabs the boot and the ankle lock gives Angle the title.

Rating: B. The match was certainly good but it’s not on the level I think they were hoping for. It never quite hit that level of intensity and violence and Angle’s neck injury didn’t quite live up to the amount of intensity that I think it was supposed to. Definitely good though, just not a classic.

Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

Taker wants to fight Rock but is afraid to actually do anything about it. Angle shoves both guys and wants to fight which earns him a double beatdown. Rock clotheslines him out to the floor, leaving himself all alone with Undertaker. Taker pounds Rock in the corner but Rock makes a quick comeback with right hands of his own. Angle is knocked off the apron and out to the floor but he pulls the champion out with him, sending Taker into the steps.

It’s Rock vs. Angle now and there’s a belly to belly for the Brahma Bull. Angle chops away in the corner and drops Rock with another suplex. A DDT gets two for Rock and Angle rolls to the floor. Rock goes out as well leaving only the referee in the ring. Undertaker pops up and takes Angle’s head off with a clothesline and heads back inside to pound on Rock. Angle is punched off the apron by Undertaker but the champion walks into a chokeslam from Rock (you read that right) for two.

Angle is back in now but gets taken down and put in the ankle lock by the other challenger. Kurt pops up and Rock Bottoms the Rock for two as Undertaker makes the save. Angle tries the Slam on Undertaker but Taker escapes and hits the Angle Slam on Kurt. Rock nips up and sends Angle to the floor before hitting the spinebuster and People’s Elbow on Taker. Kurt pulls Rock out of the ring again and gets two on Taker, only to be launched into the corner and pounded on by the champ.

Kurt fights back but misses a charge, going shoulder first into the post, sending him out to the floor. Undertaker sends him face first into the post for good measure but here’s Rock with a spit of water into Taker’s face to slow him down. The champ throws Rock over the announcer’s table but here’s a busted open Kurt to keep things moving. Taker slugs him down again though and drops a leg on the apron before heading back inside. Old School puts Angle down but Rock makes another save.

Rock still can’t get any extended offense on Undertaker though as the champion hits a running DDT for two. Angle grabs a chair but Taker punches him down. Kurt gets ping ponged back and forth between the other guy guys, only to have Rock hit Undertaker low to put him down. That plus a chair shot to the head put Undertaker down and Angle lays out Rock with the Slam as well. A slightly damaged referee counts two on each guy for Angle but there’s the Sharpshooter from Rock to Kurt.

Taker makes a quick save with a big boot to Rock’s face and hits the Last Ride powerbomb but Kurt breaks up the cover with the ankle lock. Undertaker finally rolls through to counter and we get the same sequence from the July 4th show with Angle countering the powerbomb into the choke. Angle gets his shoulder up and even another powerbomb can’t break the hold.

Undertaker doesn’t tap but his arm is lifted and dropped twice in a row. Rock makes the save but gets caught in the ankle lock but Rock rolls Angle up for two. There’s the chokeslam to Angle but Taker gets a Rock Bottom for two. Angle hits the Slam on Undertaker and takes down the straps but walks into the Rock Bottom for the pin and the title.

Rating: B. Sometimes the solution to the problems a wrestling company is having is to have a good wrestling match. Instead of the old and slow guys in the world title scene, this had two young guys who could move very well out there to bounce off Undertaker’s power moves. This is easily the best PPV title match so far this year other than maybe Rock vs. Jericho.

We’ll jump back to the midcard for a bit at Wrestlemania XVI.

Intercontinental Title/European Title: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

This is an interesting idea. Angle holds both titles coming in and there are going to be two falls here. The first is for the Intercontinental Title and the second is for the European Title, so basically we’re getting back to back triple threats. Jericho guarantees to walk out of this match as the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah while the other two will walk out with a shirt that complains about how lousy the shirt is as well as how bad the beating from Jericho was.

Benoit jumps Angle before the bell before heading inside for a clothesline from his fellow Canadian. All three are in now and Benoit chops Jericho, only to have his belly to back suplex escaped. Benoit breaks up a springboard dropkick by Jericho before fighting with Angle on the apron. Jericho hits the previously broken up dropkick to send both guys out to the floor. He joins them immediately, only to be sent into the steps by Kurt. Back in and a belly to belly suplex gets two for Angle on Jericho.

Jericho hits a backbreaker on Angle but Benoit shoves Jericho off the top and into the announce table for good measure. Benoit covers Angle for two before suplexing him down for the same. Jericho is back in for a dropkick to his fellow Canadian but Benoit comes right back with a clothesline for two more. Jericho bulldogs Angle down but Benoit comes back with chops of his own on the other Chris. Angle suplexes Benoit down but Jericho makes the save. Very back and forth action so far.

Jericho camel clutches Benoit but has to break it up to stop a charging Kurt. Angle hits a big suplex on Jericho for two as Benoit makes another save. Benoit rolls up Jericho in the corner but Angle dropkicks his head face first into the middle buckle to break it up. Jericho loads up a double arm suplex on Angle but gets countered into a crossface chickenwing. Benoit comes back in and dropkicks Angle before sending him to the floor and into the barricade. Back in and the Swan Dive to Jericho gives Benoit the first fall and the Intercontinental Title.

Very wisely Benoit immediately covers Jericho for an attempt at the European Title but it only gets two as Kurt dives in for the save. Angle suplexes Benoit down for two but takes too long on the moonsault attempt, allowing Jericho to break it up. Jericho loads up a belly to back superplex but Benoit supelxes Chris down, allowing Angle to miss the moonsault on Benoit. All three guys are down now until Angle covers Benoit for two. Jericho gets back into it with a Walls attempt on Angle, only to have the other Chris break it up.

Everyone gets back up and it’s Jericho with a spinwheel kick to take Benoit to the floor. The double powerbomb puts Angle down but Benoit comes back in for the Rolling Germans on Jericho. Benoit goes old school with a Dragon Supelx on Angle for two. Jericho hits the forearm on the referee by mistake, only to be put in the Crossface by the new IC Champion.

It gets an unseen tapout but Benoit releases, allowing Jericho to put Benoit in the Walls. Angle hits Jericho with a title belt but Benoit makes the save as the referee is awake again. Benoit suplexes Angle down again but misses the Swan Dive. Jericho slides in for the Lionsault on Benoit for the European Title to end things.

Rating: B+. Awesome match here which would have been match of the year when this style dominated in 2003. All three guys were the future generation of the company once we shifted to the technical style over on Smackdown in a few years, but here it’s just awesome instead of a match of the times. This is one of the only things that people remember from this show and with good reason: it was awesome.

The next year later Angle had a one on one match with Benoit that had people drooling.

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

On his way to the ring, Angle rips on Texas for various reasons, primarily the lone star flag. Oh and cowboy hats are stupid. This match was made on Raw because neither guy had anything to do for Wrestlemania. It’s as simple as it sounds, but do you need anything more than that for this pairing? Angle still insists that he didn’t tap out to Benoit on Raw. Heyman: “This is as excited as a man can get with his clothes on.”

Angle takes it to the mat to start which is fine with Benoit as the struggle begins. Benoit sits out and it’s a standoff, drawing a nice ovation from the crowd. It worked so well before that they do it again, drawing a bigger ovation this time. Angle hits a kind of suplex to take it to the mat for a third time but Benoit sits out again as they fight for position. They roll into the ropes for another break and the fans are pleased yet again.

Benoit takes it to the mat again and tries the Crossface, sending Angle into the safety of the ropes. Kurt bails to the floor for a breather as he isn’t sure what to do with Benoit here. Back in and Angle has to get to a rope to escape another Crossface attempt. Angle blasts Benoit with a right hand to shift the style and momentum here as they head outside. Benoit goes first into the announce table and shoulder first into the steps to keep Kurt in control.

Back in and Angle gets two off a belly to back suplex. A belly to belly gets no cover by Kurt and neither does the second one Angle hits in a row. Benoit comes back with a clothesline as the only advantage of the match so far is gone. Benoit starts slugging away in the corner before hitting a knee to Angle’s ribs. A back elbow to Angle’s face gets two as does a snap suplex ala Dynamite Kid. Benoit follows up with a superplex and holds his neck afterwards. He would be about three months from neck surgery that put him out for over a year.

Speaking of neck injuring suplexes, Benoit rolls some Germans but Angle rolls through the third one into the ankle lock. Benoit escapes that into an ankle lock of his own for good measure. The stealing finishers was one of Angle’s major deals so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Benoit tries the Crossface but Angle blocks it from going on full. Angle puts Benoit in the Crossface for good measure but Benoit gets a foot on the ropes.

Angle accidentally charges into the referee, just before Benoit puts Angle in the Crossface for an unseen tap out. Benoit releases the hold and gets caught in the Angle Slam for two. Angle’s moonsault hits Benoit’s knees, allowing Benoit to go up for the Swan Dive. That gets two, but Angle rolls through and hooks the tights for the win.

Rating: B+. It’s Angle vs. Benoit at Wrestlemania. Did you expect this to be anything less than awesome? This wasn’t as good as their masterpiece at the 2003 Rumble, but it would be a match of the year candidate on any other show. That’s what you expect from these two though, and this is an excellent match that is overshaddowed by the rematches they would have later.

Time to open the other best show ever. From Summerslam 2002.

Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio

Rey beat Angle in a tag match and has been an annoyance for him lately. This is right after Mysterio debuted as part of probably the best year for new talent in company history. In 2002 WWE got Mysterio, Brock Lesnar, Batista, Randy Orton and a guy named Cena. This is when Rey’s knees weren’t held together by glue so it should be awesome. Rey comes in from behind and takes Angle down with a quick springboard dropkick but he has to go to the ropes to escape the ankle lock. An early 619 attempt misses and Angle pulls him to the floor. Very fast start.

Angle kicks at the leg as they come back in. An uppercut staggers Rey and a wheelbarrow suplex puts him down. Rey grabs the rope to avoid a German and gets a quick two off a rollup. Kurt gets two off a backbreaker and bends Rey’s back around the ropes. The fans are all over Angle but he shrugs off some forearms and catches a headscissors into a side slam for two.

Off to a wicked half crab on Rey but he somehow sneaks out and gets two off a rollup. Kurt takes his head off with a clothesline, only to get caught in a jawbreaker. Rey tries to speed things up but walks into the overhead belly to belly. There go the straps but Rey armdrags out of the Angle Slam and sends Angle to the floor. Rey loads up a dive but the referee stops him, drawing the most heat of the night. Mysterio will have none of that and dives OVER THE REFEREE to take Angle out.

Back in and a springboard legdrop gets two as the crowd is on fire. Rey tries a victory roll but gets caught in the ankle lock. Mysterio rolls out and send Angle to the ropes for the 619. The West Coast Pop gets a VERY close two and a spinwheel kick puts Angle down again. Mysterio goes up top but Angle runs the ropes for the suplex, only to have Rey flip over him but he tweaks the ankle on the landing. He’s fine enough to pop back up and dropkick Angle on the corner though and he loads up a hurricanrana. Angle falls forward on it though and the ankle lock is good for the submission.

Rating: A-. EXCELLENT opener here with Mysterio showing he could hang with anyone in the company. He really was amazing to watch when he wasn’t banged up and bloated like he is today and this might be his best match ever. This was a great choice for an opener and both guys looked amazing.

So a dancing Samoan, a Cerebral Assassin, a beer drinking redneck, an undead biker and a brahma bull walk into Hell in a Cell. Who else could possibly survive this but Kurt Angle? From Armageddon 2000.

WWF Title: HHH vs. The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Steve Austin vs. Rikishi vs. Kurt Angle

Angle is champion here. I remember the buildup for this and the question being who would take the huge bump. It more or less came down to Rock or HHH as Taker was too big, Rikishi was too big and Austin/Angle both had far too bad necks to take the risk. Rikishi is just so freaking worthless that it’s amazing. Angle comes out third which is kind of weird.

If I remember right Chyna made fun of his attire here as he complained about his package looking too small. Rikishi is mad at Angle for beating him up on Smackdown due to that alliance being broken. I think this is the debut of Rollin as Taker’s theme song. Rock walks straight in as Angle is staying outside for awhile. There are like 6 referees in there keeping people from fighting each other before the match starts. Austin gets a HUGE pop since we’re in the deep south. He throws Angle in and we’re on.

The match has to end in the cage. I’ll do what I can to keep track of what’s going on here but don’t count on much. Angle vs. Taker, Samoan violence and Austin vs. HHH if you’re curious. Lawler evaluates the talent in there at a billion dollars. And people wonder why the USWA went out of business. Leaping knee takes Austin down. We’re just standing around at the moment as we wait on the big thing to happen, likely involving vince. Rock beats on Angle in the ring while the other four fight on the floor.

And now there’s no one in the ring. Ok then. Ah make that Angle/Rock again. This really would have been perfect for the Chamber if it had existed at the time. They overhype everything here as it’s decent but really just a lot of punching so far. HHH gets rubbed into the cage by Austin. Lawler: Don’t rip his nose off! This really isn’t that interesting at all. A bloody HHH hits the Pedigree on Rikishi and Rock saves. I think that’s the first cover of the match.

Finishers a go-go in the ring and everyone saves. After some more basic stuff, Vince and the Stooges come down with a freaking hay truck and says he’s going to tear the cage down. There goes the door and you know what’s coming now. Foley comes down and runs the three guys off, saying the match is going to happen. HHH is outside and Austin follows him.

They fight up by the cars and everyone else comes up there too. Austin hits him with a boom camera and winds up going through a window to bust him open. Pedigree on Rock onto a car. Isn’t the point of a Cell match for the to stay in the Cell? Rock is bleeding….kind of. Ah that’s more like it. Ross oversells everything here, making it sound like it’s the best match ever or something like that. HHH takes a slingshot into a car in a cool looking spot.

Taker and Angle go back to the ring area and it’s all Taker. A chair shot busts him open as HHH and Austin climb the cage. They fight on top and HHH teases the big drop. Angle comes up too to get away from Taker. Stunner on the roof and Taker is up there now too. Rock and Rikishi are the only two not up there at this point. Angle is bleeding now and HHH climbs down to HUGE booing. Austin follows which makes sense.

And here come the Samoans. Taker gets a chair on top somehow and hits a SICK shot to Angle’s head. The fat man hits Taker though and stands tall. It’s just hard take him seriously in that thong though. Rock is on the floor as I don’t think he was ever up top. Angle gets down and it’s the two big men left. They slug it out near the edge over the truck and in the words of Mark Madden: FLY FATBOY FLY! Austin stops dead to see what the thud was, as does Rock. Austin’s face is the most interesting part here actually.

The roof goes off as Austin and Rock slug it out. You knew that was Mania right there. What we didn’t know was that it would top off the best PPV of all time. Rock actually wins the fight and sets for the elbow. Cue HHH for the save as I wonder how we never got the triple threat with these three guys. Rock Bottom to Angle but Austin saves. Stunner to Rock and we get a back flip, but HHH takes out Austin with a neckbreaker, allowing Kurt to put his hand on Rock to retain and shock everyone kind of, ending the show.

Rating: B. This was good but a far cry from the other Cell matches. Like I said, this was perfect for the Chamber but this was still a big match. The first half or so is really weak until we get to all the finishers, but even then we were waiting on it to turn into the big war. Vince and the truck did that and once that happened it really took off and was the match I think they were shooing for. It’s good but it’s not a classic. Meltzer allegedly said it was a match of the year candidate. Must have been a very weak class that year if that’s the case.

We haven’t been to TNA yet. From Genesis 2006 in Angle’s first important match.

Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe

Joe has been undefeated for eighteen months in TNA. Angle has a big bandage on his head after a match with Abyss. Kurt grabs a single leg to start but Joe is immediately in the ropes. Some kicks to the ribs set up Angle’s overhead belly to belly and a clothesline puts Joe on the floor. That’s fine with the Samoan as he grabs Angle by the legs and pulls him to the floor, swinging him into the barricade. Quite the counter.

Back in and Angle misses a charge into the post and falls back out to the floor. The suicide elbow drops Kurt again and Joe rams him face first into the steps for good measure. They’re actually nailing the big match feel so far. Kurt’s head is busted open as the bandage has come off. Joe of course kicks at the cut and digs away with his fingers. That’s quite the savage as he rubs Angle’s blood over his chest.

A powerslam puts Angle down for two and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets the same as Joe is in full control. He tries the MuscleBuster too early though and Angle counters with a tornado DDT for two. Joe misses a charge into the corner though and it’s time to roll some Germans. They both the release though and Joe is dropped (thankfully not on his head) for two.

The Angle Slam is countered into an armdrag and Joe nails a running knee in the corner. An enziguri sets up the MuscleBuster for a close two and both guys are down. Angle rolls out of the Koquina Clutch and grabs the Slam for two. The fans want someone to make the other tap and Angle takes down the straps.

Kurt hooks the ankle lock but Joe finally rolls over and pulls Kurt down into the Clutch. Angle counters that into the ankle lock and Joe is in trouble. He rolls through to send Angle into the corner but misses a charge, setting up the Slam. Angle does a favorite of mine by putting the straps back up so he can take them down agani, setting up the ankle lock with a grapevine to make Joe tap out.

Rating: B-. It’s good but this didn’t hit the levels they were shooting for. The fact that it was only thirteen and a half minutes hurt it a bit as they needed some extra time to make this a big better. It’s good, but having this match so soon in Angle’s run but it wasn’t the worst decision in the world.

We need more Benoit! From Backlash 2001.

Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

30 minute time limit, most submissions win. Angle says Chicago is full of fat sweaty pigs and needs winners. He makes fun of the city which is kind of funny. There’s a thirty second rest period between falls. After some feeling out stuff to start, Angle takes it to the mat and Benoit is all cool with that. Ankle lock doesn’t work so Kurt hits the floor to think for a bit.

This is going to be a long one as the clock is on the screen the entire time. Back in the ring and Angle takes Benoit down which gets him nowhere. Back to the mat again and this time to the floor. Benoit gets the Crossface out there and Angle taps but they’re outside so it doesn’t count. Five minutes in and no falls yet. Angle tries to bring in a chair as we stall a bit. With half an hour I can understand that though.

Back in and Angle is holding his shoulder a lot. And never mind as he was faking since he charges straight in and grabs the ankle lock for the quick tap. You could argue Benoit tapped early to prevent further damage but it still looks kind of weak by Benoit. Angle works on the ankle/knee but charges into a Crossface attempt. That doesn’t work so Benoit shifts to a cross armbreaker to tie us up.

Benoit rams Angle’s shoulder into the post and there’s the armbreaker again but Kurt leans forward to avoid a lot of the pressure before making the rope. Shoulder breaker by Benoit and he goes after Kurt, only to take out the referee at the ten minute mark. Angle gets a chair shot to the head and the ankle lock makes it 2-1. Angle jumps him during the rest period and you can’t really DQ him I guess.

Angle puts on a Crossface seconds later to make it 3-1. Maybe 10 seconds between the end of the rest period and the tap. Kurt hammers him some more and rams his face into the announce table. Benoit backdrops Angle to the floor but doesn’t take the time to breathe. Kurt’s shoulder goes into the post but Benoit’s everything goes into the steps. Ankle lock goes on but it’s still on the floor, meaning Benoit tapping doesn’t mean anything.

We go back in with fifteen minutes left and a 3-1 lead for Kurt. Benoit avoids a cross armbreaker by Kurt which wastes some time. Off to an abdominal stretch which Benoit counters into another cross armbreaker attempt but he can’t get the tap. Out of almost nowhere Benoit gets a Sharpshooter, only for Kurt to make the ropes again. A German is countered into a half Liontamer by Benoit (he used it before Jericho in WCW) for the tap to make it 3-2.

Kurt heads to the floor and it’s time to play defense. Benoit catches him pretty easily and sends him into the steps. Kurt tries to run again and the fans aren’t thrilled at all. With ten minutes to go Angle catches Benoit coming in and they slug it out a bit. Benoit can’t get back in for a bit and Kurt stomps him when he does. Angle hits a snap suplex back inside and keeps trying for the ankle lock.

Out to the floor again and they chop it out. Back in and Benoit gets a dragon screw but can’t hook the ankle. Benoit misses a dropkick and Angle locks in some freaky looking hold before going to a chinlock. Five minutes left as Benoit gets his arm up before a third drop. With four minutes left Benoit breaks the hold with a jawbreaker. And never mind as Kurt takes his head off with a clothesline.

Belly to belly by Kurt which is scary considering how long they’ve been out there. Another hits with three minutes left. Benoit manages to grab some Germans but gets reversed into an ankle lock which he reverses into an ankle lock of his own to tie it up at 3 with just over two minutes to go. The clock keeps running during the thirty second rest. Chop block by Benoit with 1:20 to go. Minute left and it’s German time again. Low blow by Kurt breaks that up but the ankle lock is broken quickly. Ankle lock goes on fill with 8 seconds left and we’re done. Benoit taps after the bell ends in a draw.

Just like in 96 though with Shawn and Bret, it’s time for some overtime, first submission wins it. If it continued though, why wouldn’t the tap just after the bell have ended it? Angle hammers him and the fans aren’t thrilled with him. They go to the mat and Angle grabs an abdominal stretch down there. There’s a Crossface out of nowhere and Angle taps for the ending. Like Benoit was losing in sudden death.

Rating: B. It was entertaining, but the main idea of Benoit vs. Angle is all about having them go back and forth with insane counters until one of them finally gets caught in something. That was taken away here and it brings the match down a lot. To be fair it’s still good but by comparison it’s definitely not as good.

Time for a war. From King of the Ring 2001.

Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle

It should be noted that this is one of my favorite matches ever so I’ll be biased in it. Wait, they’re my reviews so I’m biased towards myself, so it’s fine. Angle throws his medals down on the way to the ring so you know this is serious. Again, JR says that after I typed it so I win again. Angle is just beating the heck out of Shane to start here. And just as I say that Shane starts throwing lefts and fights back.

With Shane on the floor, Angle gets on all fours and wants to go amateur, which is more popular that pro in certain areas other than wrestling. Naturally Angle easily gets out and beats on Shane even more. In a nice looking move, Angle hits a gutwrench but it’s overhead instead of to the side. It looked cool. Angle is just throwing Shane everywhere. It looks like a squash but don’t worry. It’ll get better. Shane has had three punches and an armdrag.

He offers Shane another amateur attempt but this time Shane just punts him in the ribs. That’s followed by a jumping back elbow making him awesome. On the floor now, Shane gets on the railing behind JR and Heyman and jumps over both them and the table to hit Kurt with a clothesline in a sweet spot. The guy was athletic and no one can ever argue that.

It’s certainly more entertaining than seeing Vince out there making a fool out of himself. And we have a kendo stick which Shane can swing really well. He actually breaks it over Angle’s back which has to hurt bad. Shane uses armdrags on the floor to send Angle into the railing which is a nice spot. Shane goes for a cover and Angle bridges out of it. Think of the Matrix move.

Shane does the smart thing and just hits him in the stomach. Angle does this three times, showing off his stupidity. It’s weapons time now and Shane is dominating. Ankle lock by Shane and Kurt just kicks him in the face. Nothing wrong with that. We get a Sharpshooter attempt and Shane botches it but gets it eventually. It looks bad but it’s ok I guess. Granted almost no one gets it right so it’s fine.

Shane is just beating the tar out of Angle here. He puts a trash can on his stomach and goes to the top for a shooting star press which misses but looked solid. The fans get a holy censored chant going as they’re impressed here. We hit the floor again and Shane hits a suplex, which breaks Kurt’s tailbone. He’s legit hurt which makes the rest of the match even more impressive. His solution to Shane fighting back: slam Shane’s head into a wall. I like the simple ideas.

In the sickest bump you’ll see in years, Angle suplexes Shane over his head into one of the glass walls with KOR (what, no love for the?) on them. The problem is that it doesn’t break and Shane lands on his head which goes THUD. It sounded and looked SICK. Shane is more or less out of it.

Angle, ticked off that it didn’t work, picks him up and does it AGAIN, this time having it work, drawing another holy censored chant. Angle’s arm is bleeding. We’re under the stage now and Angle suplexes him again and AGAIN it doesn’t break. Shane is busted. Angle goes for another suplex and it doesn’t break. In essence, Shane is being thrown into a wall. Kurt is livid and just picks him up and launches him through a glass wall.

Shane looks like he’s been beaten by an army and raped by a bear while being run over by a train. Angle is spent too. Everyone is just bleeding like something that bleeds a lot. Angle gets an anvil case and puts Shane on it to wheel him back to the ring. That’s a good idea as he’s just dead weight at this point. We’re back in the ring and Angle covers Shane. For two. The place pops like a freaking teenage girl for that. We get a replay where we can see Kurt’s face and he looks like he wants to cry.

A low blow connects and Shane isn’t dead yet. He gets a trash can lid and just pops the tar out of Angle and hits an Olympic Slam for two. Both guys are just freaking spent. Shane gets catapulted into the corner where he just kind of collapses. Angle gets a board from somewhere and just beats Shane about the back and shoulder with it. There’s something awesome about that.

He sets it up on the copes and climbs to the top where he this the Olympic Slam from the top rope. I would say Shane lands in the middle of the ring with a thud, but as they said in Con Air, “the word ain’t land. It’s crash.” They show a bunch a replays and the slam looks cooler and cooler ever time. I mean Shane just explodes on the mat and it looks amazing. Shane’s best match ever by about 1000 miles. They carry him out and he’s just gone. The Slam off the top got the pin if that wasn’t clear.

Rating: A. This was just freaking brutal. It’s a great street fight where you never really believed Shane was completely out of it. That’s a great thing to be able to say, but Shane took the best beating I can recall anyone taking in a long time. Find a copy of this match as it’s right up there with any beating I’ve ever seen.

Back to TNA for a showdown at Lockdown 2010.

Kurt Angle vs. Ken Anderson

This is standard rules but Anderson has the key. Not sure I get the point to that aspect as it’s bound be thrown around sometime. Also, I’d prefer a regular cage match but this is fine I suppose. Anderson has the key around his neck. Ok he has a chain around his neck with the key around it but you get the idea. Anderson goes for the door like 30 seconds in and like an idiot, he forgets about Angle.

Anderson accidentally leaves the key in the lock so there goes the point of the ladder match entirely. Angle is bleeding BAD already. Tenay says it was bound to happen at some point. At some point? I think every match has had that so far. This is one of the feuds that I’ve really liked for the majority of it. Angle is WORKING in there man. He’s still one of the best in the world when he works at it.

There is blood everywhere. Ok not really but it sounds good. Angle hits his run up the ropes and hit a belly to belly. Love that. Anderson uses his wrist tape to choke Angle out which is rather brilliant. Solid match so far. Angle gets his Germans. That should be a bad porn movie title. He hits about 6 or 7 of them and Anderson is just about out of it.

Angle goes for the door but stops. Dang it Kurt don’t be stupid. Ankle Lock is on but you can’t win by tap out. And there’s the Mic Check. Yeah I’m stunned too. Anderson gets the lock open but Angle gets the Slam. And Angle locks the cage again. Ok then. And he throws the key away. Anderson freaks, even though there’s no roof on the cage.

Anderson tries to get out but Angle gets a German OFF THE TOP ROPE! SICK spot. Angle sets him for the moonsault but goes TO THE TOP OF THE CAGE! And he hits it. Yeah Angle still has it. Angle gets a key from….somewhere, but Anderson flips the double bird and is able to get a Mic Check.

We’re getting close to overkill here. Angle catches him with the ankle lock though and Anderson taps again. I smell a broken ankle. Anderson reverses but STILL can’t get out. Angel finds a chain or the Warrior Medal and chokes Anderson out with it in a reference to Anderson choking him out in the ladder match on Impact before walking out. GREAT match.

Rating: A+. Yeah I said it. Great match all around and the ending made sense given the way Anderson won the ladder match. This has been a great show and it needed a great match to get it over the hump. It just got that. Angle is still one of the best in the world and he can bring it.

We’ll jump to TV now for an Iron Man match on Smackdown, September 18, 2003.

Smackdown World Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle

Angle is champion coming in. This is an iron man match with a sixty minute time limit. There’s a 15 second rest period after each fall. The challenger is the heel. Lesnar jumps him to start and we have a big old clock in the corner. Brock beats him down to start but Angle fires back with some clotheslines. Angle gets a shot to the knee and Brock chills on the floor.

He stays out there until about 8 and the knee isn’t right. Brock asks for time but he was just channeling his inner Bret Hart as he plays possum. Angle doesn’t mind and hits a set of armdrags to send Brock out to the floor. Lesnar grabs the steps but tosses them back instead of using them. He slides in at 9 and goes right back out to break the count. Well it’s not like they don’t have a lot of time to kill.

Brock breaks the count again and make it three times. Four times now. Angle is getting ticked which might be Lesnar’s plan. We’re five minutes into the clock now and we haven’t really gotten anything going but they have plenty of time. Angle goes for the knee and Brock hits the floor AGAIN. Angle charges at him and Brock nails him to finally take over. Angle snaps off a suplex and clotheslines Brock to the floor where he holds the knee again.

Lesnar is down and holding the knee but this time Angle goes after him. He rams Brock into the steps head first and they slug it out. Brock gets the better of that and rams Kurt into the post back first. He goes to grab a chair and pops Angle in the head with it for a DQ at about nine minutes. Brock lays Angle out with the chair a bunch of times but it’s in the rest period so it doesn’t count.

Brock grabs some water at ringside. Does that mean there’s a conspiracy against him? Angle is barely able to stand so Brock drills him with an F5 to tie it up at 49:38 to go. Brock kicks him in the ribs and asks Angle if he wants to tap. Lesnar puts the ankle lock on Kurt and he taps to make it 2-1 at 47:21. We take a break and come back at 44 minutes left with Lesnar breaking an Angle rally with a knee to the ribs.

During the break Brock hit an Angle Slam for two. Brock charges but his shoulder goes into the post. Angle gets a forearm smash and it’s German time. Angle comes at Brock but gets sent back outside. Brock whips him into the railing HARD and this an F5 on the floor for the countout to go up 3-1 at 20 minutes in.

We take a break and come back with Angle in control after hitting some suplexes during the break. Lesnar knocks Kurt to the floor with an elbow and takes over soon thereafter. We’re at 35 minutes left now as Brock gets two off an elbow drop. Angle reverses an Irish whip into the Angle Slam and it’s 3-2 at 34 minutes to go. We’re told that if this goes to a tie we’ll have overtime.

Kurt pounds away but the Angle Slam is countered into an F5 attempt which is countered into the ankle lock. Brock rolls through and Angle manages to avoid the referee. Brock however drills him in the head with a clothesline so when Angle hits the Angle Slam, there’s no referee. Brock hits Angle low and grabs the title. A shot to the head of Angle puts him down and the referee wakes up to make it 4-2 Brock at 29:30 to go.

We take a break and come back with Angle on the floor with 25 minutes to go. Angle pulls him to the floor and hammers away, sending Brock into the steps. With Brock on the outside, Angle goes back in and up top to hit a double axe to Brock’s back. That only gets two back inside though. Kurt goes up again and hits the missile dropkick for a close two. The moonsault that hits once a decade doesn’t hit here and both guys are down.

Angle grabs a rollup for two so Brock takes his head off with a clothesline. Brock gets all ticked off and throws Angle over his head without leaving his own feet. Well that was awesome. It only gets two though and both guys are down. Kurt reverses another belly to belly into the ankle lock but Brock rolls through to send Angle to the floor. Angle goes into the steps again and back to the ring we go.

That only gets two in the ring as we have 20 minutes left with with score 4-2 Brock. Lesnar unhinges some steps but Angle hits a baseball slide to send them into Brock’s face. Kurt looks like his shoulder is hurt from going into the steps. Angle gets an elbow for two as we take a break. Back and it’s 5-2 as Brock hit a superplex for a fall during the break.

We have 14 minuets to go and it’s 5-2 Brock. Brock takes him outside and tries to F5 Angle into the post but Angle reverses to give Brock an F5 into the post with the bad knee hitting the steel. Back inside and Angle throws on a half crab which is very smart. Brock makes the ropes so Angle throws on the ankle lock. Lesnar STILL doesn’t tap so Kurt stomps away at the leg/ankle.

Kurt charges in at Brock but gets caught in an F5. Brock can’t counter though and can only get a delayed two. Lesnar goes up top but Angle pops up for the running belly to belly and it’s 5-3 with 9:50 to go. Angle wins a slugout and pounds Brock down in the corner. Angle puts the straps back up which is a new one for him. He tries to load up the Angle Slam but Brock grabs a DDT for two.

Kurt misses a right hand and Lesnar hits a German. Make that two Germans. Would you believe three Germans? He tries a fourth (there has been a lot of laying around between them so about 90 seconds passed for all those Germans) but Angle counters into two Germans of his own. Angle rolls through something into the ankle lock and in more or less the same ending at Summerslam, Brock can’t find a rope and taps with 4:11 to go.

Four minutes left and both guys are down. Brock still leads 5-4. They’re still down with 3:30 left. Kurt grabs the hold again but Brock rolls through to escape. They’re both down again but Kurt is up and stomping away with three minutes left. Bow and arrow hold, which is like a side version of the STF, goes on to eat up some time. Brock wisely heads to the floor with two minutes left.

Smart strategy there as Lesnar only has to play defense and run the clock out to win the title. Kurt puts the ankle lock on Brock outside but back inside we go. Brock runs again so Kurt rams him into the steps. Angle hits some rolling Germans back in the ring and we hit a minute to go. He hits four Germans but this is taking way too long. Brock kicks him low with 30 seconds left but it’s not seen. Ankle lock with the grapevine is on with 15 seconds left but Lesnar hangs on to win the title and end the show.

Rating: B. This match runs into the exact same problem that is more or less unavoidable for these matches: you can more or less skip the first 55 minutes and you still see the exciting parts. An hour is too long, even when the guys are having an entertaining match. This was good, but like I said the vast majority of it is just waiting for Angle to make his big comeback. However it does fly by as taking out commercials it runs about 46-48 minutes. Good match, but not a good idea for TV.

Time for some Shawn Michaels, from Wrestlemania XXI.

Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle

This was when Angle was the wrestling machine so this should be awesome. Kurt takes in the YOU SUCK chants because that’s how awesome he is. I should mention the set as it has the Hollywood sign on one side and a movie marquee on the other side which says Now Playing and then the match, making it feel all the more special. They stare it down to start until Shawn slaps him in the face.

Angle takes it to the mat and rides Shawn to frustrate him. Shawn gets to a rope and gives Kurt a look like “o………..k then time for a new plan.” Michaels grabs a headlock takeover to slow things down but the fans are behind Kurt. Kurt fights up but can’t escape the hold without using the ropes. Nice storytelling there with Shawn gladly going to the ropes but Angle going to them out of frustration.

Off to a short arm scissors by Shawn for a bit but Angle uses raw power to lift Shawn up into the air. However, since Shawn had that move used on him back in 1992 by British Bulldog, he knows how to roll through into a sunset flip for two. See, THAT is how you play to older fans with some awesome psychology. Back to the headlock as Angle is getting frustrated by Michaels dominating the mat.

Angle takes it into the corner to brawl with Shawn but Shawn ties him up instead. This is also a callback to Wrestlemania XII where Shawn used the exact same strategy on Bret. Angle grabs a quick ankle lock but Shawn rolls through and a Cactus Clothesline puts them both on the floor. Angle loads up the announce table but opts to pick up Shawn in the Angle Slam and ram Shawn back first into the post to take over again.

Back in and Angle gets two off a suplex before putting on a body vice with a chinlock. The fans are split here but Shawn fights up with some chops to take over. Kurt will have none of that though and suplexes Shawn down to stop the comeback bid. Another belly to belly gets two and it’s off to a chinlock with a knee in Shawn’s back. Michaels gets up again and they slug it out with Angle taking Shawn down with a hard clothesline.

Shawn blocks a superplex attempt but Kurt rolls away from the top rope elbow. There go Angle’s straps but Shawn counters the Angle Slam and backdrops Kurt to the floor. Shawn goes up and half dives/half falls onto Angle with a cross body. As they get back in, Angle tries his German suplex off the apron but Shawn kicks him low like a good former villain. With Angle on the announce table, Shawn hits a gorgeous springboard spinning cross body to send Angle onto the floor as the table doesn’t break.

Both guys make it in on different sides of the ring at nine. Angle is bleeding from the mouth. They slug it out again with Shawn taking over. There’s the forearm and nip-up as Shawn’s back is perfectly fine all of a sudden. Now the big elbow hits but the superkick is countered into the ankle lock but Shawn FINALLY makes the rope. The Angle Slam is rolled through but Angle counters into the ankle lock but Shawn counters into a rollup for two. Another superkick is caught and there’s the Angle Slam for two.

To show how angry Kurt is, he puts his straps up just so he can take them down all over again. In a scary spot, Angle tries the moonsault but Shawn doesn’t roll away far enough, sending Angle’s face into Shawn’s side. Shawn goes up again but Angle runs up the corner for the belly to belly off the top. Somehow that only gets two and Angle yells at Shawn, talking about how Michaels’ days are done. Shawn shoves him back and superkicks Angle down but he can’t follow up.

The cover eventually gets two and Shawn isn’t sure what to do now. He slowly stands up but Angle grabs the ankle lock again. Shawn tries to kick Angle off but Kurt won’t let go. They’re in the middle of the ring with Shawn writhing in pain. Angle puts on the grapevine and Shawn is all but dead. He hangs on for as long as he can before FINALLY tapping out to give Angle the win.

Rating: A+. Angle and Shawn at Wrestlemania having a masterpiece. Who would have ever seen that coming? The match was excellent all around and the match never stopped being great. They would have another masterpiece at Summerslam which again shouldn’t surprise anyone. Great match here and definitely worth seeing if you haven’t before.

Angle had to win the TNA Title at some point so why not Slammiversary 2007?

TNA World Title: Chris Harris vs. Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christian Cage

Title is vacant coming in. The rules here are a bit complicated. It’s a reverse ladder match as you have to hang the title above the ring to win. Before you can do that though, you have to become eligible by getting a pinfall or submission on someone else. If you get pinned or submit, you have to go to a penalty box at ringside for two minutes. Officially Angle has never won the title coming in, even though he won last month. Harris is a surprise entrant. After full entrances for everyone and Big Match Intros we’re finally ready to go.

It’s a huge brawl to start with Cage and goofy Styles (horrible time for him) double teaming Harris. AJ tries to lay down so Christian can be eligible but Angle makes the save. Instead it’s the great AJ dropkick to put Harris down as Angle and Joe fight on the floor. Styles tries a rollup on Christian for two and Christian is livid. Joe breaks up AJ’s moonsault attempt and sends him hard into the barricade.

Back in and Joe nails a running boot to Christian’s chest to put him down but Harris throws Joe through the ropes and onto Angle. Harris can’t hit the Catatonic on Christian but settles for a full nelson slam. AJ tries a tornado DDT but gets caught in the Catatonic to make Harris eligible and send Styles to the box. Joe throws a ladder over the top rope to take out Christian and Harris, giving us Angle vs. Joe. Again.

Joe tries the Facewash on Angle but gets caught in Rolling Germans for his efforts. Christian comes back in and gets caught in the ankle lock and the Clutch at the same time. AJ gets out of the box to make the save as Harris comes back in as well for a big brawl. Christian tries to suplex Harris onto the ladder but gets crotched instead, followed by AJ’s moonsault into a reverse DDT on Harris for two. Styles cleans house but the Clash to Angle is countered into the ankle lock. AJ nips up into a hurricanrana before sending Harris throws AJ over the top onto Chrisitian on the ladder in a big crash.

Harris tries to climb up and hang the belt but Angle brings him down with the Slam for the pin to be eligible. Joe catches Christian in the release Rock Bottom out of the corner and an Island Driver (modified White Noise) takes AJ down. The MuscleBuster gets two as Angle makes the save and there goes the referee. Angle taps out to the Clutch and thankfully Joe doesn’t break the hold. Christian breaks it up with the ladder and steals the pin. Harris is out of the box, Angle goes in and Christian is now eligible.

Joe and Christian go up the ladder with the Samoan taking him down with a huge Diamond Cutter onto the title. Harris goes up the ladder instead but he has to knock Joe down with a belt shot. The same thing happens to Christian but AJ springboard dropkicks the ladder over for the save. Angle is out of the box. Joe and AJ climb on top of the box (just above the top rope) with AJ low blowing out of the Clutch. Joe flips AJ over and through a table on the floor for a HUGE crash.

Now it’s Harris vs. Christian on the cage with Harris getting the better of it. He dives off the cage to take Angle down with a clothesline but has to beat people up before climbing the ladder. Ladder shots put Christian and Kurt down but Christian is up for the save. Christian goes up top but Angle puts on the ankle lock on the ladder. That doesn’t last long as they fight up top until Harris spears Christian down. Angle is all alone and hangs the belt for the win and the title.

Rating: B. It’s a total mess but it’s TNA’s total mess. I can’t imagine people would complain about Angle winning the title as he’s the biggest star in the company and had to really win the title eventually. The fact that Joe wasn’t even eligible for the title is kind of a downgrade for him but he’d have his day eventually.

One more World Title, from Hardcore Justice 2011.

TNA World Title: Sting vs. Kurt Angle

Big match intros fill in some time. Sting is in gray which is a weird look on him. Sting grabs the arm to start as this seems like it’s going to be a feeling out process to start. I think they’re going for the big epic match but that’s just not going to happen here. Angle grabs a headlock which gets him nowhere. The dueling chants are already going and Sting’s paint is like 1/3 off less than two minutes in.

Now Angle works on the arm. The gray isn’t working for Sting as it looks like he’s dusty. Sting escapes and works on the leg to set up for the Scorpion. Angle fights back and hammers away. The champ backdrops him over the top and out to the floor as things slow down a bit. Out to the floor for the usual railing stuff. Back inside and Angle grabs a Samoan Drop for two.

There’s a seated reverse chinlock as Angle works on the back a lot. Off to a slightly modified version of the same chinlock after a few quick covers. Sting pops out of the corner with a clothesline and both guys are down. DDT gets two for the champ. Angle pops off the belly to belly for the same. Sting grabs the Death Drop and you would think Tenay was ordering lunch. Actually scratch that as picking the chicken salad would be more emphatic than that.

Rolling Germans by Angle get two. Tenay sounds like he doesn’t care at all about these covers and near falls. Moonsault misses so Sting hits an Angle Slam for two. There’s the Scorpion which isn’t sat down on at all. He finally makes a rope but Sting hits the Splash but the second one misses. Angle Slam hits for two and no reaction from anyone. Kurt charges at Sting in the corner but his shoulder hits the post.

Sting throws on the ankle lock and they speed things up a bit. Angle puts on the Scorpion Deathlock because that’s how Angle matches roll. Here are some more rolling Germans and Kurt grabs the ankle lock. Sting rolls through for two. And there goes the referee due to a misses enziguri by Kurt. Well it IS a TNA main event. Heeee’re Hulk with a chair. He gets the best reaction of the night and sets to pop Sting with the chair. Angle grabs it from him and Hogan leaves. Kurt blasts Sting with the chair and the Angle Slam gives him the world title.

Rating: C+. Good match overall but the crowd did not care for the most part and neither did Tenay. Not a horrible match but they didn’t get going like I think they wanted to. The finishers were never going to finish it and we were just waiting on the ref bump for the screwy ending. Good enough match but Kurt has had better matches in his sleep.

Angle did something that had never been done before. From King of the Ring 2002.

Kurt Angle vs. Hulk Hogan

This show just kind of sucks and I have a freaking hour to go in it. We fight over technical stuff to start. What I mean by that is Angle does and Hogan just does power stuff. Hogan keeps taking control despite not actually doing anything. Hogan goes for the hair piece and gets a shot in the red and yellow balls. I guess there’s one of each.

Ross says Hogan is as American as apple pie. That’s true. He’s overrated, strange looking, he’s stayed too long, he doesn’t do anything, he gets on people’s nerves, he lies, he cheats, he steals, he cheats on his wife and he tries to be too young. He’s a REAL AMERICAN! Hogan, apparently tired after the work from throwing punches and putting his hand to his ear, is put into a chinlock. Hogan HULKS UP and hits the big boot but instead of the legdrop he pulls the wig off.

After Angle runs, Hogan goes for the legdrop but Angle catches it into the ankle lock. Hogan actually taps and the fans are stunned. That helps the match about a full letter. Ross tries to save Hogan by saying that he held on as long as humanly possible, which is apparently about 15 seconds. Ross can’t remember Hogan ever tapping. That’s just amusing.

Rating: C-. Angle carried this thing completely. Hogan is just a waste here, but to his credit, he tapped. Had he not, this would have ended any chance this show has. Him tapping was right though and it made Angle look much stronger. I mean, can you imagine Hogan tapping out in 1987? Probably not because tapping out wasn’t a thing yet but you get the idea.

You know what sounds awesome? The Olympic Hero vs. the MMA Cowboy of Death. From No Way Out 2006.

Smackdown World Title: Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker

It’s the remix for Angle’s music here which I never liked. That title just looks AWESOME on him. He was a guy that was incredibly valuable to have on the roster for instances such as this. Batista was hurt and so they needed a credible champion. Angle is someone they could throw the title on and have it be completely realistic. That’s always a great thing and it worked perfectly here.

Taker literally takes four minutes for his entrance. Think he’s taking long enough? Cole’s voice sounds like it’s giving out. Angle tries to get a hold on him early on and Taker goes to the ropes. That’s a bit odd to see I’d think. Angle hits the floor when nothing works. Cole says neither of them have ever tapped. What the heck has he been watching for the seven years Angle has been in the company? He’s lost an Ultimate Submission match and Jericho made him tap on Raw once. Also Benoit made him tap multiple times. Yeah that’s nonsense.

Taker works a headlock which is odd to see him using. Off to the arm and a short arm scissors which gets him nowhere. They’re going back and forth here and it’s working for the most part. Definitely a slow build as we have nearly half an hour to go and no more matches. Old School connects and Taker busts out a Downward Spiral of all things for two.

Snake Eyes hit but Angle hits a SWEET release German for one. The dueling chants begin which makes sense as these are both faces. There’s some chick at ringside that screams louder than Melina. Taker gets knocked off the apron and into the railing. Angle dives at him and is caught before being rammed into the post. The apron legdrop is VINTAGE! Back in and Angle blocks a chokeslam with some kicks so Taker just hits him in the face to put him back down.

Angle goes for the knee and gets the post figure four. Solid stuff here so I apologize for the lack of humor. There’s nothing to make fun of. Patrick gives this big lecture to Angle about keeping it in the ring and Angle nods at it. Patrick turns around and Angle is right back out there which was rather funny. They’re building very slowly here but Angle is picking it up a bit.

Back to the floor again with Taker drilling him with knees. Taker’s knee is messed up a bit and this time he’s selling so we’ve got that going for once. It’s noticeable how much more swearing there is here. Angle grabs the legdrop on the apron this time and gets the ankle lock. Angle holds him on the floor against the ten count, breaking at seven and then breaking the count before going right back to the ankle. That’s sweet stuff there.

We hit the ring again and Taker is caught in another leg lock for a bit. More dueling chants start up. Taker counters mounted punching with a triangle choke and Angle is in trouble. Amazing that Fedor can’t last 10 seconds in one but Angle can last like 30 in it. We hit the floor again and Angle is in trouble. They’ve broken the count like 10 times so far which isn’t something you see that often. It adds some realism to the match as they’re not ignoring rules for the sake of convenience.

Taker clears off the announce table and then rolls in to break the count again, even though I’m not sure one was going on. Angle grabs Taker and puts him through the other announce table with the Angle Slam out of nowhere. Angle stops the count at 9 including some F Bombs. Back to the floor again with Angle pounding away. Taker wouldn’t have beat the count back in. He reverses Angle and sends him into the steps. GREAT match if you can’t tell that.

Taker goes up but gets caught and takes some punches. Angle sets for a suplex but Taker knocks him back. Angle is all like boy I said I’m suplexing you so I’m suplexing you and runs up the corner to throw Taker down in a belly to belly. Somehow that only gets two. Fans are way into this. Angle throws more punches so Taker kicks him in the face. Sometimes you can’t beat the simple stuff.

Chokeslam is countered into the ankle lock and Taker is reeling. Taker can’t shove him off so he pulls him in, grabs the head and locks on the triangle choke again. Angle reverses that and hooks the ankle lock one more time. Taker rolls through and finally gets out of it. Chokeslam mostly hits but Taker kind of dropped him which might have been intentional due to the ankle. That gets two as I’m loving this stuff.

Last Ride is reversed into a sunset flip and Angle grabs the ankle lock AGAIN for like what, the fifth time? Yeah two in the previous sequence and two on the floor. Dang man. Taker can’t get the ropes so he kicks Angle off AGAIN. Angle Slam connects for TWO. Sweet merciful crap this is awesome. Angle pulls down the straps as Taker sits up in a great visual.

They slug it out and Taker sends him in and grabs the Tombstone. Angle reverses and Taker reverses and ANGLE reverses into the SIXTH Ankle lock, this time with the grapevine attached. Taker raises his hand to tap and he’s in the middle of the ring. Taker rolls them over and kicks Angle in the face again to become the ONLY person I’ve ever seen to survive the grapevine ankle lock.

Angle slips up behind Taker as he gets up and hits ANOTHER Angle Slam (NINE freaking finishers from Angle if you’re keeping track) and Angle rolls him up but Taker busts out (and perhaps debuts) the Hell’s Gate (not called that yet and still called a triangle choke here. Thank you martial arts master Tazz) and Angle is in big trouble. Angle is almost out and after the second arm drop he pops up and jumps over into a cradle while the choke is still on and gets the three! Taker thinks he’s won and Angle is DONE. Post match Taker says he has Angle’s number. I guess he’ll text the rematch request.

Rating: A+. Screw Meltzer and his love of Japanese guys and his cruiserweight nonsense. THIS is your match of the year. These two beat the tar out of each other and it was nothing but awesome the whole way. For some reason (Angle leaving for TNA) they never had the big rematch. THIS should have been the main event of Mania rather than a 9 minute triple threat with Angle dropping the belt to that pest Rey so that Eddie could have his second moment at Mania.

Both guys looked awesome out there and they threw everything they had at each other and then the ending worked perfectly. Both guys more or less lost and it lets Taker keep his credibility. Much like the Benoit match at the 03 Rumble, Taker didn’t get beat so much as he got caught. That’s a very key thing and it helps a lot here. Excellent match and well worth going out to see.

Is there anything else we could wrap this up with? I’ve talked about it enough. From Royal Rumble 2003.

Smackdown World Title: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

Team Angle is immediately ejected to make sure it’s one on one. Benoit grabs a headlock to start before trying the Sharpshooter to send Angle to the floor. Back in and Angle goes for the ankle but gets dropkicked away. Benoit grabs a kind up reverse Figure Four but Angle grabs the rope. This is all holds/counter holds so far. Benoit gets sent shoulder first into the post followed by an Angle suplex for two.

They chop it out with Benoit taking over and hitting a reverse clothesline to take Angle down. Angle drops Benoit across the top rope but gets guillotined down by the Canadian. They head to the apron with Benoit DDTing him down onto the side of the ring. The champion has a busted nose now. Back in and the Swan Dive misses but Benoit rolls out of the Angle Slam. There’s the Sharpshooter to Angle who eventually gets to a rope. A belly to back suplex gets two for Chris but Angle snaps off an overhead belly to belly (just one so far).

Back to the floor where Benoit gets dropped onto the barricade to further mess with his head. Off to a rear naked choke back inside so Kurt can overly loudly call some spots. Angle catches Benoit in another belly to belly followed by a belly to back for two. Back to the chinlock for a bit until a double clothesline puts both guys down. Benoit rolls some Germans but so does Angle. And people wonder why their necks were held together by tape.

Benoit gets the final German but Angle runs the ropes to hit the belly to belly off the top to put both guys down. That gets two but the Angle Slam is countered into the Crossface. Angle gets the rope, so Benoit shifts to an ankle lock. Angle reverses into one of his own and now Benoit is in trouble. Benoit goes to kick off but instead grabs another Crossface. Kurt counters into a rollup but Benoit put the Crossface on the other (right) arm this time. Angle stands up and hits the Angle Slam but can’t immediately cover.

Angle takes the straps down but another German attempt is countered into a rollup for two. They trade HARD Germans until Benoit hooks a release German to put both guys down. Before anyone asks, the difference between this and the previous match with the suplexes is how hard these are. Steiner looked like he was at a dance recital but here they look like they’re trying to kill one another. Not to mention there’s OTHER STUFF in between the suplexes.

Benoit hits the longest diving headbutt you’ll EVER see, but he can’t cover because of his head getting jarred like that. Angle counters the Crossface into a reverse powerbomb onto the buckle. The Angle Slam gets a VERY close two as the crowd is losing their minds. Back to the Crossface but Angle rolls through into the ankle lock. Benoit rolls over but can’t break the hold. He kicks Kurt off but Angle goes right back to the hold. Benoit keeps trying to kick him off but Angle hooks the grapevine and Benoit has to tap.

Rating: A+. That’s your match of the year right there people. Oh wait according to Meltzer there was some match in Japan that no one but him ever saw and that has to be better than this right? Anyway, these two DESTROYED each other with some absolutely amazing counters and awesome sequences out there while suplexing the tar out of each other. This both guy’s best match ever, and that’s saying A LOT.

Angle didn’t have as many masterpieces as some people probably think he did, but the guy is going to give you one of the best matches of the night no matter what show it’s on. There are a lot of great matches I could have put on here but you have to cut it off somewhere. He can go with anyone and at the end of the day you don’t argue with a gold medal. The fact that he can talk with the best of them makes him even greater. If you’ve never seen it, find some of his promos from 2000. They’re pure greatness.

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  1. Gunther_224 says:

    A related question: who do you think had the most masterpieces. Angle had a lot more great matches that didn’t get mentioned here mainly his great feud with Edge, summerslam 2000 triple threat, summerslam 2001 vs Austin, more 2002-2003 Angle/Benoit tag goodness and an underrated match in Japan vs Yuji Nagata

    klunderbunker Reply:

    It’s hard to argue with Shawn.

  2. MikeCheyne says:

    Angle probably isn’t my #1 wrestler, but man, total package wise, he may be: almost all of his matches are at least watchable with a number being fantastic, his promo skills at his peak are through the roof, and the guy had the fortune of debuting at a stable time so he didn’t have some of the growing pains or stagnation the other big stars once had. He also has my favorite theme song of all time.

    Rocko Reply:

    Yeah he was really lucky that he debuted right after or right before Russo left. I forget whoever the 2000 head writer was but damn that guy was a great writer.

  3. ted says:

    One of the best ever no question.

  4. Gunther_224 says:

    True. I can’t decide between Shawn and Bret myself.