Background: In the early part of the summer of 2001, Shane McMahon was supposedly trying to acquire talent for his new vision of World Championship Wrestling. He was also trying to make an impact on the business and began a feud with former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle. As the defending King of the Ring, Angle was looking to repeat as KOTR and accomplish a feat no one had ever done.
McMahon and Angle were scheduled to fight the same night as Angle would be defending his crown. McMahon would play a pivotal role in both of Angle contests earlier in the night as he helped Angle advance to the finals against Edge, before causing Angle to lose his crown later in the night.
A fuming Angle took to the ring for his third match of the night (a street fight no less) and one the most memorable matches in WWE history.
The match: Angle enters the ring and immediately takes McMahon to the ground and begins to pound on him. The two would go back and forth momentarily, but McMahon was no match for a former WWE champion. Angle began to dominate the match with his technique and power advantage. But this being a street fight, McMahon took to using a variety of weapons including a kendo stick to inflict some damage on Angle. However McMahon never really had Angle on the ropes even after a suplex on the unprotected floor caused Angle to break his tailbone. The Olympic champion would eventually recover and brutalize McMahon in way we hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since.
As the two battle near the impressive entrance way, Angle was in full control as he pulled McMahon in for an over head belly-to-belly suplex into the set. More specifically, the glass paneling with the letters “KOTR” on it. As McMahon ws launched towards the glass he didn’t make enough impact to bust through and so Angle tries again and is successful on this time around. Now inside the set, Angle attempts to suplex McMahon through another glass panel not once, but twice, but he was unable to generate enough momentum to force Shane through. Finally McMahon is just thrown face first through the glass and into aisle.
with McMahon out of it, Angle would place Shane’s prone body on a case and push it to the ringside area. After kicking out of a pin, McMahon would appear to be on the comeback trail until Angle would hit his signature Angle Slam off the top rope for the finish.
Thoughts: How anyone cannot enjoy this match is beyond me. McMahon held his own with one of the best in-ring competitors in WWE history and somehow helped get Angle over even more than he was before. Not to mention he continued the match after being dropped on his head three times when the suplex attempts failed to launch him through the glass.
Angle was spot on in this match doing everything he could to look like a crazed man, hell bent on ending Shane. The physicality of this match is very impressive as Angle holds nothing back on the inexperienced McMahon and vice versa.
One of the highlights in this match for me was commentary team of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman. While doing the classic face/heel banter, both men were on top of their game and added to the overall greatness of the match. I’m one of those believers that feels the men calling the match have enough power to make or break almost anything and these two helped make this match even better.
That being said, I watched this match with a couple friends today and we agreed that as great as this match is, it sucks that Shane McMahon was the guy who took the beating and gets all the respect for toughing it out. There was an entire locker room of guys that could have benefited more from the match than the boss’ son who wasn’t a regular in the ring.
But that doesn’t take away from what was a show stealer and to me one of the three best matches in the WWE that year.
Aftermath: Angle would go on to be a big part on the “Invasion” storyline and would even win the WWE title in September of 2001. McMahon would go on to help build “The Alliance” and try to take over the WWE throughout the summer and fall of 2001. The match itself is easily McMahon’s best effort as a wrestler and for Angle, is one of his best performances during his run with the WWE.