August 25, 2005
Royal Rumble ‘03
January 19, 2003
Fleet Center in Boston, Mass
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match
Kurt Angle (champion) vs. Chris Benoit (challenger)
Today in wrestling, its very rare to find 2 great athletes the caliber of Kurt Angle (pound for pound the greatest amateur turned pro since Ken Patera) & Chris Benoit (pound for pound the greatest technical wrestler since Bret Hart). These two men competed in a handful of 5 star matches including submission matches, 2 out of 3 fall matches, & cage matches (they even paired up to win the WWE Tag Team Titles ), all of which are as good as any Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat match. However, one match that really puts the icing on the cake took place on January 19, 2003 at the Royal Rumble, where Benoit really proved that he will someday win the “Big One”
The match: Angle is introduced first (led by Team Angle). Next comes Benoit who almost gets a cheat shot from Team Angle but referee Mike Chioda makes the good judgment of sending them to the back. Tie-up turns into Benoit side headlock. Angle whips him to the ropes but gets shoulderblocked. Benoit attempts a Sharpshooter, but Angle wisely rolls out. Another tieup turns into a Benoit headlock. Angle whips him & goes for a hiptoss but instead takes him down with his leg, only to get dropkick by the toothless one. Angle gets nailed with a left hand but reverses an Irish whip into a sleeper hold. Benoit flips him over, grabs his leg, dragon screws him & once again tries for the sharpshooter, but to no avail. Benoit gets his shoulder rammed into ringpost. Angle then starts flailing away on the Rabid Wolverine. Vertical suplex by Angle gets the first 2 count of the bout. Angle wails away on Benoit but eventually succumbs to Benoit in a chop fest. Angle reverses an Irish whip in the corner but catches a boot to the face followed by a wicked clothesline. Angle gets whipped into the ropes and suffers a kneelift which gets a 2 count. Angle gets whipped into the corner sternum first & gets chopped for his troubles. Angle blocks an Irish whip & suplexes Benoit chest first on the ropes. Angle gets a Hot Shot followed by a DDT on the apron. Benoit misses his trademark flying headbutt but counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. Angle eventually reaches for the ropes for a rope break. Angle finally gets some offense as he reverses an Irish whip into an overhead belly-to-belly suplex before tossing Benoit out of the ring & slamming him on the barricade. Back in the ring, Benoit takes a wild clothesline for a near fall. Snapmare by Angle followed by a grapevine choke. Benoit breaks out of the hold but gets suplexed for his troubles. Back suplex by Angle gets 2. Angle goes for the grapevine choke again, with Benoit once again escaping. Both men clothesline the hell out of each other. Looking to be out of the fight, both men make it back to their feet before the 10 count. Benoit whips Angle & clothesline him twice & back drops him. Benoit then connects with 2 of his patented German suplexes, but Angle eventually locks his hands around the toothless one’s waist & gives him a taste of his own medicine. Benoit, being the great technician he is, recounters into his own version of the German suplex. Benoit attempts another flying headbutt but Angle knows better & slams him off the turnbuckle for a near fall. The 1996 Olympian attempts an Angle Slam but gets trapped in the Crippler Crossface. Angle reaches for the ropes but Benoit steals a page out of Angle’s playbook & applies an ankle lock. Angle, however, countered the move & showed everybody how to apply a real ankle lock, which countered once into the crossface but Angle cradled Benoit up for a 2 count. Angle is once again trapped in the crossface but executes the Angle slam on Benoit for added good measure. Angle went for the cover but Benoit showed the Fleet Center in Boston how bad he wanted to be champion by kicking out by the 3 count. Angle takes down his strap & ankle locks Benoit but gets shoved into the ringpost thanks to Benoit’s leg strength. Benoit attempts a German but gets elbowed one good time before countering an Angle German suplex into a victory roll for a near fall. Benoit ducks a clothesline & trades German suplexes with Angle. Benoit finally succeeds with the diving headbutt, flying gracefully across the ring which gets a 2 count. Angle escapes the crossface & powerbombs Benoit face first on the turnbuckle. This coupled with an Angle slam, surprisingly gets a 2 count. Angle is once again trapped in the crossface but counters in another deadly ankle lock, only for Benoit to kick away. Angle, like a shark seeking new blood, quickly reapplies the hold. Benoit tries to kick him off again but he doesn’t succeed this time. Then Angle grapevines the leg right in the center of the ring. Benoit, realizing he has no where to go, has no choice but to submit. After the match, Team Angle comes out & congratulates Angle on a successful title defense. Moments later, however, Benoit is met with a standing ovation, despite coming up short of the big one.
Match Analysis: It just doesn’t get any better with 2 world class athletes like Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit. Although Benoit lost the match, he showed the whole world that one day, he will indeed win the big one.