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Sunday, January 24, 2016

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Classic Matches: Royal Rumble 2003- Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle


By @TrueGodImmortal





There are some matches that occurred during the Ruthless Aggression Era that were classic. You could pick any match from 2002 Smackdown and you'll easily find a classic match candidate. One match that doesn't get the full recognition it deserves is the WWE Championship Match at the Rumble between Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle.



The match background is rooted in the Kurt Angle heel turn, which happened after Angle beat the Big Show at Armageddon 2002 with the help of Brock Lesnar. After Brock helped Angle win, Angle would join forces with Paul Heyman briefly and become a heel. Benoit would end up winning a no. 1 contenders match to get his shot at the title, and from there, the feud would get more intense.

I don't think any of us actually expected Benoit to win the match and the title. The plan was set in motion for an obvious confrontation between Angle and Lesnar at Mania, but there was still a small glimpse of hope that Benoit could pull out a victory. Angle came into this match with a chip on his shoulder it seemed, and Benoit came in with a lot to prove. This was essentially one of his biggest matches thus far, and with his stock rising, he knew he had to deliver, win, lose or draw.




The action in the match started off semi slow, as Angle and Benoit traded momentum back and forth with each other early on, with Benoit seemingly gaining the upper hand at one point. Angle would fight back and get the momentum swinging his way for the match, until Benoit began hitting him with those infamous German Suplexes and changed the course of the match once again. The biggest shock of the match came when Benoit hit a German Suplex that caused Angle to flip into the air and land on his stomach. It was a big move that almost signaled the end for Angle and had Benoit looking like he could pull this off.

With the crowd behind Benoit firmly now, he would hit his infamous headbutt finisher, but still couldn't the 1-2-3 on Angle. Angle would come back, hit the Angle slam, and Benoit would still find a way to kick out of that as well. Angle attempted his Ankle Lock finisher, but it seemed as if Benoit kept getting out of it and stopping it from being applied, until Angle latched on to Benoit's leg and fell down with the lock still clutched in. This would leave Benoit defenseless with no way out of the hold and eventually Benoit would have to tap out and give Angle the victory. Regardless, Angle and Benoit put on a spectacle and a classic in that Royal Rumble ring, and while Benoit didn't win, he walked away as the man who stole the show.

We knew what Angle could do. We knew Benoit was great, we just didn't realize he was this great and able to steal the show on a big platform. It would be his finest hour in WWE up until that point, and while Angle has many matches with Benoit that are great, including more from the Ruthless Aggression Era, this match reigns as their best to me hands down. Benoit became a star that night, with a standing ovation given to him after a hard fought loss and it set the tone for the following year, when we won it all.



Winner: Kurt Angle

What are your memories of this classic match? Post your comments below and brace yourself because Ruthless Aggression Era Week is just getting started!

-True

2 comments:

  1. probably the best match i have ever seen with regards to the technical ability on display.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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