WWE Hall Of Famer Kurt Angle has revealed that he was initially in line to become the first-ever Undisputed WWF Champion before Chris Jericho swooped in to claim the title.
2001 was a time like no other in the wrestling business. In March of that year, Vince McMahon finally ended the Monday Night Wars once and for all when he bought World Championship Wrestling.
The acquisition of WCW and several members of its rosters as well as its titles led to the infamous Invasion angle that was wrapped up by Survivor Series in November. With Team WWF vanquishing The Alliance of WCW and ECW, there was only one company left standing – but two world champions remained.
To fix this Vince McMahon booked a four-man, one-night tournament to take place in December at Vengeance. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle battled it out to win the new Undisputed WWF Championship.
If you’ve ever heard Chris Jericho talk on a wrestling show for more than five minutes in the last twenty years then you’ll know it was Y2J that defeated Austin and The Rock in one night to claim the crown for himself.
The Olympic gold medallist was discussing the events on The Kurt Angle Show [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com] and says that that the switch to Chris Jericho winning the whole shebang was a last-minute call by Vince McMahon:
“The week before the pay per view, I was still supposed to be Undisputed Champion. Vince McMahon had me pinned as the Undisputed Champion and wanted me to win the two titles. Vince came to me the week prior to the pay-per-view and said ‘Listen, is it okay if I give it to Jericho cause I want to start pushing Jericho and I think this would be great for him.’”
“I said ‘No Vince, you should do that. I think Jericho needs it and it’s a great opportunity for him.’ I was supposed to win the Undisputed Championship but Vince McMahon changed it at the last second and gave it to Jericho.”
Chris Jericho held onto the title until WrestleMania 18 where he was defeated by Triple H. Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar all followed suit as Undisputed WWF Champion. However, by September 2002 Lesnar took the belt exclusively to SmackDown with Triple H being handed the new World Heavyweight Championship and two world champions in WWE has since become the norm.