Kurt Angle has reminisced about a match with Chris Benoit where both men were trying to impress Stone Cold Steve Austin, but in turn, turned the Texas Rattlesnake off sharing the ring with either of them.
In June 2001, Angle faced Benoit on Raw in a Steel Cage match, less than two weeks before Angle’s hellacious Street Fight with Shane McMahon at the King Of The Ring. With WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin watching on, both men were hellbent on impressing him. Angle hit his patented moonsault off the top of the cage and Benoit reciprocated with a diving headbutt from the same height. These moves were risky enough but Kurt Angle described the move with the biggest risk that happened during that encounter.
Speaking on an episode of The Kurt Angle Show, the Olympic gold medallist recalled:
“The german [suplex off the middle rope] spot was the most dangerous spot we did in that match. That’s the toughest one to take, off the top rope backward. The chances you’re going to land on your head, probably 99% of the time you’re going to land on your head. Taking a chance moves that you do that you don’t know if you’re going to get injured or not.”
According to Angle the two men’s ‘take no prisoners’ approach to the match backfired as Austin was put off working with either man given their dangerous movesets.
“Chris and I had to prove a point that night, we were upcoming talent, [Stone Cold Steve] Austin was out there watching the match, we were trying to impress Austin. I think we went way too far because we actually scared him away.”
“We were trying to show him we wanted to work with him and he’s like these guys are crazy b*stards, I’m not going to work with them. He even said that later on down the line, we threw everything and the kitchen sink into that match. Chris and I were crazy that night and his flying headbutt off the top, my moonsault, they all could’ve been finishes. Fortunately, we went a little bit further, nobody got hurt but the match turned out to be incredible. It didn’t appeal to [Austin] to want to work with us, we had to earn his respect back eventually another way.”
Kurt Angle would work with Stone Cold Steve Austin later in 2001 in a one-on-one match. With Austin a member of the hated Alliance, Kurt Angle defeated him in the main event of September’s Unforgiven for the WWF Championship in Angle’s hometown of Pittsburgh.