New World Heavyweight Champion

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January 13, 2006

One of the most historic and chaotic weeks in WWE history culminated with RAW's Kurt Angle winning the World Heavyweight Championship on SmackDown.

An emotional Batista began the night addressing an equally emotional crowd in Philadelphia. He handed the World Heavyweight Championship to General Manger Theodore Long and explained that he will be sidelined indefinitely because of a severe triceps injury suffered at the hands of Mark Henry. True to the way he reigned as world champion, Batista said he had to "do the right thing" and relinquish the title since he'd be unable to defend it in the ring.

Many of the fans in attendance shouted out begging him to reconsider; some Batista supporters were openly weeping in the highly charged atmosphere. But attention quickly shifted to the night's main event when Mr. Long announced that a new World Heavyweight Champion would be declared that night in a 20-man, over-the-top Battle Royal.

Participants ranged from the fleet Rey Mysterio to the massive Mark Henry to the powerhouse Lashley to the longest-reigning world champion in SmackDown history, JBL. Chris Benoit and Randy Orton were not eligible because they'd instead battle in the final match of the best-of-seven series for the United States Championship.

But with 19 of the 20 combatants in the ring, the Olympic gold medalist from RAW shocked everyone by emerging as the final Battle Royal entrant. Ultimately, the match came down to Angle and Henry as the final two Superstars. Despite absorbing an Angle Slam, Henry bounced back and twice crushed Kurt into the corner with an avalanche. Angle somehow responded with a German suplex to the gargantuan Henry. Angle later managed an innovative head scissors from a hurricanrana position — twisting and leveraging Henry over the top rope. As Henry's weight shifted, both men crashed toward the floor. "The World's Strongest Man" hit the floor first, while only one of Kurt's feet ever touched the ground. As a result, the intense Kurt Angle was declared new World Heavyweight Champion, and he held the belt high for all to see. It was the first time in history that a Battle Royal had determined the World Heavyweight Championship.

If that weren't enough, a new United States Champion was also crowned in unprecedented fashion. Thanks to an illegal cheap shot, best-of-seven replacement Randy Orton defeated Chris Benoit in Match No. 7. In doing so, Booker T was credited with a 4-3 series victory and the United States Championship. It was the first-ever time that a substitute has won the United States Championship for someone else.

After the match, Orton reminded Booker T that he owes "The Legend Killer" one. In addition, the legendary "Rowdy One" hosted Piper's Pit. JBL and Jillian crashed the show as guests. But when Piper had heard enough, he called out his originally planned visitor: The Boogeyman. A shaken JBL sacrificed Jillian and bailed from the ring. Then, The Boogeyman did the unthinkable: He ate the hideous growth off Jillian's face.

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