The Rock vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship
In 2000, The Rock walked into Albany, N.Y. to wage war with Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle with the WWE Championship at stake. Angle had defeated Triple H to become the No. 1 contender and came to No Mercy with some significant support from Stephanie McMahon, the challenger’s new business partner. With a McMahon in Angle’s corner, the champion was in certain jeopardy.
The Olympic hero looked confident given his advantage and from the start of the match, Stephanie served as a formidable distraction allowing Angle to get the initial offensive in the contest. The two instantly spilled to the outside and brawled at ringside where Angle crammed The Rock headfirst into the announce table and then followed through with a steel chair to the back of his opponent.
Moments later in the ring, The People’s Champion mounted his own offensive, fighting back with a high impact clothesline off the ropes and a Samoan drop to Angle. The Rock continued the onslaught, battling Angle outside the ring again and up the aisle way where he tossed the challenger through the No Mercy set. The Rock then grabbed a life-size cardboard cut-out of himself from an audience member, positioned it in his opponent’s hands and punched through the cardboard face into Angle’s.
The battle made its way back to the ring where Stephanie became physically involved by choking The Rock on the ropes as he entered the squared circle. Though this gave the Olympic Gold Medalist the upper hand, The Rock fought back and even applied a painful Sharpshooter to weaken and potentially close the match. Stephanie quickly sprung into action, distracting the referee just before Angle tapped out in the middle of the ring. Releasing the hold, The Rock focused his attention to Stephanie who shouted at the champion from the outside. The frustrated champion lost his composure and lunged in Stephanie’s direction and gave chase to the Billion Dollar Princess. Stephanie circled and then entered the ring with The Rock mere steps behind her. The champion did not realize, however, that he’d been snared in a trap; he walked right into the prepared arms of Angle, who dropped The Rock with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex.
As the match continued, the two Superstars again spilled to the outside where The Rock returned the favor on Angle from the start of the match, repeatedly slamming Angle’s head into the announce table. Always charismatic, The Rock then grabbed a nearby bottle of water, took a swig and spit brazenly into the challenger’s face before sending Angle back into the ring.
With the action going on inside the ring, Stephanie slyly rolled the WWE Championship into the ring for Angle to use. As Stephanie again distracted the referee, Angle retrieved the gold and charged at The Rock to blast him. The WWE Champion somehow foresaw the shot and ducked to get Angle in position for a Rock Bottom. Angle was able to block the move and, ultimately, managed to drop The Rock with the championship. Angle covered the champion and it looked as if the match would end in controversy until The Rock kicked out at the last second – much to the dismay and disbelief of both Stephanie and the Olympic Hero.
Following a monstrous German Suplex to The Rock, Angle scaled the turnbuckle in hopes of sealing the deal with a high risk maneuver, as Stephanie shouted for Angle to just go for the pin. The challenger leapt from the top rope and missed a huge moonsault, leaving both men down.
Both competitors got back to their feet and The Rock began to light up Angle with right hands even delivering the People’s DDT to his opponent. Within moments, The Rock caught Angle with a sidewalk slam and prepared to drop the People’s Elbow upon his foe. Before he could, Stephanie entered the ring again and charged directly toward The Rock, getting in his face while standing over Angle’s fallen body. The Billion Dollar Princess then took a swing at The Rock, who ducked and delivered a Rock Bottom to Angle’s interfering business partner.
Angle crept to the outside while this transpired, and just as The Rock hit the ropes to drop an unbelievable People’s Elbow to Stephanie, the Olympic Hero came to her rescue, grabbing the champion’s leg and taking him down. As Angle and The Rock continued their battle, Triple H – who had been watching the match from the locker room area – made his way to the ring in his wife’s defense. The first order of business for The Game was to batter Angle and then deliver a Pedigree to the WWE Champion himself.
Following Triple H’s attack, Angle covered The Rock for the pin, but the champion managed to kick out. Suddenly, Rikishi approached the ring and targeted Angle, mugging the Olympic Hero and tossing him into the ring for The Rock to capitalize. The WWE Champion did not seem to be in favor of the Phat Man’s assistance, but stayed on top of Angle.
Ultimately, the match drew to a close as Angle ran into a Rock Bottom but kicked out of a pin attempt by the champion. After this, the referee was taken out of commission and Rikishi entered the ring to further assist The Rock. In hopes of securing the champion’s good favor, the Phat Man charged at Angle to squash him in the corner but the challenger pulled The Rock in front of him, resulting in both men receiving the huge rear of Rikishi into their bodies.
Realizing his mistake, the Phat Man prepared to finish off Angle with a martial arts kick, but the Olympic Gold Medalist avoided it and floored Rikishi with an Angle Slam. The challenger then went for the kill on The Rock, executing another Angle Slam on him to become to new WWE Champion. Rikishi’s plan had backfired, putting Angle at the top of a very competitive mountain and the only Olympic Gold Medalist in WWE history stood triumphant. Similar to his Olympic victory four years earlier, tears of joy flooded the eyes of the new WWE Champion, commencing the first of multiple championship reigns in Angle’s WWE career.