Favorite Matches #9: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit


What is your favorite wrestling match? This is the single hardest question for any enthusiast of the squared circle to answer. There have been so many legendary nights over the years that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.

Over the next ten weeks I’m going to write about my ten favorite wrestling matches of all-time. The listings will be in no particular order as I’ve given up on trying to rank every match in specific fashion. Now I just enjoy them as fun collection.

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit: Royal Rumble 2003   

Boston is funny when it comes to technical wrestling matches since we’ve been treated to some of the greatest moments in wrestling history. At the 2003 Royal Rumble, however, the fans were on the edge of their seats when Kurt Angle defended the WWE championship against Chris Benoit.

This match took place during the apex of the first WWE brand split and highlighted the differences between the two shows. Raw was the sports entertainment based program while SmackDown was the professional wrestling show.

Prior to this match, Triple H and Scott Steiner, representing Raw, stunk up the joint in a horrible match that torpedoed Steiner’s stock as a performer during his last run in WWE. Angle vs. Benoit, representing SmackDown, was up next! These two always had great matches with each other, however, this time it was special.

Angle and Benoit were in the prime of their careers and arguably the two best wrestlers on the planet at. Both of them hovered around the main event picture, but this time, they were firmly entrenched on top of the card.

This was also a different style of match than WWE usually produced. There were no weapons or over the top moments for the sake of producing drama. Angle and Benoit had no restrictions placed upon them and allowed their wrestling to tell the story.

For 20 minutes Angle and Benoit engaged in an incredible physical encounter full of submission holds, reversals, suplexes and chain wrestling. Their chemistry made for perfect timing in the ring, which captivated the audience to no end.

At the 12 minute mark of the match, the crowd was jacked out of their seats when Benoit hit a release German suplex that turned Angle inside out. This crescendo of wrestling excellence churned out an amazing series of transitions from the Ankle lock to the Crippler Crossface.

Benoit applied another Crossface, but Angle reversed it and secured the Ankle lock. Benoit used his legs to kick away from him several times, but Angle held on like a pit bull. Angle pulled Benoit to the center of the ring, dropped to the mat and wrapped up the leg. With nowhere to go, Benoit has no choice but to tap out. Angle won the match and retained the WWE title.

Benoit received a standing ovation afterwards, which was a testament to the pure excellence that both men put on display. Saying this match stole the show would be an understatement. This was wrestling poetry, which made for the greatest live match I have ever seen.

Disclaimer: I wasn’t going to write this blog due to the tragedy perpetrated by Chris Benoit. After thinking about it, I decided to write it because it takes two to tango in a wrestling match and Kurt Angle shouldn’t have an all-time classic erased from the history books because of the actions of another.

My Favorite Matches:

10. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: Survivor Series 1996

7 thoughts on “Favorite Matches #9: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

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