Kurt Angle Recalls Neck Injury Derailed Plans For Lengthy WWE Title Reign

kurt angle wwe champion

SmackDown’s 2003 main event scene would’ve been very different had Kurt Angle been healthier.

Back then, WWE was going full steam ahead with the notion of a brand split. RAW and SmackDown were as distinct as possible and both shows had separate world champions.

When the year started, Kurt Angle was champion. But as some fans may recall, he lost the WWE title at WrestleMania XIX to Brock Lesnar, only to regain it months later.

Speaking on his Kurt Angle Show podcast, Angle explained that his neck injury caused many changes to WWE’s plans throughout 2002 and into 2003.

“I was supposed to beat Brock, but I broke my neck beforehand. So I had to do the job for Brock and lose to him and give him the title because I had that surgery. So they didn’t want me to be Brock two times in a row.

So Big Show beat Brock Lesnar, then I beat Big Show. That way, I didn’t beat Brock twice, even though he ended up beating me at WrestleMania because I broke my neck.”

I was supposed to have a title reign for a whole year. That was the whole plan. I was gonna beat Big Show. I was gonna carry it into WrestleMania, beat Brock, and continue on. Unfortunately, I broke my neck in February and I couldn’t, I had to have surgery after WrestleMania.”

What happened instead in 2003 was that Lesnar beat Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XIX, Kurt Angle beat Lesnar at Vengeance 2003, Lesnar beat Kurt Angle in the 60-minute Ironman match on Smackdown in September ’03, and then Lesnar kept the title until No way Out 2004 when he lost it to Eddy Guerrero.

Furthermore, the entire story of their WrestleMania XIX match was supposed to have a different dynamic. It was supposed to be a babyface vs babyface match with a Stone Cold Steve Austin at WretleMania X-Seven sort of heel turn at the end.

“I think that what they were planning on doing at WrestleMania was a double babyface match. They’ve done that before at WrestleMania. Obviously, during the match, somebody would turn heel like I think Stone Cold Steve Austin, when he wrestled The Rock at WrestleMania [17], they were both babyfaces.

I’d imagine I’d be the one that would turn heel at WrestleMania, obviously, but the plan was — what I know is I was going to continue on as champion for almost a year so unfortunately, that didn’t happen because I broke my neck.”

h/t Fightful for the transcription