Kurt Angle shared his theory as to why the live crowd wasn't "hot" for his Ultimate Submission Match at Backlash 2001.
Detailing the event on the latest episode of The Kurt Angle Show (via AdFreeShows), the WWE Hall of Famer was asked about the in-house reception to his 30-minute bout with Chris Benoit and explained what should have been done differently. While the fans at home had the benefit of commentary and a scoreboard, Angle believes that the exclusion of that information for those in attendance limited how much they could enjoy the match. He said the following:
"The crowd, well, for Chris and I, wasn't so hot but there was a reason for that. We didn't have a scoreboard - a clock - and the amount of submissions Chris and I got on each other. So, it was really hard to follow our match without a timer, without the amount of submissions that we had on each other. We were working uphill the whole time to make it a success and we had the right psychology. With a submission-only match, you want the babyface to go down a couple submissions so he's trailing. That's how you get the fans emotionally involved in the match, is they're going to cheer the babyface on to make his comeback, try to surpass the heel. We did everything right. It was the right psychology, we put the match together, we had an incredible match, I thought. It wasn't our best match but it was pretty strong. I just think that people did enjoy it they just weren't as vocal."
Another aspect that may have affected the audience was their unfamiliarity with traditional amateur wrestling, something that Benoit and Angle implemented heavily. Furthermore, Kurt spoke about the importance of protecting your signature move as it's what people identify you with. While folks may not have yet understood the effectiveness of arm and knee-bars, for example, if you "prostitute" your finisher you'll eventually kill its value as a storytelling device.
Benoit would go on to win the match, defeating Angle 4-3 in sudden death overtime.
Intent on never letting the same mistake happen again, Angle said that - for future timed challenges - he would always double-check to make sure that a clock was being used.
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