Kurt Angle had planned on skipping WrestleMania 19.
On January 28, it was announced that the Olympic Gold Medalist was launching a new podcast alongside Conrad Thompson on AdFreeShows that would cover his career, addiction struggles, and more. During the debut episode, Angle details the events surrounding WrestleMania 19 and his main-event match with Brock Lesnar.
At the time in 2003, Angle was suffering from a broken neck and wanted to have surgery, which would have meant missing the show. Kurt revealed to Conrad that the plan was for him to lose the WWE Championship on the SmackDown before WrestleMania, even sharing the name of the man that was going to replace him. He said the following:
"I told Vince, I’m going to have to have surgery and I’m going to have to skip WrestleMania. He said, you know, I’ll call you back. I have an idea, let me talk to the writers, I’ll call you back. So he decided that we were going to have a match before WrestleMania on SmackDown and I was going to drop the title to Brock and I believe Brock was going to go to WrestleMania and face a new opponent for the main event. So, I think they were going to substitute Chris Benoit, I believe. So he was basically going to take my place and you know it bothered me."
After talking with his neighbour's child, Johnny, who told Kurt that he was sad about him not wrestling, and getting assurances from Brock that he would take care of him in the ring, Angle reached out to Vince McMahon about keeping the match alive.
"[I told Vince] Let's have the match, and he said, you need to get it approved by your doctor, and I'm sorry Kurt, but we have a match that’s advertised on TV the past week, and it’s a SmackDown before WrestleMania, and you’re wrestling Brock, and Brock’s beating you for the title. I said, well we're going to have to change that, Vince. He said, well, you’re going to have to have the match. I said, well, what can we do so I can retain the title and move on to WrestleMania without affecting the SmackDown match? He said, let me call you back. He always says that when he’s trying to come up with ideas. So I waited a couple hours, he called me back, he goes, we have an idea. We’re going to use your brother Eric. He looks just like you, we're going to dress him up just like you. Put the hood on his head, the Team Angle hood, and we’re going to pull a switcheroo on Brock on SmackDown the week before WrestleMania.
So when I got to the ring that night on SmackDown, I got in the ring, went to the corner and started praying in the corner with my head on the turnbuckle. Brock Lesnar’s music hit and the lights went out, well little did anyone know my brother Eric was put underneath the ring with the same outfit as me before the show. So when Brock came out and the lights went out, I rolled out of the ring and my brother rolled in and replaced me and went in the same position as me. So Brock thought it was me when he came down the ramp and into the ring. He attacked my brother, beat him up and F5'd him, and went to cover him and saw that it wasn't me, and he took a second look, he got up to take a second look and I snuck in the ring and rolled him up for a quick 1-2-3. So I retained the title to go on to WrestleMania for the main event. Pretty cool little angle."
According to Angle, he didn't talk to Benoit much in the time between their Royal Rumble match and WrestleMania. They had a good relationship but were not close in the same way that Chris was with Eddie and Chavo Guerrero. He says that he actually didn't know that Benoit was the secret opponent until after WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017. After that, he would wrestle sporadically, also serving as the RAW General Manager, before having his final match at WrestleMania 35 in 2019 where he lost to Baron Corbin.
On January 16, WWE announced that WrestleMania 37 will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11, 2021. Additionally, Dallas' AT&T Stadium will host WrestleMania 38 on Sunday, April 3, 2022, while SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles will be the home of WrestleMania 39 on Sunday, April 2, 2023. Fightful Select had exclusively reported this week that this year's WrestleMania had been moved back from March to April.
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