Angle Says Chris Benoit was Close to Headlining WrestleMania 19 against Brock Lesnar
During his new Kurt Angle Show podcast, the WWE Hall of Famer revealed that Vince McMahon had made a backup plan for Chris Benoit to take his place against Brock Lesnar. Of course, they ended up not going through with that plan B, but it makes us have to wonder how WWE history would be different right now if they did use it.
“At first, when I came back from South Africa and I got the diagnosis from the doctor, I told Vince I’m going to have to have surgery and I’m going to have to skip WrestleMania. He said, ‘I’ll call you back. I have an idea. Let me talk to the writers.’ 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. I think they were going to substitute Chris Benoit, I believe. He was basically going to take my place. It kinda bothered me.”
“The next day I went to my neighbor’s house and there’s a really good kid named Johnny. He has Down’s Syndrome. Great kid, really nice and friendly and a big wrestling fan. He said, ‘Kurt, I’m so sad you’re not going to be wrestling against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.’ I said, ‘Yea, it’s pretty upsetting Johnny.’ He said, ‘I wish you would.’ It stuck with me so I thought I’m going to call Vince and choose to have surgery after WrestleMania and see if he goes for it. I called Vince and I said, ‘Why don’t we have the match at WrestleMania and I will have the surgery, but I will wait and put it off. I know my arm is atrophying but another couple weeks isn’t going to hurt, so let’s have the match.’”
“He said, ‘You need to get it approved by your doctor. I’m sorry, Kurt, but we have a match that is advertised on TV this past week on SmackDown before WrestleMania where you’re wrestling Brock and Brock is beating you for the title.’ I said, ‘We are going to have to change that Vince.’ He said, ‘You’re going to have to have the match.’ I said, ‘What can we do so I can retain the title and move on to WrestleMania without it affecting the SmackDown match?’
He said, ‘Let me call you back.’ He always says that when he’s trying to come up with ideas. I waited a couple hours and he called me back. He said, ‘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 Team Angle hood on him and we’re going to pull a switcheroo on Brock on SmackDown the week before WrestleMania.”
“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. Little did anyone know my brother Eric was put underneath the ring with the same outfit as me before the show. 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 that was me when he came down the ramp and into the ring. He attacked my brother, beat him up, F5’d him, went to cover him and saw it wasn’t me. He got up and took 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. It was a cool angle. It wasn’t the match that fans were hoping for. It was in my hometown of Pittsburgh. It got me to WrestleMania which was the most important thing. I believe the idea was either Vince’s or Brian Gewirtz. They were two of the ones who came up with the great ideas for the Kurt Angle character.”