Relive a feud between WWF World Champion Steve Austin and Kurt Angle that lasted from July 2001 to December 2001.
At WrestleMania XVII Steve Austin aligned himself with longtime enemy Vince McMahon to win the WWF World Championship. Austin would also become partners with hated rival Triple H the next night. However, Triple H would go down with an injury and Austin would become closer with McMahon. Their relationship would begin to strain thanks to Kurt Angle. Angle would try several times to lighten up the mood with an always angry Steve Austin. Angle’s attempts would be humorous in nature and it looked like he was getting closer to McMahon, which didn’t sit well with Austin at all.
By the summer of 2001 the defunct wrestling promotions known as WCW and ECW started to invade the WWF. This would lead to several top WWF names to combat members of the WCW and ECW roster in a ten man tag match at InVasion in July 2001.
Steve Austin was the captain for Team WWF along with Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, the Undertaker and Kane. They competed against Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno and the Dudley Boys. The match seemed to be in favor of the WWF until Steve Austin attacked Angle and hit the Stunner on him costing Team WWF the victory. The Alliance won the match and Steve Austin had joined the invaders. The move instantly put the previous heel Kurt Angle as the top babyface for the WWF.
Jealously got to Steve Austin and he believed that Vince McMahon cared about Kurt Angle and the Rock more than him. So, Austin switched to a team that he knew would care about him the most. On the July 23rd edition of RAW, Austin would cost Angle a tables match by hitting a Stunner that allowed Bubba Dudley to hit a powerbomb through a table.
Kurt Angle would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the July 26th edition of Smackdown by making Booker T tap out to the ankle lock. Steve Austin was confident that Angle would fail, but now the Olympic Hero is coming for the WWF World Champion! The reign was short lived, though. Booker T regained the championship on July 30th on RAW when Austin hit the Stunner on Angle during a no disqualification match to help Booker regain the title.
For the next couple of weeks both Angle and Austin would trade attacks and both men believed they were going to leave SummerSlam at the WWF World Champion. Kurt Angle would win at SummerSlam, but not the WWF World Championship. Austin bloodied Angle and sent him into the ring post head and shoulder first several times. Alliance referee Nick Patrick came out to count a pin fall for Angle after Austin had attacked referee’s prior. Patrick stopped his count and disqualified Austin for his actions. Angle won, but Austin walked out as the WWF World Champion.
The next night on RAW the Alliance held an appreciation ceremony for their hero, WWF World Champion Steve Austin. The segment was going well with the Alliance members loving all over Austin. Well, it didn’t end the way the Alliance had wished. Angle would come out at the end of the segment with a milk truck and he sprayed everyone in the ring!
On August 27th edition of RAW, Austin would hit Angle with the WWF World Championship and steal his gold medals after Angle won a tag team match with Jericho against Tazz and Rob Van Dam. On Smackdown three days later, Austin nearly ran Angle over with his car and continued to taunt Angle by having his gold medals. At the end of the show, Austin put the gold medals on a cinder block and tossed the block over the side of a bridge causing the medals to sink to the bottom.
Angle attacked Austin on the September 3rd edition of RAW and drove off with Austin in the trunk of his truck with a cinder block and chain. Angle forced Austin to cry to prevent himself from being tossed over a bridge. Austin cried and would agree to a WWF World Championship match at Unforgiven. Angle got the last laugh by shoving Austin into a kiddie pool. Angle cost Austin a match the next night on Smackdown by distracting the champ long enough for Rob Van Dam to earn a pin fall over Austin.
The sadistic Austin showed just how nuts he was when he shoved Angle off the side of the entrance ramp on the September 10th edition of RAW. Angle recovered from the fall and would pin Austin the next week on RAW after an Angle Slam. Austin would viciously attack Angle on the September 20th edition of Smackdown by hitting the challenger with a steel chair and hitting a piledriver on the concrete floor two times. Angle returned from the hospital and told Austin that he is a desperate man and he will win the WWF World Championship at Unforgiven!
Kurt Angle would finally win the WWF World Championship at Unforgiven by submission, but Austin had his hand under the bottom rope, so the win was tainted and the former champion would demand a rematch with Angle. Their rematch would happen on October 8th edition of RAW. Angle’s reign would prove to be short lived as William Regal would turn his back on the WWF and cost Angle the championship.
Austin and Angle would compete again at No Mercy 2001 with Rob Van Dam also involved in a triple threat match. Angle appeared to be set to regain the championship but Austin hit RVD with a Stunner and retained the WWF World Championship.
In a shocking turn of events, Angle would turn on the WWF and join the Alliance on October 29th by costing Vince McMahon a match against his son Shane McMahon. Angle had spent the past few months embroiled in a bloody feud with Austin only to join his side at the end.
Or, did he? It ended up being a swerve by Angle. At the Survivor Series on November 18th, Angle would turn on Austin and cost the Alliance the elimination match meaning the Alliance must disband and everyone involved was fired. Angle would remain a heel afterward claiming he was the sole reason from the Alliance crumbling. Austin would become a babyface again and pinned Kurt Angle at Vengeance 2001 before losing to Chris Jericho and failing to become the Undisputed Champion to put an end to the feud for 2001.
As you can see this feud was filled with memorable events. It started off with Austin turning on the WWF and Angle becoming the top babyface (at least before Rock came back) and the events that followed really made the feud red hot. The match at SummerSlam 2001 is really great and I remember watching that as a twelve year old thinking that Angle had no chance after being so bloodied. I was in utter shock when Angle kept kicking out of Stunners.
I was really pissed when Nick Patrick screwed Angle. But, that’s all in the past, though I have never forgiven Patrick for that. The way Angle went about to get a rematch was great. They could’ve had Angle just win a gauntlet or something, but they really made it seem important by having Angle abduct Austin and embarrass him until he got a rematch.
Now, the negative about this feud is what happened at Unforgiven. Angle’s big moment of victory was tainted and wasn’t that feel good moment. Anyone who watched that match as it happened should’ve felt deflated knowing it wasn’t going to last. I know I did. It was too bad that Angle didn’t get a longer run with the gold, but maybe he would’ve if the Invasion was booked to last longer than a handful of months.
For as hot as the feud was at the start, it quickly lost steam. Angle loses the belt less than a month after winning and then he joins the side of the Alliance anyway. Yeah, it was a swerve but it wasn’t needed. It just didn’t fit well with anything that was going on. Personally, Big Show should’ve been the guy to turn and join the Alliance and it would have been fine.
Overall, the stuff from July to early October saw some classic moments and the matches were done very well. Naturally, the feud became watered down and some of the decisions were just idiotic looking back at it, in my opinion. Nonetheless, I consider the feud to be a really good feud and something people should look back at and enjoy.
What are your opinions on the feud? Feel free to share your comments below.
Thanks for reading.