On this day in wrestling September 23rd, 2001, two of arguably the best stars of the ruthless aggression era went face to face for the WWF Championship at Unforgiven 2001 as Kurt Angle captured the title in his hometown. Throughout most of his legendary Career, Stone Cold Steve Austin stuck his middle finger in Vince McMahon’s face. However, the rattlesnake did the unforgivable and started an alliance with Mr. McMahon. Even though He was once again WWF Champion, he wasn’t universally loved. Kurt Angle was gaining momentum. He was winning title after title. He was also Vince McMahons right-hand man.
The Olympic Hero was gaining the fan’s respect. Austin and Angle had almost a brotherly rivalry when it came to who was McMahon’s favorite. It was around this time that WCW and ECW superstars started to invade the WWF. Kurt gained even more respect by stepping up with the likes of Austin, The Undertaker, and Kane. At the Invasion PPV, Kurt Angle was the MVP of the match. No one expected The WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin to turn his back on Vince McMahon and join Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahons alliance. Vince McMahons own flesh and blood were attempting a hostile takeover. Now they were in control of the WWF Championship.
Austin’s Paranoia is out of Control
Since Austin turned on the fans his paranoia increased. He felt everyone was against him. He even stated in promos that no one would mess with his prize possession. His then-wife Deborah always thought he was referring to her but in true Stone Cold fashion, he said he was talking about the Championship. At the time WWE was amazing with comedic timing. Austin and Angle were two of the best at not trying to be funny but were funny non the less. Both were also very believable ruthless aggressive competitors.
In particular, the rattlesnake singled out ECW Original Tazz. He felt Tazz was ‘eyeballing” him. Austin whipped Tazz with a leather belt. He kicked Tazz out of the Alliance with a stunner. Austin was right to be paranoid but not against Tazz. Kurt Angle had not forgotten Austin’s betrayal at Invasion. The Olympic hero scored a WWF Championship Match with the Rattlesnake at SummerSlam 2001. In that match, angle kicked out of not one but three stone-cold stunners. With the help of Shane McMahon, Austin was retained. However, the rivalry between these two was just heating up.
Milk O’ Mania
The next night on Monday Night Raw, Stephanie decided to host Stone Cold Steve Austin Appreciation night. In a song, The Billion Dollar Princess let Austin know he was the “wind beneath her ring.” Thankfully Kurt Angle interrupted Stephanie’s karaoke tribute. Ironically enough inspired by Stone Colds beer bath on the corporation in 1999, he drove a milk truck down to the ring and like a fireman showered the alliance with milk. Jim Ross so eloquently stated, “The Billion Dollar Princess is now a Dairy Queen.” Never before had anyone turned the tide on Austin.
The Rattlesnake was provoked. He attempted to run Kurt Angle over with his 3:16 pickup. Stone Cold attacked Angle and stole his Olympic Gold Medals. Wrestling has its gimmicks, but Angle’s gold medals are 100 percent real. The man is a legit Olympic Gold Medalist. Oh and just in case you’re new he won them with a broken freakin’ neck. The next week on Raw, Austin appeared on the Titan Tron with Kurt Angles property.
“You said I’d never have any of these. Well, I’ve got two. What will you do Kurt to get these gold medals back? Are you too proud to beg Kurt? Get on your hands and knees and beg. This championship is what means everything to me. These (medals) mean nothing to me. So if you won’t cry Kurt, if you won’t beg Kurt they don’t mean nothing to you.”
Angle Gets Angry
Austin then threw the gold medals over a bridge into the water. The next week on Raw as Austin was proclaiming he was “King of the World” in the back of his pickup truck when Angle attacked Austin with a baseball bat. Angle then chained a cement block to his legs, blindfolded him, and stole the pickup with Austin out cold in the back. He was taking Austin to the bridge where the medals were thrown over last week. He told Austin he will throw him over this bridge if he doesn’t give him a title shot.
A funny story about that night was revealed by Kurt Angle on his podcast. The show was filmed in Toronto. The segment was pretaped. There was a huge rainstorm going on that Monday night, but yet where Austin and Angle were on the bridge it was clear as day. He said that the fans were completely confused when they walked out into a downpour.
Austin was scared for his life so he agreed at Unforgiven. Kurt then gave Austin a shove backward into a kiddie pool. Austin was humiliated. Next week on Raw, Austin attacked Kurt Angle and threw him off the entrance stage. Kurt was taken out of the arena by a stretcher. The rattlesnake again attacked angle on smackdown. Austin piledrove Angle on the concrete. This war was about to be settled at Unforgiven 2001 in Kurt Angles’s hometown of Pittsburgh PA.
“You’re a desperate man Austin because you know that when you look at me you know that I am the only man that can beat you. Austin at Unforgiven I will walk out of my hometown the WWF Champion, oh it’s true, it’s damn true”.
Kurt Angle Captured the WWF Championship
The match at Unforgiven was arguably the most personal rivalry of 2001. 13,000 fans were in attendance at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh PA to see these two legends do what they do best. Austin attacked Angle as he was making his way down the entrance ramp. Angle fought back and was not intimidated by the hyena. The Olympic hero even pulled out a Lou Thez press, which was normally Austin’s go-to move. Angle was on fire. Sensing his title slipping away, Austin proceeded to walk out the arena, but Kurt was right behind him. He worked too hard for this and wasn’t leaving without the championship.
As payback for Austin’s cowardly act a few weeks ago on Raw, He threw Austin off the entrance stage. The two superstars brawled all the way back to the ring. Austin attempted to piledrive Angle again on the concrete but it was reversed into a back body drop. This wasn’t the same Stone Cold, his paranoia had made him take shortcuts. Austin wasn’t even focused on his opponent, instead, he proceeded to mock Kurt Angles family sitting at ringside. Austin got hit by three german suplexes. Out of desperation, Austin used a thumb to the eye to stop Angle. He hit him with a spin buster and proceeded to stomp a mudhole in the challenger.
Austin shoved the referee out of the way. Kurt angle got in a low blow. Angle gave Austin a stunner. He went for the pin but it was only a two count. Despite all the paranoia, Austin was still a tough SOB. Austin went for the stunner on Kurt but it was reversed into an ankle lock. Austin was in trouble now. Never since WrestleMania 13 with Bret Hart had Austin been in so much pain. As he writhed around the ring like a wounded rattlesnake, Angle locked it in tighter. Austin had no choice but to tap. Kurt Angle had won the WWF Championship in his hometown. His family and friends all joined him in the ring to celebrate.
Kurt Angle Captured the WWF Championship in his Hometown
Angle reflects on the win
On Episode 33 of the Kurt Angle Show. The Olympic champion talked about what the win at Unforgiven 2001 meant to him. He also talked about how that win wasn’t even supposed to happen. In September of 2021 something even more important was happening. That is the year of the 9/11 attacks.
“This one was more special because of 9/11 and what I was representing at the pay-per-view. I wasn’t supposed to win that match that was changed at the last second. I came up with the idea that 9/11 occurred and the country was down. Let us give this country a boost and have the American hero win the pay-per-view. Austin agreed to it 100 percent. It was beyond wrestling, it was for the country.”
Kurt Angle went on to elaborate what it was like working with Steve Austin after he captured the WWF Championship in his hometown.
“It was a lot of fun working with Steve. Most of the things we did were his ideas. He was really creative. The Thez Press, kiddie pool all that’s Austin lol. However, he would ask me for my opinion. He forced me to start thinking about how to structure matches and build up to the finish. I have to thank Steve Austin for that. As far as winning the championship that meant a lot to me. This was a great moment for my family and I. This was right up there with the Olympics.”