The match we’re talking about is from the King of the Ring (2001) between Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle. You may have heard this story on the WWE Network, but if you haven’t, allow us to fill you in. Both Angle and Shane wanted to prove a point and steal the show. They did just that, but in doing so nearly completely killed each other in the process.
Vince McMahon is the greatest wrestling promoter of all time. He’s often been called ruthless by many names in the business, but you don’t get anywhere without having an edge to you. McMahon certainly has that. His steely-eyed determination led to him defeating WCW to become the only game in town. He laid waste to every regional promoter in a relentless manner. Some would go as far as to call him heartless, but that’s not the case. In fact, McMahon got so worked up watching King of the Ring (2001) he planned on interrupting it on several occasions because he was so worried about the participants in the bout.
What happened at King of the Ring (2001) that Scared Vince McMahon?
Kurt Angle came off the better, ‘only’ breaking his tailbone on a suplex on the ramp, but poor Shane… How he was still conscious when it was all said and done is beyond me. Those German Suplexes against the glass panels were painful to watch, and the thud of Shane’s head bouncing off the concrete floor was sickening. It was at this stage that Vince while watching from Gorilla Position, attempted to intervene before being talked out of it.
King of the Ring (2001) was truly one of the most violent and brutal matches in WWE history, so it’s no surprise Vince would be concerned with whoever was involved, but when you consider it was his own flesh and blood out there, you can only imagine the thoughts running through his head. The original plan was for Angle to suplex Shane through a few panes of the glass. However, the glass installed was plexiglass — not sugar glass, which breaks more easily. So, instead, after suplexes didn’t break the glass, Angle simply threw Shane through the panes, cutting him up and hurting him badly in the process.
When we interviewed Kurt Angle for his Reddit AMA back in March 2017, he had this to say about the King of the Ring (2001) incident:
With Shane laying almost motionless on the floor, Vince McMahon hollered into referee Mike Chioda’s ears to call the match off. “He was saying gibberish because I got knocked in the head a couple times,” Shane McMahon recalled on The Steve Austin Show podcast. “Vince thinks that I was shooing him off, that I was disobeying an order through Chioda, but I never really got the order. He was so mad, again, because he felt I had disobeyed an order… I didn’t get the message,” Shane recalls.
After the initial chewing out from his father, Vince changed his tone. “In the end, he said something very nice to me and put the match over. [What was said] will stay private, but he said, ‘Don’t you ever do that ever again!'”
Shane then describes the reaction he and Angle received after they finally made their way to the back — which entailed getting a standing ovation both from the fans in attendance and the wrestlers in the locker room. “As we walked in the back, there was a whole line of guys. All of the boys were applauding, and as you know, when you pop the monitor like that and all the boys are giving you a standing ‘O’ in the back. That is the ultimate high that you can ever get, followed by quickly the ultimate low…”
After Shane turned the corner for the trainer’s room, he was met by his wife, Marissa. “Her eyes were just bawling. She had no idea because I didn’t tell her anything. That’s when I got huge heat. I said, ‘Look, this is going to be rough,’ but she had no idea it was going to be like that. She had no idea if I was going to be okay, she had no insight into the business, she had no communication, so she came back and just saw me gushing and everything…”
This is quite reminiscent of how Mick Foley’s wife Collette responded after the brutal June 28, 1998 Hell in a Cell match he had with Undertaker. After the match, Mick Foley had a long heart-to-heart with his tearful wife on the phone. This conversation almost led Foley to retire from pro wrestling altogether, something he eventually did on a full-time basis in 2000.
Call it “fake,” call it whatever you want. Professional wrestlers have an almost unfathomable commitment to the craft they spent years of their life training for.