Imagine Undertaker, one of WWE’s most iconic locker room leaders, waking up to find Kurt Angle and Vince McMahon tussling in the middle of the aisle at 38,000 feet? As you’ll soon find out, somebody got choked out!
Why did Kurt Angle attack Vince McMahon in the middle of a flight?
Vince McMahon is known to be a unique person to work for with very odd expectations of his employees. For instance, Vince has a no sneezing rule (it’s a sign of weakness), a rule of not being able to eat with your hands when around him, and he doesn’t like to be thanked publicly. This was recently evidenced at 2019’s Hall of Fame ceremony with writer Robert Evans quitting after being berated by Vince after Bret Hart thanked McMahon during his Hart Foundation acceptance speech. Vince also loves horseplay with his employees from time to time.
On a Raw taping back in 2002, Vince McMahon wrote into the script that he would jump Kurt Angle from behind in the ring and take down the unexpecting Olympic gold medalist. Following this feat on air, Vince felt it only necessary to remind Angle at every chance he got, gloating about being the only person to be able to take him down.
In the autobiography, “It’s True! It’s True!”, Kurt Angle details what happened when Vince took his gloating too far on an international flight back from London:
“Since I started with the World Wrestling Federation I’ve always had a friendly relationship with Vince, but until the trip to London, I never felt like I was as close to him as most of the other main event guys. I had great respect for him as the boss, but I guess I was somewhat intimidated by him, even though other people in the business told me it was important to develop a strong one on-one relationship with him. Also, I wanted to be careful not to step on the toes of guys that I knew were very tight with Vince. So I kept my distance.
“But all of that changed on the charter flight back from England. Vince was moving around, talking to different people, and eventually, he came over and sat down on the armrest of my seat. We started talking about the World Wrestling Federation, and my match in England, and then we started talking about his years in amateur wrestling. He told me that his dad sent him to a military school in Virginia for his high school years and that he had been a runner-up to the state champion among private schools. From there we started talking about the time when Vince took me down in the ring one night on RAW IS WAR. It was set up where he snuck behind me, lifted me up in the air, and took me down, then jumped out of the ring, yelling ‘two’ for the takedown.
“Remember, Angle, I’m the only one who’s ever taken you down.”
“The whole thing was Vince’s idea, and I think he came up with it just because he wanted to take down an Olympic champion. But anyway, on the plane he was teasing me about that, saying he was the only one who ever took me down in the wrestling ring. It was all in fun and we had a good talk for about an hour or so. Finally, as he stood up to walk away, his last words were, ‘Remember, Angle, I’m the only one who’s ever taken you down.’
“Well, at that moment something made me decide to have a little fun with the boss. When Vince got up to walk away, I attacked him from behind, knocked him down, turned him over, and pinned him right in the aisle. There were about eighty World Wrestling Federation people on the plane, and everyone was howling. Everyone except the Undertaker.
“I think he must have been sleeping and woke up when he heard the commotion. He told me later he saw Vince on the floor and couldn’t tell who was on top of him. Vince and I had been on the floor for about thirty seconds as Vince struggled to get me off of him when the Undertaker came over and put a choke hold on me. He clamped me so tight that he actually choked me out and I blacked out for a minute. When I came to, Vince was standing up and he had this big smile on his face. I think he just loved the idea that he was wrestling with an Olympic champion, and he decided it wasn’t going to end there.
“In fact, he turned it into a competition for the next four hours on the plane. Any chance he had, he tried to take me down. He’d attack me from behind. He’d wait until I came out of the bathroom. Half the time I wouldn’t see him. He’d pop up from behind a chair and jump on me, or leg-dive me. He’d do whatever he could to try to take me down. One time he hit me hard, knocked me backward off my feet. I hit my face on the ground, then got up and attacked him. I took him down, held him down for a while, and then we got up and hugged each other.”
The thing about Vince McMahon is that he is a strong guy. He was involved in amateur wrestling at a young age and was quite agile for his age. Despite Kurt’s prowess in Olympic wrestling, he struggled to take his boss down.
“[Vince] was so strong that he was fighting me off, pushing me back, and then I’d have to come after him again. He’s fifty-five years old, he weighs 250 pounds, and I couldn’t believe how strong he is. I had to do some finessing, fake and wait for him to react, then spin him around. I couldn’t just outmuscle him.
“So we went back and forth for the rest of the flight, and everybody seemed to be getting a kick out of it.
“I figured the whole thing was over when we had to return to our seats for the landing at Newark Airport. But then, I was sitting there, strapped in as we were about to land, and I saw this figure in the dark, crawling up the aisle. The flight attendants were already strapped in, but there was Vince, trying to sneak up on me one more time. I turned around and said to Chris Jericho, ‘Do you believe this?’
“Vince was still in the aisle when we landed, and when I got up out of my seat he attacked me again. This time he knocked me into his wife, Linda, who fell on the floor. I said, “Oh my God, I just knocked over Linda McMahon.” But she was a great sport about it. She knew Vince was having a good time, and she probably recognized that it was his way of bonding with me. So we went at it one more time, and finally, when we got off the plane, Vince said, ‘This isn’t over.’
It sure made the trip home livelier than anyone expected, but it also moved my relationship with Vince to a different level.”
“Oh my God, I just knocked over Linda McMahon!”
In a 2012 Q&A on Facebook, Kurt looked back on this incident with Vince McMahon on the plane:
“When he and I wrestled on a plane during an international flight, I didn’t want to do it, but Vince was in a crazy mood. So, we’d wrestle for a while and stop. Then Vince would attack me again. Then he’d stop. Over and over. I just wanted to sleep. The flight attendant told us to stop, but Vince wanted to wrestle, so we wrestled for four hours. Lol.”
Kurt Angle later recalled that Undertaker took him aside and said, “You’ll never see Bill Gates doing that with any of his employees.” He wasn’t kidding. But that’s Vince McMahon. He lives to bond with his wrestlers. It’s kind of like a brotherly thing.
Hear Matt Hardy’s hilarious take on the Kurt Angle and Vince McMahon flight incident on Story Time on The WWE Network:
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