WrestleMania 19 is known for many things: Shawn Michaels versus Chris Jericho, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s final match ever, and of course, the time Brock Lesnar almost broke his neck during a botched shooting star press attempt against Kurt Angle. Read on to find out more about this scary incident from both men involved…
Here’s the story of how the Beast Incarnate almost did himself in at WrestleMania 19.
“I would say Brock Lesnar was my greatest rival.
Because we both came from the same background to wrestling. We were always competitive; we’d even do shoot wrestling thing behind the back, just to see who was the better wrestler…”
“I have great respect for Kurt Angle.
In 1996 when he won the [Olympic] gold medal, I was graduating high school. I followed wrestling internationally, collegiately…I mean, he was the best of the best. He was a guy I wanted to be like, I wanted to train like. Kurt and I had a relationship that I don’t have with a lot of other guys in the locker room, because of our roots and what we’ve done [in amateur wrestling]…”
“It was supposed to be the greatest moment in Wrestlemania history.
He was supposed to finish me with that move…but he nearly finished himself…”
“I worked with Brock when he started [at Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental] and I’ll be honest with you, he was getting paid about four or five times more than everyone else in the developmental program because of who he was. You don’t come across an athletic specimen like that who won the NCAA Heavyweight Championship every day.
The shooting star press he did at WrestleMania 19, he would do that for us all the time – and I would tell him he was crazy and to save it for the big show at the Louisville Gardens when the WWE agents are there and not in the high school halls.
He did it in front of the WWE agents and they signed him directly because of that.
The time he did it at WrestleMania is the only time I’ve seen him miss it…”
“That match was so important to me because I had to have neck surgery immediately after. I was supposed to have it a month before – because my neck was broken. I couldn’t really use my left arm because of nerve blocks…I knew there was a chance I could hurt it really badly…”
“To tell you the truth, I was worrying just touching the guy. His neck could have snapped at any second, so I was really worried about everything I did with him.
Now when I look back, I was very nervous. And I don’t get nervous hardly ever…”
“So when Brock landed on his head, I thought he broke his neck too…”
“There I stood, on the top rope, both arms raised in triumph, my head back, letting the crowd take it all in…and then I launched the Shooting Star Press.
Every wrestling fan knows what happened next.
My boot slipped off the wet rope…I saw the people, I saw the top of the arena, I saw the mat coming and then I saw Kurt’s singlet, so I thought I was ok…”
Watch Brock Lesnar’s shooting star press attempt against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 19 below:
“It was my idea for him to do it, so I have to take part of the blame. (laughs)
When he missed me, I thought he was dead, I mean, I thought he was paralyzed…”
“I under-rotated, crashed in spectacular fashion, and gave myself a massive concussion. I damn near broke my neck…”
“The only thing I could do was react [to the situation] and try to pin him…and the only thing I could think of – and this is kind of greedy – I was thinking, ‘If this guy doesn’t kick out, I’m gonna have to hold this title for another month!’ (Laughs) Because, I can’t…I was thinking if both the company’s top guys are out with broken necks, who’s gonna replace them?”
“I was pretty much knocked silly. I could feel my head and neck getting really warm…”
“He was out of it. He just had this blank stare…didn’t know where he was.
I said, ‘Brock, talk to me…’
He said, ‘Yeah…yeah, yeah…’ that’s all I heard him say. I just tried talked him through it and told him what to do next…he wasn’t hearing me at all. He was out. And I thought, ‘We’re in trouble…'”
“I still had enough sense left to know that I had to win, but I don’t remember finishing the match…”
“…but before you knew it, he gave me the F-5 and the match was over. I remember, after he pinned me, [clicks fingers] he was out of it again. I remember hugging him at that particular moment and saying, ‘Are you ok?’ And nobody was there…just this stare that was going behind me. And I thought, oh my god…he might just have a concussion, or he might have knocked himself loopy for good…”
“I can remember sitting there [in the ring] and just gazing…a funny feeling. [The arena] felt like I was in a little locker room, or a gymnasium…and as I started coming to, the building got bigger.
[One minute] I didn’t know what was going on; then I would…it’s all pretty blurry to me.
[Backstage] I was getting warm, I was getting sick…and all these people surrounded me…people grabbing me, wanting me down on the stretcher, wanting me in the ambulance…and I wasn’t having any of that. I just went nuts.
Everyone said I was hard to handle, and I can imagine I was…”
“Thank god he had all those years doing neck bridges in amateur wrestling. It would have killed a regular guy…”
“The next morning, I was supposed to do a sponsor appearance, but I couldn’t get out of my hotel bed. After I received a few phone calls to rouse me, I finally crawled out and made it down to the appearance. When the sponsor’s people saw me throwing up from the after-effects of the concussion, they sent me back to the hotel.
After you play in the Super Bowl or the World Series, you get some time to yourself, or to take your family on a vacation.
Not in pro wrestling.
You’re right back to work the very next day, doing live TV for Raw the first night, or taping SmackDown! two nights after WrestleMania.
Now, looking back at that match, if I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t do the Shooting Star…but everything else I think I would keep the same.
Because Kurt made it through the match, without getting hurt worse than he was, and I was lucky to ‘only’ have suffered a concussion…”
“It wasn’t the finish we wanted, but the match almost became more famous because of that…”
“So Kurt went in for the alternative surgery, and I was right back on the road as WWE Champion for the second time…”
“I guess I was hard to handle….” Watch candid backstage footage of Brock Lesnar struggling to stay on his feet and refusing medical help after his WrestleMania 19 match against Kurt Angle
SOURCES: Brock Lesnar’s autobiography Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival, Wrestling101 / Cult of Whatever interview with Jim Cornette, ‘The Mania of Mania‘ documentary, Off The Record interview with Kurt Angle
These quotes about WrestleMania 19 were originally compiled by Matt Pender and shared here with thanks to our friends over at ‘Wrestling’s Glory Days’ Facebook page
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