Among the several WWE feuds during the 2000s, Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit was among the most intense. Angle, an Olympic gold medalist, made his WWE debut in 1999, defeating Shawn Stasiak at Survivor Series. Benoit, fresh off of becoming the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, made his WWE debut in 2000 as a part of the Radicalz faction including Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero.
Both Angle and Benoit experienced success early on in their pro wrestling careers. Less than three months after his debut, Kurt Angle defeated Val Venis to become European Champion on a episode of SmackDown. Less than three weeks later, at No Way Out, he defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship.
So, as Angle continued his meteoric rise, he met his match at WrestleMania 2000. This is also when his feud with Chris Benoit began.
Calling himself the “Eurocontinental Champion,” Angle had to defend both his European and IC title in a triple threat match against Jericho and Benoit.
To make things worse, he had to compete in two triple threat matches back-to-back, against the same competitors, as he was required to defend both championships in separate matches. The first fall concluded with Benoit winning the IC title, and the second fall concluded with Chris Jericho winning the European title.
Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit Feud
Throughout 2000, Angle was elevated to main event status, even defeating The Rock at No Mercy for the WWE Championship. Angle retained the title for four months, before losing it to The Rock at the 2001 No Way Out PPV. The Rock defended the WWE title against Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 17, who won the Royal Rumble that year. At this same pay-per-view, Benoit competed against Angle for the second WrestleMania in a row, which Angle won. A few weeks later, at Backlash, Benoit defeated Angle in an Ultimate Submission match.
At Judgment Day 2001, Angle and Benoit competed against each other in a two-out-of-three falls match for Angle’s Olympic gold medals. Benoit won the first fall by pinning Angle, Angle won the second fall via submission, and Angle won the third fall – which was a ladder match for Angle’s medals – with the help of Edge and Christian. A few weeks later, Angle again defeated Benoit in a steel cage match on an episode of WWE Raw.
Over a year later, Benoit was able to defeat Angle at the Unforgiven 2002 pay-per-view. A month later, he was able to defeat Angle once again on an episode of SmackDown. A few week later, on WWE SmackDown, the two battled to the no contest. Shortly after this no contest match, the two started teaming together, even competing for the WWE Tag Team Championships at Survivor Series 2002.
However, just a few months later, Benoit and Angle reignited their feud. At this time, Kurt Angle had defeated The Big Show at Armageddon to win the WWE Championship, and defended the title against Benoit at Royal Rumble 2003 pay-per-view.
Unfortunately, Benoit was unable to defeat Angle for the title. However, he was able to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XX against Shawn Michaels and Triple H in a triple threat match.
The two wrestlers would also compete in a series of house show matches following the WWE Royal Rumble in 2003, which Benoit was still unable to become champion. This was the last series of matches in the Angle vs. Benoit feud. During the early 2000s, the Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle feud was one of the most intense feuds in all of professional wrestling. While Benoit has been blacklisted from WWE due to the tragic murder-suicide in 2007, his matches against Angle can still be watched on the WWE Network.
Since Benoit and Angle were two of the best in-ring superstars in WWE history, others such as Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio, and even the legendary Ric Flair were able to be sharpened in the ring from the skills of both competitors.