During a recent Q&A session on Reddit, former WWF Champion and WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inductee Kurt Angle recalled injuring his neck before WrestleMania 19 and his match with Brock Lesnar at the PPV almost not happening.
Below is the story:
“What happened was I hurt my neck at No Way Out a month before WrestleMania wrestling Brock. I backed out of Mania, unfortunately. So, Vince McMahon asked me, “Hey, can you do a thirty-second match on SmackDown so we can get that title off of you?” I believe he was going to go with Brock versus Chris Benoit. So he said, “We’ll do that the week before Mania. You will just have to take one bump, the F-5, and go ahead and get your surgery. Now, I want you to also understand this would never happen today. Not with WWE’s Wellness Policy, not with their drug policy. That kind of stuff back then, that’s not happening anymore. If there’s something wrong with anybody’s neck and it’s broken, WWE is not going to let you wrestle. So a lot of things have changed for the better.
I was over at my neighbors house about two days before that SmackDown match where I was supposed to drop the title to Brock, which was a week before Mania. A good friend of mine who has Down’s Syndrome came up to me and said, “I heard that you are not wrestling!” He started crying. He said, “I heard you are not wrestling Brock at WrestleMania,” and he held up a DirectTV cover that had Brock and I facing off, and the kid made me cry. At the moment, I literally called Vince right then. I said, “Listen, let me go at Mania. I can do this. Have Brock and I go out and do it. I’ll drop the belt to Brock.” I wasn’t supposed to lose the title to Brock. I was supposed to continue to be the champion, but because of my neck injury, I was going to drop it to Brock. I talked to Vince into having the match. So, the whole rumor, I’m sure it was true. I was supposed to lose to Brock at the Smackdown before Mania and then was going to go in as champion at Wrestlemania and probably face Chris Benoit. I’m sure that’s where they were going to go. But, thank God Vince listened to me. He said, “Okay. You take care of yourself in this match because I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. I said, “Don’t worry about anything, Vince. I’ll get through it and I’ll have the surgery afterward.” So that’s what we did.”