WWE Classic of the Week: The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle from No Way out 2006

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2015

Credit: WWE.com

There are instances throughout World Wrestling Entertainment history in which a match at an annual February pay-per-view overshadows anything and everything that occurs a month or two later at WrestleMania.

It happened at St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1999 as Steve Austin and Vince McMahon battled inside a steel cage and Mankind and The Rock tore it up in a Last Man Standing match.

A year later, Triple H and Cactus Jack wowed the audience with a brutal Hell in a Cell match. It would be another six years before the No Way Out pay-per-view produced a match superior to anything on the card at the Showcase of the Immortals.

In 2006, SmackDown delivered its latest brand-exclusive pay-per-view, headlined by a World Heavyweight Championship match between Kurt Angle and The Undertaker.

With the top two babyfaces on that show's roster, it was a bout with major WrestleMania implications. The winner would head to the biggest event of the year to defend the world title against Randy Orton or Rey Mysterio while the loser would be left looking elsewhere for competition.

The two Superstars with a rich history together would be tasked with producing a phenomenal title bout in what was very much a one-match show.

Would they succeed? Find out now.

But first, their story.

 

The Background

In 2000, Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle was enjoying a meteoric rise up the ranks in WWE. Never before had a competitor enjoyed the rookie year that the former amateur wrestler was in the midst of.

He had won the King of the Ring tournament, captured the Intercontinental and European Championships and was en route to a WWE title match at SummerSlam.

Before he could get there, though, he earned the ire of The Undertaker, who was slated to square off against Angle at July's Fully Loaded pay-per-view.

As great as the 1996 Olympian had been, he was no match for an enraged American Badass, who tore through Angle and finished him off with the Last Ride powerbomb.

Four months later, Angle was WWE champion and his first pay-per-view title defense was against the man who so thoroughly demolished him earlier in the year.

This time, Angle was able to score the win, preserving his title reign by using some trickery involving his lookalike brother, Eric. It was a sneaky way to defeat The Undertaker, but one that proved the champion was willing to do whatever it took to leave with his arm raised in victory.

Over the next handful of years, fans would witness the two performers do battle on numerous occasions, including a 2002 SmackDown match in which they essentially tied.

With the WWE Undisputed Championship on the line, The Undertaker pinned Angle, who forced a rare tapout from the Phenom.

They would settle their differences, for the time being, weeks later at the Vengeance pay-per-view in July 2002. In a Triple Threat match for the gold, Angle and The Undertaker stole each other's finishing maneuvers while delivering a phenomenal bout also involving The Rock.

At the 2006 Royal Rumble, their feud would be renewed when the Deadman interrupted Angle's championship celebration, using his parlor tricks bring down the ring around him.

It was announced shortly thereafter that the all-time greats would battle one more time with the top prize on the SmackDown brand at stake during the No Way Out pay-per-view.

 

The Match

 

The Analysis

The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle was the first real opportunity for fans to witness the style that The Undertaker would utilize late in his career, a style that would lead him to have some of his bestand some of WWE's most epicbouts of the second-half of the 2000s.

A longtime fan of mixed martial arts, Undertaker utilized a ground-based submission style, including the Hell's Gate submission choke holdnot to mention unmatched striking abilityto become a much more well-rounded performer.

Angle, of course, broke out his submissions and many suplexes in an attempt to out-wrestle his opponent.

In the end, it was Angle's ability to turn any negative into a positive that prevailed as he countered The Undertaker's Hell's Gate into a rollup that won him the match and earned him bragging rights going forward.

The drama that ensued late in the contest helped elevate it from a great championship clash to an all-time classic and one of the best matches in the history of February pay-per-views.