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WWE SmackDown Classic Match of the Week: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (9/18/03)

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJuly 12, 2013

(Photo: WWE)
(Photo: WWE)

Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar's WWE SmackDown classic from 2003 remains one of the best the show has ever seen.

In the end, the champion clung to the challenger's leg, wrenching his ankle as time ran out on his incredible comeback. The theater, beautiful storytelling and near-perfect chemistry on display that led to that powerful moment created a match worth watching again and again.

The formula for this masterpiece started with pitting two of WWE's best athletes ever against each other. Both Angle and Lesnar had stellar amateur careers and brought those skills into the WWE ring. Lesnar's NCAA career saw him earn All-American honors four times, two Big Ten titles and the NCAA heavyweight title once. Angle famously earned gold at the 1996 Olympics.

Angle and Lesnar had a special bond, each man bringing out the best in the other. This was WWE's version of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson or Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

Each time they have faced other, Angle and Lesnar have worked magic between the ropes. At WrestleMania XIX and SummerSlam 2003, they shone and this match on Sept. 18, 2003 was another fantastic entry in their rivalry.

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Add to that the rarity of a WWE title match on free TV and the fact that it was an Iron Man match, something WWE fans have only seen a handful of times, meant that this was special before it even began.

Lesnar had defeated Angle for the WWE Championship that March, Angle won it back in July and now Lesnar sought to win it back.

His desperation and beastly aggression buzzed on the screen. Angle had to continually fend him off, outwrestling and evading his foe like a matador slipping out of a bull's way.

Lesnar, the hungry monster, jumped to an early lead after first getting himself intentionally disqualified. He repeatedly smashed Angle with a steel chair, slipping into a 0-1 hole. The impact of those chair shots, though, allowed Lesnar to soon gain three consecutive falls on his opponent.

One of those came courtesy of Lesnar stealing Angle's signature Ankle Lock and making the WWE champ tap out to his own hold.

The format of the match, both men looking to earn the most falls in the 60-minute time limit, gave the match the drama and excitement of momentum swings that we see in a playoff series.

It was Lesnar out in front early and Angle made to chase him. Lesnar was up 3-1 at one point and later had a 5-2 advantage.

The two men traded German suplexes, punches and power moves. Lesnar, though, was able to strike first for the most part. After he inadvertently knocked the referee out with an errant clothesline, he took Angle's championship and clocked him over the head with it.

The pin that followed that illegal shot earned Lesnar a 4-2 lead.

Angle did some move stealing of his own later when he hit Lesnar with an F-5 against the ring post. The move rattled Lesnar's knee against the steel. That looked to be the opening that would allow Angle to make a miraculous comeback.

Lesnar now limped around, unable to get full force behind his moves. The injury became a target for Angle as his Ankle Lock now had a more painful effect on the big man.

Angle charged back into the match. He hooked Lesnar in the Ankle Lock as the challenger reached for the ropes in every direction. Angle did not let him escape, instead yanking him back each time.

Angle's toughness, wrestling skill and Lesnar's throbbing knee nearly led to the champion holding on. Facing a 5-4 deficit, Angle clamped on his submission hold with just seconds remaining in the bout. Victory dripped out of his grip no matter how tight he closed his fist trying to hold onto it.

Lesnar rolled out of the ring with the title clutched to his chest.

Ten years later, Lesnar is back in WWE, albeit in a part-time role. He likely faces CM Punk at this year's SummerSlam. As good as that match will likely be, it will have a difficult time matching what Lesnar and Angle did together.

Lesnar's ideal rival and the best opponent of his career now works for the rival company. Angle has extended his legacy in TNA producing a number of classics against men like Samoa Joe, Yuji Nagata and AJ Styles.

Angle has not ruled out the possibility of returning to WWE, leaving hope for fans to see these two great rivals go at it one more time.

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