WWE Classic of the Week: Triple H vs. Kurt Angle from Unforgiven 2000

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2015

Credit: WWE.com

If the ongoing storyline involving Dolph Ziggler, Lana, Rusev and Summer Rae has taught fans anything, it is that love will always have a place in World Wrestling Entertainment.

After all, professional wrestling has long been referred to as a male soap opera, and no program better illustrated that than the 2000 love triangle between Triple H, Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon.

The story played out over the first summer of the new millennium and captivated fans, all of whom wondered whether The Billion Dollar Princess would choose to stick with her husband or find solace in the arms of an Olympic gold medalist, whom she had openly crushed on from the moment he arrived at WWE.

As the intrigue intensified, so did the feelings of all three involved, leading to a high-profile match between The Game and Angle at September's Unforgiven pay-per-view.

In what was a match more anticipated than any the company had booked in months, they waged war while Stephanie watched on, her emotions running high and her indecision running wild.

Who emerged victorious as the undisputed object of Vince McMahon's daughter's affection?

We'll get to thatbut first, their story.

Background

In December 1999, Stephanie McMahon revealed that her marriage to Triple H was not quite what it seemed on the surface. At first, it appeared as though she had been drugged and then had unconsciously wed The Cerebral Assassin. In reality, it was a concentrated effort by The Billion Dollar Princess to get back at her father for his mistreatment of her earlier in the year.

The McMahon-Helmsley Era took effect the moment Vince stepped away from television, making the lives of many babyfaces a living hell. It was at that point that Stephanie began making comments about how she thought Kurt Angle was cute and handsome.

Her husband would openly mock the Olympian and his cookies-and-milk personality. It was a sign of jealousy that would persist over the proceeding year, especially as the summer of 2000 approached.

It was at that point that Angle began taking a more intense interest in Stephanie. They would be seen backstage flirting with each other, much to the chagrin of Triple H. Soon, it was only a matter of time before The Game's opponents used that budding, flirtatious relationship against him.

At Fully Loaded in July, Chris Jericho had flowers delivered to the boss' daughter, a card attached to them strongly suggesting that they were sent by Angle. It set up a beatdown by Y2J that nearly cost Triple H a win later in the evening.

By the time SummerSlam arrived a month later, tensions between Triple H and Angle had reached a new height. The Game was highly suspicious of the relationship between his wife and rival, both of whom insisted that they were "just friends."

That all changed on the August 24 episode of SmackDown, when Angle left partner Triple H to compete on his own, returning to the locker room to comfort an injured Stephanie. It was there, in a moment that had been building for weeks, that he kissed his crush.

It added tremendous heat to the program and made the SummerSlam main event pitting Angle and The Game against The Rock in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship that much more interesting.

At the show, Stephanie appealed to an injured Angle and convinced him to head to the ring and help her husband. When that did not work, the most powerful woman in wrestling entered the squared circle and was inadvertently laid out by Triple H.

The Rock would retain his title, and Angle would carry a prone Stephanie out of the arena.

After months of awkward interactions, intensifying hatred between the men in her life and moments of passion involving both of her suitors, Stephanie would watch from ringside as Triple H and Angle squared off in a match booked by WWE commissioner Mick Foley.

The Match

The Analysis

For the first time in 2000, the match failed to properly pay off the story. At a time when WWE was at its hottest, at least from a creative standpoint, the contest between Angle and Triple H was hugely disappointing.

First of all, it was incredibly slow and boring, with Angle working over the midsection of his opponent. Triple H bled from the mouth, selling internal injuries, but failed to add any drama to the contest.

Secondly, Stephanie's interference throughout the contest was minimal. Considering the fact that she was the centerpiece of their story, one would have assumed she would have a much stronger impact on the contest.

Instead, she interfered late in the match, was subjected to a bloody and forceful kiss at the hands of her husband and delivered a low blow that seemingly ended her budding relationship with Angle.

The outcome was not what fans expected.

All signs seemed to point to Angle and Stephanie betraying Triple H, turning The Game babyface and setting up the next chapter of their feud. Instead, the story was put to rest, and all three would move on in the month that followed.

The Aftermath

Angle would earn a shot at the The Rock's WWE Championship at October's No Mercy pay-per-view. To get there, he defeated Triple H, thanks to interference from Chris Benoit.

That one bit of booking set up two huge matches for the show, while dissension continued to mount within the McMahon-Helmsley household.

Stephanie would eventually accept a role as adviser to Angle, accompanying the new No. 1 contender to the squared circle. It was an interesting way to go about booking, especially when the assumed finish of the Unforgiven match would have gotten them to the same point.

At No Mercy, Triple H put Benoit away with the Pedigree, and Angle benefited from interference from both Stephanie and a newly heel Rikishi to capture his first heavyweight title.

Unforgiven was hardly the last time Triple H and Angle would do battle. Other notable matches between them include the Royal Rumble 2001 WWE title match and a bout at the No Way Out 2002 show in which Stephanie again played a vital role in the outcome.

Both those are stories await other editions of WWE Classic of the Week.

Related

    WWE Roundup: Latest on Ziggler, Carlito Rumors

    WWE logo
    WWE

    WWE Roundup: Latest on Ziggler, Carlito Rumors

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Triple H Provides Injury Update, Discusses Lars Sullivan

    WWE logo
    WWE

    Triple H Provides Injury Update, Discusses Lars Sullivan

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Who Is the Most Likely Rumble Winner? 🤔

    WWE logo
    WWE

    Who Is the Most Likely Rumble Winner? 🤔

    Aaron Bower
    via Bleacher Report

    Which Feud Has Biggest Mania Implications?

    WWE logo
    WWE

    Which Feud Has Biggest Mania Implications?

    Graham GSM Matthews
    via Bleacher Report