During the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross covered the night Kurt Angle won his first ever WWE Championship at No Mercy 2000. Ross mentioned how Angle had been with the company for only 10 months, and on this night, he would defeat The Rock to become the champion. He also believed it was the correct move, and said that if they would’ve waited longer, it might have ruined Angle’s build.
“I thought it was the right move,” Ross said. “We had built Kurt with all this momentum and success; he was on the roll. If you don’t follow through with it and get him to the promise land, then you have to have a great reason he’s not in the promise land. He was ready.”
Ross also mentioned how much respect he had for The Rock allowing Angle to win his first belt clean against him. He said Rock knew Angle would make him more money and give him fantastic matches in the future.
“It shows you the professionalism of The Rock, who didn’t have to lose,” Ross said. “If The Rock had not wanted to do the honors, then he would not have been forced to do the honors. The Rock saw it as the best thing for business and he knew his matches with Kurt were going to be terrific. They have a lot of the same DNA, those two cats.”
Angle took to Twitter recently to comment on the big win. He mentioned how much respect he had for The Rock because of it, and said it was the most important match of his career.
Ross also mentioned how nobody in the company had an issue with Angle winning the belt just 10 months after arriving in the WWE. He also said Angle was so good in those 10 months that he got better than a lot of guys who were with the company for 10 years. JR continued to mention how frustrating it is to hear wrestlers be selfish, and talked about what he would’ve said if he received a call regarding Angle winning.
“When we get to that level of sh**, I’m not interested,” Ross continued to say. “It’s about the company. We have to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs. In the company’s eyes, Kurt Angle being the champion was the right thing for business. I believed it then, I believe it now, but not one person called to b**ch.”
Before the main event match of Angle vs. Rock, Triple H faced Chris Benoit. Ross talked about how successful of a year The Game had in 2000 and mentioned how awesome it was to see somebody who was in the business for so long finally reach that level of success.
“I don’t know if it was his best year, but it sure as hell was a great year for him,” Ross said. “It’s funny how long you’re in the business before your game starts coming all together. Triple H got better and better because he was a true student of the game. He really, really worked his ass off to become great. He was a fundamentally sound, straight forward, smash mouth guy.”
Ross continued on to mention how Triple H was one of few superstars at the time to sign a contract with a 1 million dollar downside guarantee. He mentioned how Triple H wanted that contract, and that only the top tier wrestlers in WWE got that deal, meaning he had become one.
“It’s the same deal that guys like Austin, and Undertaker, and others have,” Ross said in regards to the deal Triple H signed with a 1 million dollar downside guarantee. “Vince always called it the magic number. He was always aware of that. He wanted to be perceived as a top guy. In order to be perceived as a top guy internally, you got to have a top guy deal. and we did that for him and he deserved it. He’s a credit to the business and a Hall of Fame guy.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.