Class of 2017
The First and Only Olympic Gold Medalist in WWE History, He “Sucks”
Hall of Fame Rating
8.5 out of 10
Damn I love this song. Certain superstars are encapsulations of their theme music. Some of the best themes are memorable years later and can never be associated with anything else. Greats like Money Money for Ted Dibiase, Sexy Boy for Shawn Michael and Yes, It’s True- Medal for Kurt Angle come to mind. Angle’s theme also has the gift of being the best audience created participation in the history of the WWE.
His song aside, Kurt Angle is the first and only amateur wrestling Olympic Gold Medalist in the history of pro wrestling. Those two things couldn’t be further from each other. Its like comparing bowling and bocci ball.
This makes Kurt Angle one of the greatest anomalies of both amateur and professional wrestling.
I am biased on this pick. I love it. Kurt Angle was (and to some degree still is) an amazing wrestler. He was one of the very few, (outside of Shawn Michaels), major stars who in the early to mid 2000s could go day in and day out with anyone . He could wrestle and he could talk, his character changed , grew and shifted as needed. Kurt could do anything. Plus he was funny.
Kurt’s WWE career was unique. First real rookie main event star of the Attitude Era (Rock, Austin, Triple H, Undertaker all existed before Attitude. Had big roles in multiple eras from the Attitude Era , the catastrophe which was Invasion, the rebirth known as Ruthless Aggression and even appeared in ECW for some reason.
Kurt Angle had longevity due to his chameleon like ability. He began his tenure as the dork, a comedy-lite character in the Attitude Era who became so popular that he was shot to the main event faster than the Rock . Angle hit the ground running wrestling clinics with Edge and Chris Benoit, while brawling with Shane McMahon and holding his own with Stone Cold and the Rock.
Angle could make everything work. Even a milk truck. A milk truck got over. Best (and basically only good moment in the dreadful Invasion)
He grew and changed as a character eventually settling as a bad ass. He lived his 3 I’s. Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence, while a great cocky heel guy. This was the Angle between 2001-2005. He could do anything
Kurt Angle will be inducted for WWE career, but Angle’s prime years were likely spent in TNA. Unfortunately, we will not see this portion, nor celebrate it. Thus this induction will not truly showcase the full Kurt Angle picture. Angle’s career with TNA was actually longer than his time in WWE.
Angle left WWE in 2006, to take time off to relax and because WWE wanted to send him to rehab. Instead Angle went to TNA, a move which gave the fledgling promotion a boost. Angle’s marquee name and work ethic became the backbone of TNA and it like all things TNA were eventually squandered until the tutelage of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
In Kurt Angle’s career, he is more of superstar of TNA than WWE. Angle was in WWE 1999-2006. TNA- 2006-2016. Yup longer with Dixie’s team than Vince’s organization.
Angle would be the last major star to leave WWE and have success in another wrestling promotion. (Lesnar would do so with UFC, which is kind of the same…)
Angle followed Hogan, Savage, Nash, Hall and the Hitman to an organization that Jeff Jarrett….
…positioned as an alternative to WWE. When Angle joined TNA, he brought it as close as he could and was the main welcoming force for Christian, Booker T, Jeff Hardy (2nd time), and eventually (and unfortunately Hulk Hogan) joining the organization.
We can all admit, TNA never made it. They never became the great “New WCW”, with Angle at their lead. Angle knew that and stayed anyway. He did partly from loyalty, partly because of burned bridges and partly because of his problems.
Angle began to have marital problems near the end of his WWE tenure, and while this is none of our general business, he made it fans business by bring his wife Karen onto TNA television. They ended up divorcing in 2008, while she married part TNA owner Jeff Jarrett. Angle dealt with the awkwardness and resentment well….by drinking.
Angle was arrest in 2007 (before divorce) for a DUI, 2009 for driving with a suspended license and harassment, 2011 for DUI, 2011 again for a DUI and 2013 for a fourth DUI. Even if Angle had wanted to leave and come back to WWE, they would have never allowed it. He was too much of a mess.
Angle finally left TNA last year due likely to his want to come back to WWE. Everyone, even Sting, want to retire out of the WWE. Its the way to make the best money, be seen by the most people and go out on top. That’s why AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura all joined in their late 30s.
Angle’s return is welcome. He is a main eventer through and through and a welcome and wonderful addition to the WWE Hall of Fame.
WWE decided to not contact Angle for a return in 2016. After he left TNA, he’s been competing on the independent scene. Its seemed like 2k would step in, make Angle the pre order character on 2k18 that would follow up with Angle appearing end of 2017/early 2018. Well what changed?
One word, Goldberg.
Goldberg followed that path, being the pre-order in WWE2k17, and returning at Survivor Series. That was supposed to be a one and done (with Goldberg’s induction this spring) but Goldberg stayed, and is still competing and popular. So they need a headliner not on TV to help sell tickets.
So WWE contacts Angle, only about the Hall of Fame, and he begins his return that way. Will Angle wrestle? Maybe. Will Angle be an on air character? Likely. Will he eventually be a trainer? Surely.
Opens Door For?
CM Punk. Kurt Angle left poorly, while being a main eventer. The latest and last one to do that was Punk. So is Punk next?
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Perhaps the fans think Kurt Angle actually sucks and WWE decides to listen to the “fans’ opinion” for the first time. Would Vince do that?