It has been announced that Kurt (Steven) Angle will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (2017) during the WrestleMania 33 weekend. Now I have to admit that I am utterly thrilled about this. Kurt Angle is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time, in fact I would go so far as to say he is my favourite singles wrestler ever. I remember watching him through the years, I remember watching his first few matches I remember watching his awesome match against Shane McMann, I remember watching his brilliant angles with Brock Lesnar, in fact whenever people try and tell me Lesnar can not wrestle I tell them to look up the matches between him and Angle they are absolute spectacles. I even watched TNA just to see Angle (I admit once Angle drew me to it there were other individuals I enjoyed but without Angle I wouldn't have even given it a moments notice).
Before Angle joined the WWE (at the time WWF) he had already made a very big name for himself he was a two time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, then he won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1995 World Wrestling Championships followed by winning a freestyle wrestling gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Angle is one of only four people to complete what is called an amateur wrestling Grand Slam (junior nationals, NCAA, World Championships, Olympics). You may wonder why I am mentioning all of this when I am talking about him being inducted into the hall of fame for an entertainment based wrestling company but the truth is that his background is very important, it formed a large part of the basis of the various characters he portrayed over the years in WWF/WWE. I know someone will question my use of the term characters and claim that Kurt Angle was always just Kurt Angle but its far more complex than that and to say Kurt was only ever Kurt would be selling him and his contribution to the company short. Let me explain myself, during his time with the WWE Angle was so many different things, he was a hero, a villain, a serious wrestler, an overgrown naive man child. The man has worked as a face and as a heel and has done well as both, he has dealt with serious and silly story lines. It was pretty obvious from his back ground that he would be a good technical wrestler and it would have been very easy for him to have a decent career based purely on this fact but he actually proved himself to be good on the microphone, to be able to act and to be able to sell moves both in the sense of making his moves look painful without needlessly injuring others but also while being able to make other wrestlers moves look like they are effective.
Now days Brock Lesnar lends the WWE some level of credibility, when people start all of this ''oh the WWE is fake its all guys pretending to slap each other'' people look at Brock and see him as legitimately scary they see his background, they know he has actually competed in the UFC and they kind of stop and go ''oh well I guess some wrestlers are legitimate tough guys and athletes'' and in a way this seems to raise the actual stakes of the company and with Angle having been a legitimate Olympic wrestler this is exactly the kind of thing his name and presence did as well after all he had competed at the Olympics and own gold with a freaking broken neck that's not something anyone with half a brain can say is not incredibly impressive.
This is not the first honour to be bestowed upon Kurt Angle as in 2006 he was named by USA Wrestling as ''the greatest shoot wrestler ever'' and ''one of the top 15 college wrestlers of all time''. He was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 for his amateur accomplishments (and he is also in the TNA hall of fame but I am sure the WWE would like everyone to forget that little nugget of information). Add the Olympic gold to this and he is pretty much one of a kind when it comes to legitimate shoot wrestlers who have gone on to make it in the world of professional wrestling, this is why I think it is more than time for him to be put in the WWE hall of fame, in fact I would argue putting Angle in does more for the WWE by making there hall of fame look more legitimate than it does for Angle himself as an individual.
A far as the WWE(WWF) goes well Angle made his official debut in November of 1999 and received his first major push in the company in the following February. Now I don't want to do a play by play of the man's whole career but I do want to briefly talk about the start of his time in the WWE as I think it shows just how much and how quickly he understood the business.
Angle made his televised WWF in-ring debut on November 14th at the 1999 Survivor Series at the defeating Shawn Stasiak In his initial push, he remained undefeated for several weeks, before losing to the debuting Tazz. Angle's character at this point was "American hero" gimmick based on his gold medal win at the 1996 Summer Olympics. In his promos, Angle presented himself as a role model and stressed the need to work hard to realize one's dreams, stressing what he called the 3 I's, "Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence". In his promos and ring entrances, Angle was always seen with his Olympic medals (actually replica's of them to be precise). Despite Angle being legitimately good and essentially pushing good values and morals he was being booed. The way he had been billed as the first 'real athlete' in the WWF, seemed to really piss people off and Angle expertly played this, instead of getting disheartened that he was being seen as a sort of baddy and getting heat he played to this, he realised something which is key to the world of professional wrestling any loud and passionate reaction from the crowd is a success, if they turn up and pay big money to see you every night it doesn't matter if they are paying to scream that they love you or that they hate you, your getting a powerful emotional reaction from them and your doing a good job.
Angle had a great many amazing matches and moments and I could talk about them all day but I think for now I will leave this with a list of his on paper accomplishments within the WWF/E (I could of course go in to what he has done elsewhere but that is another story).
- World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WCW Championship (1 time)
- WCW United States Championship (1 time)
- WWF/E Championship (4 times)
- WWF European Championship (1 time)
- WWF Hardcore Championship (1 time)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
- WWE Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Chris Benoit
- King of the Ring (2000)