I apologize for the quality of this one. October in 2002 brought some awesome goodness on the Smackdown side. I want to focus on that timeframe with the next several videos. Let’s kick it off with this match between Edge and Kurt Angle. Earlier in 2002, they had a feud which led to Angle losing his hair. Edge and Rey Mysterio formed a team as they were entered into the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament. Angle had formed an alliance with Chris Benoit. Here is a singles match between Edge and Angle in the middle of all this.
Kurt Angle had defeated Austin to win the WWF Championship in his hometown of Pittsburgh at Unforgiven 2001. Austin had been off TV for a couple of weeks after that loss, and was then granted a rematch for this episode of RAW. The Invasion angle may have been botched, but it did offer plenty of memorable moments, this being one of them.
Jeff Hardy won the TNA World Championship at Bound for Glory 2012, and makes his first title defense here on an episode of iMPACT! The two put on a pretty good match, shall we say near the **** range?
To close out September today and tomorrow, we’ll go with the brand split era and the Smackdown side of things. Benoit and Angle had the classics ***** encounter at Royal Rumble 2003, but before that at Unforgiven 2002, they paired off in another great match, this one has an ending that hearkens back to their WM X-7 encounter.
I definitely like the way Triple H has been shaping the future, but he seems adamant about creating new homegrown stars and not bringing in people who may already have a name. Now, obviously Angle has had his demons. But he claims he's a year+ sober now. If the guy can pass the physical and the drug test, I feel like they'd be foolish not to bring him in.
Guys like Bully Ray, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, etc. all could be hugely beneficial to WWE, but dirtsheets are constantly reporting WWE doesn't have an interest in them. It's really stupid to me. Of course you have to plan for the future with your new stars, but I still feel it's foolish to pass up on proven talent that can make an initial impact and then use their star power to help build your young guys.
With Kurt Angle alone, you have the perfect built-in mini-feud with Rusev, one of the only guys they can market as a believable threat to Lesnar, and a dozen fresh match combinations with guys like Ambrose, Rollins, Ziggler, Sheamus, Wyatt, Cesaro, and Bryan, etc. And several of those could reasonably be called dream matches to some fans and Angle has enough legitimacy built up that putting over some of those guys would help them tremendously.
Why the hell would you not bring him in on a part-time schedule, get all those matches out of him, then throw him in the HOF?
Because I like to be a little more obscure with my tactlessness.
Since I already sent in one Rocker vs. Curt match earlier this week, I figured I’d submit this gem as as something of a companion piece, featuring the other Rocker and the other Kurt. Obviously the last great match of Janetty’s career (and really the only one post 1994 or so), and a real testament to Kurt’s ability to bring out the best in his opponents. As an aside, Kurt Angle really was the evolutionary Hennig, wasn’t he? The hyper-cocky technical genius who could work heel or face without really changing his gimmick. It’s a shame we never got a program with the two of them, but I suppose the window there was pretty small. Anyhow, here’s the match, and it is good: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1cvku_kurt-angle-vs-marty-jannetty-smackd_news
This is his fourth alcohol related arrest in six years. No word on any punishment or any changes in storylines.
Kurt Angle can make a case for being the best pro wrestler in history. His rise through the WWE ranks was meteoric, which was almost as impressive as his progression as an in ring performer.
One thing you will glean from the book is this: Angle clearly “Got it” very early into his WWF career. That is almost unheard of from a man who won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling. You see, amateur wrestlers hold pro wrestlers in slight regard. They consider the pro ranks a joke. Even Angle himself never really saw himself as a pro wrestling entertainer. But, then again, where does an amateur go once he has achieved all there is to achieve in an amateur arena? Coaching? That is about it.
Instead, Angle broke the mold. The 1990’s WWF was not exactly a breeding ground for great amateur wrestlers. On the contrary, they were character driven. The one guy they signed with Olympic credentials, Mark Henry, was a spectacular flop in both the Olympics AND in WWF. Sure, the WWE gave him a cute gimmick with “Sexual Chocolate” but he wasn’t going to advance to the upper echelon of the WWF’s Main Events using that comic character. To be honest, Henry didn’t really find respectability in WWE until last year, when he seemed to figure it all out, and the WWE figured how to properly push him. Gotta love the slow slide of progress ladies and germs.
Kurt Angle, on the other hand, truly broke the mold. We are not likely to see another animal quite like this again. Kurt was an Olympic Gold Medalist…and I think I can speak for most fans here, he is a freakish athlete. I have never observed someone in pro wrestling so quickly not only “get it” but also become an all time in ring great. Kurt did it within about a year, where it takes most professional wrestlers years upon years of training on many continents to do what Kurt Angle was doing come 2002. It was patently ridiculous. Within a year and a half in the business, Angle was spoken of in such bated breath as Benoit, Michaels, HHH, Guerrero, Flair…the list goes on and on. Angle figured all this out within a year or so.
That is why this book is not quite ready for primetime, unlike Angle, who clearly was ready for primetime from day one. It was published in 2001, right around the time of WrestleMania X-7. The book is actually quite like the man himself. He was a fully capable wrestler at the time this was published. In fact, he was already damned good, as evidenced by his No Way Out match with Rock and this Mania X-7 match with Chris Benoit. It is just that he got so good, so fast throughout 2001-2002, that it is almost a shame this book was authored and published so prematurely. Give it another 2,3,4 years, and, much like Angle’s matches, you might get a better, more textured, more layered book with several false finishes leading to a heel hook. As it is here, you get a rather bland in retrospect ankle lock or a quick Olympic Slam.
I am not going to go too in depth here, as I trust most of the readers here know the Kurt Angle story. He was born just out of Pittsburgh, the youngest of the litter. His brothers were some hard ass men, particularly his brother Mark, who was something of a street legend in Pittsburgh. Mark was double tough (to quote JR) and frequently kicked the shit out of some Rowdy street thug who wanted to test him.
Kurt Angle’s father died when he was a teenager. Kurt’s dad was a construction worker, and one ominous day, he plummeted from his crane to bare earth, head first. He died on August 28, 1985, when Kurt was sixteen. Kurt attributes this tragedy with being the impetus for his steadfast dedication to everything he dives headlong into, in this case, amateur wrestling.
Kurt was a natural athlete, excelling in football, baseball, and wrestling. People reading this may think Kurt is full of shit, but I don’t. I have seen what he has done in a wrestling ring, and the man is just a freaky good athlete. Wrestling, though, was the sport that got him college scholarships. He did not want to stray too far from his widow mother, so he chose to attend Clarion University in Pennsylvania.
Kurt was an outstanding amateur at Clarion, and he won National titles two out of three seasons there. Kurt earned a communications degree and decided to try out for the Olympics. He did not make the team in 1992, but he put a central focus on joining the team in Atlanta in 1996. His training during those four years is stuff of legend. I am not going to ruin it for those who want to read the book…but my GOD man, Kurt Angle is a different animal. Animal is an apropos word for Kurt, for he trained for the 96 Olympics with a near fanatical zeal. He went to meets all over the world, particularly in former Russian territories in search of the best competition he could find. He actually had a tough time with Russians, but eventually overcame that bugaboo.
Angle entered the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and he dazzled. He was a total underdog, undersized compared to some of the mammoth men he would encounter. To add to the pressure, he had suffered what basically amounted to a “broken freakin neck” in the World Championships leading up to the Olympics. Kurt was hurting, and did not want to go under the knife, which would have terminated his Olympic dreams. Instead, he took shots of Mepivicaine to dull the pain in his neck, and soldiered on. As a quick aside, Kurt talks throughout the book about how he dreaded his father because his old man abused alcohol to a nasty extent, to the point where it destroyed the household and marriage with Kurt’s mother. Kurt expresses a desire to stay away from substance abuse throughout the book, but in light of what has happened in the near 15 years since the book was published…it almost seems comical. And ominous.
We all know what happened from there. Angle won the Gold, and became an immense celebrity. Angle loved that. He couldn’t get enough of it. But he found out quite quickly that Olympic stardom is fleeting. You may get an odd Subway commercial here and there, but for the most part, the public forgets about you within six months. Angle tried to counteract this by becoming a sports anchor in his native Pittsburgh. There was a slight problem with that, though. He sucked at it. Hard to believe that someone who has shown so much charisma in pro wrestling and someone who had captured the hearts of America could not translate into sports broadcasting…but Angle sucked, and he admits it.
Angle was a lost soul for a while, but he did make time to attend an ECW show shortly after his Olympic victory. At that show, as many of you know, Raven crucified Sandman. A truly sacrilegious angle, no pun intended. Kurt was there, and he was infuriated to be linked to such a thing. He wanted no part in pro wrestling. That is, until there was nothing on his plate, and he needed to make a living.
Angle had been offered a contract by the WWF shortly after his Gold Medal triumph, but he refused, using the amateur wrestling playbook at the time that derided pro wrestling. Angle makes no bones that he really enjoyed the public spotlight, and craved it some more. So in late 1998, he called the WWF, and offered his services to them. The WWF was skeptical, especially seeing as Angle said in his phone interview with Jim Ross, “I am an Olympic Champion. I can never lose, ever.” Yeah, that’s gonna work in Pro Wrestling. Angle got a tryout with WWF, at Dory Funk’s “Funkin Dojo.” Angle impressed. Kurt Angle is a freakish athlete, and within four days of training with DORY FUNK JUNIOR (one of the greatest to ever grace the squared circle) Angle was having his first match. I actually saw Angle on August 30, 1999, at a Raw show at the then Fleet Center in Boston. He was fluid, he was good. I forgot about him quickly, though, because that was the show that the Dudleys made their WWF debut. Angle was obviously on to something.
And Angle did not disappoint. He debuted on TV at Survivor Series 1999, as a heel, and has never looked back. I think I can speak for the masses here and say that Angle adapted, trained, and became excellent (not good….exceptional) in the ring faster than anyone I have ever seen. The man is an absolute freak, and the book bears that out. You can see from the words he puts to papyrus that he understood the game freakishly quick. And yes, I know he had a ghostwriter…but still…
The best parts of this book don’t revolve around pro wrestling. They revolve around Dave Schultz (not Dr. D. of Stossel slapping fame) and Jon duPont. THOSE portions are the reason to read this book. Angle was basically a noob at this point in pro wrestling, but the man had a p.H.D. in amateur wrestling at this point. THAT is why this is an interesting read. The stuff involving eccentric millionaire and wrestling mark Jon duPont and all time amateur wrestling great trainer Dave Schultz are worth the price of admission.
All in all, I actually rated this book as one of my worst five in an earlier article I posted from my site to this site. I was wrong. It is actually a very interesting read. I would rate it as “READ IT”. Don’t buy. I was such a huge Angle in pro wrestling fan that I let it cloud my vision. No more. Yes, it would be excellent to hear of the great matches post 2001, as Angle became arguably one of the best in ring performers ever. It would be nice to hear his opinions on Chris Benoit, whose style he basically copied. Another thing is this: He mentions his old man as a total alcoholic throughout the book, and his desire to stay away from such temptations. Well…have you followed Kurt Angle over the last, I don’t know, eight years? He, for a while, became the poster child for wrestler substance abuse. This book was authored before that. That is why I find myself pining for more, more, more. I LOVE Kurt Angle as a performer. But I fear that he is lighting the candle on both ends, and shortening his life expectancy. I just hope that Angle is capable of avoiding the fate of his wrestling soul mate, Chris Benoit.
Read the book, don’t buy it.
Who’s the jackass that artificially stretched it into widescreen? Anyway, one of the best Wrestlemania matches ever, although I’ll probably try to do a more WM-specific great match countdown as we get closer. This was the first PPV I saw in a movie theater, and the crowd was JACKED for Kurt Angle and just screaming for Shawn to tap out in that anklelock. If it didn’t last for fucking TWO MINUTES it would have been a ***** match.