Kurt Steven Angle (December 9, 1968) a American professional wrestler, actor and 1996 Olympic gold medalist who performed in WWF/E.
Angle was involved in amateur wrestling during both high school and college. In college at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, he won numerous accolades, including being a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I champion. After graduating, he won the 1995 World Championship tournament. Angle then competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where he won a gold medal in heavyweight freestyle wrestling.
Professional wrestling career
Angle's first appearance on WWF television was on the March 7, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat, where he took part in an angle with Tiger Ali Singh. This angle involved Singh paying him money to blow his nose on the American flag. Angle instead blew his nose on Singh's flag and fought him off. His first official WWF match was a dark match victory over Brian Christopher on April 11, 1999. In the following months, he wrestled in house shows and other dark matches in preparation for his televised debut.
After several weeks of vignettes, Angle made his in-ring debut on November 14, 1999 at the Survivor Series at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, defeating Shawn Stasiak. In his initial push, he remained undefeated for several weeks, eventually losing to the debuting Tazz at the Royal Rumble. Angle's television character was an "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 the 3 I's, "Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence". In his promos and ring entrances, Angle would always wear replicas of his gold medals around his neck. While he stood for many principles that are associated with "good guy" wrestlers, Angle's character put an arrogant spin on them to act as a villain, talking down to the audience and behaving as if he thought he was better than the fans. Angle won both the European Championship and the Intercontinental Championship in February 2000, billing himself as the "Eurocontinental Champion". He dropped both of his titles without ever conceding a fall in a two falls Triple Threat match with Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 2000. The match had been agreed to on Angle's behalf by his mentor, Bob Backlund.
Throughout mid-2000, Angle and ("Team ECK" (Edge, Christian and Kurt)) feuded with Too Cool and Rikishi, with Angle defeating Rikishi in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament. He went on to feud with Triple H after a love triangle between Angle, Triple H, and Triple H's wife Stephanie McMahon developed. As a change to the intended storyline of Stephanie turning on her husband and going with Angle, he lost to Triple H at Unforgiven. Following his feud with Triple H, Angle received another push and began pursuing the WWF Championship, defeating The Rock at No Mercy, after botched interference on The Rock's behalf from Rikishi. With his victory over the Rock, Angle became the first wrestler to have won both an Olympic Gold medal and the World title. Angle retained the WWF Championship for the rest of the year in matches with The Undertaker at Survivor Series and in a six way Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon.
After beating Triple H at the Royal Rumble, Angle eventually lost the title to The Rock at No Way Out, after holding the WWF Championship for four months. He then feuded with Chris Benoit, whom he defeated at WrestleMania X-Seven but lost to him at Backlash in an Ultimate Submission match; Benoit defeated Angle four falls to three in sudden-death overtime. Continuing the feud, Angle again defeated Benoit in a two out of three falls match at Judgment Day. Benoit pinned Angle after an Angle Slam in a "Pinfalls Only" fall, and then Angle made Benoit submit with the ankle lock in the "Submissions Only" fall. Angle won the third fall, a Ladder match, with the help of Edge and Christian.
When invading superstars and ECW formed The Alliance and invaded the WWF in mid-2001 (dubbed as "The Invasion"), Angle became a fan favorite and began a storyline where he joined forces with WWF Champion Steve Austin to repel them. At Invasion, Angle and Austin captained a team of five WWF superstars against five handpicked members of the Alliance. As part of the angle, Team WWF lost to Team Alliance when Austin turned on his team to join The Alliance. At the close of the match, Austin nailed Angle with a Stone Cold Stunner, causing him to get pinned by the other team. After winning and losing the United States Championship, and the WWF Hardcore Championship in matches with Alliance members, Angle was booked to defeat Austin in a SummerSlam rematch for his second WWF Championship at Unforgiven. He dropped the title back to Austin on the October 8, 2001 episode of Raw when WWF Commissioner William Regal joined The Alliance and cost Angle the match. As part of the storyline, Angle subsequently turned into a villain again and joined the Alliance himself; during a WrestleMania X-Seven rematch between Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon, he interfered seemingly to aid Vince but instead struck the members of team WWF with a steel chair. Angle, however, ultimately returned to the WWF side by enabling The Rock to defeat Austin in a "Winner Takes All" match between the WWF and The Alliance at Survivor Series. He remained a villain by claiming sole responsibility for the destruction of The Alliance.
After dropping the United States Championship to Edge, the duo were booked into a lengthy feud. During this feud, Edge helped the fans with the already started "you suck" chants every time Angle entered a WWE ring, usually in tune with Angle's entrance music. The chants followed Angle throughout the rest of his WWE career. In the course of the feud, the naturally balding Angle lost a "hair versus hair" match to Edge at Judgment Day, and his head was shaved bald. Following the loss of his hair, Angle's storyline called for him to wear a wig and insult bald people, leading to a feud with Hollywood Hogan, who stripped Angle of his wig. Angle later scored a submission victory over Hogan at King of the Ring. In 2002 Kurt wrestled John Cena in Cena's first ever WWE match. Kurt went on to win the match by a roll up pin.
In October 2002, Angle became the fifth WWE Grand Slam Championship winner when he won the WWE Tag Team Championship with Chris Benoit at No Mercy 2002. Their team was successful but problematic, as the two bickered constantly, with Benoit often fed up with Angle's over-the-top antics. After dropping the title to Edge and Rey Mysterio on an episode of SmackDown!, Angle won his third WWE Championship at Armageddon, defeating The Big Show, with the help of Brock Lesnar. While still in his third reign, Angle began a new storyline when he gained the services of manager Paul Heyman and "Team Angle".
He then began feuding with Brock Lesnar, who had won the 2003 Royal Rumble match, after Lesnar claimed to be the new top superstar on SmackDown!. Angle dropped the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania XIX to Lesnar.
On April 11, 2003, Angle underwent neck surgery performed by Dr. Hae-Dong Jho to repair nerve and spinal damage, calcium buildup, bone spurs, and intervertebral disc problems. He returned as a face character in June. Shortly after returning, Angle defeated Lesnar and Big Show in a Triple Threat match at Vengeance to regain the WWE Championship. During this time, Lesnar seemed to become an ally to Angle. Lesnar, however, secretly worked with Vince McMahon on a plot against Angle, turning on him during a steel cage match between himself and McMahon in which Angle was the special guest referee, and stated that he never tolerated losing the belt to him at Vengeance. After retaining the title in a singles bout at SummerSlam by making Brock Lesnar tap out to the ankle lock, he dropped the title to Lesnar in an Iron Man match on an episode of SmackDown!. Angle then formed a five-man team to rival Lesnar's team at the Survivor Series, with Angle's team coming out victorious.
Angle then got involved in a feud with Eddie Guerrero. Initially being a firm friend and ally to Eddie during the latter's feud with his nephew Chavo, Angle turned on him when it was announced that Guerrero, not Angle, was the number one contender for the WWE Championship, thus becoming a villain once again. At No Way Out, Guerrero defeated Lesnar to win the WWE Championship, and Angle won a match to become new number one contender. After losing to Guerrero at WrestleMania XX, Angle began to once again suffer from legitimate neck problems. As a response, he was made the on-screen General Manager of SmackDown!, with his absence from the ring attributed to injuries suffered after Big Show chokeslammed him off a ledge. Angle continued his feud with Guerrero throughout 2004. He cost Guerrero the WWE championship against John "Bradshaw" Layfield in a Texas Bull Rope match at The Great American Bash by participating in the worked finish; Angle came down to the ring and showed a replay where JBL's shoulder hit the corner pad before Guerrero's hand. Angle was later fired by Vince McMahon as General Manager in July 2004, after discovering that he was faking his handicapped status.
In November 2004, Angle initiated the Kurt Angle Invitational, a worked weekly segment where "hometown heroes" (plants), challenged him to a match, with Angle promising to give his Olympic gold medal to the first person to last more than three minutes in the ring with him. The Invitational was won by Eugene in July 2005 starting a new angle for both men. As a result, Angle faced Eugene at SummerSlam, defeating him by making him tap out to the ankle lock.
On November 4, 2004, episode of SmackDown!, taped in St. Louis, Missouri, during an unscripted segment of Tough Enough, Angle challenged the finalists through a squat thrust competition. Chris Nawrocki won the competition, and the prize Nawrocki won was a match against Angle. Angle quickly took Nawrocki down, breaking his ribs, then made him tap out with a neck crank. After Angle defeated Nawrocki, Angle challenged the other finalists. Daniel Puder, an American professional mixed martial artist, accepted Angle's challenge. Angle and Puder wrestled for position, with Angle taking Puder down, however, in the process, Puder locked Angle in a kimura lock. With Puder on his back and Angle's arm locked in the kimura, Angle attempted a pin, one of two referees in the ring, Jim Korderas, quickly counted three to end the bout, despite the fact that Puder's shoulders weren't fully down on the mat, bridging up at two.
In January 2005, Angle took part in the Royal Rumble, but was eliminated by Shawn Michaels, who had returned to the ring to eliminate in retaliation. After mocking Michaels by defeating his former tag team partner, Marty Jannetty, and attacking former manager, Sherri Martel, Angle defeated Michaels in an interpromotional match at WrestleMania 21. He continued to feud with Michaels upon being drafted from SmackDown! to Raw in the 2005 WWE Draft Lottery, losing to Michaels at Vengeance. Angle later challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship at Unforgiven, where Angle won the match by disqualification, thus not winning the title. Angle also challenged Cena again in a Triple Threat match along with Michaels at Taboo Tuesday, in a losing effort.
Angle returned to the SmackDown! brand in January 2006, where he was pushed to gain the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in a twenty man battle royal, turning face in the process for the first time since 2004. He retained the title against Mark Henry at the Royal Rumble. Shortly after the match, The Undertaker made his return and challenged Angle for the title. Angle retained the title in a match with Undertaker at No Way Out before indirectly dropping it to Rey Mysterio in a Triple Threat match, which also included Randy Orton, at WrestleMania 22.
On May 29, 2006, Angle was drafted to the newly created ECW brand. It was during this time that he acquired the nickname "The Wrestling Machine," wearing a mouth guard and quickly squashing opponents. Upon coming to ECW, he issued an open challenge for One Night Stand, which was accepted by Orton. Angle defeated Orton at One Night Stand, later losing to him in a rematch at Vengeance. Angle appeared sporadically on WWE television throughout mid-2006. On August 25, 2006, Angle was granted an early release from his WWE contract because of health reasons.
On January 16, 2017, WWE announced that Angle would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. On March 16, WWE revealed that his long-time rival John Cena would induct Angle at the Hall of Fame ceremony. On the April 3 episode of Raw after WrestleMania 33, Angle made his first WWE appearance in nearly 11 years after Mr. McMahon appointed Angle as the new general manager of Raw. On the May 29 episode of Raw, commentator Corey Graves informed Angle about some "scandalous information" that was sent to him about Angle, with Angle telling Graves "if this is true, it could ruin me". On the July 17 episode of Raw, Angle revealed that he had a son with a woman he dated in college. He stated that his son eventually ended up in the WWE. Angle then made the announcement that his (on-screen) son was Jason Jordan of American Alpha, thus moving Jordan to the Raw brand.
On October 20, WWE announced Angle's in-ring return after 11 years, replacing Roman Reigns due to medical issues and teaming with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to face The Miz, Braun Strowman, Kane, Cesaro and Sheamus in a 5-on-3 handicap Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. Angle (dressed in The Shield's ring attire), Ambrose, and Rollins won the match, despite Angle having initially been taken out when Braun Strowman executed a Running Powerslam through a table on Angle. On the October 30 episode of Raw, while addressing the fans, commissioner Stephanie McMahon confronted Angle, announcing that Angle would be the team captain of Team Raw at Survivor Series, adding that if Team Raw would lose, Angle would be fired. At the event, Angle's teammate Triple H attacked him, leading to his elimination by Shane McMahon, however, Team Raw still went on to win the match. At the Elimination Chamber, Angle, along with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, was present when Ronda Rousey signed her Raw contract, where Angle brought up the confrontation that Stephanie McMahon and Triple H had with Rousey and The Rock at WrestleMania 31 and that they both want to manipulate her. This caused Rousey to put Triple H through a table and be slapped by Stephanie McMahon before signing her contract. The following night on Raw, Angle claimed the allegations he made were false to keep his job before being attacked by Triple H. As a result, the following week, Angle scheduled himself to team with Rousey against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a mixed tag team match at WrestleMania 34, which Angle and Rousey won. Following WrestleMania, Angle found himself in a power struggle over the control of Raw, when the McMahon family appointed Baron Corbin as the constable of Monday Nights on the June 4 episode of Raw. This continued until the August 20 episode of Raw, when Stephanie McMahon sent Angle on "vacation" before announcing that Baron Corbin would be acting general manager in Angle's absence.
On the October 8 episode of Raw, Angle made a surprise return, disguised under a mask as "The Conquistador", winning a battle royal after last eliminating Baron Corbin and qualifying for the WWE World Cup at Crown Jewel. At the event, Dolph Ziggler defeated Angle in the first round of the WWE World Cup Tournament. On November 5, Angle competed in his first match on Raw since 2006, for a spot in the Survivor Series, losing to Drew McIntyre in dominating fashion, with McIntyre using Angle's own ankle lock finishing maneuver to make him submit. Angle returned at TLC on December 16 to help Braun Strowman, along with Apollo Crews, Finn Bálor, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, and referee Heath Slater, beat Baron Corbin to strip him of authoritative power. The next night on Raw, Angle along with Crews, Roode and Gable, easily defeated Corbin in a handicapped-no disqualification match to prevent him from being the permanent general manager of Raw. At the 2019 Royal Rumble on January 27, 2019, Angle entered the match at number four but was eliminated by Shinsuke Nakamura.
On the March 11 episode of Raw, Angle announced he would retire at WrestleMania 35 and chose Baron Corbin as his final opponent at the event. Over the following weeks, Angle embarked on a "Farewell Tour", facing several handpicked opponents, including Apollo Crews, Chad Gable, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles. At WrestleMania 35, Angle lost to Corbin in his final match. On the Raw after WrestleMania, Angle attacked Corbin, and was subsequently attacked by a debuting Lars Sullivan. Afterwards, Angle transitioned to a backstage role as a producer.
On July 22, Angle appeared on Raw Reunion and raised a toast alongside Triple H, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and various other fellow wrestlers of his era. On the August 5 episode of Raw in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Angle made an appearance as the special guest referee for a match between Drew McIntyre and Cedric Alexander. However, McIntyre and Alexander took out each other before the match began and Angle was then attacked by "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. On April 15, 2020, Angle was released from his WWE contract as part of budget cuts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 23, the WWE announced that Angle will be the special guest referee in the steel cage match between Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher on the NXT brand. Angle returned once again on the May 29 episode of SmackDown to announce the arrival of Matt Riddle to the brand. In an interview with CBR, Angle revealed that WWE offered him a new deal to come back under the role of Matt Riddle's manager but he turned it down in order to focus on his health and his nutrition business.