October 13, 2004
BORN: December 9, 1968 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
6-ft., 2-in., 220-lb
ALIASES/NICKNAMES: Your Olympic Hero
Kurt Angle: young, clean cut, All-American boy with solid amateur wrestling skills and a former Olympian. Who knew he'd make such a great heel? Although Angle has been on both sides of the fence since his WWE debut in 1999, that initial appearance was received with the boos of the live crowd on an edition of Raw.
Kurt Angle's "gimmick" as an amateur standout and Olympic hero isn't the product of the WWE's hype machine. Attending Clarion University in Pennsylvania, Angle was a two-time NCAA Champion. And, just like he is fond of pointing out, he defeated Iranian Abbas Jadidi in the final of the 220-pound freestyle wrestling competition in the 1996 Olympic Games, held in Atlanta, Georgia, winning a Gold Medal for his country. When Angle was informed of the referee's decision during the over-time victory, he broke down and cried, an image used by Angle in the WWE ever since.
The Gold Medal was made all that much sweeter for all the adversity that Angle had gone through. His coach, Dave Schulz, himself a former Olympic champion, was murdered on James E. du Pont estate in January 1996. Later, Angle broke his neck at the U.S. National Championships, suffering two fractured cervical vertebrae and finally, he pulled a leg muscle while in competition at the Olympics.
After the Olympics were over, the WWE made Angle a "lucrative" offer to join the professional wrestling ranks. Angle turned it down and prepared for life after the Olympics.
In addition to running amateur wrestling camps and clinics around Pittsburgh, Angle did some promotional and public speaking work, as well as tried his hand at sportscasting for Fox Sports local affiliate. Finally, almost two years after the Olympics had ended, Angle decided to switch from amateur wrestling to pro wrestling, a move that shocked and dismayed some of his former colleagues in the amateur ranks.
Interest in Angle had cooled considerably but he still received a tryout. In October, 1998, Angle signed a five-year deal with the WWE. Before he could make it to Raw and Smackdown, however, he went to train with former NWA World Champion Dory Funk, Jr. at the Funkin' Dojo. Following six months of training with Funk, Angle traveled to Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis, TN for an additional six months where he competed as both a face and a heel.
While Angle may not have been beloved, he certainly was successful. He quickly got his first taste of PRO wrestling gold, winning the European Championship from Val Venis in February, 2000. As if one title wasn't enough, he added the Intercontinental Championship, defeating Chris Jericho at No Way Out later that same month. Although he managed to lose both titles without being defeated in a Triple Threat match against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 2000, he rebounded to win the 2000 King of the Ring.
On October 22, 2000, less than a year after debuting in the WWE, Kurt Angle defeated the Rock at No Mercy to win his first WWF World Championship. Angle was expected to be a temporary champion. Instead, he held it until No Way Out in February 2001 when he lost to the Rock.
Although he bested Shane McMahon in an incredible Street Fight at King of the Ring 2001, Angle spent most of the summer battling Chris Benoit not only in standard matches, but cage matches and ladder matches as well. Never one to forget his amateur background, on June 2, 2001 in Stillwater, OK, Angle was inducted into the National Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame.
As the Invasion storyline began, Kurt seemed to be on the side of the WWE and feuded with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Angle had a flood of gold come his way during the summer and early fall of 2001, including the WCW title, the U.S. Heavyweight title, the WWF Hardcore title (briefly winning it from and losing it back to Rob Van Dam in the course of one day) and the WWF title (defeating Austin in his home town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23rd, 2001 at Unforgiven.)
In November, just weeks before the Survivor Series, Angle turned his back on the WWE and joined the Alliance. As it turned out, however, Angle was actually a mole working for Vince McMahon and the WWE. He was to have been rewarded with the WWE World Championship by McMahon, but Ric Flair's return to the WWE spoiled those plans.
At Backlash 2002, Angle battled Edge in a match that would change the look (literally) of Kurt Angle's career. After losing the match, Angle was forced to have his head shaved bald. The loss of his hair did little to deter Angle as he feuded with Hulk Hogan, Edge and Rey Mysterio, Jr. Angle also formed a tenuous team with Chris Benoit and the pair won the newly created Smackdown-brand Tagteam titles in a tournament in October.
As 2002 came to a close, however, Angle was back on the World title scene, defeating the Big Show on December 15th for the WWE title and then introducing Paul Heyman as his manager.
After dropping the WWE World Championship to Brock Lesnar, Angle went under the surgeon's knife. On April 11th, Angle underwent successful neck surgery by Dr. Hae-Dong Jho and was soon back in action, winning a Triple Threat match against Lesnar and the Big Show to win the WWE title on July 27th, 2003 at the Vengeance pay-per-view and continued his feud against Lesnar for the rest of the summer and most of the fall of 2003.
Wrestlemania XX was almost a carbon copy of the previous year's event for Angle, he came up short in his attempt to take home WWE Gold, this time from Eddie Guerrero, and then was sent to the sidelines due to neck surgery. However, instead of disappearing from Smackdown telecasts, Kurt Angle was named the brand's General Manager and, with Luther Reigns acting as his bodyguard, ran roughshod over several Smackdown wrestlers, most notably Guerrero and John Cena. His reign as GM however, came to an end, in July 2004 during a very public firing by Vince McMahon.
Back on the active roster, Angle battled Eddie Guerrero who was looking for revenge for the treatment that Eddie received while Angle was GM. Angle got into more hot water when the Big Show returned and went after Kurt as well. Kurt did himself no favours, scheming with WWE Champion JBL to abduct Joy Giovanni, who had become friends with Show.
As if Angle didn't have enough on his plate, he introduced "The Kurt Angle Invitational" where Kurt offered up his Olympic Gold medals, against local enhancement talent on Smackdown broadcasts.
Things weren't all rosy between Angle and his "partner in crime", JBL, as Angle still looked towards regaining the WWE title. The pair clashed in several matches, including a Triple Threat involving the Big Show at the Royal Rumble.
It was at the Royal Rumble where Angle crossed paths with Shawn Michaels. Michaels eliminated Angle, but Kurt returned and dumped Michaels. After several weeks of one star showing up on the other's show, the two clashed at Wrestlemania XXI with Angle getting a submission victory.
With John Cena as the new WWE Champion, Angle took part in the match to name the new number one contender, but lost in the final Fatal Fourway match involving winner JBL, the Big Show and Booker T.
Booker T, or rather Booker T's wife, Sharmell, became Angle's next target. Angle began making advances towards Sharmell, with Booker having to step in to defend his wife's honor. Even a loss at Judgment Day to Booker T (not to mention being part of the anti-ECW crusade at One Night Stand) couldn't deter Angle.
But a trade to Raw could. On June 13th, Angle left Smackdown behind and became a part of the Raw roster, immediately renewing his Wrestlemania XXI rivalry with Shawn Michaels. Michaels got the victory at Vengeance to even the score against Angle.
After the loss, the Kurt Angle invitational would continue, with Kurt nearly losing to former school teacher Matt Striker, and finally losing his gold medals to Eugene. Angle would regain the medals at SummerSlam and, after battling Shawn Michaels to a draw at WWE Homecoming, would turn his attention to WWE Champion John Cena.
But it was not to be. Despite title shots against Cena at Taboo Tuesday and at New Year's Revolution, Angle never defeated Cena for the title. Instead, in a shocking move, Angle moved to Smackdown and, on January 13th, 2006, won a 20 man battle royale to fill the vacant World Championship.
After taking on Shawn Michaels on Angle's last night on Raw, Angle dumped Daivari after Daivari cost Angle the match. Daivari retaliated by allying himself with Mark Henry but Henry could not oust Angle as World Champion at the Royal Rumble.
Victorious at the Rumble, Angle's night was spoiled when the Undertaker arrived on the scene and challenged him for the title at the upcoming No Way Out pay-per-view.
Angle and 'Taker would actually team up against MNM before Angle turned back the Undertaker's challenge at No Way Out. He would not be so lucky at Wrestlemania 22 when Rey Mysterio won the World Heavyweight Championship.
More astonishing, however, was Angle's parting with the WWE a little over two months later.
The true motivations behind his departure may never be fully known. The WWE would say Angle had been granted an early release from his contract to take a break and let his various injuries heal. Angle would later claim he quit because the gruelling WWE scheduling nearly killed his marriage, not to mention him.
Another month would pass (during which time gossip raged about whether Angle had in fact been fired over his alleged painkiller dependence), before TNA Commissioner Jim Cornette announced Angle inked a deal with the promotion.
Angle refereed the NWA World Heavyweight title bout between Jeff Jarrett and Sting at Bound For Glory. But just days before on Impact Angle confronted Samoa Joe in the ring and head butted him, thus sparking a much-anticipated feud between the two.
Angle and Joe would meet split their first two pay-per-view confrontations, with Angle taking the third at Final Resolution in an Iron Man match, three falls to two.
Turning his attention to NWA Heavyweight Champion Christian Cage, Angle’s four-month long chase culminated in his defeating Cage and Sting in a three-way match at Sacrifice to win the title. But only days later, Angle would be stripped of the belt, due to the controversial conclusion of the match. It would only take another month, though, before Angle again won the belt, which had since been changed from the NWA to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Angle went on to also defeat Brock Lesnar in Tokyo for the IWGP belt, and capture one-half of the tag belts with Samoa Joe at Victory Road. A feud with Joe would lead to the introduction of Angle’s wife Karen, which was perhaps fortunate for him given that more belts would be headed his way. After all, someone had to carry them. By beating Joe at Hard Justice, Angle would walk away with Joe’s tag team and X-Division championships, thereby likely making him one of the most checked passengers at airport security.
The title tonnage declined significantly at the following month’s No Surrender pay-per-view, as Angle (with Sting) lost the TNA Tag Team belts to Ron Killings and Pacman Jones, and the X-Division title to "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal. He would, however, manage to hold onto the heavyweight belt in his third match of the night when he defeated Abyss.
A feud between Sting and Angle was set up during their tag match when Karen claimed Sting had slapped her. Sting would at some point have Karen "arrested" while Angle would stalk and attack Sting’s son. Although Angle lost the heavyweight belt to Sting at Bound For Glory, he won it back from him less than two weeks later on Impact.
Angle again got the better of Sting during a tag match at Genesis, in spite of Sting teaming up with the debuting Booker T to take on Angle and his partner Kevin Nash. (Angle’s wife Karen should be partly credited for the victory as she enlisted the help of AJ Styles and Tomko.)
The Angle Alliance, however, would begin to unravel as Nash joined Samoa Joe while Christian Cage split as well. The latter move greatly distressed Styles, who seemed loyal to both sides. But Styles made clear where he stood at Final Resolution when he helped Angle to beat Cage and thereby retain his title.
Valentine’s Day 2008 marked the beginning of a long, weird love triangle storyline involving Kurt and Karen Angle and Styles. The Angles, set to renew their wedding vows on Impact, had their wedding ceremony interrupted by Joe and Nash. While Angle lay beaten down and stripped down to his shorts, a somewhat confused minister, who’d been knocked down during the melee, pronounced Styles and Karen man and wife and Styles gave Karen a smooch.
The Angles’ marriage remained rocky as Kurt ignored his wife in favour of preparing for his match against Joe at Lockdown. Joe, who signed a contract stipulating he’d retire if he lost the match, not surprisingly defeated Angle and won the heavyweight crown.
A build up for a championship triple threat match at Sacrifice between Angle, Joe and Scott Steiner would be terminated as Angle suffered a neck injury in a match in Korea not long before the pay-per-view match was to take place.
For the next month, Angle wouldn’t wrestle but remained a major part of TNA programming as he would jealously ambush Styles and yell at his wife on TV. (Throughout this whole storyline, Karen and Styles would repeatedly emphasize they were “only friends.”)
Angle and Styles would hash out their differences in a robust, exciting match at Slammiversary, where Karen interfered to allow Styles to get the duke. At the next Impact, Kurt would get his revenge. First, he beat Styles in a lumberjack match (with Brother Ray’s assistance), and second, watched Women’s Champ Awesome Kong come into the ring to seize upon the hit Kurt put out on his wife earlier in the show, and punch Karen out. Angle wasn't finished there, of course. He used Frank Trigg as a distraction, allowing him to sneak attack Styles, and also set The Beautiful People upon Karen, who got the brown paper bag treatment.
Angle, along with Team 3-D, defeated Styles, Christian Cage, and Rhino at Victory Road, but Angle and Styles just kept on beating the hell out of each other for the next month. Styles would get his revenge, beating Angle at Hard Justice, and then beating him in a match with Angle's gold medals on the line (with the help of Jeff Jarrett's guitar). He defended the medals successfully, again with the aid of the guitar, which again mysteriously wound up in his hands after the arena lights went out. Jarrett (with guitar) made his appearance at No Surrender, smashing the guitar over Angle's head to help Samoa Joe retain his title.
Not surprisingly, an enraged Angle tried to get at Jarrett. Jarrett at first was hesitant, and even seemingly made a peace offering by returning Angle's gold medals. Angle would have none of that, though, and even subtly threatened his three daughters. (Something that would recur throughout the feud.) At Bound for Glory, Jarrett would beat Angle, but Angle refused to let it go.
Angle would form the "Main Even Mafia," which included Kevin Nash, Booker T, Champion Sting, and Scott Steiner. The Mafia ran roughshod over the company, and with a victory over Rhino at Final Resolution, Angle had a guaranteed re-match against Jarrett at Genesis, where he beat him and smashed his ankle with a steel chair.
With Jarrett out of the way, Angle's intensity would turn against fellow Mafia member Sting. The friction between the two kept building until they finally met in an empty arena match. That ended in a no contest when the rest of the Mafia arrived to split them up, but the feud didn't die there. Jarrett returned to insert himself into the situation, making a one-on-one match between Sting and Angle at Destination X, and making himself the guest referee and Mick Foley the guest enforcer. This, however, didn't help ensure a clean outcome as the guests became involved in the match: Foley accidentally hit Sting with a steel chair; Angle punched Jarrett; Jarrett gave it right back to him; Angle reeled into a revived and waiting Sting; and Sting caught Angle with the Scorpion Deathdrop for the pinfall victory.
The Mafia suffered another humiliation at Lockdown when Team Jarrett beat Team Angle in a Lethal Lockdown match, and Sting lost his belt to Foley in a cage match. The only seeming glimmer of hope came when Bobby Lashley appeared on the entrance way. From there, he pointed to the ring as Kurt Angle smiled.