Angle buoyed by new popularity
By JON WALDMAN -- For SLAM! Wrestling
Kurt Angle at the WrestleMania press conference in Toronto. -- Jon Waldman, for SLAM! Wrestling|
As a former amateur wrestling champion and Olympic
gold medallist, Kurt Angle had a tough time making a
leap to the pros, but success in the World Wrestling
Federation has come quickly to the "Olympic hero".
"There was a lot of transitions and it was very
difficult for me to slow down and to learn a different
style, but eventually I was able to catch on and be
the best I could, and I think I've done pretty well so
far," he told SLAM! during the Wrestlemania X-8 press
conference last Monday in Toronto.
Part of the transition for Angle was adjusting to the
many aspects of performing in the WWF. Angle was used
to working against one opponent, whereas now there are
several people he has to keep in mind while wrestling.
"You're so used to competing against an opponent and
focusing on that one opponent, not so many things you
do in sports entertainment which includes crowd,
working with your opponent to make sure the show goes
on really well," he said.
Angle is one of fastest rising superstars in WWF
history. Since joining the pro circuit in 1999, he has
held the European, Intercontinental, and World
Championships, as well as being the 2000 King of the
Ring and former WCW Champion.
Angle's popularity is high across North America, in
spite of his character being an American patriot.
Despite being covered in the red, white, and blue of
the USA, Angle notes that the fans react well to him
north of the 49th. "Actually, my reception is very
good here in Canada," he said.. "That's the one great
thing about Canadian fans, or fans in the United
States for that matter -- it doesn't matter where
you're from. It matters where you are on the card,
what you're doing in the storylines."
"Fans enjoy me because I'm funny and entertaining, at
least my character is," he quipped.
A lot of Angle's success can be attributed to his own
enjoyment of his character. "I think he's
entertaining, he's funny, and he's one of the best
athletes in the World Wrestling Federation, no doubt
about it," he said.
Angle, who won the gold medal in freestyle wrestling
in the 220-pound class at the 1996 Olympic Summer
Games, is looking forward to Wrestlemania X-8 in
Toronto. He feels that the WWF does not do enough
shows in the Ontario capital. "I don't think we're
here enough," he said. "Three times a year might sound
like a lot to most cities but in Toronto, Canada,
they're very loyal to the World Wrestling Federation."
"Every single time we come here, it seems to be sold
out. The Toronto fans really enjoy the show."
Kurt Angle bio and story archive
More coverage of WrestleMania X8