One of the best sports entertainment performers / pure wrestlers currently active. His ability to carry a match no matter how dull his opponent is, and the way he reverses moves and turn it into an ankle lock out-of-nowhere is probably one of the most exciting things to see in his matches aside from his top-notch mic skills and willingness to put over new talent. I'll even go so far as to say that this guy is the future of wrestling. Yes.... he's that good.
The Early Days
Kurt Angle was born on December 9, 1968 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has four older brothers and a sister, Kurt being the youngest. Kurt grew up in his hometown and studied in Mount Lebanon High School. Not only did Kurt serve as the linebacker for the school's football team, he was also a Junior National Freestyle wrestling champion as well as Pennsylvania State wrestling champion. He graduated high school in 1987 and joined Clarion University shortly, in which he won Freshman Of The Year honors in 1988. He also won his first NCAA Championship during his sophomore year, and won yet another one during his senior year. Angle also participated in the Yasar Dogu Tournament in Turkey and the Espoir World Cup - he placed second in both tournaments. He made up for this the following year, winning the Canadian Cup Championship. In 1992, Kurt graduated from Clarion University with a degree in Geography. After his graduation, he was offered numerous wrestling-coaching jobs in preparation for the coming Olympics which takes place in Atlanta four years later.
Kurt Angle gained his much needed exposure in 1996 during the Olympic games in Atlanta, after snagging a gold medal for the 220-pound Freestyle Wrestling Competition beating Abbas Jadidi of Iran. After his win, Kurt spend most of his time providing color commentary for a local sports station and began endorsing products for Protos Foods, Inc. Angle's success reverberated in the Titan Towers suites and he was immediately contacted if he would be interested in signing with the WWF. Angle toured the WWF's wrestling facilities but turned down the offer and said that "pro wrestling is currently not in his future" and pointed out that amateur wrestlers are not suppose to be working with the pseudo-wrestling that is the WWF. However years later in 1998, Kurt began showing some interest in wrestling, after learning the BIG difference between sports entertainment and the actual amateur wrestling. He went to an ECW show once but was repulsed (being a devoted christian) by the crucifixion angle which involved Tommy Dreamer tying Raven to the cross. Kurt went back to his original choice, and contacted the WWF shortly asking for a tryout. Kurt passed the tryouts on his second day and was signed immediately to a 5-year contract. Kurt made his house show debut on a dark match with Christian in Boston four days later. After participating in various house shows in Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis (a WWF affiliate training camp), Kurt was set to make his pro-wrestling debut in 1999. Commercials advertising Kurt as a celebrated real athlete and an all-American brought chills down most fans, expecting a Hulk Hogan/Patriot-type of wrestler.
The Survivor Series
Then came the moment of truth: Kurt Angle debuted in the 1999 Survivor Series to fight Shawn Stasiak. Drabbed in tights that resemble the American flag and marching to the beat of the Patriot's nationalistic music, Kurt entered the ring to a chorus of boos from the crowd. The booing continued during the entire match especially when Kurt tries to play goody-goody old-school wrestling by extending his hand whenever Stasiak falls to the floor or shaking his hand whenever the referee breaks some holds. When the action spilled to the outside, Kurt grabbed the microphone and asked the crowd with a cocky demeanor, why they are booing him which resulted in more negative heat. Kurt went back to the ring and disposed of Stasiak with the Olympic Slam. The following night on Raw saw the beginning of Kurt's pompous olympic hero gimmick. He would come to shows bragging about his gold medals, berating the fans by making fun of the local sports team or make political references and even lecture fans on how they should learn to use his famed three I's which are intensity, integrity and intelligence. Sometimes he'll even make fun of his opponent like when he offered the Godfather a prophylactic. This heel gimmick works perfectly judging from the majority of crowd signs and the reception he receives. In fact, fans hate him so much that they took it upon themselves to put lyrics to his entrance music - "you suck" chants that is.
Kurt remained undefeated in the ring throughout 1999 until the Royal Rumble the following year in which he was scheduled to fight a TBA (to-be-announced) opponent in the opening match. His opponent turned out to be Tazz, an ECW wrestler recently signed by the WWF. Tazz decimated Angle throwing him around in various suplexes and finally applying the Tazzmission (a modified Kata Hajime) on Angle. Kurt never tapped, but he passed out caused by choking. The following night on Raw, Kurt protested that the move Tazz used was clearly a choke hold, hence an illegal move. He brought papers signed by the Olympic committee supporting his claims and Kurt's undefeated streak continued to live on. His streak was snapped in Pittsburgh by The Rock in a Smackdown card weeks later. Kurt received his first title shot against Val Venis for the European title weeks before No Way Out, in which he won. He appeared in an episode of Raw using bogus statistical figures, proving how bad of an Intercontinental champion Chris Jericho is, and asking for a title shot at No Way Out which Jericho accepted. Kurt was victorious once again winning the IC title from Jericho in No Way Out after Jericho lionsaulted into a belt Angle was clutching on top. Angle started appearing in Raw and Smackdown broadcasts wearing both belts on his waist referring to himself as the undisputed Eurocontinental Champion. He allied himself with Bob Backlund and at times tagged with him in matches. Weeks before Wrestlemania 2000, an announcement came that Kurt was scheduled to defend both his titles on a Triple Threat match against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Kurt was livid and it turns out that Backlund was responsible for signing the match, thinking that this would serve as a challenge for him. Kurt attacked Backlund and severed his ties with him from then on. As expected, Angle lost both titles; the IC belt to Chris Benoit and the European title to Chris Jericho without being pinned.
Bigger And Better Things
After his loss, Kurt started hanging out with Edge and Christian. During their entrance, Kurt Angle would do his usual mock speech, followed by E&C's trademark 5-second pose with a new twist - their pose makes fun of the fans, unlike before (ie. Edge choking Christian when in Indiana, ala Bobby Knight); The three of them would later participate in a series of 6-man tag matches usually against Two Cool and Rikishi. Kurt also won the King Of The Ring tournament at that period and was also involved in a love triangle angle between Triple H, himself and Stephanie McMahon. This was a very boring angle aside from one highlight: during an episode of Raw, Triple H revealed video clips of Kurt in an uncompromising position during the Olympics (Kurt's face was on his opponent's crotch after they fell on the ground) and when he was crying after the victory. Because of this, a number-one contenders match between Triple H and Kurt Angle has been scheduled in which Kurt beat Triple H, ensuring him a title shot against The Rock in No Mercy. Kurt was victorious against The Rock and won his first major title, the WWF Championship Belt at No Mercy 2000. He defended the title successfully but was defeated by The Rock in No Way Out. On June 2, 2001 Kurt was indicted into the National Amateur Wrestling Hall Of Fame. After his defeat, he began feuding with Chris Benoit winning most of their matches.
He was involved in another angle once again, one that took place during the WWF/WCW invasion; this time showing his goofy side by hanging out with an equally goofy Stonecold Steve Austin participating in various antics, in an attempt to suck up to Vince McMahon. Stonecold was revealed weeks later as the turncoat, joining as the leader of The Alliance - a wrestling stable comprised of WCW and ECW talents headed by Shane and Stephanie McMahon respectively. Kurt turned face and stayed with the WWF playing the role of the leader and engaging Austin and Shane in a series of matches. He won a lot of belts during this time: beating Booker T for the WCW world title, Austin for the WWF world title, and Rhyno for the WCW US title.... all title reigns have been short lived. This was followed by Angle's sudden heel turn by joining The Alliance. He participated in the 2002 Royal Rumble which the returning Triple H won. Triple H placed his number-one-contendership on the line against Kurt in No Way Out. Angle won the match but lost another rematch for the title shot back to Triple H. Afterwards, Kurt had a short feud with Kane leading to Wrestlemania X7.
Kurt Angle sank into the midcard division after being drafted to Smackdown early-mid 2002. He started feuding with ex-chum Edge in a series of match classics including a victory in Backlash which culminated in a rematch in Judgment Day with the loser shaving their hair. Kurt lost and was forced to shave his hair bald in the process. He appeared on Smackdown wearing a wig which he continued to wear for the past few weeks until Hulk Hogan pryed it off of him. Kurt stopped wearing the wig from them on. He also fought Hogan in another match making the "immortal one" tap to his ankle lock. His next feud was against ex-WCW and Promo Azteca luchadore, Rey Misterio Jr. which recently made his debut as part of the Smackdown roster. They fought each other at Summerslam which Angle won after reversing a hurracanrana into an ankle lock.
As of this writing, Kurt Angle is teaming up with Chris Benoit in various tag matches and continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the WWE.