In his final match on SmackDown Live, Kurt Angle went up against his former TNA Rival in AJ Styles - but the match only lasted a few short minutes due to interference from Randy Orton.
The Viper came out and attacked Styles, his WrestleMania 35 opponent. That forced the referee to ring the bell, and Angle thus missed out on the chance to defeat The Phenomenal One before he hangs up the boots. The Olympic gold medalist saved Styles and hit Orton with an Angle Slam to end the attack.
Fans may naturally feel disappointed over the lackluster and brief match with a no-contest ending, but there is a reason why WWE booked it that way. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Ringside News), Angle's limitations in the ring meant WWE had to plan out a short match between the two.
"I’m sure he’s not (feeling good) I’m sure that’s part of that reason," Meltzer said. "You know it really has been a huge mistake for Kurt to be doing these TV matches because I think that the interest in his retirement match has gone way, way down every time you see him where it’s just like, 'Ah… it’s not a good feeling.'"
Though he's one of the greatest in-ring performers in WWE history, injuries have clearly taken a toll on Angle. He's limited to a handful of moves in the ring at this point, so the match quality hasn't been great since he returned to WWE.
Having dealt with serious neck injuries throughout his wrestling days, it's incredible that Angle was able to carve out such a magnificent career - one that landed him into the WWE Hall of Fame. But all good things must come to an end, and Angle knows that it's time to quit while he's ahead.
Angle is set to face Baron Corbin in his swan song match at WrestleMania 35. There has been plenty of backlash over WWE's opponent choice, but it's unlikely that they'll pull Corbin from the match at this point. Perhaps WWE also decided that Corbin would be the best possible opponent to ensure that Angle gets a good match before he rides off into the sunset.
What This Means
It's obviously hard for Angle and some fans to watch these matches and see just how limited he's become in the ring. But he was still performing some good moves at the age of 50, and again, the man deserves credit for knowing when it was time.