Kurt Angle is undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers who’s ever lived, and his achievements in wrestling are finally being recognized with him being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. No one deserves this kind of recognition more than Angle, and the fans are delighted to see him back in the fold, in WWE where he belongs, as the general manager of RAW no less.
From his amateur days, Olympic triumph, right through the ages as a pro wrestler, to where he is now, Angle’s career has had plenty of ups and downs. There’ve been plenty of stories, trials and tribulations, in his personal and professional life, but he’s come through it all and is now looking forward to enjoying yet another phase in his colorful career.
Over the years, plenty of people have helped him get to where he is today, and he’s given back and has helped a lot of others too, formed some great relationships and close bonds with some of his peers and fellow wrestlers. There are therefore a lot of wrestlers who can’t stop singing Kurt Angle’s praises, wrestlers who love him. But on the flip side, he’s also pissed a lot of people off in one way or another, and that’s resulted in hate and plenty of animosity. These are eight wrestlers who loved Angle, and seven who hated his guts.
15 Loved: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin have a pretty decent relationship; in fact, they must be really close and have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, because despite Kurt saying that John Cena’s the greatest wrestler of all time, he actually wanted to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by Steve Austin.
Angle’s been constantly singing Austin’s praises over the years, saying he’s “the most unappreciated star in wrestling history,” and no doubt that feeling of love and respect is reciprocated.
Austin helped Angle find his feet and blossom into a prominent star during the Attitude Era. He really helped him out a lot during the early stages of his career, and Angle has said he’s learnt a hell of a lot from him about being a wrestling superstar and a top performer. Austin helped guide Angle, and you don’t do that – especially not Austin with his “Stone Cold “persona – if there’s not some love there.
14 Hated: Simon Diamond
Simon Diamond may not be one of the most well-known people on this list, although he was earning his corn as a professional wrestler for 15 years. He spent a significant amount of time at TNA before calling it quits on a career, a career for which is probably best known for him dating former WWE diva, Dawn Marie. They were engaged for several years, were together for seven, and were anticipating tying the knot, but Dawn’s affair with Angle ruined those plans. Dawn actually admitted that the rumors that had surfaced regarding the affair were correct, and so understandably, Simon and Dawn went their separate ways.
Simon hated Angle, as well as Dawn, for ruining what could have been a good thing due to the affair, and he – as I’m sure many of you would agree – had every right to do so.
13 Loved: Brock Lesnar
If you’re talking about best buddies in wrestling, bromances or whatever you want to label it as, the Brock Lesnar-Kurt Angle relationship has got to be at the top. They’ve gone through plenty of stuff together, helped each other out with their various problems, different addictions, and just developed a really tight bond while they were together with WWE, and it’s a bond that couldn’t be broken and remained as they went about pursuing other career options.
The friendship basically developed in WWE, and blossomed as they spent a ton of time together on the road, commuting together to various events, training etc... The fact that Brock insisted he lose the title only to Angle in Japan really touched Angle, and is one such incident that proves how much love Brock has for his best buddy in wresting.
12 Hated: CM Punk
It may puzzle a lot of you that CM Punk’s on this list. They haven’t really crossed paths or even worked together a great deal, so this hatred that Punk has for Angle stems from comments Angle once made, saying that guys in WWE had been stealing some his moves. Punk, who was the biggest star around at the time, took this to be a shot at him, and didn’t accept the fact that Angle said his Twitter account had been hacked. Things then escalated when Punk shot back with a tweet of his own, saying that “"my twitter account was hacked, is the new: I’m a sloppy drunk douche.”
That’s not something you say about a recovering alcoholic, so the hate Punk had for Kurt was evident; he’d have known about Angle’s substance abuse problems, so getting that personal, many people felt was way too far. The war of words continued over the years with Punk calling TNA – Angle’s promotion at the time - an indie league, and Angle retorting telling him to watch his back.
11 Loved: Big Show
I’ve mentioned how Angle and Brock Lesnar used to be best buddies whilst in WWE together. Well, the third member of their crew, a person who was really close to both of them, was Big Show. The three amigos travelled together and got up to all sorts when they were on the road and doing their thing with WWE. You can imagine what they got up to, all the wild memorable times they must have had!
Angle has said that his favorite thing about being a professional wrestler is all the traveling, especially traveling overseas when he was with WWE, because of the adventures he, Big Show and Lesnar had. Big Show and Angle learnt more about each other from a different standpoint during this period, and it’s a friendship that’s still going strong today.
10 Hated: Daniel Puder
Daniel Puder, and probably most of the Tough Enough cast from season four, despised Angle. There was a segment in one show where the contestants got a visit from Angle and had the opportunity to shoot with him in the ring. The whole premise of that segment was for Angle to flex his muscles and show the rookies what’s what, and the level they needed to reach to get anywhere in the industry.
It was humiliation time, and Angle did just that; he even broke one guy’s - Chris Nawrocki’s – ribs. He’s one guy who still probably hates Angle’s guts. Daniel Puder was next to get into the ring with Angle. He wasn’t just there to take a beating, but to be made to look foolish. Daniel Puder was a trained martial artist and put his training to good use. He almost broke Angle’s arm, but the referees were on Angle’s side, so when Puder went on his back, a quick three count was made so Angle saved face. Angle, having the clout he had at that moment, was furious and despite Puder winning the WWE contract, Angle buried him and his short stint at WWE came to an end around a year later.
9 Loved: John Cena
John Cena was honored to induct Kurt Angle into the WWE Hall of Fame. Despite Angle saying he wanted Austin to have the honor, he didn't make a fuss because he has a huge amount of respect for Cena, calling him the greatest wrestler of all time – high praise indeed.
After hearing that, Cena obviously felt the love from Angle, and that feeling’s reciprocated. It was fitting Cena inducted Angle into the Hall of Fame, and those who have seen the footage of Angle backstage listening to Cena’s speech will know just how emotional Angle got, just how much the ceremony meant to him and how it became even better with Cena gracing the occasion and playing a part in the induction. “A friend, a mentor,” that’s how Cena described Angle in the speech; their friendship’s stood the test of time and has developed right from when Cena first started in WWE and was made to look good by Angle, to now where he’s giving his buddy the ultimate honor.
8 Hated: Dawn Marie
I’ve outlined the scenario and a lot of the stuff that went on between Angle and Dawn Marie under the “Simon Diamond” entry. Angle and Dawn essentially ended up having an affair – well, Dawn’s admitted to it and has confirmed the rumors at least - ruining her relationship and impending marriage to Diamond who got caught in the crossfire. But perhaps coming forward and outright admitting it wasn’t a smart move on Dawn’s part. Firstly, it ruined her relationship with Diamond. Angle’s relationship with his wife, Karen, must have also have suffered, although she probably didn’t care too much about that at that point.
Finally, she herself ended up getting scorned, ended up facing the consequences, which incidentally, Angle escaped because he was such a prominent figure in WWE at the time. Her career went downhill pretty rapidly after that. She was eventually fired after taking a leave of absence for pregnancy.
7 LOVED: Ric Flair
They’ve had their fair share of confrontations in the past, but Ric truly loves Angle, and vice versa, and they both have a tremendous amount of respect for each other that’s been built up after years of living in each other’s pockets in WWE and being at the top of the industry for so long. They have something in common, they’re both superstars, but it’s Ric who Angle can thank for his going to WWE for his first stint with the company back in 1998.
Ric gave Angle some honest advice, which he took, and ended up becoming a superstar because of it. Ric was with WCW at the time and wasn’t having the best of periods. WCW and WWE were both interested in getting Angle on board, so Ric told him straight up, that he had to go to WWE, work under Vince, and that it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Over the years, Angle has regularly sought Ric’s advice on a whole bunch of things, and love between the two was evident when Angle graced Ric Flair’s “Woo! Nation” podcast; Ric couldn’t stop singing Angle’s praises and neither could the main man himself about his host.
6 Hated: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett may have been under one of the “love” entries on this list, that is before that incident in 2009 soured things between the two. They were actually decent friends, that was until Jeff stole Angle’s wife – that’s probably how Angle saw it, so obviously, he hated his former friend from that point on. Due to his substance abuse problems, and probably those rumors of infidelity too, Karen left Angle and fell into the arms of his pal, Jeff. President Dixie Carter, in order to avoid there being any visible animosity between Jeff and Angle, put Jeff on a leave of absence, something he didn’t take too kindly to. He was a co-founder of the TNA promotion, and to be discarded like that, and having to contend with the daggers being sent by Angle, it’s safe to say they both harbored extreme hatred towards one another during this period.
5 Loved: The Undertaker
When Angle first came onto the scene, he quickly became something special, and also gained a special place in The Undertaker’s close circle of friends, becoming a part of his so-called gang. To have this privilege meant that he was part of the cool bunch, he learnt a lot from The Undertaker and was still in contact with him as he went about his business with other promotions.
The Undertaker definitely respected Angle, so much so that 'Taker felt that Angle should have been the one to end his WrestleMania streak back at WrestleMania 22. 'Taker felt Angle was worthy of the honor, but WWE had other plans for WrestleMania. Taker would put Angle over at No Way Out and Angle would drop the title to Rey Mysterio at 'Mania, but still, for 'Taker to have offered it just gives you an indication of how he feels about Angle.
4 Hated: Shawn Michaels
Shawn and Angle had some epic matches in the ring together, none more so than their memorable encounter at WrestleMania 21. The match was just amazing to witness and showed what two great pros they are, but under the surface, all was not well between the two wrestling stalwarts. Angle was seriously pissed off with Shawn due to what he deemed to be his over-selling of moves. Other people weighed in too, got on Shawn’s back and got their voices heard; former WWE Creative writer Alex Greenfield, for example, called Shawn “an entitled prick." He also recalled an incident that took place: "He tried this sh** with Angle one night; Angle wasn't having it, and threw him around like a rag-doll."
The confrontation continued backstage, with Shawn telling Angle he was taking liberties, and Angle retorting back with a few jibes of his own. It’s been thought by plenty of wrestling aficionados that Shawn only worked properly when wrestling with his friends in the industry, and Angle certainly didn’t feature in this list. They seem to be on good terms today, but back in the heat of the moment, they definitely were livid with each other.
3 Loved: Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas has been around for absolute yonks, and is still around, still doing his thing on the indies, balancing in-ring action with his promoting work. It may surprise some of you that he makes this list, because they haven’t exactly been seen together a whole lot. It’s hard to say whether they’re still buddies today or whether they’ve drifted apart, but when they’re both down in Pittsburgh – they’re both natives of Pittsburgh – it’s nice to think that they still hit each other up.
Their friendship stems from way back, when Angle had just finished his days as an Olympic champion. They both had a mutual friend, Mark Madden, and Shane reached out to Angle through Mark and invited him to hang out and take part in an ECW taping. They became mates, despite the infamous crucifixion angle where Raven crucified Sandman, which Angle really wasn’t happy with.
2 Hated: Triple H
Today, Triple H is pretty diplomatic, and full of praises when it comes to talking about Angle – he kind of has to be being in the position he’s in at WWE, and probably issued those praises through gritted teeth. That’s because things haven’t always been kind and courteous between the two. The animosity between the two reached boiling point in 2003. That’s because they were both vying for the title of being the best wrestler in the world, something that Angle ended up getting, and his main rival, Triple H, hated his guts because of it. He called him a “paper champion,” meaning what he was doing at Raw meant more.
After Angle did his thing elsewhere with other promotions, he attempted to come back to WWE, but Triple H wasn’t on board with bringing Angle back. He did what he could to ensure it didn’t happen, but then Angle went over his head to Vince, which only served to anger Triple H further. It seems the two have buried any issues they had though, much to our delight.
1 Loved: Stephanie McMahon
Another reason why Triple H wasn’t too fond of Angle, is because of his close friendship with Stephanie McMahon. Angle has said that they were really good friends, that someone saw that they were close and thought they could use that in an angle to make Triple H jealous. He’s said they looked like they could’ve been a couple, hence the creative minds behind WWE decided to create that whole love triangle between Steph, Triple H and Angle. It certainly had the desired effect, and it also had the effect of making Angle’s and Steph’s friendship grow and become ever deeper.
Much of that whole storyline in 2000 was based on the real-life friendship that had formed between them, with Triple H probably watching on, seething in the corner. Part of the reason the love-triangle storyline ended prematurely - it was supposed to end with Stephanie leaving Hunter for Kurt - was because Triple H told writers it wouldn't be believable that a woman would leave him for Kurt. Gees, insecure much?