Last week, news broke that ex-WWE main eventer and multi-time world champion Kurt Angle plans on departing TNA/Impact Wrestling, his place of employment of seven years, when his contract runs out this upcoming winter. Rumor mills promptly began soothsaying a return to WWE for the Olympic gold medalist. Could there be any veracity to this hopeful nostalgia for the Three I's of yore? Probably not! But maybe!
Angle floated around the prospect of a WWE comeback as recently as last year and while the McMahons could likely have brought him in with ease, they declined to do so. Why turn down a chance to re-enlist a indisputable future Hall of Famer?
Well, Kurt Angle has a few substance abuse-related skeletons in his closet, but so do Goldust and William Regal, and their late-career reemergences into the WWE fold turned out just fine. Angle is creeping up on middle age, but he’s still 10 years younger than Sting, so we know that’s not really a deal killer either. Even if Angle left WWE under particularly bad terms back in 2006, they couldn’t have been as nasty as the circumstances that led to Bret Hart or The Ultimate Warrior departing, and they both received warm welcomes upon deciding to let bygones be bygones and dropping by RAW. For that matter, wrestling fans love nostalgia. As is never the case in non-scripted sporting competitions, wrestling enables athletes who have aged well beyond their primes to defeat their youthful, physical superiors on a regular basis. For cripe's sake - Jushin “Thunder” Liger is 50 years old. Not only did he recently trounce 27-year-old Tyler Breeze, he looked absolutely convincing while doing so.
So are there any less-than-obvious other reasons why WWE isn’t going to, or at least shouldn’t, invite the baldheaded, red, white and blue titan back into its locker room? We can think of a few….
10 He’s Probably Really Expensive
As everyone knows, Kurt Angle was a already a bonafide Olympic gold medalist by the time he showed up in WWE in 1999, meaning his services certainly came attached with a hefty price tag before he won, like, every WWE title, and eventually absconded to TNA and claimed the lesser company’s championship five times. Especially now, in the twilight of his career, Angle certainly will not work for free.
9 The “Legacy Guy” Problem
Having learned a lesson from watching WCW crumble under the weight of its own entitled locker room, WWE have generally brought legends back to help establish newer talent as major contenders. Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho both had successful return runs within the past few years, and traded wins with younger prospects Alberto Del Rio and Bray Wyatt. However, fans with the slightest bit of “awareness” surely recognized that, with Van Dam and Jericho, they were essentially watching the wrestling equivalent of a Greatest Hits Tour. Van Dam and Jericho could still put on a heckufa show, but neither was going to lead the charge of the next generation, for obvious reasons. Predictably, Del Rio and Wyatt ultimately prevailed in their respective feuds.
8 He’s A Wee Bit Bit Injury Prone
7 The Ship May Have Sailed On Angle vs. Bryan
6 He’s a Twitter Liability
If I ever See You Punk, Hide Bitch!— Kurt Angle (@RealKurtAngle) August 14, 2012
WWE’s been noticeably, and correctly, concerned with the consequences of misguided social media posts in recent months. NXT prospect Zahra Schreiber got canned when some years-old swastika tweets resurfaced (also, WWE were probably looking for an excuse to scapegoat her ever since we all found out what Seth Rollins’s privates look like). Nhooph Al-Areebi narrowly avoided the same fate based on tweets she claims were a tasteless prank someone played on her in high school.
Karl Marx writing in 2015 might offer an observation along the lines of, “Religion is the opiate of the masses….And pop culture nostalgia is another kind of opiate. Let’s say religion is like heroin and pop culture nostalgia is like, I donno, something like hashish.”
Given that internet rumors (which may or may not be bullcocky) tell us Angle didn’t part ways with WWE on the best of terms, it seems plausible that should he return, he’d be asked to do a high-profile job, just in case he needed a reminder of who’s in charge. Hence, in the hypothetical scenario of Kurt Angle reemerging on Monday Night RAW, The Olympic Gold Medalist should expect a thorough thrashing at the hands of The Cerebral Assassin - Vince’s son-in-law and proxy, Triple H - at the next PPV.
5 Angle Could Beat Up Vince, If It Came Down To It
There’s a fable circulating around several internet sources and we’re told it’s in Angle’s autobiography, in which Vince McMahon used to make a habit of sneaking up on the master of Greco-Roman style and wrestling him to the ground, in a manner only slightly more homoerotic than the product McMahon's made millions producing for national television. Seeking good-natured retribution, Angle snuck up on Vince and similarly tackled him during a plane ride. The Undertaker, unaware of the spat’s friendly nature and incorrectly presuming Angle intended the chairman legitimate harm, proceeded to choke the supposed submission machine into unconsciousness. Later, The Undertaker offered Angle a "My Bad," which was accepted.
Should the online innuendo be believed, Karen Jarrett (formerly, Karen Angle), broke off her marriage with the only Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, because he was constantly messed up on drugs on booze and sleeping with Dawn Marie on the side. We’d be dishonest if we said we could read the phrases “constantly messed up” and “sleeping with Dawn Marie” without feeling envious, but clearly, Angle was not fitting the traditional model of an ideal husband at the time.
4 Brock Lesnar
3 Angle Could Probably Make A Bunch Of Money Doing Something Safer (Politics?)
2 He Can’t Have a Retirement Match Against Shawn Michaels Anymore
Should Kurt Angle embark on one last run in WWE, that means it needs to build to a triumphant yet bittersweet retirement match. Presuming Daniel Bryan isn’t available due to previously established and unfortunate circumstances, Brock Lesnar stands as the closest thing to a fitting opponent for Angle’s ride off into the sunset. Angle vs. Lesnar would make a fine and good B+ outing, for sure. It's also an encounter that would just as certainly leave fans thinking, “Gee, that was a pretty great final match for Kurt Angle. But can you imagine how much better a Shawn Michaels vs. Angle match would’ve been?! If only we had a time machine, and could travel back 10 years, kidnap The Heartbreak Kid of 2005 and bring him to the present…”
1 Actually, Never Mind, WWE Should Bring Angle Back….In NXT
Everything you just read is based on a filthy lie. Kurt Angle should absolutely return to the WWE, but not the main roster. Granted, a handful of grapplers worthy of Angle's talents inhabit Raw and Smackdown. Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, and Cesaro pop to mind. But should he land on NXT, we could see Angle vs. Finn Balor, Angle vs. Samoa Joe (again, remember - if it happened on TNA, it didn’t count), and Angle vs. Sami Zayn, plus they could do Angle vs. Neville and Angle vs. Kevin Owens, except let them go for 20 minutes instead of the five or 10 they’d have to confide themselves in on Raw or Smackdown. Just as John Cena became infinitely more interesting during his feud with Owens, Angle could reinvent his entire persona, help herald in the next generation of stars, and have plenty of outstanding matches if he eschews cable TV for the WWE Network.
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