Former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle retired from professional wrestling, with his final match taking place at WrestleMania 35. Looking back at WWE history, retirement matches have been huge affairs for many Hall of Fame talents. Randy Savage faced Ultimate Warrior. Ric Flair faced Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels faced Undertaker.
Kurt Angle faced Baron Corbin. One name is not like the others. Now, it is clear WWE wanted to give Corbin a rub by having him beat Angle in the former world champion's final match. However, fans hated it, and many wrestlers could have made Angle's last match in the company mean more. Here is a look at 10 names that would have been better than Baron Corbin for Kurt Angle's retirement match.
10 SAMOA JOE
One of the biggest pay-per-view in TNA Impact Wrestling history was TNA Lock Down in 2008, and the main event saw Samoa Joe challenge Kurt Angle for the TNA World Championship with the stipulation that, if Joe lost, he would retire. That made it a possible retirement match for Joe.
However, Joe won the title, and many consider the Angle vs. Joe matches to be the best in TNA history. That set up a perfect storyline for Angle's retirement, where WWE could have Joe calling back their history and challenging Angle to put his career on the line. These two could have put on a fantastic match, with Joe smart enough to work around Angle's limitations.
9 AJ STYLES
Much like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles also has a long history with Kurt Angle stretching back to the TNA Impact Wrestling days. AJ was a TNA original and was the face of the company for many years. When Angle showed up with a lot of former WWE and WCW veterans, Styles was pushed down, but he always worked hard to prove he belonged.
Now, AJ Styles is one of the best wrestlers in the world, proving in WWE that he was every bit as great as he looked in TNA when he battled Kurt Angle many times. Having Angle retire after a match with Styles would be similar to Flair retiring after wrestling HBK.
8 DREW MCINTYRE
The reason WWE chose Baron Corbin over someone like AJ Styles or Samoa Joe is that they wanted the person to beat Kurt Angle to get a massive rub for the win. By choosing Corbin, they found someone they wanted to be a star and had him beat a Hall of Famer and hoped it would make him a star.
Fans didn't care, and while WWE might think the boos mean that Corbin is going his job, he really wasn't ready. However, Drew McIntyre should have been the next monster heel for 2019. McIntyre should have gotten the rub and then faced Seth Rollins. Instead, Corbin gets the title shots, and McIntyre lost to Roman Reigns at two different PPV events in 2019.
7 DANIEL BRYAN
Daniel Bryan completely reinvented himself since coming back from the retirement caused by his concussion issues. He changed his style to protect himself from further injury and did the impossible by turning the WWE Universe against him, even though this is just a form of the same heel gimmick he used in Ring of Honor and early in his WWE career.
As a heel, he could have made a career-ending feud for Kurt Angle that the fans would have gotten solidly behind. Bryan's new style would mesh well with what Angle could do at the end of his career, and Bryan would have had no problem with losing to allow Angle to retire with a win.
6 DOLPH ZIGGLER
Fans have turned on Dolph Ziggler over the past few years, and even when he is putting on incredible matches, as he did when teaming with Drew McIntyre last year, people don't seem to respond. He is still as great in the ring as he always was, but his character has staled beyond belief, and nothing he has done has changed that.
With that said, Dolph Ziggler would have made Kurt Angle look like a million bucks in the retirement match at WrestleMania 35. Sure, fans would have cared as little about this as they did about Baron Corbin, but at least it would have been an entertaining match. Plus, Ziggler is someone Angle has wrestled but never beaten.
5 RANDY ORTON
Randy Orton came into WWE in 2002 and became an immediate star. He was the youngest world champion at the time and became one of the top heels in the game. Around the same time that Ortin debuted, Kurt Angle became a Grand Slam winner in WWE and Angle was gone one year after Orton became a world champion.
With Kurt Angle back and setting up his retirement tour, Randy Orton was feuding with AJ Styles. It was considered a dream match for Orton, but there was time for that dream match to wait. At one time, Orton was known as the Legend Killer and beating Angle in his retirement match would have added to his legacy.
4 FINN BALOR
Much like Drew McIntyre, several babyfaces could have received a rub by beating Kurt Angle at the end of his career. While there are names like Apollo Crews that got a chance at Angle during his farewell tour, a guy like that would have gotten the same bump as Baron Corbin did as far as fans were concerned -- which was none.
However, Finn Balor is a star waiting to break out. He was huge in NXT, and when he debuted on Monday Night Raw, he was undefeated and beat Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in short order to become the first Universal Champion. An injury derailed his push, and he never got it back outside of the IC title. Beating Angle could have been huge to get Finn back into the main event scene.
3 TRIPLE H
It seemed to be a tailor fit final feud for Kurt Angle, and no one ever said Triple H doesn't love to work in massive WrestleMania matches. Of course, Triple H did end up in a retirement match as he retired Batista once and for all at WrestleMania 35. However, beating Kurt Angle could have done the same thing for The Game.
Plus, there was a story built in. Stephanie McMahon had made Kurt Angle's life a living hell for a year. She is who put Baron Corbin into the GM role, and that is how they led to Baron getting this match, to begin with. However, have Angle talk down Stephanie, and then Triple H comes to his wife's honor. It sells itself.
2 BROCK LESNAR
One of Brock Lesnar's most significant WrestleMania moments came against Kurt Angle. The match was incredible, and Lesnar pulled out a move he had not done since his days in OVW as a developmental talent. Brock went to the top turnbuckle and hit a moonsault ... and he missed, landing on the back of his neck.
It could have paralyzed someone as big as Lesnar, and luckily, he survived. Despite the awkward landing, Kurt Angle was a professional and was able to get Lesnar into the right position to beat him and win the WWE world title. Lesnar already had one WrestleMania rematch with Goldberg and one against Angle -- to retire him -- would have been perfect.
1 JOHN CENA
The one name on the WWE roster that should have wrestled Kurt Angle in his retirement match was John Cena. Honestly, it should have been no one but Cena in this match. Cena's first ever appearance on the main roster was to come in and accept Angle's open challenge, and he showed that he was a future star.
The fact that John Cena's career started in the ring with Kurt Angle should have meant that Angle's career should have ended in the ring with John Cena. The fact that Cena showed up at WrestleMania 35, with his old gimmick, but wasn't considered for this Kurt Angle retirement match was a colossal mistake by WWE.