THE SPECIALISTS CAREER PATH: Kurt Angle's career high point, low point, and what if he had never left WWE?
Sep 5, 2008 - 12:32:52 PM
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By Steve Vasilevski, PWTorch Specialist
Nickname: Wrestling Machine
Born: December 9, 1968
From: Pittsburgh, PA
Trained By: Dory Funk Jr & Tom Pritchard
Career Accomplishments: Five Time WWE World Champion, Intercontinental Champion, European Champion, Hardcore Champion, Tag Team Champion, King of the Ring, Two Time TNA Champion, X Division Champion, TNA Tag Team Champion, WCW Champion, WCW United States Champion
Career Highlight: It's extremely difficult to choose the singular highlight in the professional wrestling career of Kurt Angle. I've decided to go with the 2001 installment of Unforgiven. In the midst of the ill fated invasion storyline, Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin were carrying the show with Kurt Angle actually in the role of babyface. Coming off of their classic championship match at SummerSlam a month prior, Angle and Stone Cold had the blow off to their angle in Kurt's hometown of Pittsburgh. When Angle won the Championship that night, his second in World Wrestling Entertainment, friends , family and fellow wrestlers joined him an a celebration that felt far more real than a scripted outcome should entail. Unfortunately this moment had been largely forgotten about as a result of WWE's revisionist history.
Career Low Point: Angle was the fastest rising star in WWE history, so to find an in ring moment where Kurt was less than spectacular is virtually impossible. However, when Angle re-broke his neck weeks prior to WrestleMania XIX, it threatened Kurt's career and the main event of the biggest show of the year. Although Angle proved his toughness and passion by competing against Brock Lesnar in a match of the year candidate, the neck injury that he had largely avoided since 1996 resurfaced and has never gone away. It's become the greatest obstacle in Angle's longevity and in many ways his legacy.
What if: Kurt Angle never joined TNA?
First and foremost TNA would not be nearly as successful as they are today if it weren't for their acquisition of Kurt Angle. Kurt was able to bring legitimacy to TNA's main event scene as well as deliver in never before seen dream matches against the likes of Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Sting. He was one of the first big time stars from WWE to jump to TNA which sent the message to all the disgruntled employees of the WWE roster that TNA was a viable option. More importantly, it sent the same exact message to wrestling fans.
If Angle had never gone to TNA, WWE would still possess one of the greatest performers of this generation. The kind of matches Kurt could be having right now with CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, MVP, Finlay, Shelton Benjamin and Matt Hardy have match of the night written all over them. Plus, with the exception of Finlay all these aforementioned athletes could use the knowledge that a main event performer like Angle could give them.
Perhaps more than anything else, Kurt would have provided star power to ECW. Few remember the short stint Kurt had in ECW and the fact that he was a member of that particularly roster right before he bailed for TNA. Whether or not McMahon's current vision for ECW to become a farm system for Raw and SmackDown would have still been implemented is anyone's guess, but if Kurt had been kept on ECW, the show may have actually had a chance to be the most entertaining hour long wrestling show in years. In addition to that, no one would ever be calling the ECW title a joke if it was around the waist of a star the caliber of Kurt Angle.
Overall it's a cliché but it's true - WWE's loss was TNA's gain. Even though Kurt has not been used appropriately at times and his love saga with wife Karen has made me want to throw a brick through my TV, the attention that Angle has brought to a company that desperately needs it is immeasurable. In many ways the wrestling business is better with Kurt Angle in it.
Questions or comments, as always - send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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