Ok, confession time. I never thought I’d have to write this article. But after seeing the response on Social Media, on Twitter and internet wrestling groups and forums, to the huge news that due to the mumps plague amidst the Raw roster these past two weeks, Roman Reigns was out of the Shield reunion this Sunday at WWE TLC and being replaced in the main event by WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. To most, this was a dream come true. Kurt Angle, the former 5x WWE World Champion, was returning to wrestle in a match on a WWE pay-per-view, his first time in 11 years. His last match for the WWE was on August 14, 2006, at an WWECW Live Event against former ECW Original Danny Doring. The last time we saw him on television was August 8, 2006’s edition of ECW on SyFy, where a #1 contendership match between Kurt Angle and Sabu for the ECW Championship went to a non-contest. Yes, it’s definitely been quite some time.
But the reason this article exists is because the vacuous nature of some WWE-only fans seems to have definitely shown it’s colors in the past 24 hours. At first it was only a handful, but in the past 24 hours, countless fans who watch only WWE began to question Kurt Angle’s appearance at TLC on Sunday. Not because they didn’t know who Kurt Angle was. But because they seemed to actually think he has not actually wrestled since his last WWE match. Now there is no problem with only following one company. Whether it’s WWE, NJPW, PROGRESS or any of the world’s great promotions, just deciding one promotion is enough is fair. But generally, even these “one promotion” fans have a peripheral understanding that other promotions exist beyond the WWE. And generally, they’re also vaguely aware when former WWE Superstars, especially ones like Hulk Hogan or KURT ANGLE, appear on these promotions, that they are conscious of that fact. They may not watch them on the show, but they definitely are aware that they’re there. But it was absolutely stunning to see how many people seemed completely oblivious to the fact that Kurt Angle had a career in professional wrestling once he left the WWE in 2006.
So for most wrestling fans, this article is a non-necessity. You mostly likely now the bulk of, if not all of, what we’re about to tell you. But if perchance, you are one of the WWE-only fans who doesn’t keep tabs on anything beyond the edges of the WWE Universe, this is for you. Here’s a quick rundown of what Kurt Angle has been doing since we last saw him on the SyFy Network.
First off, despite leaving because of addiction problems with pain killers and other issues, it didn’t take long for Angle to return to work. As soon as his 90-day compete clause expired, he joined Impact Wrestling (then still TNA), appearing on Impact television on October 19, 2006 and confronting Samoa Joe.
Angle would go on to have a 10-year career with TNA/Impact Wrestling, that only ended at the expiration of his last contract, in January of 2016. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s two years longer than he wrestled for the WWE. During that decade, Kurt Angle became a better professional wrestler, dropping all the comedic aspects of his WWE character and becoming a full on wrestling machine. He took pro wrestling to a new level of fluidity and technical prowess. During his tenure with Impact, he was suddenly entering conversations of best of all time and technical legends like Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart began to mention him in their “wish lists” of current wrestlers they’d like to face.
He also had an equally impressive resume in Impact, winning the Impact World title six times in that decade, and engaging in stellar matches and/or feuds with the likes of AJ Styles, Sting, Bobby Lashley, Samoa Joe, Ethan Carter III, Christopher Daniels, Nigel McGuinness (aka Desmond Wolfe), Bully Ray, Bobby Roode, and so many more. Following his departure from Impact in 2016, Angle left the company a 6x World Champion, 2x Tag Team Champion and 2013 Impact Hall of Famer.
NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
For three years, from 2007 to 2009, Kurt Angle took advantage of Impact’s working relationship with NJPW and appeared at several shows a year in Japan. During that time he faced young Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi in separate matches for the IWGP Heavyweight title.
THE UK INDIES
Following his departure from Impact Wrestling, Kurt Angle then spent the bulk of his time before returning to the WWE by heading to the United Kingdom to wrestle in several British indie promotions. With British wrestling having a huge pedigree of technical wrestling thanks to the likes of Billy Robinson and Johnny Saint, it was a natural draw for Kurt Angle. In the months leading up to his WWE Hall of Fame induction this year, Kurt Angle wrestled three times for WCPW (facing Cody Rhodes, Alberto Del Rio/El Patron and Joe Hendry), faced the powerful Joe Coffey in ICW in Scotland, and faced Zack Sabre Jr. on his home turf with RevPro. He also faced Cody Rhodes twice more in the US with Northeast Wrestling (NEW), including his last match in March of this year.
In other words, fear not, Ye WWE Faithful. Kurt Angle has been wrestling fairly often the past 11 years, and against some of the top stars in the game, to stay in ring shape. And don’t believe the rumors that Angle failed his WWE physical months ago and he was not cleared to compete. He never had a WWE physical since his return, and only just got cleared on Friday prior to the announcement. So while we won’t get to see as much of Kurt as we’d all probably like in a multi-person gimmick match, it’s a start. And with any luck, this locks in at least one more WrestleMania moment for Kurt Angle.