Welcome back, folks. Here to continue my list of the most iconic superstars in WWE history. We found out #20 and #19 thus far. You can check those out in the articles section. Now it’s time for #18.
You can’t talk about iconic superstars without mentioning olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, he not only had notable success within the WWE but outside of the WWE walls as well.
Angle, while attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania, accumulated numerous accolades – most notably a two-time NCAA Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. Meanwhile, after graduating from college, Angle found success again in 1995, in form of a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the World Wrestling Championships. Then, later on, his famous gold medal victory at the 1996 Summer Olympics became a reality.
Angle initially declined (because he didn’t want to lose a match as he felt he was above and beyond WWF) a WWF offer following the 1996 Olympics, but in 1998 he officially signed on the dotted lines, he inked a multi-year deal with the company. He debuted in August within the company’s developmental system after mere days of training, he wouldn’t, however, participate in his first televised WWF storyline until March 1999. That same year in November was when Kurt officially made his in-ring debut on television, and shortly after, the following year, he received his first major push in February 2000 – he simultaneously held both the European Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. Mere months later, in June, he won the King of the Ring tournament, then pursued and successfully captured the WWF Championship in the fall, October. That huge victory capped off quite the rookie year – many, in fact, say the greatest rookie year in the company’s history.
Some of the major accolades Kurt Angle accomplished during his time with the company – he won the WWF Championship four times, he also won the World Heavyweight Championship, along with a run with the WCW Championship (if you count that as WWE now). He is a grand slam champion and a triple crown winner under the WWE banner. He is the fifth to accomplish the former, and concerning the latter, he is the tenth. He was inducted (by John Cena) into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017.
Angle departed from WWE in 2006 and then joined TNA where he would become the inaugural TNA World Heavyweight Champion, he would hold that title six-times. In addition to his WWE stats, he’d also become a triple crown winner for TNA as well, becoming the first to hold all major titles required in the company simultaneously. Also a two-time King of the Mountain winner. While in TNA, he made appearances in NJPW among others, and once actually captured the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. 2013 came along and he was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame (second wrestler to do so; first was Sting). In 2010, Wrestling Observer Newsletter named Angle Wrestler of the Decade (‘00-‘10).
Angle started amateur wrestling at a fairly young age. He attended Mt. Lebanon High School, where he won varsity letters in football and wrestling. He went undefeated on the freshman wrestling team at Mt. Lebanon High and qualified for the state wrestling tournament his sophomore year. Angle was third place in the state wrestling tournament as a junior, and in 1987 as a senior, he was the Pennsylvania State Wrestling Champion.
After graduating from college, Angle continued to wrestle. In 1995, he won a gold medal at the World Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. Following this victory, Angle began preparations for the 1996 Summer Olympics under Dave Schultz at the Pennsylvanian Foxcatcher Club, training almost 10 hours a day. In January 1996, shortly after Angle began training at the club, Schultz was murdered by John Eleuthère du Pont – the sponsor of Schultz’s team of Olympic prospectives – As a result, Angle quit Eleuthère du Pont’s team, searched for new sponsors, and joined the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club in Schultz’s memory.
Angle faced further adversity while taking part in the 1996 Olympic Trials, when he suffered a severe neck injury, fracturing two of his cervical vertebrae, herniating two discs, and pulling four muscles. Yikes. Angle won the trials nonetheless, He won his gold medal in the heavyweight weight class despite his injury, defeating the Iranian Abbas Jadidi by officials’ decision after the competitors wrestled to an 8 minute, 1-1 draw. He then spent the following five months rehabilitating.
Following a rather brief stint in Paul Heyman’s ECW in 1996, Angle signed a 8 year contract with World Wrestling Federation in 1998. After several weeks of dark matches, house show matches and vignettes, Angle made his in-ring debut at Survivor Series defeating Shawn Stasiak on November 14, 1999. During his initial push, he remained undefeated for a number of weeks, but would eventually lose to Tazz in his debut at the Royal Rumble. Angle presented himself as a role model, stressing his famous 3 I’s (Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence). Despite this inspirational and admirable personality, his character was arrogant, he believed he was superior to everyone in the crowd, at home and the locker room. So, in other words, he was essentially a heel (obviously). Angle won both the European and Intercontinental Championship in February 2000. However, at that years WrestleMania, he lost both titles in a match against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho.
After defeating Rikishi in the King of the Ring finals, Angle had a feud with Triple H in which a love triangle developed with the two and Stephanie. He would lose to Triple H at the Unforgiven PPV. Following his feud with him, he’d receive an additional push that would place him in the hunt for the WWF Championship, where he would meet WWF Champion The Rock. They went to battle at the No Mercy PPV with Kurt ultimately defeating The Great One becoming the new World Champion. After Angle’s huge victory, he went on to successfully defend his newly won title over the subsequent months against the likes of The Undertaker, and also defending the title in the famous six-man Armageddon Hell in a Cell match featuring Angle, The Undertaker, The Rock, Steve Austin, Rikishi and Triple H. Angle then defeated the latter at the Royal Rumble, but would lose the title back to the The Rock at No Way Out. This was a rather short, but very dominant reign for Angle.
After losing the championship, he moved on to one of my all time favourites – Chris Benoit. They adventured in a series of bouts, one in which Angle defeated Benoit (WrestleMania 17); Benoit then defeated Angle at Backlash in an Ultimate Submission Match which went to sudden death. In their final encounter at Judgement Day, Angle defeated Benoit in a two out of three falls match.