Canadian Bulldog's True Wrestling Stories: Kurt Angle
By Canadian Bulldog
That's exactly what Kurt Angle had one fateful summer day (or maybe it was winter, I have no idea) in 1996, when he won an Olympic gold medal.
Coincidentally, "Olympic Dreams" is also the title of the film manuscript I'm currently working on.
What's it about? I'm so glad you asked: It's the story of Alexei and Greta, a pair of ice dancers who, despite overwhelming odds and pressure from their home country, emerge victorious, learning what it's like to become men (well, except for Greta).
I think you'll find, particularly if you are on mind-altering drugs, that there are numerous similarities between my manuscript and The True Wrestling Story Of Kurt Angle.
Angle, born December 1968 in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania as Curtis Anglestein, first rose to prominence as an amateur wrestler. And by amateur wrestling, I don't mean "works-for-TNA-as-a-jobber-sometimes-and-wears-trunks-that-he-probably-bought-from-the-Highspots-website" amateur, I mean a REAL amateur.
Among the accolades and championships he won was the prestigious NCAA Division I Championship, which has also been held by Brock Lesnar, Bob Backlund, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas and The Boogeyman.
(Okay, fine, Boogeyman won his championship by forfeit when his opponent was found in the locker room, face-down in a pile of worms, but no one said it was a perfectly clean business.)
Angle then won a gold medal at the World Championships. And by World Championship, I don't mean "the-same-World-Championship-that-Triple-H-was-just-HANDED-on-Raw-four-years-ago-and-still-gloats-about-in-interviews-today", I mean the REAL World Championship.
And not the one Ric Flair and Bobby Heenan used to have digitized on WWF television, either.
Soon, Angle had gone as far as he could in the amateur ranks and decided he needed to chase his "Olympic Dreams".
I needed to put that part in quotes because I've recently patented that term for my manuscript, and I don't fancy having to sue myself for copyright infringement.
Prior to competing in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Angle broke his freaking neck. This wouldn't have been nearly as noticeable had he not worn an oversized neckbrace everywhere he went, a la Bobby Heenan after his televised debate with Ken Patera.
Still, it worked to his advantage (Angle, that is; not Heenan). The Atlanta crowd, accustomed to failure because of its strong WCW ties, was thrilled when Angle won the gold medal and dedicated his victory to the U.S.A.
"U-S-A!" the crowd chanted. "Yu-Yu-Yu-U.S.A! U.S.A! Hoooooooooo!"
Of course, in "Olympic Dreams", I save that scene for the very end, but no one ever accused them Olympians of being great storytellers.
Shortly after winning his medal, Angle appeared in Extreme Championship Wrestling as a special guest commentator.
Now, those of us who have been following wrestling for, like, even five minutes, know that whenever they introduce a "special" anything, it's an instant "angle alert".
Although, in this case, the angle was that Angle left in disgust before the show's conclusion, because of a new angle in the Sandman-Raven angle, killing off any future angle using Angle. Several people at the time thought Angle was just working an angle.
In conclusion, I'd just like to say: Angle Angle Angle.
ECW's power-brokers were so upset by Angle's bailout that they placed a curse on him (it was probably that no good voodoo chick Ariel): If Kurt ever attempted to return to ECW, even, say, 10 years later, he would end up in great pain, and hooked on drugs, and ultimately, leaving the company.
What? Don't look at me like that!
Oh, it's damn true!
The ECW incident didn't deter Angle from pursuing a career in professional wrestling. And by professional wrestling, I don't mean "TNA" professional wrestling. I mean, like "WWE" professional wrestling, even though (a) it wasn't called "WWE" at the time and (b) he was put in one of their developmental leagues.
In the Memphis territory, Angle learned several important lessons about the professional wrestling business, such as:
Jobbing to Jerry Lawler is a rite of passage.
The only gimmicks that tend to get over are those based on comic book characters, such as The Ninja Turtle, The Spellbinder, The Soultaker and Jughead Jones.
"Superstar" Bill Dundee is, like, three feet tall.
Color commentary always sounds more exciting with a Southern accent. ("Bah gawd, he's whuppin' him like a country dog behind his daddy's tool shed!")
10-man Steel Cage Reverse Battle Royal With Weapons = normal Friday night activity in Elvis country.
Brian Christopher always has the best dope.
Jughead should have probably been managed by Big Ethel.
Once Angle had completed his training, he was ready for the World Wrestling Federation.
Much like the classic scene in "Olympic Dreams" when Alexei and Greta finish their training sequence set to motivational theme music by Survivor or, if they are not available, the C&C Music Factory.
Angle debuted in the World Wrestling Federation. His initial gimmick was that he was a real American hero.
He was fighting for freedom, wherever there's trouble, against Cobra the enemy. Fighting to save the day - he never gives up. He's always there, fighting for freedom over land and air!
Now you know. AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE!!!
Uh, er… did I mention that my manuscript for "Olympic Dreams" loosely references the sexual tension that appeared between Snake Eyes and Lady Jaye?
Shortly after making his debut in 1999 against, sigh, Meat (don't ask; I'm sure there's a whole True Wrestling Story in that, too), Angle became the WWF's first "EuroContinental Champion", unifying the Euro and Continental titles. I don't include Jeff Jarrett or D-Lo Brown in that accomplishment, but really, who does?
By June 2000, Angle won the prestigious King of the Ring trophy, defeating future Hall of Famer Rikishi (yep, there's a TWS coming for him as well). By October of that year, pinned Direct-to-video film star The Rock to win his first of many World Heavyweight Championships with the company.
Angle would drop the title back to The Rock several months later, and went on to become a key part of the well-received "WWF vs. The Alliance" storyline that ate up most of 2001.
A key event took place in mid-September 2001 that would change Angle's career. And no, I'm not referring to my 28th birthday, which happened that year, and YES, that means that my 33rd birthday is TODAY (September 12th), but I'm not referring to that at all. Hey, I'm not even suggesting that you e-mail me and wish me a happy birthday, because I'm not even GOING there. Even IF today happens to be September 12th, which is my birthday, who cares? Not my point at all.
My point being, the tragic events of September 11th (the day before Canadian Bulldog's birthday) turned Angle into a flag-waving hero, and he was able to use that momentum to win his second title from Stone Cold Steve Austin. And, uh, lose it back to him a few weeks later.
Wow, what a lengthy and far-reaching chapter, with nary a mention of "Olympic Dreams". Anyone out there have connections in the film industry? Just asking…
In 2002, the World Wrestling Federation board of directors (Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon, Sgt. Slaughter, Johnny Ace, Gorilla Monsoon and Dr. Tom Pritchard) ordered the active roster to be split up into "Raw" and "SmackDown!" brands. Angle was chosen second overall for Vince's SmackDown! brand (behind The Boogeyman).
Shortly after the brand extension, Angle began feuding with noted catch-phrase stealer Edge, which would end with Edge shaving Angle bald. The Olympian would experiment with several different hairstyles and images (see above photos for proof).
2002 was also memorable for other reasons. Angle was the first person in WWE history to make Hulk Hogan submit (the second person being The Boogeyman). And with a little help from new manager Paul Heyman, Angle upset The Big Show to win his third World title.
Actually, that's kind of a lie. Show wasn't all that upset. He understood the business was all a work.
2003 started off with a bang for Kurt, but the end result was mixed. In January, Angle had a legitimate 5-star match at the Royal Rumble (against The Boogeyman) before dropping the title to Brock Lesnar in a match that will forever be known as "The Botched Finish Heard Round The World".
But little did the world know that Angle was working while hurt. Well, unless you read the Internet. Or the dirt-sheets. Hell, it was even being reported by Club WWI which didn't, technically, exist at the time.
Angle opted for a type of experimental surgery and was rushed back into the main event picture shortly thereafter. He regained, and then lost, the championship to Lesnar.
Soon, Angle realized he needed to take some time off and did what anyone else in his situation might do: became a figurehead commissioner of SmackDown, bound in a wheelchair.
Oddly enough, the commissioner I have in "Olympic Dreams" is ALSO in a wheelchair. Though it's such a small part of manuscript, it's barely worth mentioning…
Following the most boring and uneventful series of storylines since WCW Thunder, Angle was moved to Raw, where he would go on to lose his gold medals to Eugene. As a small measure of retaliation, Angle won a pair of medals at the Special Olympics.
(Wow. Did I write that, or just think it out loud? And people thought the Matt Striker comments were bad…)
Following that feud, Angle and action-adventure star John Cena were cast in a remake of the feud "Austin vs. McMahon", starring Cena as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Angle as Dude Love and Eric Bischoff as Vince McMahon.
After failing in his several attempts to wrest the belt from Cena (they nixed the scene where Cena would have come down to the ring in a truck filled with Sunny D), Angle moved once again to SmackDown to captured yet another world title, this time in a battle royal that featured SmackDown luminaries such as Scotty 2 Hotty, The Basham Brothers, Shaniqua and The Boogeyman.
After at least two successful title defenses, Angle dropped the belt to professional jobber Rey Mysterio, clearing the way for him to take his career in a bold new direction.
Angle that is; not Mysterio.
Well, Mysterio, too. But Angle's new direction wasn't just "copying some dead guy."
Unless you count his feud with The Undertaker.
But I digress.
During the final stage of his career, Angle turned into a savage (some might even say into a "Ugandan Headhunter") and was drafted to the upstart television program ECW on SciFi (motto: "Because the geek fanboys on this network didn't already have enough to bitch about").
Angle's ECW career went remarkably well (okay, he did better than The Zombie) before he amicably agreed to part ways with WWE. Well, at least as amicably as the guy Angle is mimicking over in Chapter Nine).
Why did he leave? It's hard to say. Maybe it was drugs. Maybe he just really needed the time off. Maybe he had run out of comical MS Paint hairstyles to fashion. Maybe he was just working all of you stupid marks. Maybe he desperately wanted to go to Orlando and job to Jeff Jarrett.
Or maybe, just maybe, he liked a certain manuscript so much, he couldn't wait to help promote it.
Yeah, you're right. It was probably drugs.
For True Wrestling Stories, I'm Canadian Bulldog.
Canadian Bulldog is a borderline journalist who writes weekly for World Wrestling Insanity and Online Onslaught and has published his own book of nutty e-mails to wrestlers. See his obscenely expensive Canadian BullBLOG for more details. He welcomes your comments at CanadianBulldog@worldwrestlinginsanity.com
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