Hello everyone I'm glad you could join me again for another edition of Planet Kayfabe here on NoDQ.com That's the now 20 year old NoDQ.com as of yesterday. Happy 20th anniversary. Do you remember what you were doing 20 years ago? Perhaps going to WWF.com waiting 10 minutes to watch a 30 second video file between trying to get e-laid in an AOL chat room with someone you assumed was a girl your age? I'll tell you what Kurt Angle was doing. In late 1998 he had signed with the WWF two years after becoming a freestyle wrestling gold medalist at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 1998 the WWF was on top of the world. Legit. The late 90's boom was no joke. Compilation albums with WWF entrance music on them were going platinum and Mick Foley was almost voted Time's "Man of the Year" by the public until those hacks f***ed him out of it. What a time to be young.
Kurt Angle's story is well documented. He came to WWE while it was at its hottest and he caught on to the business and got over just as fast to keep up with the stars of the era. At one time you could make an argument that he was the best mainstream wrestler in the world. Like many wrestlers he dealt with his share of injuries, addictions and a falling out with Vince McMahon. It's a story you've heard (at least) a hundred other times and in 2017 after 11 years away from the WWE Kurt Angle returned to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and later we would find out that Kurt would be an on-screen regular as Raw's General Manager. Okay, cool right? The question fans had was would Kurt ever wrestle in WWE? Does he still got it? AHHH THAT'S THE NAME OF THE COLUMN OMGGGGG HE SAID IT Yeah, I hate it when movies reference the title of the movie in the movie, too ;-)
Last year on October 20 out of nowhere WWE announced that Kurt Angle of all people would be having his first WWE match in 11 years -- ELEVEN YEARS!!! To replace Roman Reigns in The Shield who missed the event due to illness. The match was... a match. Kurt looked ok, but he was one of 8 people in a 5-on-3 Handicap Match. It was a fun treat for the fans who wanted to see him play the old hits but nothing that hinted towards him working a regular schedule as a wrestler. At Wrestlemania 34 he played a key role in what was in my opinion the best match at Wrestlemania where he teamed up with Ronda Rousey to take on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. In Kurt's matches with WWE he looked fine. Not like the Kurt of old. He looks noticeably older and slower and quick to blow up. Since then this past summer he took a "vacation" as Raw GM which has left Baron Corbin in charge.
Kurt Angle returned to qualify for the "World Cup" tournament at Crown Jewel where we would also see Kurt in a singles match. In short, here's what I had to say about Kurt in the match he would have against Dolph Ziggler at this event:
"The match was fine. Kurt cosmetically looks to be in great shape for his age but he's obviously much slower. My pick was Angle, but I'm glad Dolph is moving forward here. Kurt seemed pretty tired. I'm not sure a second match in the same night with an even younger guy like Rollins would have been any prettier. It was clear that Kurt was maxed out here."
The following Monday on Raw Kurt would have his first singles match on Raw since 2006 by facing Drew McIntyre in the main event. The match was pretty sad to watch, which I guess it what they were going for. It was a glorified squash match. Drew dominated as the heel and taunted Kurt by offering his leg only to stuff all his take down attempts and eventually make Angle tap with his own signature submission hold. I guess I can't complain too much. Kurt is obviously slower and older to the audience and this is how they SHOULD be booking 50 year olds against guys 10, 15, even 20 years younger than them, but... why is Kurt the only one?
One week ago today we had to watch a main event straight out of Badd Blood 1997 where we constantly have to listen to the announcers tell us how The Undertaker has "never looked better" and Triple H has "never looked better" when it is clear that is bullshit. Triple H looks fine, but "never better"? Come on. It is even more obvious with Undertaker and Kane. Undertaker is a sad story every time the fog clears and the bell rings and Kane looks nothing like a monster anymore. He just looks like some fat old super-fan at Comic Con. Yet WWE usually works their magic and puts these guys over as renaissance men in their primes despite being around when you were shitting your pants in your crib. I'm serious. There are people who are married with a house and kids today who were born the year The Undertaker made his debut in WWE. You wouldn't know that based on commentary, though. You'd think its 1997. Same thing with everyone else. Goldberg comes back after 14 years. Never better! Sting comes to WWE in his mid-50's. At the top of his game! Before Triple H got injured because that's what happens to old people who take big bumps, they were going to sell you on a Triple H vs Batista main event at Wrestlemania 35 next year as if this is 2003. Your Olympic Hero, though? I guess they can't milk one more big singles match out him.
While it is refreshing to see an older guy not overshadow the younger talent. A crippling booking crutch that has defined the WWE in 2010's because its easier to pop fans with nostalgia than to make them love something new, I find it a bit odd. It is clear that Kurt isn't the Kurt of old. There's a part of me that thinks this is their way of starting a Kurt Angle redemption story where he starts out doubting himself en route to the wrestling machine picking up steam and stacking up a few quality wins to lead up to one last match at Wrestlemania. However after Raw did you feel like you wanted to see Kurt Angle: the wrestler anymore? I didn't.
Kurt doesn't "still have it" as a wrestler, but neither do a lot of the other nostalgia acts they trot out there for prime card spots and big pay days. What the nostalgia acts do have is marquee value, the ability to cause a buzz just by announcing they are having a big match. Does WWE just not see Kurt Angle, one of the top guys of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras as a big enough star to get one more go? Again, I'm somewhat conflicted because as much as I love the guys I grew up on and have fun with the nostalgia acts, I am tired of it as well and I think more of these older guys should be putting over the potential stars of right now like Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler.
My theory that that they're going for a redemption story with Kurt sounds good on paper, but it would only work if he he could work anywhere near as good as he could in his prime. Let's all take off the nostalgia goggles and analyze Kurt Angle with November 2018 eyes. Have you seen anything that makes you think that Kurt could go 25 minutes with, take your pick of any worker in the company, and reach a 4 star level match? Sure, they could book him to win a bunch of boring matches, but if he is just exposed as a tired old man in a boring winning effort that type of redemption story wouldn't work. Unless the story is for him to rack up a few wins this winter only to have one last big match at Wrestlemania where he eventually puts over a younger talent in a decent, competitive match. That idea I could kind of get behind even though, as I've made clear many times in the past, the last thing Wrestlemania needs is yet another match with yet another guy in his 50's.
I should say I am not against WWE using the old timers the right way. I think WWE has leaned too hard on nostalgia this decade, though. That's why it is puzzling to me how Kurt Angle has been portrayed. This is how a 50 year old would have been portrayed in the Attitude Era.
"Past his prime. Can't hang. You should have seen him when. "
The only thing that makes it strange is that we live in a day where if the Attitude Era was happening right now we would be talking about Wrestlemania potentially being headlined by Sgt. Slaughter and Honky Tonk Man, one of which who would be the Universal Champion right now
WWE used to give us nostalgia in healthy doses. Enough fan service to keep us happy but not too much to where they are overshadowing the current talent and being portrayed as a bigger deal. Damn, has that changed. Like the rest of you, I enjoy the nostalgia. It is fun. It sucks seeing these guys get old and retire because it reminds us that we are getting older, too. Yet for one more match we can feel like a kid again watching the stars of our youth go at it coming out to their old themes and hitting their old spots and spitting their old catchphrases into the mic. Seeing Kurt struggle at the feet of a younger, more in shape and hungry Drew McIntyre and get worked circles around a quick 38 and-a-half year old Dolph Ziggler has only acted as a reminder that these larger-than-life superstars are indeed human and while we can fantasy book all year long there's no story that is going to replace Kurt's body and diminished physical abilities. In the ring I saw a guy who still has the mind for wrestling but not the body to keep up with what his mind wants to do. Sure, I'm stating the obvious but the point of this piece is to ask what is the difference between Kurt Angle and The Undertaker who is putting off a full hip replacement that would pretty much signal his retirement? Or Triple H who after two torn quads and now a torn pec is going to be even older and slower when he comes back to the ring. Or Shane McMahon who is going to be 49 years old in January and turned as purple Barney The Dinosaur's throbbing dick and sweat buckets after working 3 minutes with Dolph Ziggler... who by the way beat Kurt Angle clean in the middle of the ring. They always go out of their way to put over how crazy Shane is and how he's willing to do anything to win a match, but I'd much rather watch old man Kurt wrestle out there at half speed than watch Shane sucking wind after throwing his punches that would make Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots laugh their choking hazard asses off.
Thanks for reading this edition of Planet Kayfabe. Do you agree with how they are portraying Kurt Angle right now? Considering he was one of the top guys during a popular era in WWE I'm pretty surprised how they are diminishing him by just exposing to the fans that he really can't go anymore... Yet, at Survivor Series we get to see Shane-O lead his team in a bu-partisan endorsement by The Miz and Daniel Bryan. Whoopee.
I'm in favor of one more big Kurt Angle match, but after this past week all WWE did was make me never want to see him put that singlet on ever again. I love Drew McIntyre and I'm glad he won but that was pretty sad to watch. Not just the fact that it was a virtual squash match in the main event, but it is clear that Kurt doesn't "still got it" just surprising that WWE would only highlight that fact instead of trying to mask it as much as they can to build for one more big match and it has only had us be the witnesses to the end of what was once perhaps the true best in the world days after we saw a grey haired non-wrestling executive dance around the ring with a fake trophy claiming that title.
Share your thoughts below. Do you agree or disagree with my take or WWE's position? Do you see it differently? How would you book a Kurt Angle redemption story if you even would at all? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe
Once again, happy 20th anniversary to NoDQ.com It has been a pleasure for me personally to be an official part of the team for the past two years. I'm happy to be a small part of this site's history and have this outlet to express my thoughts and opinions to all of you. Thank you for reading again. Enjoy your weekend, everyone. God bless.