Kurt Angle : The Reigning WWE Sensation
Kurt Angle was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 9th, 1968. He spent all of his childhood in Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Education. After dabbling in Amateur Wrestling right at the age of 7, Angle continued with the sport through his college years, becoming the 1987 Pennsylvania State Wrestling Champion in his senior year.
After graduating in 1993, Angle began training for the 1996 Summer Olympics under Coach David Schultz, whom he considered a father figure, having lost his own father in a construction accident when he was just 16.
The highest point of his Wrestling career came when he won the Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics, and yes, he indeed did this with a 'broken freakin' neck!'. During the Olympic trials, though Angle fractured two of his cervical vertebrae, herniated two discs, and pulled four muscles, he went on to win the trials, and 5 months later, he became a Gold Medalist.
Angle has revealed in many subsequent interviews how he was initially skeptical about pro wrestling. Indeed he has admitted that he considered the sport to be 'beneath him', due to his background as a celebrated amateur wrestler.
In fact, in an amusing anecdote, Angle has revealed how his first meeting with Vince McMahon, post his 1996 Olympic win, was a disaster. Not knowing the nuances of the business, Angle put down the ridiculous stipulation that if he did ever work for WWE, he would not be willing to lose a match. Needless to say, he was not offered a contract!
But after beginning to watch Monday Night Raw and other pro wrestling promotions, Angle gradually became a fan of the business. After a tryout, he was offered a 5-year contract with WWE in 1998.
Kurt Angle start's of a legendary career
Kurt Angle is often said to be the quickest learner the pro wrestling industry has ever seen. After training for a few months, Kurt debuted his character as an American Hero. In his debut at Survivor Series 1999, he defeated Shawn Stasiak.
The fans however, did not warm up to Kurt the way he would've hoped. In line with the reactions he received, Angle changed his gimmick to a 'holier than thou' character, who often bragged about how he was better than the people in the audience, taunting his fellow wrestlers as well.
His first championship win in WWE came against Val Venis in February of 2000, when he won the Europen Championship. In the same month, he won the Intercontinental Title as well, proclaiming himself the 'Eurocontinental Champion'. Later that same year, Angle went on to win the King of the Ring tournament as well.
Entry into the main event scene
Kurt's entry to the main event saw him feuding with Triple H, in an angle involving himself, HHH and Stephanie McMahon in a love triangle. Next began his pursuit of the then WWF Championship, which culminated with him defeating The Rock at No Mercy in 2000. He became the first ever person to win a Gold medal as well as a World Championship.
Over the course of the next two years the then WWF Champion feuded with the likes of The Undertaker, HHH and The Rock; during the infamous 'Invasion' storyline, Angle turned babyface and had a memorable feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, which ended with him beating Stone Cold at Unforgiven 2001 for his second World Championship.
"You Suck" and Grand Slam Winner
The now legendary "you suck" chants that are heard in arenas all over the world today whenever Kurt's music hits, has its origin in a long term feud Angle was involved in against Edge. In a hilarious segment, Edge would pretend to show some old photos to Kurt, while the back of the placards said things like "you suck" and "I'm a dork" with Kurt holding them up unknowingly.
After going bald in a Hair vs Hair match against Edge, Angle went on to feud with Hollywood Hogan. Amongst his other achievements, Kurt Angle also holds the distinction of being the first ever wrestler to make Hogan submit.
Interestingly, it was during this time in 2002 that John Cena made his famous on-screen debut, when Kurt Angle held an open invitational challenge.
Later in 2002, Angle achieved the distinction of being only the fifth Grand Slam Champion in history, after winning the Tag Team titles alongside Chris Benoit. He later won his third World Title from the Big Show at Armageddon. It was during this time that Angle started having problems with his neck again. This is when Kurt Angle went up against Brock Lesnar, culminating in their match at WM XIX (the one with the botched Shooting Star press) where Angle dropped the title to Lesnar, to take time off for surgery.
After his rehab and return Angle went on to feud with the like of Vince McMahon, Big Show, Brock Lesnar and later Eddie Guerrero. It was during this time that Kurt had one of the best matches of his career - a 60 minute Iron Man match against The Beast Incarnate on SmackDown. Angle lost the WWE Championship to Lesnar in that match, which he had won from him in SummerSlam.
Departure from WWE and his time with TNA
In early 2005, Angle started one of the best feuds of his career with Shawn Michaels, which even won them both a Match of the Year award by PWI, for their match at WM 21. His fifth and final reign as World Champion in WWE came when he won the World Heavyweight Championship in a 20-man battle royal on SmackDown in 2006.
With the revival of ECW, Kurt Angle had a short stint over in ECW as 'The Wrestling Machine'. It was at this time that his health could not keep up with WWE's gruelling schedule and he was granted an early release from WWE due to health issues, in August 2006.
The next ten years, from 2006 to 2016, Kurt Angle was a mainstay of the TNA (now known as Impact Wrestling) roster. During his run in TNA, Kurt Angle became a 6-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, 2 time TNA World Tag Team Champion and 1 time TNA X-Division Champion. He had some very memorable feuds over at TNA with the likes of Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Sting, Jay Lethal, and Bobby Lashley. One of his most controversial feuds though, was with Jeff Jarrett. The feud revolved around Jarrett getting together with Angle's ex-wife Karen. Though a lot of dirty laundry was aired in public during the feud, making fans uncomfortable, Angle and Jarrett did put on some good matches.
He also had many a good feuds as a part of stables such as the Main Event Mafia and later Immortal.
Personal Life and other trivia
Angle has been the victim of numerous tragedies throughout his life. Having lost his father at the age of 16, Kurt considered his wrestling coach David Schultz to be his mentor and a father figure. In a tragic turn of events, Schultz was murdered just six months before his Olympic Gold Medal victory. Angle dedicated his victory to his mentor.
One of Kurt's best matches is his 60-minute Iron Man clinic he put on with Brock Lesnar. However, just the previous night, Kurt had received devastating news that his sister had passed away due a drug overdose. Being a true professional and a real brave heart, Kurt Angle went ahead and wrestled the match anyway.
Kurt Angle has been married two times and is the proud father of 5 children. He lives with his wife Jiovanni Yannotti in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His hobbies include watching American Football and Soccer, and playing the drums.