5 Reasons why WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle may be the greatest all-around performer ever
When Kurt Angle joined WWE in 1999, many fans weren't sure what to expect. As an Olympic gold medalist and national hero, he seemed like an odd fit for the Attitude Era.
At the time, Angle seemed more suited for the cover of a Wheaties box than trading blows with WWE Superstars like The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin. But the Pittsburgh native took to sports entertainment much better than anyone could have expected. Over the years, he honed his character to match his athletic prowess.
The end result might be the greatest all-around wrestler who ever lived.
While many reserve this honor for names like Ric Flair and Bret Hart, it's pretty easy to make the argument that the Olympic hero should be at or near the top of the list. When adding up everything on his report card? He scores very high in every single category.
Here are five reasons why Kurt Angle might be the greatest all-around professional wrestler of all time.
#5 - His legitimate grappling background is the stuff of legend and he carried that into the squared circle
As we all know by now, Kurt Angle won his gold medal while wrestling in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He also did so with a BROKEN FREAKIN' NECK. That display of guts and courage says it all. As do the stories of his ridiculous training sessions just to get to the top of that mountain.
He was able to bring those same skills and intensity to the pro wrestling game. Angle would often rely on his grappling skills to carry other opponents to better matches. And when he met up with a fellow mat master like Samoa Joe or Brock Lesnar? It was a symphony of beautiful violence.
In an era when traditional wrestling had begun to give way to gimmicks and high spots, Angle kept it old school. His list of stellar matches is far too long to name. That's because he brought a level of Olympic excellence to the world of sports entertainment.
#4 - Incomparable strength
Angle may not be considered a bruiser, but he's certainly compact and strong for his size. In fact, he has almost uncanny strength.
With a solid 220 pounds packed onto his 6-foot frame, the American Hero may not have been a Goliath, but he wrestled like a giant. Though his grappling game is typically focused on finesse and leverage, the WWE Hall of Famer proved that he can muscle up on an opponent at any time.
Angle's ability to take things to another level proved that he had enough power to match any opponent. While it may not be his strongest asset, he proved throughout the course of his career that he has plenty of muscle to go along with his hustle.
#3 - Startling agility
This might be the final piece of the Kurt Angle blueprint that completes the entire package. Not initially known for busting out hurricanranas and high-risk dives, the Wrestling Machine eventually adopted an aerial game.
It may have thrown a few fans for a loop. Let's be honest: Kurt Angle was a guy who spent most of his life with his feet on the canvas. And then suddenly, he was flying through the air with the greatest of ease.
He will never be confused with Rey Mysterio or Ricochet, but it was an interesting wrinkle to his style. Angle could have spent the length of his career without making any transitions. Instead, he continued to evolve, adding things to his game.
It's another example of how he constantly worked to become a complete package in sports and entertainment.
#2 - His on-camera persona
As one of the most versatile on-camera performers in recent history, Angle showed an amazing range of acting ability. Depending on the situation? He could go from being a nerdy cornball to an intense warrior... and just about anything else WWE needed him to be.
Developing a gimmick beyond his Olympic background was something many observers doubted Angle could do. However, he proved them all wrong, providing some of the most enjoyable moments in WWE television history.
Had Kurt never truly fleshed out his character, he would still be considered a terrific wrestler. But with his natural charisma, he was able to position himself as one of the most must-watch performers in the industry.
#1 - He capped off a stellar career with a WWE Hall of Fame induction
Of course, everyone knows the stigma of WWE's mythical place of honor. Not only is there no actual physical building, it's often considered more of a popularity contest than anything else.
Criticism aside, the ovation that Kurt Angle received was very real. So were his emotions the night that he took the stage. For someone who has - admittedly - battled demons in his life, it was his crowning achievement in WWE.
It was a moment of reflection. Not just for Angle, but for the WWE Universe that watched him blossom into one of the most tremendous talents we've ever seen. It may have also been a great time to ask: Is Kurt Angle the greatest of all time?