On Monday, the first entrant into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was announced and it was a doozy. Olympic Gold Medal winner Kurt Angle will be honored this year. From the WWE:
It's true, it's true! Kurt Angle will be taking his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 just two days before WrestleMania 33, as first reported by ESPN.com.
"Kurt Angle's accomplishments both in the Olympics and WWE were extraordinary," said WWE's Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Levesque. "He was one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring, and we are honored to welcome him into the WWE Hall of Fame."
Before becoming a legend of the squared circle, the proud Pittsburgh native was a world-class amateur competitor, becoming a two-time All-American and a two-time NCAA Champion while wrestling for Clarion University in his home state of Pennsylvania. His incredible amateur career culminated at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where he fought off the incredible pain of a "broken freakin' neck" to win the gold medal for the United States of America.
In 1998, Angle made the jump from amateur to professional wrestling by signing with WWE. One year later, the gold medal grappler made his debut at Survivor Series 1999, picking up the first win of an undefeated streak that saw Angle capture the European and Intercontinental Championships. His unbelievable rookie campaign culminated at WWE No Mercy in October 2000, where he defeated The Rock to capture his first WWE Championship.
Though his wrestling ability was unparalleled, Angle adapted to the entertainment side of sports-entertainment better than anyone could have expected. Whether it was preaching his "three Is" – intensity, integrity and intelligence – taking part in a five-second pose with Edge & Christian or joining "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for a backstage sing-along, The Olympic Hero was able to make the WWE Universe laugh when he wasn't wowing them with his athleticism.
By the time he left WWE in 2006, Angle had become one of the company's most decorated stars in a short period of time. His resume includes four reigns as WWE Champion, a World Heavyweight Championship, the WCW, United States, Hardcore, Intercontinental and World Tag Team Championships. In addition, Angle was the 2000 King of the Ring and even served as General Manager of SmackDown.
In honor of these accomplishments, along with his incredible contributions to the WWE Universe during his storied career, Angle will be enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Angle has spent quite a bit of time outside of the WWE, most notably in TNA, but fans have longed for the day they could see him back. Sadly, this may mean we won't get to see one more match, which has been speculated about for some time. But seeing him back where he started and at one time made milk a more popular drink than beer is ok in my book, especially if this means we can get a Kurt Angle figure out of it (hey, i'm a collector). Angle has also reacted to the news:
"I was shocked. I've been out of WWE for a long time and out of touch with them so I didn't really expect this. It's a huge honor. This is the only Hall of Fame that I'm not in and probably [the one] I want to be in the most. This is the one that means the most for me. I had a lot of fun entertaining the fans for seven years with WWE, and I'm glad that my hard work paid off."
Angle revealed that he received a phone call from Triple H on Monday with the news.
"I figured they either decided they didn't want to do anything with me or they forgot. Hunter said they never forgot and he called and told me this is the first thing they want to do. And whether I wrestle or not after this — which is irrelevant right now — I'm just really proud to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I gave a lot of energy and time to WWE those first seven years, and I'm grateful that they recognized it."
Angle also told ESPN that his current deal runs through the Hall of Fame ceremony but does not include a WrestleMania 33 match.
"We have not talked about any wrestling. Whether we do or not, that remains to be seen… There are no guarantees. I think right now the most important thing is the Hall of Fame — and I think both sides feel that way."
The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony takes place the night before Wrestlemania in Orlando on April 1.