Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Why WWE Would Forgive Kurt Angle for Leaving in 2006, RAW Thoughts, More
By Mr. Tito
Jan 18, 2017 - 12:16:10 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome to the latest Mr. Tito column exclusively here at / So yeah, I'm going to talk about Kurt Angle...

it is GREAT that Kurt Angle and the WWE is doing business again. For those who didn't know, Kurt Angle was a WWE employee from late 1999 (in the developmental system before that) through August 2006. Why did he leave? Through the bumps and bruises of the ring during 2002-2003, he developed a neck injury that would nag him for the rest of his WWE career (among other injuries). Angle tried a few quick fixes to his neck to return to the ring quickly instead of the 1-year surgery that Steve Austin, Edge, Lita, and a few others have endured. He seemed to be finally healthy during 2005 when he had some of his best work against Shawn Michaels. However, the wear and tear got to him... He was working injured throughout 2006 and the WWE wouldn't grant him time off... When in pain and forced to work as a wrestler, you'll take a few medications to numb the pain.

After Eddie Guerrero's death during late 2005, there was a rumor going around during 2006 that another wrestler was taking Eddie's death incredibly hard and they were a health ticking timebomb. Most assumed this was Chris Benoit, as he reportedly increased his alcohol consumption following Eddie's death and Benoit's own demise would occur during June 2007. Some suggested it was Ric Flair who would soon see some financial problems in the coming years and divorces from multiple wives. But the third possibility was Kurt Angle about that rumor, who by his own admission, he could have died if he didn't leave the WWE. The never-ending WWE schedule and taking whatever to numb the pain made 2006 a dangerous year for Kurt Angle to survive.

Angle, through August 2006, negotiated an early release fro his WWE contract due to "health reasons". Normally, WWE enforces a no-compete clause for any releases or contract expirations. For whatever reason, Vince McMahon placed trust in Kurt Angle to legitimately need time off to heal up and gave him a FULL release fro his WWE contract. Maybe Vince thought that Kurt would take needed time off and return to the WWE during 2007 or 2008?

That didn't happen. By September 2006, it was announced that Kurt Angle signed with Total Nonstop Action (TNA), just a month after receiving his full release from the WWE due to health reasons. Shots fired! Angle joined what appeared to be a growing roster of talent at TNA through the latter half of the 2000s. For a brief while, there was a small hit of legitimate competition to the WWE and Angle was a big part of it. He remained with TNA wrestling through March 2016.

Vince McMahon has a history of holding grudges, particularly if you burn him on a deal and leave for another promotion. Specifically, Lex Luger from 1995 when he escaped the WWE to return to WCW on the very first edition of WCW Monday Nitro. Then, during 1999 when Jeff Jarrett bolted to WCW to join Vince Russo. Funny story is that the WWE left Jarrett's contract expire as his was Intercontinental Champion and before the Pay Per View where he'd drop that title. Very costly PPV appearance for Jarrett and Vince never forgot how bad he was soaked that night for cash. While Lex Luger, possibly due to his recent health conditions, has made a few WWE appearances, Jeff Jarrett has NOT been welcome to WWE functions (nor has he tried himself). You could say that Vince McMahon can hold a grudge, but as seen by recent examples like Bruno Sammartino and Ultimate Warrior (thanks in part to Vince's son-in-law Triple H brokering the returns), things can heal with time.

However, I believe that Vince McMahon quickly forgave Kurt Angle for his 2006 exit. Why? Well, sorry to say it, but Chris Benoit's death. Had Kurt Angle remained with the WWE during the rest of 2006 and through 2007, Angle could have been the next professional wrestling casualty due to a toxic mix of pain killers or something involving the heart. As I mentioned above, by Angle's own admission, he feared for his own life had he stayed with the WWE. Working the lighter TNA schedule without as much pressure to perform (TNA always treated him like a top guy) probably preserved Angle and kept him alive for the last 10 years. I believe that Vince McMahon and the WWE Corporation quickly got over Angle's betrayal. Through late 2007, the WWE ramped up their Wellness Policy, increased concussion protocols, and began installing other safeguards (headshots, piledriver ban, PG Era) to better protect wrestlers. In many ways, I could imagine that Vince/WWE are relieved in hindsight because their promotion could have contributed to the death of Kurt Angle. Instead, he's still with us to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame - Class of 2017.

Why didn't Kurt Angle return earlier than 2017? Well, when you have the Carter Family cutting nice checks to work an easy TNA schedule, why leave? Everyone wonders why Sting wrestled in TNA from 2003-2014. Easy money. AJ Styles enjoyed cashing in those TNA checks from 2002-2013 as well and seemed to leave when TNA's finances got a little tight. Samoa Joe cashed in some of those TNA checks, too... Dixie Carter had no problem writing them. Many other former WWE, WCW, and ECW stars got paid for limited dates and didn't flinch. I DO NOT blame Kurt Angle one bit for making good money with TNA for fewer dates than he would in WWE.

Now, the WWE could use a big name for their WWE Hall of Fame and Kurt Angle could use his name in the spotlight again. The two entities can do great business again and benefit mutually. The Hall of Fame induction makes me think that Angle is possibly retiring... I know that there are a few examples of Hall of Famers wrestling in the WWE after their induction, but I would think that the WWE would get at least 1 year of solid wrestling from a returning Kurt Angle. Nope... I suspect we might get a Royal Rumble appearance (I'd LOSE MY MIND!) and who knows, maybe 1 last match against his greatest rival, Brock Lesnar... But to me, "Hall of Fame" in the WWE means "the end". I wouldn't doubt that WWE makes Kurt Angle an authority figure or places him with NXT. Could you imagine him training? Good lord...

To me, Kurt Angle is possibly the greatest developmental call-up of all time. NOBODY picked up the business as fast as Kurt Angle. He debuted during late 1999 and by Wrestlemania 16, he looked like a legitimate main eventer. If you read my Phat Daily Columns during late 1999, I didn't understand the guy... But then his promos started to make me laugh and his in-ring work began to impress me. Funny thing is that during Royal Rumble 2000, all of us were marking out when ECW great Tazz debuted and choked Kurt Angle out. We were happy that Tazz finally made it big yet the loser of that match, Kurt Angle, became the bigger star. He sold that Tazz used an "illegal choke" and Angle drew heat from that moment. He never looked back. In my opinion, Angle's quick learning came from wrestling Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Angle's competitive drive while working with those teachers made him an amazing worker almost instantly. In my opinion, though, he learned too much from Chris Benoit and developed an aggressive style that made him open to injury. Gave us great matches, yes, but the body fell apart quickly. Remember that missed moonsault off the top of the cage? Yikes...

I could make an easy argument that Kurt Angle is in the top 3 for best in-ring worker during the WWE Wrestlemania era. He has a collection of "Match of the Year" candidates on his resume that maybe only Shawn Michaels could match. Speaking of that, how about that absurd Wrestlemania 21 match with HBK? It's flawless... And then their rematch later that year was almost as good. I contend that Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar have the BEST Ironman match. Who could forget how Kurt Angle could pull great matches out of Kane? Those INSANE tag team matches with Chris Benoit against Edge/Rey Mysterio... Good lord, possibly the best tag team match of all time! Then, his Royal Rumble 2003 match with Benoit, flawless... His great feud with Edge that led to him shaving his head! He put over Edge BIGTIME in that feud. Those 2001 matches against Austin were sick! My favorite part of Angle is how he recycled 2 old things and incorporated them into his own... Theme Music, which was formerly the Patriot's theme from 1997 and then the Anklelock which Ken Shamrock used. He got both over and Edge made the crowd shout "YOU SUCK" during the theme song!

In my opinion, if Kurt Angle is to have a non-wrestling role... Besides the NXT trainer job, I would have him replace Mick Foley as RAW General Manager. I love Foley, am a longtime fan of his work, loved his 2 WWE books... But what Stephanie McMahon needs is a foil to challenge her authority. I know that it's 16 years ago, but he had great chemistry with Stephanie during their love storyline where Angle/Steph hinted at a romance before Stephanie ultimately remained with Triple H. It fits and Angle has been away long enough where he'll appear fresh to RAW's audience. Not to shortchange Mick Foley, as I'd put him on the WWE Creative Team because he's a creative writer and he knows the wrestling business.

Do yourself a favor and check out Wrestlemania 21 from 2005 and enjoy the 5-Star epic between Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels. If you haven't witnessed Kurt Angle before, that's where you start. And then work backwards.



Since I'm a Hulu viewer (meaning I watch the shows 1 day later) and I wanted to post this Kurt Angle themed column ASAP... No Smackdown review. But I have plenty to say on RAW.

- That Kurt Angle WWE Hall of Fame promo gave me chills... What an amazing performer!

- I have no comment on Jimmy Snuka, other than I wish the very best to his surviving family.

- I really enjoyed Nia Jax attacking Sasha Banks during a training session taped earlier today. Much like Brock Lesnar attacking Dean Ambrose in the parking lot a while ago, it just looked good and what heels should do.

- Great tag match between Anderson/Gallows vs. Sheamus/Cesaro. Loved every second of it. Just a physical battle between the 4 and I could have watched 10 more minutes of that, easily. Glad that it had a controversial finish because I want Anderson/Gallows to win those Titles on Pay Per View and not a random edition of RAW.

- LOVED the opening segment of RAW this week with all of the big players (besides Goldberg) in the ring and getting physical. I'm willing to bet that Vince McMahon was excited to see everyone hyped for possibly witnessing Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman doing battle but Strowman refused... I have to admit, Strowman is growing on me... He's not bad... Nice to see some bravery from Sami Zayn, although he has been relegated to high profile jobber based on his win/loss record over the past year.

- This feud into a 6 man match between Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns/Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman/Chris Jericho/Kevin Owens. I enjoyed it... It hypes Royal Rumble well... Of course, you could predict who would eat the pin from a mile away. I really enjoyed the brawling between the 6 at the end. Nice chairshots and brutal powerbomb!

- Could someone just flush the Cruiserweight division down the toilet already? Does nothing for me on RAW and I'll be honest, 205 isn't impressing me much either. The Cruiserweight Classic was fun, but RAW and 205 in bigger arenas just isn't capturing that same atmosphere.

- Enjoyed the Bayley and Charlotte segment... Good heat by Charlotte to compare Bayley to "average wrestling fans" and I enjoyed seeing those pictures. Did not know that they existed... But then Bayley cut an AMAZING promo about her Dad rubbing nickels together to take Bayley to WWE events. That is such a striking contrast because Charlotte's dad, by her own admission on WWE television, was on the road as a pro wrestler and not at home.

Looking at the results now... Hulu cut lots of content out this week and I'm not crying about what was cut.

SHOW THOUGHTS: Holy cow, RAW was actually good this week or at least what I saw on Hulu. Looking at those results, I could only imagine what the 3 hour USA Network show felt like. Yikes! From what I saw on Hulu, B+ grade I suppose. But damn, I could only imagine how long that show could have been seeing the full 3 hour version on USA Network.



On Friday, we'll actually see a WWE Hall of Famer be sword in as President of the United States. Seriously... Donald Trump was a member of the "Class of 2013" WWE Hall of Fame in the Celebrity wing. Trump hosted Wrestlemanias 4 and 5 and played an important role in Wrestlemania 23 which drew crazy numbers during 2007 of all years.

But most people are fearful of Donald Trump as President. Though they'll ignore the fact that the previous 2 Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, ran up $14.3 Trillion in new Debt, somehow Donald Trump will be the one to break everything. I wouldn't worry too much about him... He doesn't have 60 votes in the Senate, Supreme Court can strike down any abuses of power, and in 2 years, the opposing party can flip BOTH the House and Senate. Then, in 4 years, he can lose his re-election bid. Not the end of the world... But as I keep suggesting, you didn't notice the previous 2 guys running up absurd levels of Debt? Head in the sand?

As I said, if you don't like Donald Trump, you can flip his Congress in 2 years and vote him out in 4 years.

What you cannot do, however, is vote out the McMahon family in the WWE. You see, there is no voting for leadership in the WWE. Majority of shares are owned by Vince McMahon and with him as acting CEO/Board Chairman, he controls the company's WWE shares. Stephanie McMahon is family but also on the Board of Directors, she's not going anywhere. Kevin Dunn isn't going anywhere as Executive Producer as long as Vince McMahon remains in power. While we love Triple H's work in creating the NXT brand and some of his free agent signings, he's loyal to the McMahons. Vince gave him an incredible amount of fame & fortune along with his daughter's hand in marriage. He is grateful for everything that Vince has provided him and will never challenge his authority.

You get no votes in the leadership of the WWE... Sorry... Donald Trump won an election and could lose the next. Hell, he could get impeached if he does a really bad job... Can't impeach the McMahons or Kevin Dunn. No matter how much you piss and moan about the WWE and its management, they'll remain.

However - You can vote with your wallet.

WWE's ultimate weakness is that it cannot live without the Cable/Satellite contract. I know, everybody cutting the chord but USA Networks can be accessed by about 96 million televisions in the United States (translates to roughly 82% of televisions). While that is down slightly from the peak of 2012, that is still higher than most other previous eras. WWE's revenue stream is about 35% dependent on television contracts and I could argue that bleeds into the WWE Network because RAW/Smackdown advertise the Network heavily. In fact, RAW/Smackdown are the infomercial vehicles that promote Pay Per View events on the Network.

It's simple... Don't watch RAW/Smackdown on USA Network. Tada!

WWE conveniently provides the key moments of RAW and Smackdown on their YouTube channel. Hell, follow their Twitter accounts and you'll see live highlights of both shows. If you have Hulu, you can watch condensed versions of RAW and Smackdown. Though WWE might see some residuals from Hulu for viewership, they make more off of USA Network. WWE has lost over 1 million viewers for RAW during the last 2 years. Maybe in 2-3 years when that Comcast deal comes up again, do you think that the WWE will see a significant increase?

THAT'S how you vote in the WWE... With your TIME and your WALLET. Ticked off about RAW? Then don't watch it on USA Networks. After all, WWE has structured RAW to be a 3-hour infomercial for Pay Per Views and Smackdown has its weak shows too.

That's how you beat force that is believed to be unstoppable... Collectively withdrawing your support.


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