New WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle originally came to the WWE from the world of amateur wrestling. He won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Olympic Games.
You probably know these details already.
But did you know that he originally felt that it would not be believable for him to lose a match in WWE?
It's true. It's Damn true.
Bruce Prichard told a story on his "Something To Wrestle" podcast about the first meeting Angle had when the company was thinking about bringing him in.
“First, he met with Vince. They all went in and met with Vince alone. Afterwards, Vince sent him into my office to talk to him a little bit more about the (professional wrestling) business and get a feel for what Kurt’s desires were, what he was really looking for, what he knew about the business, and what have you. And in that meeting, there was a comment made by Kurt that I kind of just ended the meeting because Kurt made it very clear that being an Olympic gold medalist that he couldn’t possibly ever lose a match. He’s the best there is and no one could ever beat him. No one would ever believe that he could lose a match. So I thanked Kurt for his time and I wished him very well with his gold medal and moved on.”
So Kurt the Gold Medalist was pulling the "a real fighter wouldn't lose to a fake fighter" card, a favorite of the "Steve Blackman should have been world champion" crowd back in the day.
However, someone must have drilled some sense into Kurt along the way and given him the "it's not shoot, it's a work" talk, because he changed his tune pretty quick.
“I believe J.R.… kind of extended the olive branch a little bit after Kurt had not been setting the world on fire with his sportscasting and pizza sales. So, ‘hey kid, if you’re still interested, we can come back and talk, come back to the table, maybe it ain’t so bad.’ And Vince, J.R., spoke with him and Kurt’s attitude had changed quite a bit.”
However, the creative team did him no favors, because they saddled him with the "Real Athlete" nickname, which only served to piss off the rest of the locker room. Seems the other guys backstage didn't care for the implication that, by contrast, they were "fake athletes."
As Prichard tells it, there was an “emphasis on the word ‘real’, implying that every other athlete in the WWE is less than real, so it got the ire of quite a few people in the back, like, ‘what the f–k? Is he talking to me? Hell, I’m a real athlete. I’m a real wrestler.' I mean, Steve Austin for one, looking at him like, ‘well, Goddamn, is this guy saying I ain’t real?’, so sure, everybody was, even The Undertaker felt it was demeaning and didn’t like the tone of the vignettes. Like, come on guys, it’s a work! But if you can get the talent upset about it and the talent feeling that, then you’ve got the audience.”
And when you've got the audience, you might just be able to use that heat to build a future hall of famer.
It's true. It's damn true.
You can listen to the entire Bruce Prichard podcast at this link.