Kurt Angle, the 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medalist who performed for WWE from 1998 to 2006 as a six-time WWE world champion, will headline the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017, according to ESPN.com. Angle received the news Monday afternoon that he'll be inducted as part of a ceremony to be held on Friday, March 31, as part of the WrestleMania 33 weekend festivities, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Angle was told of his induction just a little while ago, and he seems as surprised as anyone.
"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."
Even though Angle, who is 48 now, asked the WWE for his release in 2006 and subsequently went on to spend 10 years in TNA, he says there were never any hard feelings between him and Vince McMahon.
"It was one of those things where when I left WWE, it wasn't on bad terms," Angle said. "It was just that I couldn't do anything for them anymore because I was banged up and they couldn't do anything more for me. I never felt ill will against them. It wasn't like a nasty parting, it was just our time is up. You go your way, and I'll go mine."
Angle that he had a meeting with Triple H back in May about a possible return to the company, but nothing ever came of it. Apparently Triple H was the one who called Angle to tell him the good news.
"I figured they either decided they didn't want to do anything with me or they forgot," Angle said. But then came the phone call today, and on the other end was none other than Trips himself.
"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 said it's been hard not knowing if he was going to one day return. He was careful to say that his new contract, which runs through the Hall of Fame ceremony, does not include a WrestleMania match.
"We have not talked about any wrestling," Angle said. "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."
In addition to Angle, PWInsider is reporting that Beth Phoenix will also be inducted. Phoenix is a four-time WWE Women's/Divas champion, and a Slammy winner. She is one of three women to ever enter a Royal Rumble, and has since retired and married Hall of Famer Edge.