The Crow's Nest - Welcome Home Angle
By The Crow
Jul 13, 2014 - 12:30:01 PM
1) Welcome Home Angle (07/13/14)
The day could finally be upon us.
My favourite wrestler of all time could finally be coming home.
Kurt Angle's current contract with TNA reportedly expires on September 21, and while he has said that TNA has already offered him a new deal, he has yet to sign on the line that is dotted because he wants to "weigh his options". Sure, that could mean a number of different things. Maybe he's joining forces with Jeff Jarrett for Global Force Wrestling. Maybe he's headed to Japan. Maybe he's retiring.
Or, perhaps most likely, he's finally ready to seriously look at a WWE comeback.
When Angle left the WWE back in 2006, I absolutely believe he was burnt out. The injuries had piled up and he (reportedly) had been abusing painkillers and/or other drugs, and overall I think he was just unhappy with his position in the company. Less than 2 months later, Angle debuted in TNA, and a month after that he wrestled his first match for his new company.
I remember a lot of people, myself included, being wary of this quick signing at the time because if Angle's problems were as serious as they were reported to be, how could he possibly start fresh already? More importantly, how could a wrestling promoter in good conscience possibly allow a wrestler with such serious injury and drug problems to perform on his/her show? It certainly wouldn't be the last time Dixie's judgement would be called into question (Jeff Hardy anyone?).
Despite the speculation that Angle would continue to spiral down, he managed to pick himself back up and get back to being the entertaining Kurt Angle that I was such a big fan of. After a while he began to look noticeably better physically, both in terms of his body and how he moved around, and I think the spark was reignited in him as he was reminded of why he loved wrestling in the first place. Not only was he able to wrestle at the top again, he was able to pass on his wisdom and skills to a new generation of professional wrestlers, including guys like Samoa Joe and AJ Styles. Saying that TNA saved Kurt Angle's life might be a bit melodramatic, but I don't know that it's entirely untrue either.
Fast forward to 2014, and I'm left asking myself one very important question: what else can Angle possibly accomplish in TNA?
Back in 2006, TNA was still a very young company. They needed that veteran touch from guys like Angle and Sting to give some instant credibility to their roster, as well as to teach their younger guys a thing or two about the differences between indy promotion wrestling and the "big time". Having a guy like Kurt Angle involved in the World Championship picture (or at least in one of the top storylines) helped to attract new fans that might not care about guys like Styles or Joe just yet. He was the bait to attract new viewers, but he was never meant to be the permanent solution. He was the temporary band-aid to give TNA time to establish their own guys and keep viewers interested.
Angle has done it all in TNA.
- 5-time World Heavyweight Champion
- 2-time Tag Team Champion
- 1-time X-Division Champion
- Second TNA Triple Crown Champion
- 2-time King of the Mountain
Not to mention the fact that he's led a main event stable, had multiple "Match of the Year" winners and contenders and that he's a member of the (admittedly irrelevant) TNA Hall of Fame. Kurt Angle is kind of a big deal.
But after 8 years with TNA, I don't think there's anything else for him to do there. He's openly admitted that he can't perform at the same level he used to, and while I'm sure he could still wrestle circles around a lot of the younger guys, he's probably looking to wind down his career. He'll be turning 46 this year, and while his pro wrestling career seems relatively short at only 16 years long, he's been an athlete for almost as long as he's been alive. He's also been on the receiving end of some pretty major injuries, and with Angle now reportedly being clean of all drugs and not taking any painkillers, you have to imagine he's ready to relax.
If Angle resigns for a year with TNA, he'll likely be able to control much of what happens to his character. He could design a pretty easy year-long contract for himself, make a few bucks and then consider retirement again in 2015. He might even wrestle a few matches, who knows. But you know what he wouldn't have if he signed with TNA again? The kind of money that comes along with a WWE Legends deal.
If Angle returns to WWE, he'll likely receive a DVD deal, possibly a new action figure, new shirts and a WAY more lucrative contract for what would likely be very limited dates, all likely culminating in a WWE Hall of Fame induction. Even if he only signed on for a few matches over the next couple of years, just think about the possibilities. It's a very different WWE than it was when Angle left in 2006, and there's a whole new crew of guys for him to wrestle. Just think about how much the NXT crew could benefit from working alongside Angle, even in a guest trainer role.
So what could possibly keep Angle from returning, or more specifically what could keep McMahon from wanting to bring him back?
Of course his age plays a factor here. Angle will be 46 by the end of this year, hardly a spring chicken. WWE finally seems to be moving in the right direction in terms of promoting younger talents, so do they really want to bring back an older guy that has admitted he can't perform at the same level he used to? To keep it short: absolutely yes. If Angle were to be brought back as a full-time guy, instantly winning the WWE Championship and pushing guys back down the ladder, I would disagree with the move. But there's no harm in bringing in a guy that can still wrestle 5-star matches to wrestle a few nights a year and give these younger guys a taste of what wrestling a superstar feels like.
That leads into another great question: does WWE need another part-timer on the roster? Again, I say yes. Not so much that they NEED another part-timer, but more so that it couldn't hurt. Angle has openly said that he wants to consider retiring soon, so it's pretty unlikely that he'll pull a Jericho and keep making these mini-comebacks year after year. It's not like we're talking about bringing in Gene Snitsky as a part-time wrestler, we're discussing one of the all-time greats. Kurt Angle, despite his age and injuries, still has a lot to offer the younger roster today. From a business standpoint, I also believe there's a lot of money still to be made from the Kurt Angle brand. WWE could really cash in on a DVD deal plus merchandise, action figures, autograph signings and, of course, PPV buys. I have no problem with WWE signing part-time talents if it's the right wrestler, and Angle is absolutely the right wrestler at the moment.
But what about his history with substance abuse? Well, WWE is definitely the place to be for that. Angle has reportedly been clean and sober for a year now, but you have to know that the man would instantly be placed under a microscope if he returned to WWE, especially given the circumstances of his 2006 departure. His career is winding down, and I think he realizes this. I think that his desire to retire on top would be a huge motivating factor to stay clean and in WWE's good books. Plus, with WWE's resources, he would have access to help should he start to slip again. It's all a matter of whether or not Vince McMahon thinks Angle is still a risk, and so long as Angle can pass the strict physical testing, I think McMahon would realize that there's dollars to be made.
Of course you also have to look at how long he's been away. Kurt Angle left the WWE in 2006, 8 years ago. Will fans still remember or care enough about Kurt Angle for his return to make an impact? Definitely. Like I said before, we're not talking about some nobody, flash-in-the-pan loser who wrestled a few matches and disappeared. We're talking about Kurt Angle. If that music hit, you better believe the arena would go insane. Plus, with the skills of WWE's video editing team, they could make him look like a million bucks before he even stepped foot in a WWE ring again. Of course there's going to be newer fans that might not really know who he is, but that's no reason to not bring him back. Brock Lesnar was away for 8 years too, and while the argument can be made that he at least remained relevant as a main event UFC fighter, does that really matter to a majority of WWE fans, particularly the younger generation? Angle's been gone for 8 years, wrestling for a much smaller wrestling promotion, but he made enough of an impact on the WWE during his tenure there that his contributions to the industry have not been forgotten.
If I were Kurt Angle, I would definitely be looking to return to WWE. If Angle is truly ready to retire and hang up the boots, it only makes sense for him to do it back in WWE. Not just because of the money he could make (though obviously that's a big plus) but because it would absolutely help to cement his legacy as a future hall-of-famer. He's given all that he can give to TNA, and it's time for him to move on and do something for himself.
The WWE Universe is ready for an Angle return. Angle's deal with TNA expires in a couple of months, so there's a very good chance we could hear "Medal" over the WWE sound system again before the end of 2014.
Please WWE, make this happen.