In a backstage segment on the July 23rd episode of WWE Raw, Kevin Owens and Constable Baron Corbin complained to Kurt Angle about Braun Strowman.
And Owens had a proposal: At SummerSlam, he would face Strowman again. And this time, if Owens won—whether by pinfall, count-out, submission or disqualification—he would also win Strowman's Money in the Bank briefcase.
Understandably, Angle balked at the idea; it was punitive, and there were too many loopholes by which Owens could place his thumb on the scale. But then, Stephanie McMahon interceded, smirked and approved the match. She then got in her limousine and drove away, leaving Angle speechless.
Narratively speaking, this has become the typical order of business on Monday Night Raw. Angle is an ineffectual general manager, like Mick Foley before him; the latter also became Stephanie McMahon's puppet ruler before being shown the door. And there's little to no dramatic tension to these segments; Angle doesn't win the argument. Stephanie big-leagues him, and that's the end of that.
When Vince McMahon appointed Kurt Angle as the general manager of Raw after WrestleMania 33, the announcement came right after his WWE Hall of Fame induction. During his acceptance speech, Angle reminisced on his memorable in-ring accomplishments, but he also took the time to remember his comedic skits outside the ring, He even brought a miniature cowboy hat with him on stage and chugged milk to wrap things up.
So when Angle came out on Raw the following night, the expectation of his management style was different from what fans eventually got.
It would be too much to make him a heel like in the old days; the fans would cheer him no matter what evil decisions he made. But fans could reasonably expect that Angle would function as comedy relief. The heels could goof on him. The babyfaces could collude with him on backstage antics. And Kurt Angle could get a few one-liners in. And any callback to the old Attitude Era skits would be a reliable pop.
Instead, Angle has, for the most part, played things straight. He sticks to the script, and he almost never deviates from making match announcements and talking business. And aside from a few "Oh it's true!" callbacks, he doesn't do anything to differentiate himself or to make the GM role his own; another WWE Legend could easily take his place, and no one would know the difference. Why go through the trouble of bringing a colorful character back, when he's just going to be an indistinguishable spoke in the wheel?
It would be best if Kurt Angle wasn't Stephanie's doormat. WWE could delve into their personal history together and explore the love triangle with Triple H from the old days. But if WWE won't give us that, at least let the man be funny! Stealing Baron Corbin's phone on the July 16 episode of Raw was an excellent start.
Backstage jokes and pranks serve as their own form of rebellion—even if Angle can't get the last word, he can always have the last laugh.