Ranking the 7 Best Kurt Angle Moments Since Returning to WWE

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2019

Ranking the 7 Best Kurt Angle Moments Since Returning to WWE

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    Kurt Angle's WWE return has allowed him to close out his career on a high note.
    Kurt Angle's WWE return has allowed him to close out his career on a high note.Credit: WWE.com

    For years, Kurt Angle was one of the last remaining wrestlers fans desperately wanted to see return home to WWE. He last competed for the company in 2006 before leaving for Impact Wrestling soon after, where he spent the next decade of his career.

    Although it took longer than expected, Angle finally resurfaced in WWE over WrestleMania 33 weekend when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Shortly thereafter, he was named the new general manager of Raw and has had a recurring role on WWE programming ever since.

    That said, his return run has been far from perfect. His on-air appearances have become more sporadic over the last six months, and he has largely been relegated to an enhancement role, losing far more often than he wins.

    Despite that, Angle is still beloved by fans and receives a strong reaction every time he shows up. He'll likely be in line for one more marquee match at WrestleMania 35, though what the future holds for him as an active competitor beyond that is uncertain.

    Nevertheless, The Olympic Gold Medalist will forever be a cherished member of the WWE family, and his latest stint with the company has had more ups than downs.

    Two years removed from when it was initially announced that he was coming back, let's look at his best moments both inside and outside the ring.

7. A Short and Sweet Stint in the Royal Rumble (Jan. 27, 2019)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The beauty of the Royal Rumble match is that you never know who will show up (or when). This year's installment for the men featured the return of Jeff Jarrett as well as the main roster debuts of Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano and Pete Dunne.

    Sprinkled among the surprises was none other than Angle, who entered the fray at No. 4. He had occasionally been in action on Raw in the months preceding the pay-per-view, but he never officially announced he would be taking part in the Rumble.

    Thus, the fans in attendance that night jumped to their feet upon hearing his epic entrance music hit the arena. He also looked to be in tremendous shape, and the fire he had in his eyes as he started making his way toward the ring could not be denied.

    Not only did Angle participate in his first Royal Rumble in nearly a decade-and-a-half, but he was also able to mix it up with two fresh faces in Elias and Shinsuke Nakamura.

    Angle and Elias briefly crossed paths before the WWE Hall of Famer turned his attention to Nakamura, who he had done battle with only once before in Japan 11 years earlier.

    Granted, Angle's run in the Rumble was brief (he was eliminated within four minutes by Nakamura), but it was cool to see him turn back the hands of time with his short-and-sweet performance.

6. Duping Baron Corbin (Oct. 8, 2018)

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    One night removed from SummmerSlam 2018, Stephanie McMahon decided Angle would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from his role as Raw general manager and referred to it as a well-deserved "vacation" for the former multi-time WWE world champion.

    The bad blood between Stephanie and Angle could be traced back to the fall of 2017 when he defied her and Triple H during Survivor Series season. Thus, it was apparent she took pleasure in relieving him of his authority-figure duties and giving them to "Constable" Baron Corbin instead.

    Angle spent the next several months away from the flagship show, plotting his eventual return. While he was gone, Corbin began building toward the WWE World Cup at Crown Jewel, which would feature wrestlers from Raw and SmackDown Live battling it out to determine who was the "best in the world."

    On the Oct. 8 edition of Raw, a Battle Royal was held with the winner qualifying for the World Cup. Corbin clearly booked the bout in his favor to ensure victory for himself as almost every competitor involved was a relative unknown, except for one individual under a mask who proceeded to toss The Lone Wolf straight over the top rope.

    After the bell rang, "The Conquistador" revealed himself to be Angle. In addition to picking up his first victory on Raw since 2006, he also scored a measure of revenge over Corbin, so it was a win-win for The Olympic Gold Medalist.

5. The Past Meets the Present (Feb. 11, 2019)

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    Angle has not had the greatest 2019. As previously mentioned, he was tossed from the Royal Rumble match relatively quickly, and on the next night's Raw, he was defeated in decisive fashion by Baron Corbin.

    The following week on Raw, Angle partnered with Braun Strowman to take on Corbin and Drew McIntyre in tag team action and lost by disqualification.

    It started to look like retirement was becoming more and more likely for the WWE Hall of Famer, at least until he realized all he needed was some assistance from the talent of tomorrow to erase the threat of Corbin, McIntyre and Bobby Lashley.

    That led to Angle and Strowman coming to the aid of Finn Balor on the Feb. 11 edition of Raw and then challenging the aforementioned heel trio to an impromptu six-man tag team match. It was the perfect blend of stars from the past and present converging and everyone having strong chemistry with each other.

    The idea of Angle sharing a ring with any one of those Superstars would have been unbelievable even two years ago, so it was a surreal sight, to say the least. In the end, the Olympian's squad pulled out the victory and built momentum toward that Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.

    This might be considered a forgettable television matchup by some, but it was a turning point in the career of Angle, who proved he could still hang with the talent of today.

4. Winning at WrestleMania 34 (April 8, 2018)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Although Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame over WrestleMania 33 weekend, he didn't have a match on The Grandest Stage of Them All that year. Thus, it was imperative he wrestled at the subsequent installment, though it was unknown who would be a proper opponent for him.

    In the months leading up to the event, he teased tension with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon after The Game betrayed Angle during the Survivor Series main event. All the former Raw GM needed was a partner to combat them in a mixed tag team matchup at WrestleMania 34, and no one seemed to fit the bill until Ronda Rousey arrived on the scene.

    Rousey had history with the nefarious power couple from years earlier, so her alliance with Angle against The Authority was only logical. Then again, she had never competed in a single match in WWE prior to that point, so she and The Olympic Gold Medalist were at a clear disadvantage going into the contest.

    Despite that, they jelled instantly as partners as soon as the bell rang, and the entire outing was an exciting attraction from then on. Rousey handled Stephanie with ease, while Angle showed no signs of ring rust whenever he waged war with Triple H.

    A one-on-one bout with Angle at The Show of Shows would have been fun and all, but ultimately WWE was wise to take the tag team route with him. Not only did it get more eyes on The Olympic Gold Medalist on its biggest night of the year, but it also hid his in-ring limitations and allowed him to shine alongside a debuting megastar.

    For the first time since 2006, Angle had stolen the show at a WrestleMania.

3. Getting Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (March 31, 2017)

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    Given everything Angle has accomplished in the wrestling world over the course of his career, it was always more a matter of when and not if he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

    Typically, WWE only inducts people into the esteemed hall of immortals whose days as an active competitor are over. Although Angle's Impact Wrestling stint ended at the onset of 2016, he still wrestled regularly on the independent scene against a variety of opponents through the remainder of the year.

    Thus, the announcement of his WWE Hall of Fame induction in January 2017 came as a major surprise to fans. It had been over a decade since the former six-time WWE world champion had been seen on WWE TV, and in addition to returning at long last, he was also being honored for all of his incredible achievements.

    Angle didn't appear on programming on the Road to WrestleMania, which made the night of the Hall of Fame mean that much more. He thanked everyone from Jim Ross to John Cena and even acknowledged his days as a comedy character by bringing back the unforgettable wig with head gear from 2002.

    Angle hit all the right notes with his speech, and the crowd in attendance ate up everything he had to say. It was simply spectacular to hear that iconic entrance theme of his again in an arena that size (not to mention the crude yet catchy "You Suck!" chants), and it was obvious it meant the world to him as well.

    Some Superstars have a tendency to go long with their Hall of Fame speeches and lose their luster after a while, but Angle's induction was the perfect length and a wonderful way to cap off the evening.

2. Being Named the New Raw General Manager (April 3, 2017)

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    After Angle took his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame, fans began to speculate what his future with the company would hold.

    It just so turned out that there was a vacancy in the position of Raw general manager following the firing of Mick Foley that March, so the spot seemed tailor-made for The Olympic Gold Medalist.

    Sure enough, Vince McMahon made a rare appearance on the post-WrestleMania edition of Raw to announce Foley's replacement as the red brand's general manager.

    Teddy Long initially interrupted McMahon and teased being Raw's newest authority figure, only for the WWE chairman to shoo him away and introduce Angle instead.

    The arena exploded with elation as the Olympian emerged and walked down the ramp toward the ring. He had a huge grin on his face as he played to the deafening "You Suck!" chants and soaked in the adulation from the audience.

    Unlike at the Hall of Fame, Angle was a man of few words that night and simply expressed how great it was to be back on Raw. That kicked off a year-and-a-half-long stint for him as GM that saw him cross paths with all types of talent, make tough executive decisions and be an entertaining authority figure on the show.

    It was refreshing to have a babyface in a position of power for once on Raw, but more importantly, it was the best way to keep Angle involved with WWE while saving his eventual in-ring return for a later date.

1. Returning to the Ring (TLC, October 22, 2017)

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    During Angle's run as Raw general manager, an in-ring return for the WWE Hall of Famer was never once hinted at on TV, despite how much fans wanted to see it happen. Instead, he stuck to his role as the on-air authority figure and kept his physicality level to a minimum.

    Out of nowhere, though, he was announced as Roman Reigns' replacement in the TLC 2017 main event when The Big Dog went down with an illness.

    WWE needed a notable name in that spot to team with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose against The Miz, The Bar, Braun Strowman and Kane, and Angle was the only star worthy enough of filling that void.

    As a result, he became an honorary member of The Shield (albeit for one night only) and even donned the patented Shield vest while making his entrance alongside Rollins and Ambrose.

    The makeshift trio were well aware they had the deck stacked against them in this 5-on-3 TLC Handicap match, but they were willing to do whatever was necessary to walk away victorious (and hopefully unscathed).

    Angle was taken out by Strowman early on via a powerslam through a table, so it was up to Ambrose and Rollins to hold down the fort until he was good to go again. It took some time, but he eventually resurfaced at ringside and immediately laid waste to everyone in sight with his signature moves (including the Angle Slam).

    With the rest of Miz's team down and out, Angle and The Shield triple-teamed The Awesome One and finished him off with a brutal powerbomb to pick up the win. It was a glorious return to the ring for the Raw general manager, and with his performance, he convinced officials to allow him to wrestle more often.

    The Olympic Gold Medalist has been back at home in the squared circle ever since.

            

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.