Who Should Retire Kurt Angle at WWE WrestleMania 35?

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2019

Credit: WWE.com

After over 20 years in sports entertainment, Kurt Angle has seen and done it all throughout his career.

With more than 20 title reigns to his name, the former King of the Ring, Triple Crown and Grand Slam champion has even been inducted in both the TNA and WWE Halls of Fame.

At this point, there isn't anything left for him to do but to write the final chapter of his career and retire. It's going to happen eventually, and with WrestleMania 35 coming up, now may be the time he hangs up his boots.

Kurt Angle has more than earned his spot in the WWE Hall of Fame and deserves a good send-off.
Kurt Angle has more than earned his spot in the WWE Hall of Fame and deserves a good send-off.Credit: WWE.com

WWE has not officially made any reference to this or advertised that Angle retiring is the plan at The Show of Shows, but it's as good a time as any to bow out.

Assuming that happens, the remaining question is deciding who on the roster will be the one to face Angle in his final match.


Setting the Ground Rules for Options

If you polled the locker room, it's likely every single person would be honored to wrestle against Angle in any match, especially his final fight. There would be no shortage of volunteers to stand opposite him in the squared circle.

Ideally, though, it should only be one person who gets that spot, rather than see him retire on the back of a Fatal 4-Way or something like the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, so all possible candidates on this list are being limited to singles competition.

It's also safe to assume anybody with an obvious direction that doesn't include Angle needs to be exempt as an option. This means no Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins or Daniel Bryan, despite how great that could have been.

If Daniel Bryan wasn't WWE champion and tied up with Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston, this would likely be most people's go-to match.
If Daniel Bryan wasn't WWE champion and tied up with Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston, this would likely be most people's go-to match.Credit: WWE.com

And finally, there has to be some reasonable booking in mind. Someone like Heath Slater isn't going to be pushed to the moon out of nowhere, and Curt Hawkins is not going to end his losing streak by beating Angle.


The Long Shots

In our grouping of wrestlers who could be great challengers but aren't likely to be chosen for the role, the name Dolph Ziggler has to be mentioned.

The Showoff has had his ups and downs in WWE and has spent most of his time in the past several years complaining about being the best in-ring performer to not receive enough credit, but that comes from a place of honesty. He is a very talented wrestler.

There are few Superstars who could have as good of a match with Angle as Ziggler, as both have amateur wrestling in their blood and know how to play up to the crowd. The Showoff is an enthusiastic seller.

It's unlikely he'll get the gig, though, as he appears to be on the backburner, having not appeared since Royal Rumble.

When searching for alternatives in the company, Johnny Gargano is another name worth noting. His track record in NXT is astonishing with nearly every performance in 2018 being in contention for Match of the Year.

Gargano has been wrestling on Raw and SmackDown recently, which gives him a better standing for something as big as this, but he's still a long shot because of his status as an NXT Superstar.

No matter what is going on right now with these random call-ups, his entrance still refers to him as being on the NXT roster, and he's firmly in the build to TakeOver: New York on April 5. Consequently, it would be odd to see him compete at that event while also having a retirement match with Angle scheduled for WrestleMania two days later.

Both AJ Styles and Samoa Joe have history with Angle from TNA and could be picks to retire The Gold Medalist, yet nothing has been hinted at involving either man.

Angle has wrestled primarily on Raw, and both Styles and Joe have had more interactions with Randy Orton in the past few weeks than with the former general manager of the red brand in the past year.


EVERYBODY gets a #GermanSuplex as @RealKurtAngle picks up the victory over @JinderMahal on #RAW! @SinghBrosWWE https://t.co/lQ01OHpxwx

WWE could always go in a random direction after Fastlane by taking any of these guys and pairing them with Angle, but you don't need a magic eight ball to see the outlook is not so good.


The Possible Contenders

Based on his most recent encounters and their previous feud over the leadership of Raw, Baron Corbin would be one of the most logical guesses for Angle's opponent, but the WWE Universe would scoff at the idea of him being the one to take the Olympian out of commission.

The same may not be the case for Drew McIntyre, though, who has earned a more revered status with the audience than The Lone Wolf. Plus, the Scot was the man who forced Angle to tap out to his own finisher and has since cut more than one promo about humiliating The Olympic Gold Medalist.

The smart money for predictions would be The Scottish Psychopath, yet he may not be the only option on the table.

Angle has an affinity for Finn Balor, and if this is one of those scenarios where WWE lets him pick his opponent rather than creating a storyline he has to follow like everyone else on the card, he could choose the Irishman to be his final dance partner.

There doesn't need to be any reason other than that Angle is looking to test himself and considers Balor to be one of the best. The Intercontinental Championship could be put on the line if The Extraordinary Man still holds it.

Angle has also spoken highly about Roman Reigns and has yet to wrestle him. It wouldn't make much sense to pair the two off in a babyface vs. babyface encounter where there is a risk The Big Dog might be booed, but if it's Angle's last request, WWE could honor it.

At the very least, it would give Reigns another accolade by being the one to wrestle Angle's last match, and since WWE is all about showing that The Big Dog is the top of the food chain, it further strengthens that perception.

When factoring in people who are high up enough on the totem pole but don't have another opponent scheduled yet for WrestleMania, there really is only one name left to consider.


The Top Choice

John Cena checks off all the boxes previously mentioned and adds a few more to the equation.

He made his debut against Angle in an open challenge on the June 27, 2002, edition of SmackDown and has faced him numerous times over the yearsbut not so often that fans would groan at the idea of seeing it again.

Cena is also someone Angle holds in great respect, so much so that he was the one to induct the Olympian into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017. That in itself catapults him straight to the top of this list.

The Cenation Leader is beyond a big name, someone who could beat Angle and it wouldn't seem strange, and a guy who could play the heel by default of fans wanting to cheer the former Raw GM but not ruin his own career in the process. He could also celebrate with him after the match is over without it appearing out of place.

Importantly, Cena also has no match being worked toward for WrestleMania this year, freeing him up to take on the responsibility.

There wouldn't need to be any build other than Angle requesting a match with Cena, almost similar to what happened in reverse last year with The Champ itching for a match against The Undertaker.

Cena winning or losing against Angle would both work, and even though it wouldn't propel a young talent, not everyone needs to go out doing the honors for someone like that. Sometimes, such as in the case of Ric Flair, they're more than allowed to lock horns with a friend to end their career on their own terms.

Out of everyone available in WWE right now, Cena is the one who makes the most sense to wrestle against Angle in his final match.

And if it happens at WrestleMania 35, there likely won't be a dry eye in the arena as both Cena and the audience chant "Thank you Angle."


Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.


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