WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle to Referee Riddle vs. Thatcher Cage Fight on NXT

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: Kurt Angle attends WWE 20th Anniversary Celebration Marking Premiere of WWE Friday Night SmackDown on FOX at Staples Center on October 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
Jerod Harris/Getty Images

WWE announced Saturday that WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle will serve as the special guest referee for a cage fight between Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher on Wednesday's episode of NXT.

Angle retired from in-ring competition after losing to Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 35 last year, and he then transitioned into a backstage role as a producer. WWE released Angle from his position in April amid budget cuts related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite his departure as a producer, it is clear that Angle is still on good terms with WWE, and there is no doubt that he can add to the overall presentation of Riddle vs. Thatcher.

Thatcher made his NXT debut in April as Riddle's surprise partner for an NXT Tag Team Championships defense against Undisputed Era. Thatcher stepped in for Pete Dunne, who is stuck in England because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions.

Riddle and Thatcher seemed to be the perfect team, but things went south last week when Thatcher left Riddle high and dry in the middle of a title defense against Imperium. As a result, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel beat Riddle for the titles.

Later that same night, Riddle and Thatcher faced each other in a singles match. Riddle won by catching Thatcher in a pinning combination, but Thatcher got the last laugh by viciously attacking The King of Bros afterward.

On the most recent episode of NXT, Thatcher challenged Riddle to a match in which the only way to win is by submission or knockout. Riddle accepted under the condition that it take place inside a cage.

That is the ideal environment for both Superstars given their backgrounds. Riddle was in the UFC prior to joining WWE, while Thatcher's style is very much rooted in amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts.

In addition to being one of the most popular and successful Superstars in WWE history, Angle won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, making him the perfect choice to officiate the match.

Riddle and Thatcher are both big, strong and tough, but even at 51 years of age, Angle should theoretically be able to handle himself and keep things in order from a storyline perspective.

With NXT attempting to keep pace with All Elite Wrestling's Dynamite program in terms of ratings on Wednesday nights, bringing in a well-known and respected figure like Angle is a logical move.

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