The story of this week’s induction begins with the 2004 WWE Draft, which somehow saw Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman drafted to Raw and then promptly quit. Kurt Angle was then selected to fill the always-fresh, never-clichéd role of heel authority figure.
Kurt’s first order of business was nixing Triple H’s move to Smackdown just 24 real-world hours after he was drafted to the taped Thursday night show. I’m sure this had nothing to do with Hunter not wanting to wrestle on what Booker T (who, along with the Dudley Boys, was “traded” to the UPN show in exchange for Hunter) accurately dismissed as the “minor leagues.”
In his first weeks, Angle also got chummy with the heel locker room, granting Bradshaw a title match on pay-per-view (Minor leagues? No way!). He even put Big Show into a non-title match against champion Eddie Guerrero to soften him up before Judgment Day.
Big Show took the opportunity, out of the blue, to promise to retire if he didn’t win. Care to guess how that turned out?
The Big Show, who had apparently forgotten that the GM was a heel like him, and that he had never signed anything holding him to the retirement stipulation, and that every single retirement stipulation in wrestling history had been negated within months, was devastated.
As Big Show walked backstage, he overheard Torrie Wilson laughing with the makeup lady and naturally assumed that the Diva was finding humor in Show’s misfortune. For those of you who follow Botchamania, you’ll know that this wasn’t the first time that Ms. Wilson had gotten in trouble for laughing at inappropriate times.
Unfortunately for Torrie, this time her punishment would be no slap on the wrist (or face). Instead, Show would stalk her backstage and demolish her car with his bare hands and feet (which were not bare, but in boots), all the while rambling about being a man of his word and how there was no way he could go back on the off-the-cuff boast he made before the Guerrero match.
Even more unfortunately for Torrie, Big Show didn’t pull a Goldberg and rip his arm open breaking the windows, meaning that his reign of terror was just getting started. Torrie fled on foot, tripping once so the camera could catch an up-skirt shot. You’ve got to love the Attitude Era Leftovers period of WWE; even when they’re trying to be dead serious, they still can’t resist pumping segments full of gratuitous sex.
The next we saw of Torrie and Show, they were up on a balcony backstage at the Conseco Fieldhouse, where the giant threatened to throw Torrie twenty feet below to the arena floor. In Big Show’s defense, he probably didn’t realize that such a drop would be deadly, seeing as he once won the WCW title just minutes after falling off the roof of the Cobo Hall.
Kurt Angle came to the rescue, telling the Big Show he didn’t want to get fired for Torrie getting splattered across the floor below. Show did the only sensible thing, which was to let Torrie go, then chokeslam Kurt clear off the balcony without the slightest hint of struggle.
A few camera cuts later, and we saw Kurt lying on the floor unconscious in comical fashion, with his leg somehow bent back at the knee and a pool of fake blood under his head. I can only guess that WWE Creative was trying to channel the ending of Naked Gun, but couldn’t afford the steamroller or USC marching band to flatten Kurt as the show went off the air.
And thus, WWE featured its first storyline death, and Kurt Angle was never heard from again… for fourteen days, at least, as he made his return just two weeks later with nothing to show for his near-fatal injuries but a giant cast on his leg and a bandage on the back of his head. Michael Cole still tried to put over the seriousness of Kurt’s balcony fall by claiming that he had suffered the dreaded “internal injuries” (which WWE trots out every time a wrestler accidentally splits his lip or cuts his gums) and a “third-degree concussion,” which is a very serious injury… in real life. However, under many definitions, a “third-degree concussion” refers to any head injury that causes a person to lose consciousness for any period of time, which you may have noticed appears to happen on a nightly basis on wrestling television. The way we saw Kurt fall (back-first with nothing to break his fall but the off-screen mats on the arena floor) should have caved his skull in, but instead his injury could be covered up by the same kind of Band-Aid that guys wear after a bad blade-job.
Kurt, still a heel, of course blamed the fans for his career-ending injury, failing to evoke their sympathy despite a plug for UPN’s “I’m Still Alive” TV show. He also brought out Torrie Wilson, whose protests he would hear none of, telling her, and I quote, “Shave it, Torrie!” I wonder, are Freudian slips a common side effect of concussions? He said that he blamed Torrie most of all, telling her that she was the reason he could no longer have sex with his wife (which is the opposite effect that Torrie had on most male WWE fans). Fortunately, the fans never learned whether Kurt had another oversized cast for that particular ailment.
For the next three months, Kurt ruled Smackdown with an iron fist, a hard nose, and a limp… well, you get the point. During this time, Kurt was never without his red-white-and-blue wheel chair (which accidentally looked exactly like the French flag) and his new assistant, Luther Reigns.
In July, however, Kurt was caught red-handed moonlighting as the masked Gran Luchador, proving that even the relatively mild injuries he had been selling since his traumatic fall in April weren’t real.
Teddy Long took over as GM after Kurt, whom he immediately placed in a tag team match (uh, probably).
Of course, we knew all along that Kurt’s “career-ending” injuries were just for show. No wrestling company with a conscience would let Angle continue to wrestle against doctor’s orders with a body so ravaged by injuries.