I know it’s something of a running gag, but I really do love Kurt Angle. From the time I brought up my fandom for him on an early WrestleCrap Radio to us actually doing “Move Set Radio” to mock me for talking like the uber nerd I am, I’ve been a mark for the guy ever since his earliest days.
You may not remember it, but he was originally brought brought into the company as a purported babyface. In his debut match against Shawn Stasiak (yes, he of Meat and Planet Stasiak fame), Stasiak grabbed a chin lock as the referee and Kurt appeared to have a lengthy conversation. The legend is that the ref was giving orders to Kurt from none other than Vince McMahon who was in his earpiece. Moments later, Kurt rolled out of the ring, grabbed a microphone, and explained to the crowd, “You do not boo an Olympic gold medalist. You do not boo me.”
And we all know what happened from there.
An incredible run would follow those humble beginnings. You want great matches? He had them. In droves. Take your pick of opponents: Jericho, Austin, Benoit, Edge, Hunter, Rock, Shawn, Eddy.
Comedy? He excelled in that as well. Even stuff that should have been completely idiotic, such as wearing a tiny cowboy hat while exclaiming “Yippy Ki Yay.” Just now I literally went down the rabbit hole of him singing “Jimmy Crackcorn” to Vince McMahon in an attempt to cheer him up – and I laughed just as hard as I did the first time I saw it.
Kurt was great.
Eventually, though, Father Time wins every battle. Following a (mostly) glorious twenty year career, it was time for Kurt to call it quits. Fittingly, he would do so at WrestleMania 35. The grandest stage of them after all played host to several other legendary final bouts, be those Shawn Michaels (well, he came back), Ric Flair (ummm, ditto), and others. The big question: who would be his last foe?
Maybe an old Impact nemesis like Samoa Joe?
How about Daniel Bryan?
So many possibilities.
So many awesome possibilities.
But hey, this is 2019 WWE, so let’s just saddle him with this guy:
Yes, Baron Corbin.
Look, I get it – some of you love Corbin in a contrarian, potentially mental ill kinda way. Me? I find him pretty much everything that makes WWE often so dull these days. And even his biggest supporter can’t possibly believe that the incredible career of Kurt freakin’ Angle should have ended with Corbin standing across the ring.
You know what else Angle’s final match should not have featured?
John “Bradshaw” Layfield as a “special color commentator”. Why JBL of all people was out there to call this match will forever remain a mystery to me. I mean, sure, Michael Cole rambled on and on about the sensational matches Kurt and JBL had together. Apparently they were so sensational I left cannot remember a single one.
It was just another of seemingly countless things that marred what should have been a true celebration of one of my favorite performers ever.
That would be Kurt.
Or Michael Cole.
Or whatever other idiot booked this match.
But Kurt comes out and he gets an insane amount of pyro and ballyhoo.
Somewhere I have no doubt Vince Russo is nodding his approval.
But then the match starts, and despite the fact that Kurt Angle is one of the competitors, Baron Corbin is the other
I legitimately want someone, anyone, to explain what on earth Corbin is even supposed to be doing there. I’ve been watching wrestling for over 35 years and I have never, ever, seen anyone do that.
WHAT IS HE DOING?
WHY IS HE DOING IT?
This isn’t good, the match is only 45 seconds in and my blood is already rightly angered.
Kurt gets a bit of offense in before Corbin takes control of the match. Comically at this point, Corbin tells the crowd they need to be quiet.
Dude, I don’t think you need to ask.
You’re Baron Corbin.
Being comatose is the audience’s natural reaction to you.
Corbin’s next idiotic move follows.
WHAT IS HE DOING?
WHY IS HE DOING IT?
Wait, I just wrote that, didn’t I?
Thankfully, Kurt takes over on offense, and hits a trio of German suplexes. To be fair, I should note by this time in his career, Kurt is way slower than he’s ever been…but still those Germans look pretty dope.
Speaking of dopes, Corbin is down on his back as Kurt goes for the cover. This leads to another pet peeve of mine as the ref counts 1-2, and Corbin stares directly at the guy before kicking out.
In the interest of fairness, this isn’t just Corbin that does this – seemingly everyone in WWE looks straight at the ref when they are going to be kicking out before a three count.
It’s so dumb and absolutely takes any and all drama out of the match. Screw learning where the hard cam is, teach the folks at the performance center to NEVER do that.
Following a nearly completely botched roll up attempt, Kurt gets Corbin in an ankle lock, one of his finishers. As you can tell, this match was pretty bad so far, but hey, send the folks home happy with Kurt getting the win, right? Corbin’s back on Raw the next night, trying to keep the crowd from chanting “You Tapped Out!” It would be just fine.
But no. Of course not.
Instead the match continues on, and Kurt is able to survive long enough to hit his ultimate finisher, the Angle Slam. That’s gotta give him the feel good ending, right?
All you have to do is look at Corbin staring right at the ref as he starts to make his count to tell we’re not getting a happy smiley finish.
As the match drags on, Corbin gives the crowd and Kurt the John Cena “You Can’t See Me” taunt. As noted above, Cena would have made a good opponent for Kurt. But no, we can’t have nice things. So Corbin does the taunt to mostly silence.
It’s not that we couldn’t see Corbin…it’s that no one wanted to.
Kurt finally takes control with more Germans before looking to the top rope…with everyone in the crowd thrilled, realizing we were going to get one last gigantic Kurt moonsault.
…of course, Kurt misses.
And then, just to make sure no one is happy, Corbin hits the End of Days and pins him.
Well, lots of reasons.
First, it’s something of a time-honored tradition to do the job on your way out.
Second, the company wanted to get more heat on Baron Corbin.
Third, WWE doesn’t necessarily want its fans to ever have a happy ending. Sometimes they just want to proverbially spit in your face.
Like I said, lots of reasons.
Sure the reasons are all completely stupid, but they’re reasons nevertheless.
Following his defeat, Kurt gets a mic and thanks the crowd. Meanwhile Michael Cole notes that Kurt has just become immortal.
You know, after losing.
I often mock the stupid signs at WWE shows, but this one hits the nail on the head.
Truly, Kurt never sucked.
The company that booked his retirement match, though?
Yeah, they definitely sucked.