Back in time we go... to 2017 and to one of the greatest to ever do it, Kurt freakin' Angle.
Background: Kurt Angle entered the WWE Hall of Fame 2017 class in March. He then returned as RAW General Manager on April 3rd 2017. He then floundered around as a on-screen authority figure. He was also pedigreed by Triple H in the Survivor Series tag match and laid on top of the smackdown wrestler to save his job. However this was tainted as Braun Strowman effectively buried the Smackdown team, with literally nobody coming out of the match well. He was also one of the several to be emasculated on-screen by Stephanie McMahon on the weekly, and involved in the critically panned "lovechild" angle in which it turned out Jason Jordan was his secret son. The couple of fleeting bright spots such as Ronda Rousey's debut and his guest appearance in the shield disappeared behind the apathy of his booking long term.
He eventually "chose" Baron Corbin as his retirement match at wrestlemania 2019 and went out in a whimper. A true legend of the business and sad deflating end. After his wwe run finished he's spoke with sadness at how it finished. It was sadly, a bit of a wet fart from start to finish.
So what are my aims here? They may seem confusing when I'm talking about how to fantasy book Kurt Angle's final run, but stick with me...
- Build a new wwe/universal title talent at the top of the card, someone to live at the top of the card as a legit threat.
- Create an exciting midcard wrestler.
- Lean heavily on Kurt Angle's past with the the fabled 'Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence'.
- Put some respect on a legend by making him an important part of the show, without exposing his age.
- Give him the best send off possible, with a bonus call back to his smackdown days.
So, this is how we start...
We have Kurt Angle return at this time in April 2017 as is what happened, but not as a general manager. WWE crowds were sick of this aged trope. So, this is what we do... We have a Hall of Fame talent with legit collegiate wrestling (and a gold freaking medal) as a background debut to the hero pop and have him talk on the values of the three I's. Integrity, Intensity and Intelligence.
"There's one team in the WWE who I see with this and the only condition of my return was to have the chance to offer counsel, offer his experience to these incredible alpha males..." Then, the music of American Alpha hits and out come Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, delighted that their hero has asked to work with them. We now have a new version of Team Angle, could call them "Aplha Team Angle" or "Angle Team Alpha"? Doesn't matter. Have them pick up wins showcasing their style, their abilities. Get Angle in on 6 man tag matches. Ride that wave of positivity that the returning legend builds. My reference to this sort of role would be how MVP works mainly as a manager for the Hurt Business and Bobby Lashley but is still fit enough to work on occasion. Angle working a match now and again would have been an attraction as he's one of the fabled Attitude Era stars. Lots of focus and momentum on this new team from the get-go.
Over the weeks though, show that fabled "intensity" lead to nefarious wins, show the "intelligence" from Angle lead to dodgy finishes in Alpha's favour. Show that "integrity" slip week on week until they win the tag champs as heels. Book this through the summer. Possibly a Summerslam 2017 win? Infact, yes! Champs! I've booked it! So, the tag champs continue being booked in the midcard, putting on the standard of match we know they're capable of but with this added edge their mentor provides.
Then as the weeks roll on, show dissention as Angle personally favours the more physically imposing and intense Jason Jordan, have Chad Gable start to gain a conscience on the other hand (build it up backstage). Could even show dissention in ring as Gable feels they don't need to cheat to win as they are already the best. Build this up and have them eventually lose due to an error from Chad Gable at the rumble in 2018. Enraged, Jason Jordan attacks a devastated Gable post match at the behest of a furious Angle. Refs eventually come and split it up. Have this be a hockey fight so one doesn't bury the other. This hopefully gives the audience a want to see where this feud goes in the future...
Now you have an exciting (in my opinion) singles feud between two wrestlers who stylistically are very similar and smooth, with Angle as Jordan's manager. The end result of this feud is to put over Jordan cleanly as a heavyweight champ threat, but these matches have to have the chance to show Gable as an exciting underdog talent. However, it has to be put over that Jordan wins with this "intensity". I believe this should be at Wrestlemania 2018 for the blow off grudge match, Integrity vs Intensity with Intelligence on the outside... Make it the opener of the night! To my recollection the real Mania 35 was a cruiserweight match, but this would start the crowd off with some good sports entertainment drama. You also have the added bonus that these two can go at the speed of cruiserweights if they want to so you still start the crowd hot!
But back to the match...Intensity perseveres (with some intelligence helping on the outside)! Gable can now veer off as a IC title challenger, he's an exciting worker in a midcard full of exciting workers. So, now we have the 6"3 225lb+ Jason Jordan, the main eventer with Kurt Angle as the manager, and hype man of this perfect wrestling machine. Perfect for someone who was a face champ at the time like Seth Rollins to go against after his win against Brock Lesnar, a good program for Rollins "The Bestslayer" to look strong in, but also to start to elevate a new wrestler into the main event scene. Dot in tag matches here and there for Angle to be in, don't over expose his age! Let The opponents and Jordan carry the matches! These could even include Gable in certain tag matches as Rollins' partner. I imagine they'd be a riot together for exciting feature tag matches on raw!
As far as time frame, I'd ideally like to see it build to a feud to Hell in A Cell or TLC for World Title Matches. Have Jordan just come up short. Show Jordan's anger getting in the way of winning with Angle professing the need for intelligence to take that next step! Losses at both ppvs wouldn't harm him. Especially if you do it right and you see him getting closer and inexperience and this over intensity get in the way. You could either build to the rumble for another world title match or to a Rumble Appearance for both. Give it time, 20 minutes and this time... Angle's interference backfires on Jason Jordan. Now have the intense wrestling monster throw this old man about like an empty tracksuit. I want death by suplex on a Lesnar like scale, this man while he's not the size of Lesnar is a beast so he should look like one. Or as another pitch.... Jordan goes close, maybe even final 3 and Angle interference backfires and Jordan gets put out. Repeat the beating. Sorry Kurt! It's for the greater good!
Write Kurt Angle off TV for a month, but keep him in vignettes. Tease his comeback as a sort of farewell tour, vignettes showing this old dog back for one last ride. Now you do the farewell tour thing, singles matches with guys from back in the day like Samoa Joe, Aj Styles. I know that's unlikely as that would almost be acknowledging wrestlers exist outside the "universe". Put over that he feels like he's coming close to the end. Lead this to a match with Jason Jordan 2 or 3 weeks before mania, a number 1 contenders match. This is where Jason Jordan leaves behind any trace of the modern team Angle and his former mentor. Have Jordan obliterate him, tap out victory in an ankle lock to really have him look strong. Refs or people from the back having to make him release the hold. I want boos raining on this man, this unhinged wrestling machine. This threat who will kill a legend's career to get ahead.
A despondant Angle is in the ring, tears are almost there. He's about to retire... and out comes John Cena! "No no no no... This isn't the way you finish champ. People like you don't go out like this, people like you go out on the top. Because what makes you so special....is RUTHLESS AGGRESION"
So, as in real life the gold medalist ends his final run at Wrestlemania 36 in 2019 in a match with Cena, 10 minutes, play all the greatest hits, Cena wins with an AA and pins him, gets him up and raises his hand like the legend he is. This brings us full circle from the Cena debut where Cena pushes him close but Angle wins. Music hits... crowd show this man the love! Or for bonus points, Cena taps him out with an STF and you put over that Angle has a history of neck issues and children to go home to. Have Cena talking to Kurt "it's okay Kurt, you don't owe them anything more. Let go" Cena with his acting chops could 100% sell me that.
What have we done here? Built a main eventer, a collegiate style wrestling machine in Jason Jordan at the top of the card in the mould of his mentor, gave him a jagged edge and strapped a rocket to him. We've also broken him away to do his own thing.
We also have mid card entertainer in Chad Gable, capable of one day working as an underdog baby face higher up the card.
Lastly, we've sent a legend away in as high a regard as he returned to. He's been a major player within the roster, hes not wrestled too much to overexposed the shortcomings that come with age and he's built stars and put them over on the way out. The past has created a better future, and hes went out in a blockbuster finish with one of the most famous to ever do it. Its also a good bit of nostalgia, on the showcase of the immortals where all the casual eyes tune in.
The freakin' end of the story, now get me some fresh milk.