It’s true! It’s damn true! After a decade-plus away from World Wrestling Entertainment, 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winner and multiple-time WWE Champion Kurt Angle is returning to the company.
However, it’s not as an active competitor. Kurt Angle will be the first formally announced inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017, effectively kicking off Wrestlemania Season.
“Kurt Angle’s accomplishments both in the Olympics and WWE were extraordinary. He was one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring, and we are honored to welcome him into the WWE Hall of Fame.”
WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Levesque.
Wrestling for Clarion University in his home state of Pennsylvania, Angle became a two-time All-American, as well as a two-time NCAA Champion in freestyle wrestling. Angle also won the gold in freestyle at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta for the United States, with what he describes as a “broken freakin’ neck.” Angle then jumped to the professional wrestling ranks, initially with Extreme Championship Wrestling, but before he could make a debut, he was appalled by what he witnessed at a show, and decided not to join the Paul Heyman-run organization. He then debuted at the 1999 Survivor Series after signing with WWE in 1998, beginning a winning streak which saw him win both the European and Intercontinental Championships.
His first taste of the WWE Championship came at WWE No Mercy 2000, where he defeated the Rock. He then went on to win a combined total of 5 WWE World Championships, his last coming in 2006 after winning a battle royal to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion on the SmackDown brand. He later departed the company and wrestled for Impact Wrestling and other promotions around the world, as well as a stint in Mixed Martial Arts.
Angle spoke to ESPN, who broke the news first, about his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017:
I was shocked. I’ve been out of WWE for a long time and out of touch with them, so I didn’t really expect this. It’s a huge honor. This is the only Hall of Fame that I’m not in and probably [the one] I want to be in the most. This is the one that means the most for me. I had a lot of fun entertaining the fans for seven years with WWE, and I’m glad that my hard work paid off.
While this is the first official inductee into the class of 2017, Diamond Dallas Page and Rick Rude have been rumored as future inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame this year.
The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony will be held at Orlando’s Amway Center on Friday, March 31st.