In case you haven’t heard yet, Kurt Angle has arrived in TNA.
Yes, these are words that every wrestling journalist would never thought they would write, even six months ago; but sure enough, the Olympic gold medalist will make the pay-per-view this Sunday, as he serves as special enforcer for the NWA World Heavyweight Title match between Jeff Jarrett and Sting at Bound For Glory.
Undoubtedly, there are some fans who will hit the little “order” button on their digital TV remote just to see Angle on a PPV outside of WWE, his former employer; they may, however, be surprised to see him donning the zebra stripes instead of the stars and stripes in the role of the outside-the-ring official.
The move, however, is not exactly uncommon in (relatively) recent wrestling history. Flashback to WrestleMania XII, where Ken Shamrock made his WWF debut as guest referee in the famous submission match between Bret Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or move a bit further down the road to Starrcade 1997, and you’ll see Hart now in that role with WCW, where he was brought in, before anything else, to be a special enforcer for a heavily anticipated contest between Sting and Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
There is certainly a logic to this introduction, one which Angle explored during a recent conference call. Amidst much discussion of his departure from WWE, addiction to pain killers and anticipation of his role in TNA (which SLAM! Wrestling will have much more on in the coming days), Angle waxed ring-philosophic on his debut, saying that the role he will play is appropriate for someone just coming into the company.
“For them to throw me in there with somebody without any issue would be ludicrous,” Angle said during the call which took place on Tuesday. “If I came in maybe one or two months earlier, I could see me wrestling at Bound For Glory, but right now I’m very happy with the spot.”
Angle, of course, recently debuted with TNA. During the No Surrender pay-per-view, Jim Cornette announced that the man once known as “The Wrestling Machine” would be entering the six-sided ring. Since then, Angle has appeared on Impact in a major sit-down interview, and will make his first appearance in the Impact Zone this Thursday.
To his credit, Angle has not sat back and looked at the move to TNA as simply being a new place to earn a paycheque. Rather, he has engrossed himself in the new product, carefully eyeing his future competition.
“I’ve been studying the wrestlers, learning different things, learning different methods of how they go about their style of wrestling. I’m a guy who sits down and studies films for hours. My wife, sometimes, complains because I put in tapes for six or seven hours,” Angle said. “What I do is the same thing I did in the Olympics — I study my opponent.”
Undoubtedly, the matches Angle has watched would include bouts with Jarrett and Sting, two wrestlers who Angle has yet to face in the ring. Until the time comes for the former WWE Heavyweight Champion to square off against either of the former WCW title holders, he’ll have a ringside seat for what he describes as being a match that he would definitely not miss.
“I’m just honoured to be a part of that,” Angle commented. “You’ve got two really great wrestlers in Jeff Jarrett and Sting. These guys are going to have a tremendous match and I don’t want to take that away from them. That’s something I would buy if I was sitting at home.”
Bound For Glory airs this Sunday on pay-per-view.