Gable Steveson’s Olympics gold can lead to WWE success, says Kurt Angle
What was wrestling legend Kurt Angle thinking when he witnessed US freestyle heavyweight Gable Steveson’s resounding victory at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday morning?
“I was thinking about WWE,” said Angle, Olympic gold medalist and World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame member. “Vince McMahon (President and CEO of WWE) is drooling right now.”
Angle enjoyed a professional wrestling career in WWE and beyond after winning gold at the 1996 Olympics. Speaking on Friday afternoon, he said he could see a similar path for Steveson.
“I think this kid, I think he’s going to keep wrestling as an amateur for another four years, probably win another gold medal and then I think he’ll end up in the pro wrestling business or UFC or Bellator MMA So the kid has an amazing future.
Angle, 52, also reflected on the growing movement of elite athletes like Simone Biles addressing the issue of their own emotional and mental health.
“The physical part is hard enough. The mental part, the emotional part, is the hardest part about it, ”Angle said. “You have continued to stress throughout your life, every day of your life, knowing that you have to train eight to ten hours a day and you shoot yourself for an event, the Olympics, and you will only have ‘one photo most of the time. … It’s going to be in a two day period and you have to be on those two days. It’s a lot of mental stress and angst, and I think a lot of athletes find that their mental stability is starting to crumble, and it’s very difficult. “
It was exactly that kind of stress, Angle revealed, that prompted him to retire from amateur wrestling.
“I understand professional athletes, they compete every week or three or four days a week like baseball (and) soccer every week. But the Olympics, you only get it every four years, ”Angle said. “It’s a very difficult thing to do, to know that you have to be there for that very short period of time.
“This is one thing that I didn’t continue on because I was mentally exhausted, I didn’t want to do it anymore. And I probably could have won another gold at the 2000 Olympics, but it It was just too difficult for me, emotionally and mentally, I had to move away from it.
Angle made his debut as a WWE contender in 1999. After a career that saw the four-time WWE Champion achieve an outstanding performance in three matches at the 2001 King of the Ring event at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017 and retired from competition in the ring following his loss to Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 35 in 2019 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
He returns to New Jersey on Sunday August 15 for an appearance at the Six Flags Slam Fest of Northeast Wrestling at the Six Flags Great Adventure thrill park in Jackson.
Angle’s relationship with Northeast Wrestling dates back years and he has wrestled with competitors such as Cody Rhodes, Samoa Joe and Christian Cage for the company. Northeast Wrestling President Michael Lombardi described him as “a real headliner”.
“With everything he’s done professionally, and even as an Olympian, beyond that, Kurt is a good person,” Lombardi said. “He’s a great person, he’s great with the fans. When he’s around and signing autographs or taking pictures, you feel like he really wants to be there. He likes it – he’s very engaged with the fans if they ask a question and all that.
Angle, a Pennsylvania native who has worked with Northeast Wrestling several times over the years, said he was eager to reconnect with his New Jersey fans at the event.
“I really enjoy meeting the fans,” Angle said. “You know it’s crazy because I’ve seen a lot of fans over and over again. At the NEW events they have a very loyal following, these fans are very grateful and they show up every time I come there. .
Six Flags Slam Fest is part of the return of live wrestling events in our region after more than a year of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thank goodness the time has come when it all started to open up,” Angle said. “It’s been a horrible year and a half to two years, especially for the wrestling industry. A lot of promotions have failed, a lot of promotions have lost a lot of money.
“It was a very difficult time, a very trying time for each promotion. So for NEW to come back, to be able to do what they did in the past, they’re going to get a lot of fans. They still do.
The company also brings many talents from across the wrestling landscape. Also in attendance at Six Flags Slam Fest will be fellow WWE Hall of Fame members Jerry “The King” Lawler and Sgt. Slaughter, as well as talents from the All Elite Wrestling promotion including Darby Allin, Tay Conti, Matt Hardy and Private Party.
The eclectic event reflects how much the lines between non-WWE businesses have blown in recent times. The talent pools of companies including All Elite Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide and Impact have all started to merge to some extent.
Angle, who also fought for NJPW, AAA and Impact (then known as TNA or Total Nonstop Action Wrestling), said this advanced degree of collaboration was born out of the need for COVID-19.
“I think they had to do it, especially during the pandemic,” Angle said. “If the pandemic didn’t happen, I don’t think there would be a collaboration. I don’t think you would see AEW and TNA team up. I don’t think you would see a lot of wrestlers going to independent promotions when “They’re signed with the biggest promotions. But for the most part the collaboration was a great idea and I think it helped all the promotions outside of WWE because WWE doesn’t collaborate with anyone.”
Lombardi also thanked AEW Founding Chairman and CEO Tony Khan for allowing his contract talent to work on the upcoming post-lockdown dates for Northeast Wrestling, which also include Wrestlefest 25 in Poughkeepsie, New York on Saturday. August 14.
“We have a working relationship with Ring of Honor, we have a working relationship with AEW, and that makes that transition, at least for these upcoming shows, a lot easier,” Lombardi said. “Because if we didn’t have those relationships, we wouldn’t be able to get out of that and put on the types of events that we do.
But don’t expect Angle to be back anytime soon. He said his retirement was “pretty firm”.
“I’m pretty beaten up,” Angle explained. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the world of pro wrestling and unfortunately I haven’t really taken care of myself during that time and I’m paying the price now. I’m not in very bad shape – I could still go if I had to, but I have no plans to continue or come out of retirement, so that probably won’t happen.
To go: Northeast Wrestling presents Six Flags Slam Fest at 5 p.m. on Sunday August 15 at Six Flags Great Adventure, 1, Six Flags Blvd., Jackson. Admission to the eight-game wrestling event is included with admission to the park. Kurt Angle and other talent will be participating in a meet and greet and autograph signing from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., additional fees apply. For more information and to pre-order autographs and photos with the talent, as well as front row seats at $ 25, visit northwrestling.com.
Alex Biese has been writing about local and national art, entertainment, culture and current affairs for over 15 years.