For a guy that many feel is one of the best to ever lace up a pair of boots, Kurt Angle has had a very odd career. He started out as fast as anyone, winning the WWE Title and becoming a main eventer within a year of his debut. In an era of phony characters, Angle brought a serious sense of legitimacy to professional wrestling (Did you know he won an Olympic gold medal?) Angle roamed in and out of both successful and frustrating feuds over the next six years, before deciding that the WWE schedule and grind was too much for someone in his condition.
When Angle jumped ship to TNA, it was probably the greatest coup in wrestling since WCW landed Hulk Hogan. TNA finally signed someone that many felt was the top performer in the WWE, and he was still in his prime. The stars were certainly aligned for Angle in TNA, as TNA conveniently had a red hot Samoa Joe to match Angle's intensity, in what was in my opinion the greatest feud in TNA history. After Angle got past Joe, he jumped into the hugely successful "Main Event Mafia" storyline. Angle's first two and a half years in TNA were as successful as they possibly could have been.
Sometime in 2009, most likely when Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and the rest of the crew, arrived in TNA, something happened to Kurt Angle. He stopped becoming the wrestling machine, the godfather and master strategist; he was beginning to become like everyone else in TNA, routinely beatable and therefore disposed of. He became locked in a bizarre feud with Jeff Jarrett which included his real-life ex-wife Karen Jarrett and even his kids. After that nightmarish feud, Angle then began to take out younger talent to upset Dixie Carter, who apparently knew about Karen and Jeff, but failed to tell Kurt about it. That storyline went nowhere, and was dropped without any form of explanation or conclusion.
Now in the present day, Angle's career really looks like it is on its last legs. He is 44 years old with an incredible amount of wear and tear on his body. Angle always seems to be consistently re-aggravating injuries and wrestling hurt. Over the past two years his in-ring performances have fallen sharply, and although only two years ago he could be considered the best wrestler in the world, I would hesitate to put him in the top twenty today.
Recently, Angle has been doing a lot of radio and podcast interviews citing his interest to return to the WWE before he hangs them up for good. After seeing guys like Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar work with very successful part-time contracts, the heavy workload which forced his departure from the company in 2006 would be a non-factor. TNA is certainly feeling the heat of an Angle departure, and as they often do with talent considering leaving the company, they have made moves to appease Angle so hopefully he will remain in TNA. The Hall-of-Fame, the promising of a feud with Rampage Jackson, all that is nice, but it really cannot compare to wrestling at the biggest event of the year in front of 75,000 fans.
Although I'm not going to say no to seeing Angle return to the WWE and feud with guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, I hesitate to think that the WWE could add ANOTHER part-time wrestler to their roster. With Lesnar, Jericho, Triple H, The Undertaker and The Rock already participating part-time, another one would almost be overkill. Talent would probably appreciate the chance to work with Angle, but there would also most likely be some pretty heavy resentment for the WWE to hire another guy that makes more and works less. I think ideally, Angle could work a full calendar year, and maybe retire after Wrestlemania and go into the WWE Hall of Fame. A full year of Angle could do the WWE a whole lot of good, and Angle will get the send-off that he desires.
Although he was always presented as the clean-cut American hero, Angle has had quite the personal turmoil over the last several years. He has been arrested on multiple occasions for driving while intoxicated; he went through a very messy divorce and reportedly failed a wellness Test right before his departure from the WWE.
In a peculiar move, Angle announced in 2011 that he was going to attempt to make the US Olympic Wrestling team, even though he hadn't wrestled as an amateur in 15 years and was 42 years old at the time. He didn't make the team of course; he had to withdraw due to a knee injury, costing him a chance to represent his country that might not have even been there at all.
Angle's questionable personal life however, shouldn't deter the fact that he is easily one of the most talented wrestlers of all-time. His trademark intensity is second to none and he resides with Taz, Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit on the Mt. Rushmore of suplex artists. His career in both WWE and TNA has been exceptionally amazing and maddeningly frustrating. His career is almost over and when he is gone, we might not ever see someone like Kurt Angle ever again. Whatever he decides to do in the future, whether he stays in TNA or heads north to the WWE for one final run, he will always remain entertaining, polarizing and damn good at what he does.