Recently on Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, former WWE producer Bruce Prichard talked about his first meeting with Kurt Angle, Angle's first WWE contract, Vince McMahon's hand in producing Angle's vignettes, and what the other talent thought of Angle calling himself WWE's first "real athlete".
According to Prichard, he cut his first meeting with Angle short because Angle said he could not lose a pro wrestling match. Apparently, Angle opined that no one would believe he could be beaten.
"I met Kurt when he came in. First, he met with Vince. They all went in and met with Vince alone. Afterwards, Vince sent him into my office to talk to him a little bit more about the [professional wrestling] business and get a feel for what Kurt's desires were, what he was really looking for, what he knew about the business, and what have you. And in that meeting, there was a comment made by Kurt that I kind of just ended the meeting because Kurt made it very clear that being an Olympic gold medalist that he couldn't possibly ever lose a match. He's the best there is and no one could ever beat him. No one would ever believe that he could lose a match. So I thanked Kurt for his time and I wished him very well with his gold medal and moved on."
Prichard recalled that Jim Ross reached out to Angle again after Angle started working as a local sportscaster and the Olympic gold medalist's attitude had changed dramatically.
"I want to say Kurt reached out to the WWF at this point. I believe J.R. reached… kind of extended the olive branch a little bit after Kurt had not been setting the world on fire with his sportscasting and pizza sales. So, 'hey kid, if you're still interested, we can come back and talk, come back to the table, maybe it ain't so bad.' And Vince, J.R., spoke with him and Kurt's attitude had changed quite a bit."
Prichard said that Angle received an eight-year contract from WWE, which was more of a developmental deal at the time. Prichard went on to say that signing rookies to such lengthy deals was not common at the time.
"This was more of a developmental deal as J.R. and I were posed with talent relations, we also were posed with the very real problem of 'where in the hell is talent going to come from in the future?', so we had to create our own talent and Kurt was a great first candidate for that because he had the pedigree, he had the gold medal, so bring Kurt into the developmental territory that we had, train him, and, hopefully, create our own star in Kurt Angle." Prichard explained, "we didn't want to train him, spend three years training him, put him on, let's call it a three or four year deal. The first few years of that is training and that's what it was. The first couple of years with Kurt, we got him in the ring, we sent him to Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis [Tennessee], but there was time that we had to teach him the business, so that was an investment. He was a big investment, an investment that paid off greatly."
Prichard indicated that McMahon was heavily involved with producing Angle's introductory vignettes and that McMahon probably came up with 'The Three Is' as well.
"These [vignettes] were something that was done in the studio and Vince had a heavy hand in and I believe Vince McMahon came up with 'The Three Is'. I'm not really sure, but the idea behind it was to present Kurt as who he was, but his delivery was a little demeaning."
With respect to Angle's "real athlete" tag line, Prichard professed that Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and others took exception.
"Emphasis on the word 'real', implying that every other athlete in the WWE is less than real, so it got the ire of quite a few people in the back, like, 'what the f--k? Is he talking to me? Hell, I'm a real athlete. I'm a real wrestler."
Prichard added, "I mean, Steve Austin for one, looking at him like, 'well, Goddamn, is this guy saying I ain't real?', so sure, everybody was, even The Undertaker felt it was demeaning and didn't like the tone of the vignettes. Like, come on guys, it's a work! But if you can get the talent upset about it and the talent feeling that, then you've got the audience."
Peak inside the box of gimmicks here. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.