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In Raw‘s 25-year history, the show has had a number of memorable “eras”: For example, the “Attitude Era,” which introduced the world to a beer-chugging, foul-mouthed “Stone Cold” Steve Austin; the “Ruthless Aggression” era, which led to the rise of the now-iconic John Cena; and now the “New Era,” with Raw actively competing against Smackdown in an attempt to find out which show will reign supreme.
However, all these eras have one constant: Kurt Angle, “The American Hero”.
In the lead up to the 25th anniversary of Raw next month, we had a chance to talk to Angle about how Raw made him want to join the WWE and how he feels about being the current general manager of the show.
After winning the 1996 Olympic gold medal for wrestling, Angle was admittedly not particularly interested in the world of sports entertainment—that is, until he started watching Raw regularly. “I [enjoyed the] athletic display and the characters too, especially “Stone Cold”. He caught my eye—[also] “Triple H,” “The Rock,” and “The Undertaker”—[and] I thought ‘Wow, I could give this a try. I could continue to show my athletic ability.’ Little did I know, it was a lot different than the Olympic wrestling that I was accustomed to, so it took a lot of adjusting, but I eventually got it right.”
While being a general manager (a role he started earlier this year) isn’t quite the same as being in the ring, Angle eventually found himself comfortable in the role, and finds it’s all about finding the right way to promote and highlight the talent on the roster: “It’s a big challenge for me. I never had to [promote] for anyone else but myself. Now it’s a different role. I actually enjoy it. You know Vince McMahon saw me as one of the best actors on the roster…that’s a huge compliment coming from [him]. It’s just about trying to make things look real.”
Of course, we had to ask him the big question: What have been his favorite moments on Raw? While Angle was unsure of a specific moment, he praised the recent feud between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman.
When talking about Reigns, Angle makes it clear that despite his impressive performance so far, Reigns is “not at his peak yet. I believe his peak’s [still] coming, and that’s how good he is.”
Additionally, many sports entertainment fans have seen parallels between Strowman’s meteoric rise to stardom and Angle’s iconic debut nearly 20 years ago, something that Angle readily acknowledges. “I don’t like to compare myself to anybody, but he’s picking up quicker than anybody I know. He’s on his way, if he stays healthy, to be one of the best big men in the great history of the big men. That’s how much ability he’s displayed.”
The 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw will emanate from Barclays Center and Manhattan Center in New York City on Monday, January 22, and air live on USA Network at 8/7C. Tickets are available for each event through all Ticketmaster outlets.