WWE Hall Of Famer and Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle has announced the start of his farewell tour that will end with his final “Farewell Match” at Wrestlemania 35. During an in ring speech during this past Monday Night Raw, Angle spoke before his hometown crowd in Pittsburg, PA to announce that he will soon be hanging up his boots.
Angle has had a storied career in the WWE, which he joined shortly after winning Olympic gold in heavyweight freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics. As has been well documented and promoted by the promotion and wrestler himself, Angle was able to do this after injuring his neck. During trials he fractured two cervical vertebrae.
He joined the WWF/E in 1998 after earlier turning down a 10 year contract with Vince McMahon shortly after his gold medal win. At the time of the original contract offering, Angle did not have much respect for the world of professional wrestling but changed his mind after beginning to seriously watch the talent on their weekly programs.
Angle would tryout for the promotion and was eventually offered a 5 year deal in 1998, training with Dory Funk Jr and Tom Prichard. His initial matches would take place in other territories and WWE developmental promotions before debuting on Sunday Night Heat.
He wrestled with the WWE until 2006 when he was granted a release due to medical reasons. During this time he would win virtually every belt in the promotion including the World Heavyweight Championship, the WWF/E Championship, the WCW Championship and even a tag team title run with Chris Benoit.
Kurt then surprised the wrestling world when he signed with Dixie Carter and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). This was criticized by many in the wrestling world as Angle had legitimate health concerns and by signing him it seemed as if the promotion had little regard for the health of the talent on their roster.
Angle would instantly become one of the top wrestlers for the company and had countless main event matches with the likes of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. He would hold the TNA World Heavyweight Championship six times as well as other accolades including a Hall Of Fame induction in 2013.
When Kurt returned to the WWE in 2017 it was to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. This would lead to an on screen role as Raw General Manager. He wasn’t expected to return to the ring but did on October 20, 2017 replacing the injured Roman Reigns as part of The Shield.
Angle has wrestled sporadically since, including an appearance at this year’s Royal Rumble match. He most recently finished a feud with Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley.
After the announcement, Angle participated in the first match of his Farewell tour by defeating Apollo Crews. While no opponent has been announced for Wrestlemania 35, rumors have circulated that it will be against John Cena. Cena’s WWE television debut was against Angle on June 27, 2002.