Oh, it's true. Kurt Angle, one of the most popular superstars in professional wrestling history, will finally be making his long-awaited return to WWE. According to various reports, including a story by ESPN, the former four-time WWE Champion will be the headliner for WWE's Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
The news comes as a welcome surprise to wrestling fans everywhere, as Angle had been at odds with WWE for several years due to his former issues with drugs. Angle has since gotten clean and will be receiving the prestigious honor on Friday, March 31 as part of the festivities surrounding WrestleMania 33.
Many will agree there are few professional wrestlers out there more deserving of the honor. In addition to his numerous pro wrestling accolades, including twelve heavyweight championship reigns with promotions around the world, Angle earned a gold medal in freestyle wrestling from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Angle also received an induction into the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001.
Angle stated in an interview with ESPN, "It's a huge honor. This is the only Hall of Fame that I'm not in and probably [the one] I want to be in the most. This is the one that means the most for me. I had a lot of fun entertaining the fans for seven years with WWE, and I'm glad that my hard work paid off." When asked how he reacted when WWE finally came calling, he replied, "I was shocked. I've been out of WWE for a long time and out of touch with them, so I didn't really expect this."
Angle, 48, has enjoyed a 19 year career in the professional wrestling industry, spending time in companies like Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Angle was semi-retired and working shows on the independent circuit when he received the news from WWE.
According to Angle, his new deal with WWE has yet to include any physical match, but that the idea is not out of the question if both sides are to be believed. Angle told ESPN, "The thing is -- I can still go. I think I have proven that in [TNA] up until the day I retired," adding, "I want fans to remember me as a guy who could have an incredible match with just about anybody. That's what I take pride in ... If I had my last match with whomever, it would be AJ Styles or Seth Rollins."
Kurt Angle wasted little time when deciding who he wishes to induct him: former WWE Champion and 2009 WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin. "Steve and I have been up and down the road together. We had a lot of fun, and he is the one guy I have always kept in touch with," Angle said. "He taught me a lot about wrestling and he taught me how to be funny. I'll never forget that."
WWE fans everywhere are sure to rejoice later this year when the Olympic Hero walks across the big stage, and Angle himself is no exception. "I always knew that I would come back, I just didn't know when. This is my real home, and even though I was gone longer than when I started, this is where I made my name," he said.