Kurt Angle was recently interviewed by WhatCulture Wrestling, where he discussed Vince McMahon’s early advice about his character.
Angle said perspective has changed from the past when it was often the larger wrestler that an individual would look to for inspiration. Instead, Angle revealed in the interview that today’s wrestlers are perhaps “better” athletes than their predecessors. Angle said:
I think people don’t buy into the fact that you have to be big to be dominating. There are a lot of athletes like AJ Styles that are undersized, that is doing tremendously well.
I credit those guys. These guys today are so much better athletes than we were in our heyday. It’s because of the new training. The core training and the CrossFit training and everything that they have going on.
Technology has put them ahead of the game now. Rey Mysterio is still going, and he’s been so undersized. 140 lbs, and look what he’s done in the business. I like where the business is headed. I just wish they would pull it back a little bit. Slow down and take their time in the matches, rather than it being a spot fest.
When he joined WWE in the late 90s, Angle was a smaller-sized performer who also had his legitimate Olympic gold medal-winning background to back him up. Having that background helped him get away with some of the comical behavior of his character early on.
What Vince McMahon told me was, ‘you’re an Olympic gold medalist. You’re a badass. Everybody knows that, so you can be as funny or as dorky as you want, but when you get in the ring, you can be a serious competitor.’ I took that to heart, and I thought you know what I don’t have to, I can show my nerdy side, my funny side as much as I want to because everybody knows when I get in the ring, it’s gonna get serious.
I had the ability to go further than others. Vince doesn’t like wrestlers who get too hokey and too funny because he doesn’t think the fans will take them seriously. With me, I was able to do that. Eventually, Vince McMahon sat me down and said ‘we’re done with the funny stuff. We’re gonna do the Wrestling Machine from now on.