James Dixon: The bio starts on the set of a commercial that Angle is apparently filming, with him acting like a prima donna in an attempt to get over his character as that of an asshole. Is he in character or is it real? It’s hard to say, because the real life Angle is pretty off the wall and at times appears to be borderline insane. Unfortunately, all of Angle’s interviews for this tape are 100% kayfabed, which thus makes everything he says utterly worthless. Jerry Lawler puts over Angle’s gold medal that he won at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The WWF loved that little fact of course, because it added legitimacy to their product to have not only an Olympian (which they have of course had before), but a genuine gold medal winner. It rather puts them championing Mark Henry’s 16th place finish at the same games into perspective. Stevie Richards, in full RTC gimmick, puts over Angle’s strength of character, while Rikishi gets a kick out of him because he is funny. Angle remains in full-on character mode and claims he was hired because of his “three I’s” and then we see his WWF introduction vignettes, which are not really any different to his exclusive interviews for the tape. We see Angle’s debut promo at Survivor Series, where he got booed essentially for being an 80’s style babyface. The difference between him and say Rocky Maivia, is that he was supposed to get that reaction. Vince McMahon is a smart guy some of the time, and he realised that a clean-cut all-American babyface was exactly the antithesis of the company’s current modus operendi. It worked a charm. It does lead one to wonder just what the hell Vince Russo would have tried to do with him. He probably would have made him into a cross-dresser or something. Steve Blackman, Angle’s often forgotten about tag partner from his early weeks, talks about Kurt being a pain in his ass, which led to a match at Armageddon. Angle and Blackman both talk about the program in character, which makes this whole thing feel like a promo piece produced by non wrestling folk who think it is all real. I guess kayfabing should be commended, but you expect something more from these tapes now.
We see Tazz’s sensational WWF “debut” the Royal Rumble 2000 (in reality he worked “ECW RAW” back in February 1997), with Angle protesting that he didn’t know who he was facing and that he lost to a choke, which was an illegal hold. “The next night” says the video when footage from SmackDown! taped two days later (and airing four days after the Rumble) airs, with Angle attacking Tazz. The pace continues at a scatterbrain pace with no time to pause for breath or indeed take anything in, as Angle rips off the Rock on RAW to set up a match between them, which he lost. That loss somehow made him the number one contender to the European Title, which he battled champion Val Venis for on SmackDown! ten days after the Rock defeat. Brief highlights are shown set to the dulcet tones of Michael Cole and with basic rock rumbling in the background. It sounds like Jim Johnston knocked it out in about 15-minutes. Angle wins with the Olympic Slam and celebrates like he just won another medal. Overblown performances like these are what endeared Kurt to not only the fans but the office as well, because he clearly “got it” as far as the sports entertainment aspect of the business, and he managed to ascend the ranks in record time because of that.
We go back to the set of the phony commercial, with Angle complaining about how long a shot is taking and telling the director to speed it up. The director shows why he got into the business of movie making rather than acting, because the exchange is completely hokey and unbelievable. Even Chris Jericho gets in on the kayfabing, repeating Blackman’s sentiments about Angle being a pain in the ass. We go to their feud and the match for Jericho’s Intercontinental Title at No Way Out 2000 that Angle won, and the generic backing track returns as we see various moves from the match out of context, including a spot that highlights Kurt’s inexperience when Jericho tries a silly Asai moonsault from the steel steps, but misses by a mile. With a few more months under his belt, Angle probably would have compensated for Jericho coming up short. The match isn’t as good as you would expect when hearing the names Angle and Jericho, but for a guy with three months experience it was pretty sensational.
Back to the set, and Angle continues to act like a diva, complaining that the director said he had made a mistake in a previous take, before whining about the following scene taking an hour to set up. This whole segment is pretty much a complete waste of tape. More complaining follows, this time back in the WWF with Angle unhappy about having to defend both of his titles in a three way at the singles match bereft WrestleMania 2000. “The first fall will be for the European Title, the second fall will be for the Intercontinental Title” says Cole in the build up, which as ever with Cole is wrong. In his defence, that was certainly the logical assumption, but for whatever reason they did it backwards with Benoit pinning Jericho to win the IC Title, then the match immediately continuing with the second fall for the almost worthless European Title. It’s another decent encounter, but again fails to thrill in the manner you might hope given the talent. There are plenty of big suplexes and fun spots to make it worth checking out still though, including the debut of Angle’s beautiful technique moonsault, which of course misses. The second fall comes when Jericho pins Benoit following the Lionsault, meaning Kurt lost both belts without getting beat. Still in character, he says the experience taught him life was unfair and he learned from it. What tosh.
Oh Jesus friggin’ Christ; Steve Lombardi is here to pollute yet another bio tape with his verbal tripe. Lombardi’s insightful offering this time out? He thinks Angle’s gold medals are not real and are made of “chaw-ko-layte”… So either he is in denial that the 1996 Olympics existed or he thinks the whole thing is a work. Either way he is a fucking mook. Jerry Brisco calls Angle arrogant and hard to get along with, which is rich from a two-faced stooge, and then Harvey Wippleman calls Angle hard to get along with too. This from a man who washes his clothes by putting them at the bottom of the basket and figuring that after weeks in there, they will probably be clean. Rikishi tells Kurt to shove his medal up his ass and then we see Kurt getting a Stinkface. “What does a Stinkface actually do!?” asks Kurt quite rightly. He says he wasn’t humiliated by the experience. To the King of the Ring and the final seconds of his tournament matches, including the qualifiers, which basically consists of Angle doing the Olympic Slam then winning over and over again. Not thrilling. The final gets a little more airtime at least, with two of the new flavours of 2000, Angle and Rikishi, meeting in the showdown encounter. It’s not much of a match, and really Rikishi was a poor choice to work with Kurt both stylistically and in terms of stature, because no one thought he was going to win the thing. The WWF got things right with the Angle push, for the most part, and he warranted and justified his place at the top of the card, but Rikishi was a novelty act and a fad who got over for his dancing.”I don’t look up to him, I think he’s a piece of gawbayge” says Lombardi. Urgh.
Meanwhile, Tazz is pissed off that Angle stole his towel while he was taking a shower. It’s like preschoolers bickering. We get some more fake behind the scenes footage, this time of Kurt taping off a small square area of the locker room as his own so that everyone else knows not to enter his personal space. If he did that for real, he would have had the piss beaten out of him and would be forced to endure the infamous wrestler court. Back to the infernal set, with more made up nonsense that is supposed to somehow put Kurt over, but just makes him look like an ass. Okay, his gimmick might be that he is an ass, but do we need a tape, an eternal documentation of a performer, blighted by a waste of time like this? If they had dropped this, then instead of the schizophrenic highlight reels, we could have seen one or two, you know, MATCHES! But no, and the next blink-and-you-will-miss-it feud to get airtime is Angle’s program with the Undertaker, which was a bad idea. The build up was decent enough but the 7-minute match at Fully Loaded 2000 was crap, with Angle’s momentum dealt a major blow by his clean and decisive job here.
To the really tremendously booked Angle-Hunter-Steph love triangle from summer 2000 next (read elsewhere in this book for more on this), as Steve Lombardi calls Angle “poison” and says Triple H was justified in being annoyed with him and wanting to take him out. The story had incredible momentum and fans latched onto it in a big way, but then the WWF went and had Kurt lose, again and again, and killed it stone dead. This was the first, last and only time I have ever found Stephanie compelling and interesting viewing. Usually I find her to be as enjoyable as and similar sounding to nails on a chalkboard. What we see of the build up is just the same video that was used to promote SummerSlam. The feud was all about the love triangle, but the match was a three way also featuring WWF Champion the Rock, who was the spare wheel afterthought here more than at any other time in his career. Angle got taken out of the match with an injury after Hunter Pedigreed him through a table, but later made a miraculous recovery and a Stampede comeback when Steph begged him to return to the ring to help Hunter. After fighting valiantly, he got pinned by the Rock and then carried a hurt Steph to the back while Hunter was out cold.
The blow-off came the following month at Unforgiven, and again we see the same video that aired countless times on free TV, and then more brief highlights from the actual match, with Triple H pinning Kurt. It was an incredibly flat ending to what had been a wonderfully crafted story. This was probably one of the first instances of the internet beginning their backlash against Triple H for holding someone down and going over when he didn’t need to. Of course, it wouldn’t be the last. This being the WWF where wins and losses don’t matter a jot, consecutive defeats over the last three PPVs are enough to garner Angle a WWF Title shot against the Rock at No Mercy 2000. This is the first match that actually gets a decent amount of airtime, and as well it should because Angle shocks the world and completes the most successful rookie year in history by capturing the belt after interference from Rikishi and an Olympic Slam. That is still not enough for Lombardi, who decides he just doesn’t like Angle. Well you know what, Lombardi? I don’t particularly care for you either. Is there a more pointless person in all of wrestling? “I don’t want them to know the real Kurt Angle and what’s inside” says Kurt in conclusion. Yeah, I figured that from sitting through an hour of this completely pointless tape!
Summary: What do you get when you take a guy who only has a year in the business and try to do an hour profile tape on him without offering any insight or behind the character interviews? Boredom. Complete boredom. Kurt staying in character throughout the tape really hurt it, and the talking heads playing along and kayfabing everything ruined it further. Kayfabe is fine, but this is an era where excellent bio tapes are being released that delve further into the person behind the guy on the screen, so there is no excuse to not do the same with this. What it boils down to is a tape full of highlights and hype videos, with little substance, few threads holding things together and nothing new at all. Entirely missable.