Kurt Angle announced his upcoming retirement on the March 11 edition of Monday Night Raw. The WWE Hall of Famer said that he intends on working his last match at WrestleMania 35 on April 7 and now the speculation has begun. Who will step up to face the Olympic gold medalist on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
There is a short list of names that could be viable choices to take this spot. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar are all seemingly perfect for the match because each man has a history with Angle. But AJ is facing Randy Orton at Mania and Joe, the current United States champion, will likely defend his title against someone from SmackDown Live. But one man stands out from the rest and that man is John Cena.
The former face of WWE is the best pick for this match. He and Kurt definitely have a history together and that history happens to involve the rise of John Cena as the man to beat in Vince McMahon’s company.
If not for John’s first major splash against Angle, there’s a good chance that Cena would perhaps have never broken through on the main roster. WWE was forever changed on the night of June 27, 2002 as John Cena came in and made a statement that will never be forgotten.
Listen to Angle talk about who he wants to face at Mania!
John ushered in the era of Ruthless Aggression, sparking his WWE career in the process. Cena was brave, he was daring and most importantly, he was fearless. He stood eye-to-eye with the best pure athlete that WWE has ever seen and he did not blink. Fans immediately took Cena’s side because of this and it was the moment that John’s legend began.
But if not for Kurt Angle and his ability to get heat as a heel, the spot never would have worked. Angle was so good in his role and so effective that he had set the table for a brash young babyface to step in and make his presence known. That’s exactly what John Cena did.
Of course some fans may look at Angle’s possible WrestleMania match against Cena and wonder why. Why would John come back to retire Angle, only to just walk away again? What’s the logic behind the booking? But the fact is that when it comes to this potential match-up, there doesn’t need to be a very deep thought process in play.
This flies in the face of everything that most diehard fans believe in. They want logic, they want solid reasoning and more than anything else, they want the matches to make sense. Mindless booking has run rampant though WWE far too many times before and longtime fans are well aware of that.
Relive Cena’s main roster debut against Angle!
Even when the endgame is obvious, the matches to get there often do not work. Sometimes it’s a matter of the wrong gimmicks in a match. Other times, it’s nothing but bad timing all the way around. But more often than not, it appears that WWE Creative simply could not come up with anything better.
But in this instance, WWE Creative is just not necessary. This one doesn’t need a convoluted buildup as is the case with Becky Lynch’s road to WrestleMania. It also doesn’t need a ridiculous bit of drama, similar to what Kofi Kingston is enduring on his way to The Showcase of the Immortals. The only thing WWE needs here is Kurt Angle, John Cena and a 20×20 ring. No long-winded promos, no drawn-out storylines and no silly gimmicks are needed.
Of course there are also critics that believe Kurt should do the honors to a younger Superstar. If that did happen, then the chosen Superstar would have bragging rights for the rest of his career. Kurt would be giving the rub to someone that would surely benefit from it and the next chapter could be written on the Raw after Angle’s final bow.
Listen to Cena induct Angle to the WWE Hall of Fame!
Undertaker. The Deadman faced Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 in a match that many believed would be Taker’s last. The bout felt big, it felt important and most of all, it felt like the end. However The Undertaker was not done. He lost the match but he did not walk away.
There’s no way to know if the same thing would happen in a match between Angle and a next generation star. But considering other stars like Brock Lesnar and Triple H have not taken that path either, it’s perhaps a safe bet that WWE is not in the business of producing that type of retirement match.
But WWE is more than capable of delivering one veteran versus another. Kurt Angle versus John Cena is an easy match to give and its one that does not have to be the main event. It will not interrupt any other storylines and at the end of the day, this is about giving Angle one last match against a guy he respects. John would certainly be flattered to be the man to step up at WrestleMania 35. Whether or not WWE will make it match happen remains to be seen.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live