Will Kurt Angle’s big announcement deliver? Unfortunately, history is not on his side.
Kurt Angle has a confession to make, and we’ll all bear witness to it Monday on Raw. The storyline is surprisingly deep by WWE standards, as Angle and Corey Graves have clearly been covering something up for the better part of two months now. It’s time to come clean though, and in a few short days we’ll know the truth.
Will it shake WWE to the core? Will it kick off the "big summer angle" WWE tries to put together every year to jump-start post-Mania business? Well, here’s hoping, but history says otherwise. Let’s take a look at seven other times WWE promised a big reveal, only to hugely drop the ball.
The Gobbledy Gooker hatches on live television (1990)
For a small glimpse into the bizarre mind of Vince McMahon, look no further than the reveal of the Gobbledy Gooker. Okay, so 1990 was a much different time in the World Wrestling Federation, but no matter the era, hyping up a giant egg about to be hatched only for it to be a grown man in a lurid turkey costume is damn strange. "Mean" Gene Okerlund, bless his heart, did his best to sell this abomination as the second coming, but there was no saving this idea.
Even more damning was the fact that underneath the ridiculous costume was Hector Guerrero, of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family. Guerrero, for his part, is not angry, and still maintains to this day that the gimmick could have worked in front of the right audience. Damn Connecticut fans, not wanting their intelligence insulted.
The Higher Power The Undertaker answers to is his mortal enemy (1999)
"It’s me Austin! It was me all along Austin!"
"Aww, son of a bitch!"
In four short words, Jim Ross encapsulated how every wrestling fan felt when the culmination of the "Higher Power" storyline closed out with Vince McMahon apparently pulling the strings the whole time. Yes, Mr. McMahon colluded with the sadistic Undertaker to abduct his daughter Stephanie (in one of her first appearances on WWF television) in an attempt to…pull one over on ole’ Stone Cold, I guess? The Undertaker and Mr. McMahon’s unholy alliance was brought together with one goal in mind: to rid the WWF of Steve Austin. Because McMahon couldn’t just fire Austin or bar him from ever getting a title shot again–who do you think he is, the owner?
"All the violence inflicted against my friends and family was just a ruse to trick the viewers!" is one of the lamest tropes in pro wrestling, and stinks of the plan not actually being finalized until the very end. The nascent Internet Wrestling Community buzzed with the possibilities for the Higher Power storyline, with everyone from Shawn Michaels to Jake "The Snake" Roberts heavily rumored, and all of them would have made way more sense and been way more interesting than the chairman.
Rikishi did it…for the people (and Triple H) (1999)
In late 1999, despite being on absolute fire like never seen before or after, Stone Cold Steve Austin had to step away from the spotlight to get neck surgery to fix lingering issues caused by Owen Hart’s piledriver at SummerSlam 1997. What better way to explain his sudden absence on WWF programming than a good old fashioned whodunnit angle? At Survivor Series 1999, Austin was intentionally run over by an unidentified assailant in the parking lot, putting the Texas Rattlesnake on the shelf for nine months. Who would do such a thing?!
Eventually, one man fessed up…Rikishi. He, in his own words, "did it for The Rock. I did it…for the people." Thus started an awkward main event push for the rotund Samoan, who was always over with the crowd but seemed unmistakably out of place when shunted into the main event scene amongst the likes of The Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle and the Undertaker. When it became clear the Rikishi experiment wasn’t working, the WWF pivoted and explained that while Rikishi physically did the deed, it was Triple H pulling all the strings, as a means to end Austin’s career and take his spot at the top of the mountain.
Why Triple H, a notoriously shameless villain who has openly done some downright disgusting things to get his way (drugging the boss’s daughter and marrying her unconscious corpse, raping a mannequin corpse of Kane’s ex lover…I don’t want to beat a dead corpse here, but Triple H has done a lot of weird things with limp bodies) wouldn’t just pull the trigger and run over Austin himself is unknown. Even more perplexing is why Rikishi would trust such a horrible man, especially since his main motivation for running over Austin was to help propel his cousin The Rock to the top of the card (even though he already was), and Triple H had been the biggest thorn in The Rock’s side out of anyone in the company. The whole thing made very little sense by the end, and the WWF moved on from it as quickly as possible.
Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son is…Hornswoggle (2007)
WWE was once known for some out there, long-reaching story arcs that have created some of the most beloved rivalries in pro wrestling history. In 2007, the plan was to make a star out of one Mr. Kennedy (more recently known as TNA’s Mr. Anderson) at the culmination of a long storyline that was to begin with the surprise death of Mr. McMahon. We’ve all seen the footage of Mr. McMahon’s limo exploding after a strangely serene chairman climbed in at the end of an episode of Raw. The storyline was suddenly dropped following the horrific double murder suicide of Chris Benoit, but the plan was reportedly for Mr. McMahon to have faked his own death to give his illegitimate son, who was going to turn out to be Mr. Kennedy, who’d use this newfound power to jump straight into championship contention.
The aforementioned Benoit events forced WWE to end the storyline prematurely, when it was still in the "who is Vince’s illegitimate son?" phase. Out came WWE’s personal deux es machina, Hornswoggle, because "haha midgets are funny," and the whole storyline was turned into a joke based around humiliating Mr. McMahon. Inexplicably, Hornswoggle was later revealed to actually be the son of Fit Finlay, because professional wrestling is the weirdest soap opera on the planet, and the whole thing, much like most of these angles, was quickly forgotten.
Nash texted himself (2011)
WWE was absolutely on fire in the summer of 2011, otherwise known as the Summer of Punk. The storyline around CM Punk attempting to leave WWE with its top prize around his waist and the subsequent fallout was one of the realest, most interesting storylines on WWE programming in years, and produced a bona fide five star match between Punk and John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. When Punk returned with the WWE Championship, it was extremely premature, but fans were willing to give it a chance.
Then Kevin Nash had to go and text himself.
You see, Nash, who hadn’t been seen on WWE television in years, was given instruction via text message to "stick the winner" of the Summerslam main event by an unnamed person. What followed is CM Punk absolutely decimating Big Sexy on the mic in a short feud that was shaken up so many times in such a short period of time it’s hard to remember what actually happened. In short, Nash told himself to stick the winner (???), and CM Punk vs. The Authority ended up morphing into Triple H vs. Kevin Nash in a sledgehammer ladder match.
About sums up most of CM Punk’s run at the top in WWE, doesn’t it?
The Anonymous RAW General Manager is…Hornswoggle (2012)
When Mr. McMahon fired then-General Manager Bret Hart in June 2010, he was supplanted by the most curious of replacements: a ringside laptop that would chime with the iPhone’s "new text message" noise every so often, prompting Michael Cole to read decrees from its screen.
It was different, but it was intriguing, especially as the Anonymous Raw General Manager started using catchphrases of past beloved WWE characters as its signature at the end of its emails. Was the GM Roddy Piper? Shawn Michaels? Fans were buzzing every week about the identity of the man in the computer (look, 2010 was a really boring year).
And then, nothing. The Raw General Manager was eventually simply phased out as Triple H started growing in power as COO of the company and McMahon stooge John Laurinaitis eventually stepped in as the General Manager of the show. It seemed like the infamous angle was all but forgotten, until Raw 1000 in 2012, when the computer made an appearance once again. Santino Marella vowed to put an end to the mystery once and for all and figure out who it was. His investigation eventually led him to the ring, where it was revealed to be…
Fucking Hornswoggle. From underneath the ring. All this time. The Anonymous Raw General Manager was actually the longest running authority figure in Raw history at that point, and it was a mute leprechaun who was also the illegitimate son of the chairman of the company, making decisions seemingly based on nothing from his home underneath the ring.
Shane McMahon owns a lockbox, containing nothing (2016)
When Shane McMahon returned to WWE a few weeks before WrestleMania 32 in 2016, it was a genuine shock to wrestling fans all around the world. Shane had left the company some seven years prior to carve his own path in the world, leading a Chinese video on demand provider before deciding to return home to the family business. The conceit of his return was that he wanted control of Raw after watching his sister send ratings down the tube for months. Since this is wrestling, the family drama could only be solved in one way: a Hell in a Cell match! Vince would give his son a chance, but only if he could defeat the nearly undefeated Undertaker at WrestleMania inside Hell in a Cell, because that’s totally a reflection of his acumen as a manager. Vince also made mention of a mysterious lockbox Shane had, that could possibly blackmail the evil chairman.
Not only were the contents of the lockbox never revealed, but Shane ended up with control of a show (Smackdown, not Raw as originally requested, as the two brands were once again split shortly after WrestleMania 32) despite losing to The Undertaker. So…what was the point of that match again? "Being related to the owner" is about all that’s needed to become an authority figure in WWE whenever you damn well please.