After watching Kurt Angle: The Essential Collection you find yourself wondering if Angle might be the greatest American pro-wrestler of all time. So diverse and exciting are the matches on this new DVD set that you will have no choice but to consider it. The set plays out chronologically, and each match features a short introduction by Angle which sets the scene. Some of the introductions feature interesting titbits – like Kurt naming Triple H as the safest wrestler he worked with – and none of them feel pointless. Those who prefer the documentary style of presentation on a wrestler’s career however will have to catch the Network special, because the focus of this set are the matches, and deservedly so.
Opening with Kurt’s pay-per-view debut at the 1999 Survivor Series, it’s fascinating to see how smooth he was even at this early stage of his career. Watching him go move-for-move with Chris Jericho roughly four months later at No Way Out shows just how much of a natural Angle was. A short King of the Ring final against Rikishi is surprisingly enjoyable and displays his versatility, and Kurt’s first title win over The Rock is followed by a fantastic battle with The Undertaker that sees Kurt get some serious heat for the finish. After roughly a year in the WWF, Angle was the WWF Champion, and fully deserving. The first disc concludes with a brutal war against Shane McMahon from the 2001 King of the Ring.
The second disc is prolific, and it begins with a battle against Stone Cold Steve Austin that shows a different, more aggressive side to Angle. This is followed up by two undeniably great bouts with Edge which are thrilling to watch. The pair have unbelievable chemistry in the ring, and their bout inside a steel cage is as good as any other match these two have had in their careers. Angle gets an enjoyable match out of an aging Hulk Hogan, then goes the extra mile to make a debuting John Cena look competitive. An absolute classic triple-threat from Vengeance 2002 is followed by a spectacular sprint against Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam. Angle’s feud with Brock Lesnar is showcased at the following year’s SummerSlam in another incredible contest that is hard hitting and believable.
The final disc showcases Angles evolution into the “wrestling machine” version of himself. At the time, around 2003, Kurt was becoming even more aggressive in his matches, and the Ankle Lock would become his primary finishing move. It was another step in Angle’s career, and it showed his versatility and just how much he could do as a character and in the ring. A bout with John Cena from October 2003 starts the third disc and is fantastic, even though it may have been lost amongst Angle’s many other gems. In a rematch from WrestleMania 20, Angle bests Eddie Guerrero in a contest which is slightly underwhelming though still enjoyable for its unexpected approach. The original six-star classic follows shortly after when Angle challenges Mr. WrestleMania himself at WrestleMania 21. This match is blistering, and probably one of the top ten matches contested in WWE history, so it’s pretty ridiculous that the pair were capable of almost matching it in a 30-minute Iron-Man match from Raw the following October. The penultimate match on the set is an exciting triple threat that adds John Cena to the magical combination of Angle and Michaels.
The only possible issue with this set is the fact that there are none of the classic Angle and Chris Benoit encounters. Though this is completely understandable. Away from that it’s almost impossible to criticise this set because the match quality is unbelievable. Young fans who aren’t clued up to peak WWE Kurt Angle need this set, no excuses. For the rest of us, it’s an extremely enjoyable reminder about how good our “Olympic Hero” really was.
EXTRAS: None at all.