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It wasn’t just the vest, or the fact that he entered the ring through the crowd with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Kurt Angle, acting as an “honorary member of The Shield” in his first WWE match in 11 years, proved as natural a fit for The Hounds of Justice as the sidelined Roman Reigns in the epic 5-on-3 Handicap Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match that pit the impromptu trio against the all-star squad of The Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman & Kane, helping guide the brothers in black to a winning effort in the chaotic match.
Despite being on the short end of the contest’s handicap, Angle leaned heavily into the first of his legendary Three I’s (“Intensity”) in his early offense while Ambrose & Rollins threw caution to the wind by leaping off of ladders with a Frog Splash-elbow drop combo that drove Strowman and Kane through the announce tables. Angle singlehandedly took his opponents apart with suplexes to Miz and Cesaro and an Ankle Lock attempt to Kane, but rust still turned The Olympic Hero into the de facto weak link of the group. That made him ripe pickings for Strowman, who thinned The Shield’s ranks by hitting him with a Running Powerslam through a table that brought out a crew of trainers to take Angle to the back.
With a 5-on-2 advantage, the only thing that could have stopped Miz’s crew at this point was themselves — and it seemed like that would happen when Kane accidentally blasted Strowman with a chair, setting off an intense showdown between the two dominant big men. Miz quickly got his team back on track, bringing in a garbage truck to literalize his pre-match promise to treat The Shield and Angle like “garbage.”
Ambrose & Rollins managed to fight out of the truck’s bed and prepared to take Kane out with a double suplex through a table, which Strowman quickly broke up … and The Big Red Machine paid Braun back by chokeslamming him through the stage and releasing a deluge of chairs from the ceiling onto him. Strowman soon stirred to life, but with a loose cannon among them, The Miz, The Bar and Kane had no choice but to throw The Monster Among Men into the garbage truck, close the bed on him and have him driven away.
Still sitting pretty at 4-on-2, The Miz and his cohorts were all but certain to walk away victorious, with The Big Red Machine inches from Tombstoning Ambrose into the dirt. And then Angle returned with a glint in his eye and ice in his veins. The four-time WWE Champion singlehandedly dismantled The Bar with a pair of Angle Slams — Cesaro’s through a table — while Ambrose & Rollins took Kane out with a double Spear through the barricade.
The Miz, now left alone with his General Manager, showed unexpected grit by administering a Skull-Crushing Finale for a two-count and then escaping an Ankle Lock. But when the Raw Tag Team Champions returned to circle The A-Lister, what came next was all but a foregone conclusion: Ripcord Knee, Dirty Deeds, and Angle Slam, followed by a ring-shaking Triple Powerbomb with Angle covering Miz for the pinfall.
Seventeen years to the day after winning his first WWE Title in this same building, Kurt Angle has returned, and in a match where Ambrose & Rollins vowed to go out on their shields, your Olympic Hotel-Echo-Romeo-Oscar instead rode to glory on his. Oh, it’s true.