A grateful Angle comments on hometown reception
Nearly six years ago, prior to Kurt Angle's first RAW appearance in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Vince McMahon told an incredulous Angle that he would likely be roundly booed by the sellout crowd.
Now, remember, Angle had been an all-state football player and wrestler in Pittsburgh, had already won an Olympic Gold Medal, been honored by two parades, tried out for the Steelers, worked as a local sportscaster in the city and even did a local pizza commercial.
And sure enough, they booed.
"Vince was right," Angle recalled during a Thursday interview with WWE.com. "WWE fans are smart. They weren't going to accept me just because I won a gold medal. I was a jock and I was invading their world. I had to prove myself."
Six years later, Angle received a hometown ovation that indicates he's more than proven himself.
While Angle is typically public enemy No. 1in most towns WWE visits, the fans in Pittsburgh loudly cheered Angle when he was introduced to take on Eugene as part of the Eugene Invitational. The reaction caught Angle slightly off guard
"It think it's hard in my hometown for the fans to really dislike me," Angle said. "It was kind of a welcome home. It's been a while for me. The last few times we were there I was out with injuries and many fans weren't sure if I would even make it back."
"I almost wish I could have done more for them, but I was a small part of the show," Angle added. "That may have been a smart idea, because given the chance, I would have taken over the whole show."
Considering what he's accomplished in recent years, and especially coming off his incredible match with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21, Angle feels ovations like the one he got in Pittsburgh may become more common as fans just have a general appreciation of his work.
Even when Angle called the Pittsburgh fans "blue collar idiots," it hardly dampened their enthusiasm for the Olympic Champion.
"Most of the time, especially after some of the things I say, fans want me to lose and get destroyed," Angle said. "But I think because of where I am in my career right now, fans are just grateful I'm still wrestling. I'm grateful myself."