Kurt Angle looks pretty darn good for 54.
Now granted, maybe that's because he's more or less had the same look for his entire run in professional wrestling, and in 2023, wrestlers like Sting are continuing to work regularly into their 60s, but even now, four years after his last match, Angle still gets asked about if he can still go in the ring, including in an Insight interview with Chris Van Vliet.
While Angle appreciates getting compliments, he's far from ring-ready, as he's hurting bad from 30 years of wrestling ahead of a forthcoming shoulder replacement surgery.
“I wish. The quality of life, Chris, isn't so good. I had my knees replaced about a year ago, I had back surgery about four months ago. I have to have my shoulder replaced, I still have another neck surgery coming up. That'll be my fourth neck surgery. I really paid the price wrestling as long as I did. I wrestled amateur wrestling for 20 years and then pro for 20. Looking back, sometimes I regret — maybe I should've retired five years earlier,” Kurt Angles said via Wrestling Inc.
“It comes to a point in time in your life where you're older, and you wanna play with your kids, and here I am having these surgeries. I can't really do anything with them. I can't pick them up, I can't play with them, I can't run with them. So it gets a little disgruntling that I'm not able to be the father that I want to be. What I'm doing now is I'm having these surgeries to have a better quality of life so I can play with them. I wanna make it fast because these kids are growing up quickly, and I don't wanna miss it.”
Now, for fans in the know, Angle's injury history is pretty well documented, as he's gone under the knife on multiple occasions over the last decade to help repair the injuries he incurred over his professional wrestling career. Even if the “Wrestling Machine” would love to get back into the ring and wrestle a real final match instead of a less-than-ideal bout with Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 35, presumably with “The Best Bout Machine” on the opposite side of the ring – unless it happens in WWE – as things presently stand, he just doesn't have his health where it needs to be to work anything resembling a five-star match, which he doesn't currently have on his resume.
Kurt Angle finally addresses his lack of 5-star matches.
Elsewhere in his interview with Chris Van Vliet, Kurt Angle was asked about his lack of five-star matches from Dave Meltzer, the scribe behind The Wrestling Observer.
While it's impossible for Angle to not know about his lack of five-star matches at this point, as the fact has practically become a meme at this point, for the “Olympic Hero,” it's all good, as he knows it's all subjective.
“It's his opinion, I will respect that,” Kurt Angle said via Wrestling Inc. “I do understand he's very knowledgeable of wrestling. Maybe he just doesn't like my style, I don't know. But it's unfortunate that I don't have a five-star match from him, considering people take his word as valuable. They look at him and say ‘Okay, this is the guy who rates the matches, and he's pretty accurate with it.' … I don't know what to say. I'm really surprised I haven't had one five-star match, but that's his opinion, and I have to respect it.”
Asked which matches from his long and storied career he feels were deserving of a five-star rating, Angle had no issue sharing, ripping off a half-dozen matches that fans probably agree were among the cream of his crop.
“Undertaker, No Way Out 2006,” Angle offered up. “Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 21. Eddie Guerrero, SummerSlam 2004. Brock Lesnar, Iron Man Match, on ‘SmackDown.' Geez, I would say … my first World Title against The Rock. There's a lot of matches, I'm sorry man. Me personally, I would rate myself five stars for about 20 of the matches, but that's not necessarily going to be true.”
While fans may value the opinions of some more than others, with Meltzer effectively serving as the Roger Ebert of professional wrestling, in the end, the enjoyment of the sport is a subjective act, with no “correct” opinion on any match's value versus any other. Still, considering the respect Angle holds across the industry – he is Kenny Omega's favorite wrestler – and the sheer volume of matches he wrestled across multiple eras and multiple promotions, it's surprising that none of his 1,550 matches earned five stars, especially the ones he mentioned.