WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle recently spoke with TV Insider to discuss John Cena’s return on tonight’s episode of RAW, Cena’s legacy in the pro wrestling business, and more.
Of course, Kurt Angle was John Cena’s first opponent on WWE television.
You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On when he found out he would be facing Cena: “Kurt Angle: It was that day. Last second. No pre-planning. I think Vince McMahon just wanted to see what he had and wanted him to go up against a formidable opponent. That’s how he started his career and never looked back.”
On what he remembers most about working with him that night: “I liked what they had him do. I thought his response to me and the whole ‘Ruthless Aggression’ response was perfect. He had that written all over him. It was a good idea for them to basically start that whole era with John Cena. I remember him saying those two words and slapping me in the face like he wasn’t scared of anybody. I think that gave him a lot of traction to become a bigger superstar.”
On being the go-to guy for making talent look good at the time: “I could have a match with a broomstick. That was what a lot of the wrestlers would say about me. I guess they knew Cena would have a guaranteed great match with me because it was me. Cena did step up. There was a point in time in that match where I kept on him. I stayed with him. I wanted to test him to see if he had the conditioning to stay with me. And he did. He kept up with me the whole time. We went hard for 12 minutes. We didn’t have any pause. It was high throttle the whole time. He proved to me he was a very well-conditioned athlete.”
On what Vince McMahon said afterward: “He said, ‘Great stuff. You guys had a great match. This was a great debut for John.’ He patted me on the back.”
On what he said to Cena after the match: “All I said was, ‘You stepped up tonight. It was a great match.’ He said, ‘Thank you, Mr. Angle, for working with me. I really do appreciate it.’ He was very respectful. I knew this kid was very special from the first time I got in the ring and after I got done wrestling him, I knew he would be a huge star down the road.”
On Cena’s legacy: “The most successful WWE superstar of all time. He has won 16 world titles, and they are all WWE world titles. Nobody else has done that. John was able to accomplish that. I wouldn’t say he is the greatest wrestler of all time. There are a lot of great technicians. John was the most successful.”