The Mount Rushmore of wrestling is always heavily debated. Fans can spend hours discussing the topic but it’s always interesting to hear what former wrestlers think about their fellow professionals when it comes to an all-time list.
Kurt Angle himself would feature on a few variations of the wrestling Mount Rushmore but has suggested a top four list of the best people he’s faced in his career. On his podcast, The Kurt Angle Show, the Olympic Gold Medalist specifically heaped praise on AJ Styles. Angle recalled the first time he met the Phenomenal One and how easy he felt working with Styles was.
“He wasn’t brushing me off or kissing my ass, but he did come up to me and introduce himself, he had a lot of respect for me and I had a lot of respect for him. The feeling was mutual and we just hit it off from the beginning. The incredible thing about AJ is when you’re in the ring with him, you don’t have to do anything. He does all the work for you, he bumps and feeds for you, all you have to do is catch him and you’re guaranteed a 5-star match, regardless. AJ was so easy to work with, you didn’t have to do a lot. You didn’t have to expend a lot of energy, he did it all for you.”-Kurt Angle.
He continued to admire AJ and even went as far as to compare him to the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. This is where he confirms his list for the four greatest performers that he’s worked with.
“Shawn and AJ, they have so many identical ways about them, especially their in-ring performances. Their athleticism, the way they were showman, very identical styles. I wouldn’t put AJ up there by himself. I think Shawn Michaels, and Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero deserve to be up there too, but AJ is definitely in my top 3 or 4. He proved that to me every single time he went out there and worked with me. He impressed me every time.”-Kurt Angle.
To close, Angle clarifies whether or not he spoke to AJ before he debuted for WWE at the Royal Rumble 2016. He suggests that Styles’ move to NJPW was the catalyst in accelerating his move to WWE rather than his time elsewhere.
“He never talked to me about it but I always knew it was in the back of his mind. It was crazy because Vince passed on him the first time. I know he was trying to get to the company at the beginning of his career. I understand why Vince passed, he was a little undersized, but showing what he did at this point, 10 years, I’m sure Vince’s attention started drawing towards AJ. Eventually, I think what he wanted AJ to do was get out of TNA, take a little break, and then come to WWE. Vince doesn’t like to bring in wrestlers that are hot in other companies, bring them in and push them right away. Instead, what he does is he brings them in, shoves them down a little bit and gets them to a modest degree, and then builds them up again. Vince has a reputation of doing that, you’ll notice that with Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit when they came to WWE. He shoved them down at the beginning and then you eventually built them up. He was going to do that with AJ, I just think AJ needed to leave TNA, go off and do something for a year or two, and then WWE would pick him up, and that’s exactly what happened. AJ went to New Japan and then New Japan to WWE.”-Kurt Angle.
It’s clear just how highly the Olympic Hero rates AJ Styles. It’s well known that Styles could have a good match with almost anyone and Angle was grateful that working with AJ came easy. His Mount Rushmore features talent that will go down in the history books.
H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription