Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle

In honor of Joe’s world title win, let’s look back at the first time he and Angle clashed.

Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle – TNA, 2006-2007

History
The wrestling world was rocked in 2006 as Kurt Angle left the WWE, his home since his professional wrestling debut, under mysterious circumstances. Things grew even odder as the WWE’s positive wishes going out to Angle on their television programs soon did a 180 and began bashing him.

The truth came out on September 24. At No Surrender, Jim Cornette announced that Kurt Angle had signed a contract with TNA and would soon make his debut.

On the October 19 Impact, Angle made his debut. He was scheduled to serve as a special enforcer for that Sunday’s match between Sting and Jeff Jarrett.

Meanwhile, Jarrett and Cornette were having problems of their own. Samoa Joe had stolen Jarrett’s world title belt and was refusing to return it. The main event of that Impact saw Cornette calling Joe out and threatening to fire him if he didn’t hand over the belt. Joe read the written warning and tore it up.

That brought Angle out. Angle and Joe faced off and Angle head butted Joe, busting Joe open. Joe was staggered and dropped the belt, which Angle scooped up. Joe got back up and the fight was on. Joe and Angle brawled as Jarrett finally managed to retrieve his title.

At Bound for Glory, Cornette came out and announced to the fans that Angle and Joe would settle their problems in the future. That brought Angle out, who promised to be completely fair in the Sting/Jarrett match. Angle then bashed Joe, who came out and we had another brawl going. After things settled down, Mike Tenay announced that Joe had been removed from the building.

The following Impact saw Kurt Angle come out to again talk about how glad he was that he’d left the WWE. He then started talking about Joe. Angle admitted Joe scared him, but fear turned him into a better wrestler.

That brought Joe out and the show closed with the men brawling while everyone from the locker rooms tried to hold them apart.

November 16 saw a special two-hour primetime version of Impact. In the main event, Angle was battling Abyss. Angle won the match after trapping Abyss in the ankle lock. After the match, Joe hit the ring and began brawling with Angle. Joe cracked Angle with a chair and then joined Abyss in mauling him. That brought Sting down from the rafters to battle Abyss to the back while Joe locked Angle in an ankle lock of his own. After that, Joe locked the rear naked choke on the bloodied Angle.

That brought us to Genesis, where Angle and Joe faced off for the first time in the main event. After a back and forth match where Angle was bloodied, Angle managed to trap Joe in the ankle lock, causing Joe to tap and end his eighteen month undefeated streak. After the match Joe offered Angle a handshake, only for Angle to turn and walk away. Joe simply said that this meant they’d do things the hard way.

Joe came out on Impact and talked about his undefeated streak and that he’d always known it would end someday. Joe asked Angle for a rematch and Angle agreed, providing that Joe watched Angle’s back until Turning Point.

The following Impact saw a scheduled main event of Angle and Petey Williams taking on the Latin American Xchange. However, it soon turned into a handicap match as Petey was taken out beforehand. Angle started the match and fought it solo.

Joe kept his word by charging down to the ring and taking Petey’s place as Angle’s partner. Angle eventually managed to tag Joe in and the two got the win. However, Jim Cornette said that since Joe was not an official participant, the match was ruled no contest. As the show closed, Joe and Angle were shaking hands.

The next week’s main event featured an all star war as Angle, Joe, Christian Cage, Rhino, Abyss, and Sting found themselves in a single fall match. The match didn’t go as planned as AJ Styles jumped Rhino before the match and the two wound up brawling to the backstage area. In the end, Angle turned on Joe and won the match.

The two faced off again at Turning Point. The two battled and eventually knocked out the referee. With the referee down, Angle grabbed a steel chair and tried to nail Joe. Joe ducked and the chair bounced off the ropes and then Angle’s forehead. Joe locked on the rear naked choke and earned a submission and the win.

Impact opened with Angle walking backstage urgently searching for Joe. As the show progressed, Angle continued searching for Joe while attacking people backstage.

Finally Kurt came out and locked So Cal Val in an ankle lock while demanding a rematch. Cornette came out and advised Angle that they couldn’t force Joe to give him a rematch – Joe had to agree to it. Cornette did say, however, that he could set up a tag match, which he did for the next week. He advised Angle that maybe he could change Joe’s mind.

The main event the following week saw Angle team with Rhino against Joe and AJ Styles. Styles and Joe got the win, then Angle locked Joe in the ankle lock and refused to release it as the show closed.

The following Impact opened with Joe demanding a match against Angle. In response, Cornette threw Joe out of the building.

The main event was scheduled to be Angle vs. Christian. Instead, Joe found a fire door that someone had apparently left open and charged the ring, going after Angle. Cornette told security to just let them fight and protect the fans.

They kept fighting and Cornette set up a match between the two at Final Resolution that would be a thirty minute Iron Man match where the winner would also become the number one contender and get a title shot at Against All Odds.

That brought us to Final Resolution. It was almost to the halfway point when Joe forced Angle to tap out to the rear naked choke to earn his first fall. In the next six minutes Angle trapped Joe in the ankle lock twice to take the lead. Joe hit a muscle buster and pinned Angle to even the match up again. Angle pinned Joe less than two minutes later to take the lead again.

As the final seconds ticked away, Joe locked Angle in the ankle lock. However, Angle held on and refused to tap out until time had expired, giving himself the win.

Analysis
TNA had to do something big to hype Angle’s coming in. After all, he’d been one of the WWE’s top stars for years and now they had managed to sign him. That something was to pair him up with another of their top stars – Samoa Joe.

Joe had been built up as an unstoppable machine. At the time, he had never been pinned or submitted during his entire stay in TNA. The fans respected him and knew that this man was legitimately tough.

It was inevitable that both Joe would lose a match sometime and that he and Angle would clash. When Angle ended Joe’s undefeated streak, it signified that one of the best wrestlers in the world was what it took to defeat the Samoan Submission Machine. No one in TNA up to that point had been able to.

The entire feud helped to elevate Joe by showing that TNA had a superstar in him that could not only hang with one of the best the WWE had to offer but also defeat him. Although Joe did wind up losing the third and final match in the series, he did so in a way that didn’t weaken him – he lost simply because Angle refused to submit and ran the clock out.

Of course, at 2008’s Lockdown, it could also be argued that Joe got the last laugh as he defeated Angle to win the TNA World Heavyweight title.

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