‘Good Ol JR’ Jim Ross has revealed how he signed ‘Olympic Gold Medallist’ Kurt Angle to a World Wrestling Federation contract while steering him away from a different career.
In 1998, Jim Ross served not only as WWF’s lead announcer alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, but was also in charge of talent relation with one of his main responsibilities being finding and signing new stars. A job he accomplished with aplomb, gaining the signatures of names such as Edge, Christian, Big Show and Kurt Angle to name but a few.
However, according to Ross on his latest edition of the Grilling JR Podcast, Angle wasn’t always destined for a career in the squared circle and instead had his sights set on sports reporting for a local news channel in his native Pittsburgh:
“So when we were bringing Kurt in…we brought Kurt in originally for an interview. But he had an offer on the table from a local station in Pittsburgh I think to do sports. And he found out quickly that reading off a prompter and reading from a script was not his cup of tea. So we brought him back. I remember seeing him down the lobby of Titan Towers and he was getting ready to go and meet Vince and me. He was there early and I said, ‘Man, obviously I’m biased, but you’re not going to make it reading TV sports. You ain’t going to make any money, unless you climb the ladder to the very top echelon can you make good money.’ I said, ‘Look at you, you’re a god damn athletic freak, you’re a walking PR man’s dream.’ So we got him there and signed him. I’ve never seen anybody, other than maybe…and I wasn’t there when he broke in because it was a different age group, but maybe Hodge, Danny Hodge and Jack Brisco…that went from the amateurs to the pro transition better than anybody until I saw Kurt Angle.”
Jim Ross’ decision proved to be an astute one. Shortly after his WWF debut at the 1999 Survivor Series – though many television Dark Matches had transpired beforehand – Angle rose through the company’s ranks with haste, capturing the WWF European and Intercontinental Championship at the beginning of 2000 prior to defeating The Rock to capture the WWF Championship at No Mercy that same year.
Credit for the interview: Grilling JR Podcast