Kurt Angle: a name synonymous with professional wrestling. It was seven years ago today on Sunday, August 7th, 2011, that he cemented his place in IMPACT Wrestling history with a record-setting fifth World Championship win.
Two groups waged war for control of TNA Wrestling. Immortal, led by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, created a unique stable of veterans and young talent in an attempt to overthrow TNA President, Dixie Carter. Some of the faction’s top stars included Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, Ric Flair, Scott Steiner and Abyss, just to name a few. After learning that they would seek to accomplish their goals with underhanded tactics, lies and deceit, Dixie lead the locker room in an attempt to stop them. Standing on the other side of the battlefield were fan favorites like AJ Styles, Sting, Beer Money and Kurt Angle.
After months of gruelling, ultra-personal battles between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett, their war was set to come to an end. Billed as “The Final Battle,” the two warriors would lock up once again at Slammiversary IX. However, victory would mean more than usual for Kurt Angle – he was battling for a shot at the most coveted prize in wrestling, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. After the dust had settled, it was indeed Kurt Angle standing tall with his eyes firmly set on the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Sting.
Angle and Sting were no strangers to each other. They had been the best of friends and worst of enemies, with numerous encounters for the World Heavyweight Championship under their belts – most notably main eventing Bound For Glory 2007 in Atlanta. However, this was not the “Icon” Sting that everyone was used to. His taxing battle with Immortal had caused the Stinger to mentally snap – he was now the “Insane Icon.” With a whole new challenge awaiting him, Kurt Angle would have to formulate a different strategy if he wanted to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion for a fifth time.
The date was set. On August 7th, 2011, Sting would defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Kurt Angle in a highly-coveted main event. Since neither of them were a part of Immortal, the faction hit them with road block after road block in the lead-up to their match. Angle and Sting remained on the same page, thwarting Immortal’s devious plans.
They locked up and the crowd went wild. Two of wrestling’s all-time greats in a friendly, one-on-one clash where the better man would walk away with the gold. The match was in its final stretch when disaster struck. Kurt Angle attempted to kick Sting but he ducked, causing Angle to inadvertently knock out the referee. Then Immortal’s leader Hulk Hogan came down to ringside with a steel chair. It was assumed he was there to sabotage the match out of jealousy – no Immortal, no main event. Hogan was about to hit Sting with the chair but Angle pried it out of his hands. With Hogan sent retreating, Angle stood in the middle of the ring. Angle turned towards Sting – and hit him square in the back with the chair.
The sickening thud of steel on flesh echoed throughout the arena as the audience looked on in disbelief. The referee recovered and Angle followed up with his signature Olympic Slam to pin Sting one, two, three. At Hardcore Justice 2011, Kurt Angle stole not only the victory but also the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
The questions were obvious. “Why, Kurt? Why did you betray Sting? Why did you associate with the very group you spent months trying to defeat?” Angle would reveal his motives in the upcoming weeks: according to him, TNA President Dixie Carter was aware that Angle’s wife, Karen, was having an affair with his greatest rival, Jeff Jarrett, and didn’t tell him. Angle said his actions at Hardcore Justice weren’t directed at Sting but instead, to Dixie. Angle declared he never wanted Dixie to be able to run TNA again and that taking the World Heavyweight Championship away from Sting was the best way to ensure that. It was all about power and control – and on Sunday, August 7th, 2011, that control was firmly in the hands of Kurt Angle and Immortal.
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