Angle signed with the WWF in October 1999 and had to face a negative reaction from people who felt transitioning from amateur to pro wrestling was a major step backward. “People put ideas into my head that I was larger than life,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “But it’s just another career move. You can’t compare an Olympic gold medal to sports entertainment … What people don’t understand is that this is entertainment. It’s like the circus. It’s fun.”
It was also completely different from the wrestling that brought him Olympic glory. “I would never call it wrestling,” Angle said, who went through an intensive training period to learn the intricacies of pro wrestling choreography. His initial appearances were under-the-radar in the Power Pro Wrestling and in untelevised WWF warm-up matches.
Despite being an Olympic hero, Angle accepted the persona of a WWF heel, although his contract guaranteed he would not be involved in racist or sexist scenarios. “Everyone has their price. Let’s face it,” Angle said. “People are human. We are not Jesus Christ. I have to sit down and decide what I want to do and make sure I don’t cross that line.”
Angle stated he was not looking for a long career with the company, but he wound up on their roster until 2006 when he joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017 after he rejoined his former employer, retiring in 2019.