Kurt Angle has taken to social media to reflect on his match against John Cena on the June 27, 2002 episode of WWE SmackDown.
The memorable match began with Cena answering an open challenge from Angle. The debuting superstar told the Olympic gold medallist he possessed “ruthless aggression” before slapping him in the face. Angle went on to win the five-minute match but it was Cena who earned rave reviews for his performance.
Posting on Instagram, Angle shared a video of his pre-match promo segment with Cena. He also revealed that he knew from that moment that his former in-ring rival was going to be a “huge star” in WWE.
Kurt Angle picked up the victory over John Cena with a roll-up pinfall. Later that night, Cena shook hands with one of WWE’s most respected veterans, The Undertaker, in a backstage segment.
Despite losing, Cena’s debut is remembered as one of the greatest in WWE history.
Kurt Angle wanted to end his career against John Cena
Kurt Angle retired from in-ring competition in 2019 after losing to Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 35. The WWE legend originally planned to retire at WrestleMania 36, with John Cena being his preferred opponent. However, that plan changed when Angle decided to bring his retirement forward by a year.
Speaking on The Kurt Angle Show earlier in 2021, Angle explained why he wanted to face Cena in his final match:
“I wanted it to be my retirement match, and I’d loved to have wrestled John because you know I started out his career, and I wanted him to end mine, and you know, I was hoping that he would put me in that match, but it just didn’t happen,” Angle said.
Kurt Angle returned to WWE in 2017 after 11 years away from the company. Upon his return, the former WWE Champion was inducted into the Hall of Fame by John Cena.