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Thoughts On Kurt Angle-Stephanie McMahon Segments, Mickie James, Lio Rush

November 1, 2017
Kevin Eck is a former member of the WWE creative team and now blogs about pro wrestling for PressBox.

When "Raw" commissioner Stephanie McMahon made her return to the show after a seven-month absence Oct. 30, it was no surprise that she cut a heated promo on "Raw" general manager Kurt Angle.

What was surprising was that Angle just took the tongue-lashing from his boss like he was a random, entry-level employee on his first day on the job. That's no way to portray any babyface authority figure, much less one who's an Olympic gold medalist and WWE Hall of Famer. 

The idea was to get heat on Stephanie, but certainly there was a way to do that without so thoroughly emasculating Angle. Moreover, from a logic standpoint, it doesn't make sense that Angle wouldn't stand up to Stephanie. Are we to really believe he needs the job so badly that he would put his pride aside and allow himself to be humiliated in front of millions of people? 

Perhaps the storyline reason the man who won a gold medal with a broken freakin' neck now has no freakin' spine is that he made some bad investments and is in debt. Oh, wait, WWE already used that one several years ago to explain why Big Show took Stephanie's abuse.

Not only did Angle just stand there while Stephanie scolded him in the ring, but he nervously apologized to her later, and then vented to someone that "I got my ass chewed out by Stephanie."

Having worked at WWE, I'm pretty sure WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon feels Angle's subservience is realistic. That's because in real life McMahon has created an environment in WWE in which employees are intimidated by him and fearful of losing their jobs.

In the fictional world of WWE, however, an alpha male such as Angle should've told Stephanie that if she ever speaks to him like that again she won't be able to fire him because he'll quit.

That scenario is very likely to happen somewhere down the line. McMahon undoubtedly wants to build to it, and that sounds good in theory, but, again, this is Kurt Angle we're talking about. The way Stephanie treated him on "Raw," Angle may as well have been James Ellsworth being led around on a leash by Carmella.

Angle has a lot of good will built up with WWE fans, but if he keeps behaving like a submissive subordinate, the fans may really mean it when they chant "you suck" during his entrance.


I thought WWE's decision to have Alexa Bliss retain the "Raw" Women's Championship against Mickie James in the main event on "Raw" was a missed opportunity at a feel-good moment.

James' performances on the microphone and in the ring during her program with Bliss have been outstanding, and it felt like the right time to put the title on her. Instead, Bliss pinned James clean after a single punch.

Bliss flattening James made for a flat ending to the match and, presumably, their program.

The story of the veteran James trying to tie Trish Stratus' record of seven women's championships in WWE by having to defeat the cocky, disrespectful young champion was simple yet compelling. When it began, my assumption was that James was simply the challenger of the month and would be fed to Bliss at the "TLC" pay-per-view Oct. 22.

But when James was granted a rematch with Bliss on "Raw" after losing to the champion at "TLC," I actually thought WWE was going to switch the title. The fact that the match at the "Survivor Series" pay-per-view Nov. 19 pitting the "Raw" Women's Champion vs. the "SmackDown Live" Women's Champion (Natalya) would be a heel vs. heel match as long as Bliss is champion even further convinced me that James was winning the title.

I get it that Bliss is expected to be a star in the women's division for years to come and James, at 38, is no longer in her prime, but I don't think it would've damaged Bliss at all to have her drop the title to James and then get it back after "Survivor Series."

Plus, if Bliss didn't go into "Survivor Series" as champion, she could've taken part in the elimination match between the "Raw" women and "SmackDown Live" women, which would have made that contest more interesting.

On a positive note, even though James didn't win the title, it was good to see one of the best all-around performers in the history of WWE's women's division participating in the "Raw" main event.


It was disappointing NXT star Lio Rush made headlines this week for the wrong reasons, but I hope WWE brass will chalk it up to a rookie mistake and the talented 22-year-old native of Lanham, Md., will be able to quickly put it behind him.

After WWE announced Emma was one of three performers who had been released Oct. 29, Rush tweeted (the tweet has since been deleted), "I guess these are the things that happen when you're not TRULY ready for @WWEAsuka." Emma had lost to Asuka in the Japanese star's first two matches on the main roster -- at "TLC" and on the Oct. 23 episode of "Raw."

There was immediate backlash on social media against Rush, including from WWE stars Bray Wyatt and Jack Gallagher and NXT wrestler Peyton Royce. In response, Rush -- who signed with WWE/NXT this past August --- took to Twitter to issue an apology to Emma as well as fans who found his comment to be inappropriate.

Rush also had people coming to his defense, including NXT trainer William Regal, WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, WWE producers Brian "Road Dogg" James and Scott Armstrong and NXT star Drew McIntyre.

I've had the opportunity to get to know Rush a bit through working with him on MCW (Maryland Championship Wrestling) shows the past few years. I won't make excuses for him; the tweet, no matter how it was intended, was ill-advised, and his apology could've been worded better as well. But Lio Rush is not a bad guy, and I don't believe he truly meant any disrespect to Emma.

Like a lot of people, he just needs to think a little more before tweeting.

Catch "The Hot Tag" every  Wednesday  on, and follow Kevin Eck on Twitter,  @KevinEck_WWE .