Legendary ECW announcer Joey Styles was recently let go by WWE due — in part — to comments he made about Roman Reigns and moms. (Totally not in the way you’re thinking, you pervs.) Luckily, much like Ryback, this just means he has a lot of free time to tell wonderful stories about wrestling history.
In a new interview with Sports Illustrated, Styles talked at length about the night that Kurt Angle made his professional wrestling debut and absolutely flipped the hell out. As luck would have it, Angle was standing between Styles and Paul Heyman when the controversial segment began where Raven crucified Sandman.
“Here is an Olympic gold medalist who won the gold medal for America in America with a broken neck,” recalled Styles. “I’m just thinking, ‘How the hell did Paul Heyman get this guy here? Why is Kurt Angle in this craphole of a building in Philadelphia?’
“So I’m sitting there watching this match, and that’s when Raven and his minions crucify the Sandman, à la our lord and savior Jesus Christ, on a wooden cross that the Sandman built himself because he was a carpenter,” said Styles. “Raven even put a barbed wire crown around Sandman’s head, like a crown of thorns. South Philly was a very Catholic community, and they were sitting in stunned silence—until they started booing. And it was not the good booing, either. It was the ‘we don’t want you doing this’ kind of booing.’
“I’m speechless, but Kurt Angle turns to me, assuming—maybe because I’m wearing a suit and tie—that I know what’s going on, and he starts screaming at me. ‘I can’t be a part of this, this is disgraceful, this is awful, I don’t ever want footage of me being here to ever air!’ I look to my left to get help from Paul, and Paul is gone. Paul left me alone with this angry, Olympic gold medalist heavyweight wrestler. I am just getting dressed down by Kurt Angle, nose to nose, right in my face. Paul left, he claimed, to go fix the situation. He damn well also wanted to avoid a screaming Kurt Angle. Then he sends Raven out to apologize for his using his ‘religious iconography’—and those were Raven’s exact words—and Paul, to this day, claims he knew nothing about it, which I don’t believe for a second.”
This story combines everything great about ECW in one beautiful little package: weird wrestlers being ultraviolent, the envelope being pushed for no real payoff, Paul Heyman being untrustworthy, and someone leaving. (Angle signed with WWE pretty much immediately after this debacle.)
Hopefully Styles starts giving us a bunch more behind-the-scenes scoops from wrestling history. Maybe someone has a cell phone video of the time he knocked out JBL or something. Bring it on, Joey!