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Week in Wrestling: Dixie Carter on Kurt Angle; Chad Gable on American Alpha

Dixie Carter discusses former TNA talents working in WWE

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every Wednesday and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Dixie Carter on Kurt Angle, WWE

Former TNA Impact Wrestling chairman Dixie Carter spoke with Sports Illustrated and detailed how she and Kurt Angle built such a strong bond.

“Kurt and I both took a chance on each other,” said Carter, who appeared on the WWE Network following Raw for the network-produced Kurt Angle Homecoming special. “The results were some of the best matches in the history of the business. From the beginning, I felt a big responsibility to help Kurt on a personal level and on a professional level. Professionally, there has never been a more complete wrestler, ever. Kurt is also a great talker and so charismatic, and maybe he’s the best in-ring talent, ever. He also made sure that everyone he wrestled had their best match. He can look back on his work with Sting, EC3, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and so many others, and the common denominator in those matches is Kurt. He only has one gear, and it’s all out, but that’s also been his biggest challenge.”

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Carter also touched on Angle’s heart and humanity, which are not always visible to the blind eye when he is in the ring.

“Kurt has a huge heart that he wears on his sleeve,” said Carter. “He’s an emotional guy, and we really connected on that part. He needed some help, and I love to help; I love a challenge, especially when it has a personal side to it. It’s been so fulfilling to watch Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Sting, and others just become whole and fire on all cylinders. You can’t fire on all cylinders if you’re not really happy personally, and that’s always important to me. When you get that, it’s just magic.”

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The opportunity for Carter to appear on a WWE show was not surreal to her, as she was simply grateful to share her memories of working with Angle.

“I was just so focused on Kurt,” said Carter. “That was my entire focus.”

The fact that a multitude of the highlights on Raw, SmackDown, and NXT are performed by TNA alums like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, and Bobby Roode has not been lost on Carter.

“The fact that these incredible talents are having the kind of success they are having is a great compliment to the hard work of the men and women who built TNA,” said Carter. “I’m proud to have been a part of it.”

Angle closed out Raw with a storyline of a mystery character who will appear next Monday, which, fittingly, will take place nearby Carter’s home in Nashville, Tennessee. Carter was asked if she will be on next week’s Raw:

“I did hear Raw will be in Nashville, which is very interesting,” said Carter. “But I wouldn’t tell you either way.”

News of the Week

This past Sunday’s Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view marked back-to back July 9 victories for Brock Lesnar, and the 2017 win will not be overturned.

For the first time since WrestleMania 33, Brock Lesnar wrestled in a WWE ring. Unlike his July 9, 2016 fight against Mark Hunt, where his victory in the UFC octagon was overturned, Lesnar successfully defended the Universal championship in WWE’s squared circle. The match was physical and kept a solid pace for just over six minutes.

Lesnar is still searching for a signature match. Despite his win over The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30, the match was a disaster after ‘Taker suffered a concussion. Lesnar’s encounters with Bill Goldberg were memorable for their brevity. Lesnar shared little to no chemistry with Triple H, defeated John Cena in a squash match at the SummerSlam 2014, disappointed with Randy Orton, but his finest work remains a classic with CM Punk at the 2013 SummerSlam.

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Hard as it is to believe, Lesnar and Punk wrestled for over 25 minutes. That is roughly the amount of time we see Lesnar every month on WWE programming. The only other match that genuinely resonates from Lesnar’s second act in WWE is his WrestleMania 31 match against Roman Reigns. Lesnar and Reigns were physical from the moment the bell sounded, and the affair never met a resolution after Seth Rollins interfered and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract.

WWE is gambling on Lesnar-Reigns II to headline this year’s SummerSlam. And while the smart money would be on finding a way to pair AJ Styles against Lesnar–as Lesnar clearly works better with someone who can sell his powerful offense–Vince McMahon and WWE are clearly all in on Reigns.

In order to win when gambling, you have to lay it down to pick it up. WWE continues to lay down its chips on Roman Reigns, but only time will tell if that gamble pays off.

In other news…

• Chad Gable and Jason Jordan–better known in WWE as American Alpha–flourished in NXT. During TakeOver: Dallas during the WrestleMania 32 weekend in 2016, American Alpha received arguably the loudest response from the crowd, even rivaling the ovation for the newly-debuted Shinsuke Nakamura. Despite a run with the SmackDown tag titles, American Alpha has yet to find any steady momentum on the main roster.

“The process of re-establishing ourselves was new to us,” admitted the 31-year-old Gable. “We started in Orlando at the Performance Center, and the local crowd saw us even before we were on NXT. When we got to SmackDown Live, we had to assume that no one had ever seen us before. That’s what we did, and it’s very hard to start over, but Jason and I were ready for this. We told ourselves ahead of time that we were going to prepare extra hard because not everyone watches NXT, and we’re working to attain our goals.”