Each week on Monday Night Raw, Kurt Angle is greeted by a crowd of fans singing “You suck!” to the tune of his theme music. They do so affectionally, though, and WWE fans have been chanting this phrase at Angle going back over 15 years now. So how exactly did the Kurt Angle “You suck” chant become a thing?
Well, the chant dates back until at least February 2001, when Angle was feuding with The Rock. On an episode of SmackDown that month, Angle played a video montage of himself beating up The Rock while his theme played, and the crowd began to sing “You suck!” That didn’t start right away, though; it was only towards the end of the song that the chant began to build up some momentum, and the WWE commentators finally made note of this, saying, “Hey wait a minute…people are trying to add their own words!”
It is believed that this February 2001 episode of SmackDown is the first time the “You suck!” chant was sung to the beat of Kurt Angle’s theme music, and it seems that it really was just a case of someone in the crowd coming up with the idea and then it spreading like wildfire.
This chant would be heard now and then for the next year and a half or so. However, it didn’t really become a “thing” until Kurt Angle started feuding with Edge in 2002.
On the November 4th, 2002 episode of SmackDown, during Angle’s entrance, much of the crowd began to sing “You suck!” much like they do today, and a lot of fans even held up signs with that phrase. Besides just chanting it along with his theme song, they also just chanted “You suck!” at random moments during his promo.
But a few minutes later, Edge really cemented the meme by going on a whole spiel about how various wrestlers have chants associated with them and that Kurt Angle’s should be “You suck.” This came after Angle was complaining about people yelling “What” at him, and Edge agreed that they should chant something different.
“These people should chant something else after you say something,” Edge said. “Something very special. Something very you. I think, after every time that Kurt Angle speaks, everyone should show their appreciation by chanting, ‘You suck.'”
He wasn’t specifically instructing them to sing it along with the theme music, and people were already telling Kurt Angle that he sucks before that. But after Edge’s promo, when Kurt Angle’s music came back on, the entire crowd erupted in the musical “You suck” chants, and they were now much louder than before. From then on, these chants were heard almost every single time Kurt Angle was ever in the ring.
It’s commonly stated, then, that Edge came up with the “You suck” chants for Kurt Angle. But while he did popularize them, they actually existed at least a year beforehand, with the earliest known instance taking place in February 2001. It was in November 2002 that this was really established as a meme, though.
Over the next few years, Angle encouraged fans to chant “You suck” at him by having his character become extremely irritable when they did so. In one instance in 2005, Angle berated the crowd, demanding they stop chanting that he sucks and even restarting his entrance. Obviously, this just made the chants even louder, which was the intended goal. The more Kurt Angle complained about the chants, the more the crowds did them.
When he made his debut, Kurt Angle was pushed as a face, but fans were not having it, and he was consistently booed much to the WWE’s chagrin. So he ultimately turned heel and the WWE embraced the hate. During this heel period, the “You suck” chants became such a fun tradition that even when Angle turned face again, they continued.
In an interview earlier this year, Angle said that he and Vince McMahon for a time tried their best to get the fans to stop chanting “You suck” at him while he was a face, but they were not successful.
“It’s one of those things that, Vince tried to change it, I tried to change it, it’s just not going to happen,” Angle said. “It’s one of those things now that the fans do it out of respect and it sounds cool with my song.”
Still, Angle has said that he always enjoyed the chants, even when he was a face.
“Of course! I’ve enjoyed them from day 1,” Angle said in a Facebook Q&A in February. “Do you really think I would get mad at fans chanting that I suck, especially since I was a heel 5 of the 7 years I was in WWE? I earned that right to have this chant every single time I come out to wrestle. It’s a compliment.”
When Kurt Angle returned at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony earlier this year, the entire crowd chanted “You suck.” But even though this chant started because people legitimately hated Kurt Angle’s character, by this point, it was clearly a sign of respect.
Kurt Angle is not the only WWE wrestler whose entrances are accompanied by fans singing insults. For the past few years, almost every time John Cena enters a WWE ring, much of the crowd sings “John Cena sucks” to the tune of his entrance music. Like with the Kurt Angle chant, there wasn’t really a precise moment when this started; some fans just started to sing “John Cena sucks” along with his theme song, and it spread from there. And like with Kurt Angle, although there are legitimately large sections of the WWE audience that dislikes John Cena, there are certainly many who sing “John Cena sucks” just because it’s fun and has become a meme.