Professor Wrestling: The Kurt Angle Interview
Olympic Champion Rips WWE
By Professor Wrestling, The Grappling Scholar
POSTED: 8:21 pm CDT October 19, 2006
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Listen up! This is a triple-threat column this week. First: The latest episode of the "Old School, New School" podcast. Get it right here. Second: My picks for what'll happen at TNA's "Bound For Glory" pay-per-view this Sunday night. That column is right here.
Which brings us to this column. There's a special guest in the classroom this week, kids, and his name is Kurt Angle, your Olympic champion.
These days, Angle works for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling -- jumping over from WWE a few weeks ago. Angle, who has been in Vince McMahon's grappling empire since his 1999 debut, said he couldn't wait to leave.
"I'm the one who decided to leave WWE," Angle said during a teleconference. "I'm the one who asked for a meeting. I'm the one who asked for the release. And Vince asked me if we could make it a mutual release, and I said, 'Yes.' So rumors of me being pushed out and rumors of me being fired are very false. Vince McMahon basically wanted me to stay. I did not want to stay. I no longer enjoyed working for him. I wasn't having fun anymore. I felt the company was going downward. Really hard, in a downward spiral."
Angle, who has had nagging problems with his neck (he said it was broken during the 1996 Olympics), admits he got hooked on painkillers. In 2005, he said his doctor prescribed a rehab clinic to get cleaned up, but McMahon refused.
"I had nowhere else to go but to go to the boss," Angle recalled. "I told him, 'Listen, I am taking so many, that I'm afraid I'm going to die.' And I could not function. Being on the road 300 days a year … I had to take them to function. It got to the point that where I couldn't get out of bed unless I took a large dose. A whole handful.
Kurt Angle, former WWE Superstar.
"So I called Vince McMahon and I told him that I needed three months off, and that I needed to go to rehab. And he told me, 'You're not getting three months off. You're going to rehab on the road.' He said, 'You're an Olympic gold medalist, you have the will to do anything you want to do. You're going back on the road, I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear any excuses. You go back and you rehab by yourself on the road.'
"And I went back to my doctor and he said, 'That's impossible. No one has ever done that.' Well, I actually did it. But in the process I got worn down even more -- and I will tell you three days later I was going through major withdrawal against John Cena in (a pay-per-view match). I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But all WWE was worried about was me making John Cena look strong. It was me putting John Cena over. Making him look good so he could hold the title. That was more important to him than my health.
"When I went backstage, I basically dropped on my face … I thought I was going to die. And then the next day, I was supposed to have the day off. (But fellow WWE Superstar) John Heidenreich's blood pressure was too high, so I got a call from the boss and he told me, 'We need you to go down to Baltimore and wrestle tonight.'
"I said, 'Vince, I can't move.' And he said, 'That's too bad. I need you to go down there tonight. I need you to go down to the gym right now.' I said, 'I'll go for a run.' He said, 'No, I want you to lift hard. And I want you to run as hard as you can, and then I want you to fly down to Baltimore and take John Heidenreich's place.' At that point, I lost all respect for this guy.
"Was it his fault? Yeah, it was his fault. But then again, it was my fault. I should have put my foot down and said, 'I am going to rehab and there's nothing you're going to do about it.'"
Angle said things went from bad to worse when he was sent to McMahon's Extreme Championship Wrestling brand, which currently airs on the Sci Fi channel. He said he basically felt tossed to the side.
"I went along with it because I'm a team player," Angle said. "But you're damn right I was unhappy. I didn't have anybody to wrestle. I am not an ECW guy. I tell a story in a wrestling match by wrestling, not by using sledgehammers or chairs or tables.
"This business has been torn apart by overexposure. If you hit a guy over the head with a chair five times, that guy shouldn't even be alive. Talk about taking away the (suspension of disbelief). I just thought, 'This isn't where I want to be!'"
Photo by Wrealano@aol.com
A young Kurt Angle meets AWA legend Nick Bockwinkel.
Angle then had his final showdown with McMahon, to ask for his release. WWE publicists called Angle an "emotional wreck" at a confrontational meeting, something Angle doesn't deny.
"Vince McMahon didn't tell you the whole story," Angle said. "I went up there and I talked to them. And they started to attack me, so I got emotional. I started crying. How would you be if you were treated like a dog for the last three years?
"Was I acting erratic near the end? Yes. Was it drug use? No. Was (I acting like that on purpose)? Yes, you're damn right (I) was. Because I had to be heard. Because they continued to ignore me."
Angle said during that final meeting, McMahon finally gave him his wish and released him from a five-year contract. The master of the ankle-lock was finally free to go his own way.
Next week, why Kurt Angle thinks he made a great move, and more dirt from his WWE days.
Now scram! Class is dismissed!
(Professor Wrestling is a masked employee of Internet Broadcasting. Got a question, comment, complaint? E-mail him right here. )