October Classics: Edge vs. Kurt Angle – Smackdown 10/3/02

I apologize for the quality of this one. October in 2002 brought some awesome goodness on the Smackdown side. I want to focus on that timeframe with the next several videos. Let’s kick it off with this match between Edge and Kurt Angle. Earlier in 2002, they had a feud which led to Angle losing his hair. Edge and Rey Mysterio formed a team as they were entered into the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament. Angle had formed an alliance with Chris Benoit. Here is a singles match between Edge and Angle in the middle of all this.

Edge vs. Kurt Angle Pt.1 by Stinger1981

Edge vs. Kurt Angle Pt.2 by Stinger1981

October Classics – Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin – RAW 10/8/01

Kurt Angle had defeated Austin to win the WWF Championship in his hometown of Pittsburgh at Unforgiven 2001. Austin had been off TV for a couple of weeks after that loss, and was then granted a rematch for this episode of RAW. The Invasion angle may have been botched, but it did offer plenty of memorable moments, this being one of them.

The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle

Hey, Scott.

I grew up watching wrestling but was super into it during the Attitude Era. I came to love Kurt Angle and then missed the era where he and Brock were battling for the title, and I guess his departure. What the heck happened that he burned his WWE bridges for good?

Related, following his entire career and seeing its progression into TNA makes me feel bleh about the whole thing. I remember the stories of him going to see ECW and then being appalled by that whole scene. Flash forward some years and he's allegedly not allowed back to WWE because of drugs and being a health risk due to his neck, I can't help but feel bad for him. 

Granted, I don't know what other stories there are, but I feel like this is just as bad as seeing a wresting go out due to an early heart-attack. He just seems like a guy that you'll read about on TMZ one day and another statistic that the world of pro wrestling totally consumed. 

Kurt was given a choice in 2006 of attending rehab or getting fired, and he chose getting fired.  I think that with all the Wellness changes that resulted from Benoit's death, in particular the more stringent physicals that led to guys like MVP finding undiagnosed issues, Kurt wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.  Which is why his dreams of returning are probably gonna go unfulfilled.  

September Classics: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle – Unforgiven 2002

To close out September today and tomorrow, we’ll go with the brand split era and the Smackdown side of things. Benoit and Angle had the classics ***** encounter at Royal Rumble 2003, but before that at Unforgiven 2002, they paired off in another great match, this one has an ending that hearkens back to their WM X-7 encounter.

Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle – Unforgiven 2002 by puropwgwwestuff

Regarding Kurt Angle/WWE

So the latest dirtsheet reports are that Angle approached Triple H about returning and was pretty much brushed off. I don't get this?

I definitely like the way Triple H has been shaping the future, but he seems adamant about creating new homegrown stars and not bringing in people who may already have a name. Now, obviously Angle has had his demons. But he claims he's a year+ sober now. If the guy can pass the physical and the drug test, I feel like they'd be foolish not to bring him in.
Guys like Bully Ray, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, etc. all could be hugely beneficial to WWE, but dirtsheets are constantly reporting WWE doesn't have an interest in them. It's really stupid to me. Of course you have to plan for the future with your new stars, but I still feel it's foolish to pass up on proven talent that can make an initial impact and then use their star power to help build your young guys.
With Kurt Angle alone, you have the perfect built-in mini-feud with Rusev, one of the only guys they can market as a believable threat to Lesnar, and a dozen fresh match combinations with guys like Ambrose, Rollins, Ziggler, Sheamus, Wyatt, Cesaro, and Bryan, etc. And several of those could reasonably be called dream matches to some fans and Angle has enough legitimacy built up that putting over some of those guys would help them tremendously.

Why the hell would you not bring him in on a part-time schedule, get all those matches out of him, then throw him in the HOF?

​Because one of these days he seems likely to implode once and for all and end up dead in a ditch somewhere, and you probably don't want him on your payroll when that happens.  Plus it's been nearly a decade since he was last part of the promotion and they've done nothing to keep his name alive since then, so there's very little name value left as far as upside.  You might as well just stick someone else under the Patriot mask and have him oppose Rusev if you're going that route.  I absolutely agree with the decision not to bring Angle in.  He made his own bed here.  ​

MOTD Kurt Angle vs. Marty Janetty

Since I already sent in one Rocker vs. Curt match earlier this week, I figured I’d submit this gem as as something of a companion piece, featuring the other Rocker and the other Kurt. Obviously the last great match of Janetty’s career (and really the only one post 1994 or so), and a real testament to Kurt’s ability to bring out the best in his opponents. As an aside, Kurt Angle really was the evolutionary Hennig, wasn’t he? The hyper-cocky technical genius who could work heel or face without really changing his gimmick. It’s a shame we never got a program with the two of them, but I suppose the window there was pretty small. Anyhow, here’s the match, and it is good: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1cvku_kurt-angle-vs-marty-jannetty-smackd_news

Yeah, that was a good week for Marty. Surprised he didn’t earn himself a job off that.  

RF Video Shoot Interview with Kurt Angle

This interview was filmed in 2008.


The interview starts talking about Angle’s amateur background. He said he began wrestling at age six. His brothers and father were all wrestlers and he wanted to be as good as they were.
He first realized that he was good during his sophomore year of high school. He was actually pinned in his first ever varsity match but said his coach told him he would win the state title one day.
He then states how at Clarion University, he was on the student senate and had a rigorous training schedule. He would get up at 5:00am and do conditioning drills as well as practice his wrestling then go to class and take part in the student senate. He would finish his night by lifting for 1.5 hours. Angle goes on to state that you need a set schedule to keep you busy and motivated.
He made it as an alternate in the 1992 Olympics. He said he could not beat Mark Kerr and Mark Coleman at the time. He went back and conditioned harder, knowing that if he trained like crazy, he could wear them down, especially Kerr who did not train much at all.
He mentions that he tried out for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1994 and was offered a spot on the practice squad as a fullback, despite not playing football in college. He said that he would have became a 27 year old rookie by the time he made the active roster.
Angle said that all but one of his Olympic matches went into overtime. He was stuck between weight classes at the time but did not want to cut weight as it decreases your energy and as a result, your training will suffer. He then says how he was the only heavyweight in NCAA history to weigh under 200 lbs and win the National Title.
He is asked about the murder of David Schultz (Not the Pro Wrestler). He knew that John Dupont, the man who murdered Schultz, was acting crazy around the time, always carrying a gun and appearing sedated and paranoid. Anlge says he felt responsible for not picking up on these signs earlier but did not want to ruffle any feathers. He tells a story of Dupont pulling a machine gun on someone two days prior to the killing.
Angle then tells the story of how he injured himself at the Olympic tryouts. His opponent went for an arm throw but he was trying to prevent himself from losing points and put his had over then ended up falling on his head. He says he heard crackling and crunching in his neck and was unable to feel his arms. Instead of going to a hospital, he had chiropractors crack his neck and used acupuncture to help loosen it up. He said that he was also unable to take a cortisone shot because they tested at the Olympics and it was a steroid. He went on to compete in the National’s anyway, because the winner received an automatic bid in the tryout finals and won in overtime.
He brings up taking off three years before going to the WWF. He said he did a lot of dumb stuff and Vince even told him so, like going all out on house shows. He says he makes sure to always takes care of his opponents and would rather put them in a hold than make them bump.
He said he was a fan of pro wrestling growing up. He liked Bruno, Piper, and Orndroff. He was also a fan of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, stating that he really liked Shawn when he came back to the WWE in 2002. He tells a story of him going up to Shawn at that time, not really knowing much about him prior, and telling him that he was really good. He said Shawn laughed it off. He calls him and HHH the greatest ring generals around. He also puts over Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Mysterio for their in-ring work.
He wound up in ECW when asked by Shane Douglas. He was hesitant at first but wanted to legitimize pro wrestling. He was offended by the angle were Raven was crucified and was pissed at Paul Heyman after the show, stating that he was giving speeches to children at the time and did not want to be associated with that. He liked the in-ring stuff and said that he gets offended easily when it comes to religion. He also claims that the locker room respected him.
He initially signed with the WWF because he was a sports broadcaster at the time and hated the job. He also thought about going back to the Olympics but did not want to go through with that training again. He was sent to Memphis first, where he did opening match stuff. He never got any help with his promos
He is asked if he received any criticism from the amateur wrestling community. He said he told them he was going into a different career and was amazed by the amount of people that have a bad perception of pro wrestling. He says that bad things happen in every career and that wrestling has less of a steroid and drug problem than in other sports. He goes on state how in football, a 350lbs lineman running a 4.8 40yard dash certainly raises a lot of eyebrows.
Angle talks about the Funkin Dojo, run by Dory Funk Jr. He said he had to babysit Teddy Hart and as a result, got a bad rap as the others thought he was doing stuff with him. He calls Teddy talented and is surprised that no one has taking a chance on him, despite his immaturity. He liked Dory but said it was not necessary to bump 300 times per day. Anlge said they should have bumped 20-25 per day and trained 15-20 days per month, instead of five. He said that Steve Bradley was his mentor there.
Angle is asked about his first match. It was with Brian Christopher. He said that Christopher had an attitude and was upset he was facing him so he would call stuff in the ring and take advantage for him. For instance, he would tell him that he was going for a suplex but would hit him with a DDT instead. Angle said he was pissed and was waiting for him in the back but Al Snow calmed him down. He realizes know that it was probably a rib but says that you should always be safe with guys in the ring.
His initial impression of Vince was that he loved him. Kurt says that Vince treated him like a son and Vince would joke with him, stating he wished Kurt was his son-in-law. He addresses the stuff he said trashing Vince but loves him and has a great deal of respect.
Kurt said that the “Three I’s” character was copied from “Family Ties.” He says that Vince booked him like he did the Rock when he first started but this time knew that the fans would hate him and would get him over when he turned heel. He said that character would have been a huge babyface in the 1980’s.
He recalls the fans chanting “Boring” in his match against Shawn Stasiak at the 1999 Survivor Series.  Angle said Vince told him to win the match then grab the mic and tell the crowd not to say boring to an Olympic Gold Medalist. When he said it, the fans hated him and it worked. He puts over Vince as always knowing what to do at the right time.
He says that Steve Austin was approachable and liked working with him. He says that he loved it when Taz broke his undefeated streak as he had more heat as a result and it helped get Taz over. He then goes on to say how pro wrestling is about pleasing the fans. He said that he liked working with Bob Backlund but that he was over-the-top.
He is asked about the love triangle angle between him, HHH, and Stephanie McMahon. He said that he and Stephanie had a good friendship and due to the amount of injuries, had to have someone step up. He said that HHH was in agreement of the angle. He was mad at how it ended, stating that it could have lasted another six months. He then said how the concussion he had during the triple threat match with the Rock and HHH might have had something to do with the angle ending. He then says how HHH never politicked to end the angle.
He loved his streetfight match with Shane McMahon but cant remember most of it and they both ended up in the hospital as a result. He tells the story of throwing Shane head first through the glass, which was plexi-glass and the shards fell and sliced him up badly. He says that was the worst type of glass to use and puts over Vince for almost always being prepared with good stunt coordinators.  He loves Shane, stating that he has a lot of balls.
He said that Steve carried him in their matches. He then said how Vince wanted Angle to be a moron outside of the ring and a killer once he started to wrestle. He then said that Vince saw money in Angle as a face and Austin as the heel. He says that Steve was supposed to win in his hometown just after 9/11 but that Angle thought a “red, white, and Blue” character should win so he asked Vince, who told him to tell Austin, then asked Austin, who was fine with that. He said that he was originally supposed to be the one who won the belt when the titles were unified but the plan was changed to Jericho five days before the PPV so they could get him over. Angle says he always wants other talent o get over and Vince put him in that role a lot.
He says that Vince told him to have his head as he thought he needed to look more rugged.
He said that Hogan was easy to work with and willing to put him over clean. However, he tells a story about Hogan showing up late to a six-man tag at MSG and was upset that Kurt put the match together. He said that he put it together because most of the guys in the match were green (Lesnar, Haas, Benjamin) and liked to know the match layout before they went out. Hogan didn’t do a planned spot so Angle stiffed him. After the match, Hogan told Vince, HHH, and Shawn that he was stiff.
He said that Team Angle was his idea but he originally wanted the Haas Brothers. When Russ passed away, they went with Benjamin, who Angle wanted as a singles wrestler. He blames himself for the group only lasting five months as he wanted to be a face when he returned from injury. He thinks that they could have had a long run if they stuck together.
Kurt talks about his Wrestlemania match against Lesnar. He said that Lesnar was uptight that night and worried about the finish as they shaved nine minutes off the match. Kurt said that he kenw there was an extra fourteen minutes on the show and told him not to worry. He said that the match could have been better and that Brock rushed through the beginning and was worried about Kurt’s neck. He was shocked that Lesnar was able to continue after the shooting star press and said that he actually got hit by the move and did not roll away from it, which is what it looked like on TV. He said that he chose to wrestle, despite the pain after a kid (who I assume was sick) asked him to sign an autograph with him and Lesnar on the cover of a Direct TV program, which made Kurt cry. After the match, Kurt had the chills and the company doctors told him that he had a tumor in his neck, which they knew for a while but waited until the match ended to tell him. He said that Lesnar was freaking out backstage and calls the entire night a nightmare.
He is asked about the Benoit tragedy. He doesn’t know what to think and is still shocked that Chris was able to do something like this. He knew that they were having marital problems and that Nancy was abusing prescription drugs at home, which had Benoit  worried about her and his kid while he was on the road. He heard that Nancy filed for divorce too. Angle said not to blame it on steroids or concussions but to look at Chris as a lonely kid who fell apart when his best friend, Eddie Guerrero, died. He thought that Eddie meant more to Chris than anyone else on the planet. He then says that Chris should have known that it was time to go or ask Vince to wrestle part-time so he could straighten things out.
He is asked about his fight with Eddie Guerrero. Angle prefaces it by stating how Eddie was having health problems and at the time, didn’t know that he was having health problems. Some nights he would look good and others, he was as white as a ghost. They had a lumberjack match one night and Eddie was unable to do anything and was yelling at Kurt to stay away. One night while backstage, Angle blew up at Eddie, saying he was carrying him for two months then shoved him and Eddie went to take him down. The Big Show broke up the fight. Angle said that was all his fault and he should have known, along with others, that Eddie was having health issues and that you cannot blame the WWE for his death.
He said that he took down Lesnar and that it was ridiculous of him to say that he took Angle down twice.
He is asked about Daniel Puder next and how he got taken down by him on Smackdown. Angle said his neck was in bad shape and Vince wanted him to wrestle two off the Tough Enough Guys, the one who looked like Jeremy Shockey (Daniel Rodimer) and the big black guy (Justice Smith). He ended up jamming his neck against the first guy and was unable to feel his arms. Puder was next and he took him down and went to grab his hand off the ropes but Puder grabbed him instead. He said he could have dropped Puder on his head but did not want to hurt him and calls Puder a moron for pinning himself,as he laid flat on his back, which is a pin in amateur wrestling. He called Puder a terrible pro wrestler with no promo skills and recalls running into him in the airport before the Royal Rumble, where Puder told Kurt that he was in the main event, meaning the Rumble match. Angle said he was for a program with him but Puder was unable to catch on and Vince knew he wasn’t going to keep Puder and cut his salary from $250k to $75k in the second year. Kurt said that Dana offered Kurt a chance to fight Puder in UFC but that he had to quit wrestling and Kurt did not want to do that.
He was asked about if there was ever a payoff to the “Hometown Hero” stuff that they did. He said no but it got Matt Stryker a contract.
Kurt said that getting drafted to the ECW brand was an opportunity but there was no one to wrestle after Sabu or RVD. He mentions how the ratings tanked after he quit. He mentions how everyone wanted to be on RAW and that he went from RAW to Smackdown when Batista got hurt because he was a team player and several others declined.
Angle is then asked about if he tried to hide his injury from the WWE. He said that he was getting run down from the schedule and while wrestling RVD in New York, he ended up tearing his abdominal muscle, hamstring, and blew out his groin. He called the office to tell them he was unable to wrestle but was told he had to go to TV. He went backstage and pulled down his pants in front of Vince, to show him the severity of his injuries. He said he was black and blue all over. He said he got pissed and asked for his release.
He is then asked about the death watch rumors that Wade Keller reported, due to his abuse of pain medication. Angle confirms those rumors, but that they were reported four months late as he was sober when the rumor came out. Angle said he abused pain pills from the end of 2002 until 2005. He stated that he asked Vince for a few months off in order to go to rehab but Vince told him he couldn’t and said that he was an Olympian, unlike 90% of the other losers. He said Vince used the line about losers to motivate him and not to disparage everyone. He said he ended up quitting cold turkey and went through hell. He blames himself, not the WWE, for getting addicted but is still pissed that Vince did not let him to go rehab. At the time, Vince was giving him a lot of tough love. He said that he thinks he can go back one day.
His initial thoughts of TNA was that it is still an opportunity but nowhere near the machine that is the WWE. He says that TNA needs more writers and production guys. He is thankful that TNA exists and is not going away and puts over the growth of the company over the past few years.
The interviewer brings up the time that the cops showed up to his house after someone reported that he was driving erratically. He said that at the time, he was talking and texting Vince Russo and might have crossed the yellow line. He passed a breathalyzer and the cops still wanted to bring him to the Emergency Room for drug testing. He said that later on, they found out that the person who reported him wrote down his license plate number on a receipt from the liquor store and was drunk. He said the cops felt bad afterwards.
He was then asked if he should have went over Samoa Joe in his first match. Angle said it was not his call and wouldn’t have minded doing the job but thought it was a good way for him to enter the company. Angle said he loves Joe but thinks that loss effected him.
He thinks that Kevin Nash is good for TNA and puts him over for helping the younger guys.
He wanted to elevate Joe and AJ Styles while in TNA. He also felt he revitalized Sting, as he was getting stagnant at that time. He puts over Bobby Roode and James Storm as well as the X Division guys. He thinks Storm can be a good babyface.
He said that Jarrett is the reason his wife is on TV. He thinks she is a great performer, best utilized as a heel. Angle says that he gets along with Jarrett but they have had it out over creative differences.
He is asked about his cage match with Joe. Said it was a hard match to do and they tried hard to make it believable but thought it should have either been all MMA or all wrestling, not a mixture of both. Angle seemed shocked when the interviewer told him that people liked the match
Angle is asked about his comment that he could take Chuck Liddell. He said that he could of 8 years ago but is turning 40 and doesn’t have enough training. He says that he was going to fight Couture but Dana had a deal for one more fight with him and it never took place.
He doesn’t want any part of being on the creative team right now, as he doesn’t want the fans and wrestlers to think he has control. He says he does what he is told.
When asked about the booking style of Russo, Angle says that he wants more wrestling but doesn’t want to say anything bad about him. He thinks more wrestling would be a better alternative to the WWE.
He says that Low Ki was a great wrestler with good presence and a deep voice but he couldn’t put all of that together and could have been a major player if he did.
He is asked if TNA scooping up all of the recently released WWE guys hurts the company. He says that sometimes it does as you need homegrown talent.
Angle says he was shocked that the WWE hired Chris Harris (Braden Walker), and that his partner, James Storm, was much better. The interviewer told him that he was already fired. Angle said he was in terrible shape.
He said that his wife, Karen, is level headed and wont let the business get together. He also says it will not interfere with their marriage. Sadly, it did.
He said that CM Punk is the one person that he wants to work with that he hasn’t yet. He was shocked by his popularity and thought he would be another “Independent flash in the pan.”
He said that he used to travel with Edge & Christian, then Randy Orton. He puts over Randy for growing up and says that he is a great guy. He also used to travel with Luther Reigns when he was abusing pills and that was a bad choice. After that, he traveled alone.
He the says that wrestling needs to go back to telling good stories and move away from too many highspots. He goes on state how he and HBK worked a twelve minute headlock in their Wrestlemania match.
He closes by stating he plans to wrestle for another five years and his clean and sober. He also thanks his fans.
Final Thoughts: I thought this was an excellent shoot interview. Angle did not have an axe to grind and did not bury anyone. He admitted to his shortcomings too, which a lot of wrestlers do not in these interviews. He ended up being dead wrong about is marriage though. I highly recommend this shoot and its long, lasting just under three hours. It is interesting to hear about his amateur background, which takes up the first forty minutes or so of the shoot. Highly recommended.

Book Review: Kurt Angle: “Its True, Its True”

Kurt Angle can make a case for being the best pro wrestler in history. His rise through the WWE ranks was meteoric, which was almost as impressive as his progression as an in ring performer.

Kurt’s book, “Its True, Its True” is not necessarily actively bad. It was just written too soon into his WWF career.

One thing you will glean from the book is this: Angle clearly “Got it” very early into his WWF career. That is almost unheard of from a man who won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling. You see, amateur wrestlers hold pro wrestlers in slight regard. They consider the pro ranks a joke. Even Angle himself never really saw himself as a pro wrestling entertainer. But, then again, where does an amateur go once he has achieved all there is to achieve in an amateur arena? Coaching? That is about it.

Instead, Angle broke the mold. The 1990’s WWF was not exactly a breeding ground for great amateur wrestlers. On the contrary, they were character driven. The one guy they signed with Olympic credentials, Mark Henry, was a spectacular flop in both the Olympics AND in WWF. Sure, the WWE gave him a cute gimmick with “Sexual Chocolate” but he wasn’t going to advance to the upper echelon of the WWF’s Main Events using that comic character. To be honest, Henry didn’t really find respectability in WWE until last year, when he seemed to figure it all out, and the WWE figured how to properly push him. Gotta love the slow slide of progress ladies and germs.

Kurt Angle, on the other hand, truly broke the mold. We are not likely to see another animal quite like this again. Kurt was an Olympic Gold Medalist…and I think I can speak for most fans here, he is a freakish athlete. I have never observed someone in pro wrestling so quickly not only “get it” but also become an all time in ring great. Kurt did it within about a year, where it takes most professional wrestlers years upon years of training on many continents to do what Kurt Angle was doing come 2002. It was patently ridiculous. Within a year and a half in the business, Angle was spoken of in such bated breath as Benoit, Michaels, HHH, Guerrero, Flair…the list goes on and on. Angle figured all this out within a year or so.

That is why this book is not quite ready for primetime, unlike Angle, who clearly was ready for primetime from day one. It was published in 2001, right around the time of WrestleMania X-7. The book is actually quite like the man himself. He was a fully capable wrestler at the time this was published. In fact, he was already damned good, as evidenced by his No Way Out match with Rock and this Mania X-7 match with Chris Benoit. It is just that he got so good, so fast throughout 2001-2002, that it is almost a shame this book was authored and published so prematurely. Give it another 2,3,4 years, and, much like Angle’s matches, you might get a better, more textured, more layered book with several false finishes leading to a heel hook. As it is here, you get a rather bland in retrospect ankle lock or a quick Olympic Slam.

I am not going to go too in depth here, as I trust most of the readers here know the Kurt Angle story. He was born just out of Pittsburgh, the youngest of the litter. His brothers were some hard ass men, particularly his brother Mark, who was something of a street legend in Pittsburgh. Mark was double tough (to quote JR) and frequently kicked the shit out of some Rowdy street thug who wanted to test him.

Kurt Angle’s father died when he was a teenager. Kurt’s dad was a construction worker, and one ominous day, he plummeted from his crane to bare earth, head first. He died on August 28, 1985, when Kurt was sixteen. Kurt attributes this tragedy with being the impetus for his steadfast dedication to everything he dives headlong into, in this case, amateur wrestling.

Kurt was a natural athlete, excelling in football, baseball, and wrestling. People reading this may think Kurt is full of shit, but I don’t. I have seen what he has done in a wrestling ring, and the man is just a freaky good athlete. Wrestling, though, was the sport that got him college scholarships. He did not want to stray too far from his widow mother, so he chose to attend Clarion University in Pennsylvania.

Kurt was an outstanding amateur at Clarion, and he won National titles two out of three seasons there. Kurt earned a communications degree and decided to try out for the Olympics. He did not make the team in 1992, but he put a central focus on joining the team in Atlanta in 1996. His training during those four years is stuff of legend. I am not going to ruin it for those who want to read the book…but my GOD man, Kurt Angle is a different animal. Animal is an apropos word  for Kurt, for he trained for the 96 Olympics with a near fanatical zeal. He went to meets all over the world, particularly in former Russian territories in search of the best competition he could find. He actually had a tough time with Russians, but eventually overcame that bugaboo.

Angle entered the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and he dazzled. He was a total underdog, undersized compared to some of the mammoth men he would encounter. To add to the pressure, he had suffered what basically amounted to a “broken freakin neck” in the World Championships leading up to the Olympics. Kurt was hurting, and did not want to go under the knife, which would have terminated his Olympic dreams. Instead, he took shots of Mepivicaine to dull the pain in his neck, and soldiered on. As a quick aside, Kurt talks throughout the book about how he dreaded his father because his old man abused alcohol to a nasty extent, to the point where it destroyed the household and marriage with Kurt’s mother. Kurt expresses a desire to stay away from substance abuse throughout the book, but in light of what has happened in the near 15 years since the book was published…it almost seems comical. And ominous.

We all know what happened from there. Angle won the Gold, and became an immense celebrity. Angle loved that. He couldn’t get enough of it. But he found out quite quickly that Olympic stardom is fleeting. You may get an odd Subway commercial here and there, but for the most part, the public forgets about you within six months. Angle tried to counteract this by becoming a sports anchor in his native Pittsburgh. There was a slight problem with that, though. He sucked at it. Hard to believe that someone who has shown so much charisma in pro wrestling and someone who had captured the hearts of America could not translate into sports broadcasting…but Angle sucked, and he admits it.

Angle was a lost soul for a while, but he did make time to attend an ECW show shortly after his Olympic victory. At that show, as many of you know, Raven crucified Sandman. A truly sacrilegious angle, no pun intended. Kurt was there, and he was infuriated to be linked to such a thing. He wanted no part in pro wrestling. That is, until there was nothing on his plate, and he needed to make a living.

Angle had been offered a contract by the WWF shortly after his Gold Medal triumph, but he refused, using the amateur wrestling playbook at the time that derided pro wrestling. Angle makes no bones that he really enjoyed the public spotlight, and craved it some more. So in late 1998, he called the WWF, and offered his services to them. The WWF was skeptical, especially seeing as Angle said in his phone interview with Jim Ross, “I am an Olympic Champion. I can never lose, ever.” Yeah, that’s gonna work in Pro Wrestling. Angle got a tryout with WWF, at Dory Funk’s “Funkin Dojo.” Angle impressed. Kurt Angle is a freakish athlete, and within four days of training with DORY FUNK JUNIOR (one of the greatest to ever grace the squared circle) Angle was having his first match. I actually saw Angle on August 30, 1999, at a Raw show at the then Fleet Center in Boston. He was fluid, he was good. I forgot about him quickly, though, because that was the show that the Dudleys made their WWF debut. Angle was obviously on to something.

And Angle did not disappoint. He debuted on TV at Survivor Series 1999, as a heel, and has never looked back. I think I can speak for the masses here and say that Angle adapted, trained, and became excellent (not good….exceptional) in the ring faster than anyone I have ever seen. The man is an absolute freak, and the book bears that out. You can see from the words he puts to papyrus that he understood the game freakishly quick. And yes, I know he had a ghostwriter…but still…

The best parts of this book don’t revolve around pro wrestling. They revolve around Dave Schultz (not Dr. D. of Stossel slapping fame) and Jon duPont. THOSE portions are the reason to read this book. Angle was basically a noob at this point in pro wrestling, but the man had a p.H.D. in amateur wrestling at this point. THAT is why this is an interesting read. The stuff involving eccentric millionaire and wrestling mark Jon duPont and all time amateur wrestling great trainer Dave Schultz are worth the price of admission.

All in all, I actually rated this book as one of my worst five in an earlier article I posted from my site to this site. I was wrong. It is actually a very interesting read. I would rate it as “READ IT”. Don’t buy. I was such a huge Angle in pro wrestling fan that I let it cloud my vision. No more. Yes, it would be excellent to hear of the great matches post 2001, as Angle became arguably one of the best in ring performers ever. It would be nice to hear his opinions on Chris Benoit, whose style he basically copied. Another thing is this: He mentions his old man as a total alcoholic throughout the book, and his desire to stay away from such temptations. Well…have you followed Kurt Angle over the last, I don’t know, eight years? He, for a while, became the poster child for wrestler substance abuse. This book was authored before that. That is why I find myself pining for more, more, more. I LOVE Kurt Angle as a performer. But I fear that he is lighting the candle on both ends, and shortening his life expectancy. I just hope that Angle is capable of avoiding the fate of his wrestling soul mate, Chris Benoit.

Read the book, don’t buy it. 

Great Match of the Day: Kurt Angle v. Shawn Michaels

Who’s the jackass that artificially stretched it into widescreen?  Anyway, one of the best Wrestlemania matches ever, although I’ll probably try to do a more WM-specific great match countdown as we get closer.  This was the first PPV I saw in a movie theater, and the crowd was JACKED for Kurt Angle and just screaming for Shawn to tap out in that anklelock.  If it didn’t last for fucking TWO MINUTES it would have been a ***** match.