In March of 2017, Pro Wrestling Stories was honored to host a Reddit AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) session with Kurt Angle just prior to his historic induction into the WWE Hall of Fame and second run with the company. The AMA provided an opportunity for fans to directly ask the Olympic gold medalist questions while also creating an open platform for Angle to share his favorite memories from the ring, talk about his past issues with addiction, promote his now no longer active Angle Strong addiction recovery app, and offer up advice to those who may be suffering from the same substance abuse problems that he once did.
Over 800 comments came through, and Kurt Angle held nothing back with his responses to us by phone. He recalled some amazing stories – from the time he talked Vince McMahon into letting him main event WrestleMania with a seriously injured neck, Hulk Hogan’s reaction to having to tap out to him, John Cena’s weak punches, The Undertaker recommending Angle be the one to break his WrestleMania streak, and so much more. Relive all of the great moments from his historic AMA below!
Kurt Angle Reddit AMA Hosted By Pro Wrestling Stories
Kurt Angle AMA:
I am here to promote my new addiction recovery app, AngleStrong, to talk my induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, pro wrestling, Olympic wrestling, and anything in-between!
I want to thank JP Zarka and his website ProWrestlingStories.com for setting this up today. JP will be transcribing my answers by phone.
It’s great to be here! Looking forward to getting to as many of your questions as I can. Let’s go…
Kurt, as someone with a sibling recovering from addiction, I appreciate what you’ve done with your #AngleStrong app.
My question: do you believe every addict must hit “rock bottom” before they can truly turn their life around? If so, what was your rock bottom moment that made you change your life for the better?
Well, I appreciate the kind words.
I think an addict will be in denial until they realize their rock bottom. They’ll make excuses for why they continue to use, for instance, “Their life’s gone badly or getting worse.”
Me personally, my rock bottom wasn’t as bad as most addicts because most addicts, their rock bottoms are when they have nothing left – no family, no money. They’re doing things they shouldn’t be doing. I’ve met many addicts who sold their bodies for sex. With me, the money never got bad. I always had money. If I ran out of money, I would have resorted to heroin. I think all addicts, whether they’re telling you the truth or not, I had a lot of people say to me, “I took pills, but I never took heroin!” Were you ever in that financial situation where you literally couldn’t afford pills anymore? Because an addict will take more than they’re supposed to, they’ll run out of them, and then they’re going to obtain them illegally. You know, they can go out on the market where they are $30 a pop.
So, for me, the rock bottom was when my second wife Giovanna said to me, “Listen, I love you, but you have had 4 DUI’s already. I love you, but I can’t stay with you. I can’t live like this. You pass out every night at 7 o’clock, and you don’t spend any time with the kids.” Then she said, “If you can’t turn this around, we’re leaving.”
It took courage from her because she didn’t have to do that. She was living a pretty good life with me, but that wasn’t fulfilling to her. She wanted me. She wanted the Kurt Angle that she knew. So I decided to check into rehab. That’s where my rock bottom came.
Fortunately, I didn’t get fired, either. I think anybody that had 4 DUI’s, whether they got thrown out or not, shouldn’t have a job. So for me, it wasn’t rock bottom, but the way my wife made me feel at that time when I was in denial, I realized I couldn’t go down this path anymore. I needed to change my life.
Undertaker to Kurt Angle about breaking his WrestleMania streak: “I know they don’t want to go with me as champion, so I’m willing to lose if we have to.”
Did the Undertaker ever talk to you about giving you the honor of ending his streak? Also, my favorite match of all time is you vs. Undertaker at No Way Out 2006. Thoughts on that match?
That’s my favorite match. The only reason why I don’t make it number one is because it wasn’t WrestleMania! (laughs)
It had everything. I just never thought, well, I knew I could have that WrestleMania type of match with The Undertaker, but I didn’t know we were going to have that type of chemistry. You’re talking about a giant versus a world-class Olympic gold medalist, a world-class athlete. Usually, it doesn’t work out that well! I mean, we were doing everything from, you know, finish moves to suplexes to submission trade-offs. That match had everything in it.
If it was at WrestleMania, it could have gone down in history as the greatest of all time, but it was not a WrestleMania match, so it will never be ranked up there. Unfortunately, No Way Out is usually the lowest pay-per-view buy of the year. Probably because it is pre-WrestleMania.
Undertaker did go to me in January of that year and said, “Listen, I think we should talk to Vince. I know you’re champion. I know they don’t want to go with me as champion, so I’m willing to lose if we have to. I never had that WrestleMania match that I wanted, and I know that I can have it with you.”
He encouraged me to talk with Vince. It was never thought of. Vince never thought of it. As a matter of fact, Vince shot it down right away! But it was an idea Undertaker had. It wasn’t an idea I had. It wasn’t an idea Vince was thinking of doing. Vince McMahon didn’t want it, and it was an idea that got shot down. That conversation was very quick, very brief. (laughs)
Fortunately, Undertaker did have those WrestleMania Moment matches afterward, so I was really happy for him that he had that.
Hey Kurt, who was your favorite opponent to face?
Oh, man, you know, it all depends. There are so many styles, so many variations.
You know, an Austin. He was such a ring general, really intense. He and Chris Benoit were the most intense wrestlers I ever wrestled.
As far as athletes, Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles. Those two guys were super athletes and completely different. Their athleticism is unreal. It’s one of those things where they are really rare individuals.
I look around, Triple H, one of the best workers from the business I have ever been in the ring with. Brilliant ideas. Knows how to do it all.
But I would have to say Shawn Michaels. He just had it all, from an entertainment standpoint and from a wrestling standpoint, he was so easy to work with. I always thought after I wrestled Shawn, I thought I’d never wrestle another individual like him until AJ. Shawn had everything, the promo skills… This guy could cut a promo and wrestle a match, and he had the timing thing in his head. He could end the promo and the match at the very minute that Vince McMahon asked him to do it on. I don’t know anybody who could do that. He just had a wit about him that he knew exactly what he was going to do in the match. If he had thirty minutes in the match and ten minutes for the promo, it would be exactly on time. Nobody in the business has had that kind of timing. Usually, people like to go long; some guys like to go short. This guy was- (laughs) he was always right on the minute, right on the second. So I would have to say the best overall worker was Shawn Michaels.
I really didn’t get a chance to wrestle Ric Flair or Bret Hart in their prime, so, unfortunately, I would love to talk that way about them because those are the guys that I studied tapes of. I always thought those two were incredible. But fortunately, I got to wrestle Shawn.
Hey Kurt, I know you’ve touched on it before, but what exactly were your thoughts, and how scared were you when Shane didn’t go through the glass on that suplex?
I knew something was wrong immediately. I mean, we were told earlier in the day, “Listen, don’t go near the glass! No pyro tonight. No fireworks because this is sugar glass. It will break. It will crack. It will ruin the whole gimmick of the match!”
When we were wrestling, and I went to throw Shane in, and he didn’t go through it, I thought, “Man, that is some hard sugar glass!” (laughs)
Unfortunately, they called the magic, the stunt guy- I guess that’s the term they used for the stuff he put together for matches, and he gets the equipment. He ultimately ordered the wrong glass, or they sent the wrong glass. They said it was sugar glass, but it was actually plexiglass. If I had known that, we would never have gone through it.
Shane had multiple, you know, fifty, sixty stitches. He got cut up pretty well. We both ended up in the hospital that night. It was the most brutal match I ever had been in. Unfortunately for Shane, I didn’t know what to do. The second time I threw him through the glass, he wouldn’t go through, and I literally threw him face first. Had I known that was plexiglass, I never would have done that to him! Even myself, when I threw him through and my arm followed through, the glass went into my arm, and I was cut up pretty badly.
That was probably one of the most dangerous things I had ever done. I don’t know anybody who has ever gone through plexiglass on purpose! That was, well, it wasn’t a dumb move; it was just the wrong stuff.
Kurt Angle on John Cena when he first started off: “He was a little robotic. He didn’t have the magic touch. His punches were a little weak at the beginning, and I’m not sure if they even got better.”
When you faced John Cena in his debut match in 2002, what were your thoughts on him? Just an average new guy, or did you see him becoming as big as he has?
I really liked John. I talked to him, and I had heard from some promoters out west that he had everything that it took to be a top tier guy. He had the look. He could wrestle. He was a little robotic in the beginning. You know, he didn’t have the magic touch. He wasn’t one of those guys where everything looked solid. His punches were a little weak at the beginning, and I’m not sure if they even got better.
I watch Cena now, and he has consistently had some of the best matches in the last seven or eight years. He has seriously outgrown some of the- I guess, the theory that he can’t work. He can work. He can wrestle.
But, in the beginning, I was told that this guy had it all. When I wrestled him, did I think he was going to be as big as he was? No. But I also didn’t know that he had such an incredible business mind. Literally, three months in from when he started, he was meeting with Vince McMahon on different merchandise ideas. He came up with that belt, the spinning belt. He just had- he was prepared. I have never seen anybody who came to the company more prepared than John Cena. He was set from a wrestling standpoint, from a character standpoint, from a business standpoint, and when he started doing the rapper thing, he just took off. And rightfully so. He was one of the most prepared individuals I had ever seen.
About the match, I just wanted to teach John a lesson. I literally tried to get him tired in that match. If you ever watch it, it’s twelve minutes of non-stop movement. I made him hustle. I made him earn the respect that he deserves, and he knows it. But he didn’t get tired! He’s one of the few guys that kept up with me in that ring. I tested him, and he passed with flying colors! (laughs)
What do you think of AJ Styles and his current position on the roster?
AJ deserves it all. He should be the top guy. He was this past year. I’d love to say he had the best rookie year ever, but we all know AJ isn’t a rookie. I think he’s been in the business for almost twenty years.
I always knew he had it; I just never knew if he was ever going to be given the green light. They did! And he not only did not disappoint, but he also raised a lot of eyebrows. From a promo standpoint, too. AJ got better than he was in TNA! With being able to talk on the microphone, I love his southern accent. I think it goes well with him. I love everything that he does.
I’m a huge fan of AJ. Always was. I told him five years ago, “You know, you just passed me as the best worker in the business,” and I meant it with all my heart.
I was a pretty proud individual back then, and I didn’t like to admit anything like that. But AJ, he took over the reins from me about five years ago.
Kurt Angle Reveals How Hulk Hogan Reacted to Having to Tap Out
Hogan has a pretty bad reputation about putting guys over, but he tapped to the Angle Lock in his return to WWE. What was your impression of him circa that time?
I didn’t think he was going to do it! You know, I remember meeting with Vince McMahon, and Hogan came into the room. Vince had us together, and we were staring each other in the eyes – it was a pretty intense meeting. Hogan and I were sitting where our knees were touching. Vince was just off to the side. He basically just said, we were looking at each other, and I hear Vince say, “Alright Terry, you’re going to tap out to Kurt tonight.”
Terry paused for about five seconds, and he looked me in the eyes, and he said, “Okay. Let’s do this.”
I was shocked! You know you hear some rumors about Hulk Hogan, that he has difficulty putting guys over. But he didn’t do that. So the whole rumors were thrown out the window for me. And whether they are true or not, I don’t believe them.
I think Hogan has always been about the business, but also, Hogan is and was the business. So, I think, looking out for the business, he had to go over 98% of the time because it was always good for the business. I don’t think Terry ever had a thing about what was best for business. I just think he always did the right thing. It was just for almost all his matches, the best thing was for Hulk Hogan to win. So, I’ve never had any hard feelings about Hulk Hogan. I think that if anything, I respected him more that night for tapping out to me.
What is your favorite and least favorite gimmick match to participate in?
My favorite and least favorite type of gimmick match was the same match, the street fight. I don’t like street fights. I don’t like gimmick matches. I’m a wrestler. I don’t like having weapons in my hand. I don’t feel comfortable with it. I don’t like being hit with weapons. I like to wrestle.
I’ve never been a fan of any type of cage. In fact, I just had a cage match with Cody Rhodes, and I hated it! Was it a great match? Yeah, but I don’t feel comfortable getting into the ring and doing any type of gimmicks. For me, it’s all about the wrestling. I believe that’s where we started, and that’s where we should end. It’s unfortunate that we have so many types of matches like that. It takes the wrestling out of wrestling.
JP Zarka of Pro Wrestling Stories followed up with the question:
How did Cody feel after that bump off the top of the cage a few days ago?
He was okay! I just couldn’t believe that he did it. I mean, the cage wasn’t bad, it wasn’t a bad cage, it was just that it was very unstable to stand at the top. There wasn’t a lot to push off of.
If you noticed, it wasn’t the prettiest moonsault, and that’s because he had to just, he couldn’t use his legs, he just had to flip his own body. I told him he was crazy! (laughs) I said, “You shouldn’t have even thought about doing that, Cody!”
But he just wanted to finish off that angle that we had with these three matches with something special. He thought that would add something special to it, and he was right. The match was great, and I loved it. It was awesome. The fans loved it. There were almost 3000 fans there. I’ve loved every match with Cody. In our first match, we had 5000, in the second one we had 4000 fans and in this one, it was in a high school, and we had 3000 fans. They had to turn away 600 people because the fire chiefs said, “Hey, this only holds 3000. You have 3600 here. A few have to go.” The promoter felt bad, and he had to give 600 fans refunds.
Watch Cody Rhodes Take a Nasty Bump off the Top of a Steel Cage in a Match against Kurt Angle:
Which indie wrestler you think have the potential to be the face of a major wrestling company in the future?
I’ve been keeping my eye on guys like Kenny Omega and Ricochet. They have so much talent. I just hope that they can tone their styles down a little bit. I think they have so much more to offer if they do less in their matches. Sometimes they do a little bit too much.
I never saw the match with Kenny Omega and Okada over in Japan, but I heard it was phenomenal. But I also heard it was really dangerous.
I don’t think these guys need to do ten thousand things in one match. They just need to focus on a few of them and build up to them. But it’s fun watching those guys. They might be a little bit undersized, but they really do have a lot to offer to pro wrestling.
Other than that, I look around, and there is a lot of great talent. There is a lot of guys like Zack Sabre Jr. I love him! He’s a guy you need to keep an eye on because he’s a smaller kid. He’s young. He’s not really filled out yet. He can do a little more building his body up and building a little more weight, but he wrestles a nice heavyweight style. That’s what I love about him. I enjoyed my match with him.
There are guys like Joe Hendry. I love his gimmick. He’s a musician, so he sings songs about his opponent, and they’re brilliant. And he’s great in the ring.
Joe Coffey, I wrestled him in ICW. I wanted to wrestle guys that I knew that WWE would someday eventually hire. And those three guys, I always set my sight on these guys. They’re all from the UK, and they can go.
There’s a lot of talent over there in the UK right now, and I see why WWE has been fishing over there and soaking up some of that talent.
A since-deleted Reddit user asks:
Hi Kurt, thanks for doing this AMA. I’m a huge fan – your Royal Rumble 2003 match vs. Chris Benoit is still my favorite match of all time.
Is there any truth to the story that your match on the Smackdown before WrestleMania 19, in which your brother acted as a decoy to beat Brock Lesnar, was done deliberately to throw dirtsheets off the scent that your neck injury was too severe to compete at WM19, and there was to be a last-minute change to Brock vs. Chris Benoit?
Thanks in advance!
My match with Chris Benoit… the only reason why that’s not my favorite match of all time is that it always has an asterisk next to it. Most of my best matches were with Chris Benoit! So, you’re taking away all that history I had with him. I get it, but gosh dang! How are you ever going to place Kurt Angle in the history books as one of the best of all times, but you can’t really count Chris Benoit’s matches?
That match in 2003, I never had a better match than that. I literally, when that match was over, I had Triple H, who probably knows more about the business than anyone I know, he walked up to me, he never does this, he walked up, and he said, “Kurt,” because he knows I structured the match and that I put it together. I was only in the business at this point for only three-and-a-half years. I was very new to it, but I structured that thing, and I put a lot of work behind it. And he said, “Kurt, you just raised the bar for all of us.”
For him to say, “Listen, you just took the reins. You’re the man, and we all need to follow your example.” I thought that was a huge compliment.
As far as Brock Lesnar, what happened was I hurt my neck at No Way Out a month before WrestleMania wrestling Brock. I backed out of Mania, unfortunately. So, Vince McMahon asked me, “Hey, can you do a thirty-second match on Smackdown so we can get that title off of you?”
I believe he was going to go with Brock versus Benoit. So he said, “We’ll do that the week before Mania. You will just have to take one bump, the F-5, and go ahead and get your surgery.”
Now, I want you to also understand this would never happen today. Not with WWE’s Wellness Policy, not with their drug policy. That kind of stuff back then, that’s not happening anymore. If there’s something wrong with anybody’s neck and it’s broken, WWE will not let you wrestle. So a lot of things have changed for the better.
I was over at my neighbor’s house about two days before that Smackdown match, where I was supposed to drop the title to Brock, which was a week before Mania. A good friend of mine who has Down’s Syndrome came up to me and said, “I heard that you are not wrestling!” He started crying. He said, “I heard you are not wrestling Brock at WrestleMania,” and he held up a DirectTV cover that had Brock and I facing off, and the kid made me cry.
At the moment, I literally called Vince right then. I said, “Listen, let me go at Mania. I can do this. Have Brock and I go out and do it. I’ll drop the belt to Brock.”
I wasn’t supposed to lose the title to Brock. I was supposed to continue to be the champion, but I was going to drop it to Brock because of my neck injury. I talked Vince into having the match.
So, the whole rumor, I’m sure it was true. I was supposed to lose to Brock at the Smackdown before Mania and then was going to go in as champion at WrestleMania and probably face Chris Benoit. I’m sure that’s where they were going to go. But, thank God, Vince listened to me. He said, “Okay. You take care of yourself in this match because I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
I said, “Don’t worry about anything, Vince. I’ll get through it, and I’ll have the surgery afterward.” So that’s what we did.
Hi Kurt, love your work. My question is, do you ever feel like you are addicted to wrestling? I ask because of all the reports about your health, especially your neck being less than stellar, but you continued on for years. Thanks for the memories.
I haven’t had a problem with my neck in eleven years. I really believe that I pushed myself. It wasn’t WWE. It was more I hated being out of the mix, so I would always hound my doctors, saying, “You have to release me.”
I really pushed my doctors because WWE won’t let you wrestle unless you have a doctor’s release. I pushed my doctors really hard to come back quicker. I don’t think my neck entirely healed all those times. I mean, between 2003 and the beginning of 2006, that’s about two-and-a-half years, I broke my neck four times. That was ultimately my fault. I just kept rushing back. I wanted to be in it so badly.
And then, to me, it became, “I’ll just ride this wave until my neck gives entirely.” I was in the mindset of, “If this is being taken away from me, I’m going to do as much as I can until it’s up.”
It wasn’t the right way to think. I should have taken a year off. I could have done that. I could have told Vince. I could have told the doctors. And I could have taken my time. Had I taken time off, I think I would have ultimately not had the painkiller addiction, and I would have been in WWE these past ten, eleven years. But that’s my own fault. That was my own doing.
As for whether or not I’m addicted to wrestling? Yeah. I’m an addict. We have compulsive personalities. I was addicted to amateur wrestling when I did it. That’s all I did. That’s all I thought about. It got me a great high school and college education. That was my drug. And immediately when I went to WWE and pro wrestling, how do you think I got so good in one year? (laughs) From the day I first stepped foot into the wrestling ring at the beginning of 1999, I was on TV by the end of 1999. And I never watched pro wrestling my whole life. I was World Champion by October 2000. That’s less than two years from when I took my first bump. Of course, you have to be addicted to it.
I actually have more of a passion for pro wrestling than I did amateur wrestling. It was my love, and nothing was going to come between me and it. Having that addictive personality it can be good. It can also be bad. It’s compulsive. And you know, when I started taking a drug, I took a lot of it. I did it hard. So that’s how I also did my wrestling.
I’m still a very physical wrestler at 48-years-old. If I can’t go the way I expect myself to, I won’t wrestle. I can’t be a shell of myself. Once that intensity leaves, I’ll be done. I can’t do that to myself. I have to be able to go 120% all the time. That’s how I’ve always been, and that’s how I always will be.
What was Vince like to work with for you?
I love Vince. It was great to see him last week. I finally got to see him after eleven years. It was like we picked up right where we left off before the horrible meeting I had with him back in 2006.
Vince was always great to me. He treated me very well. He went above and beyond for me in many ways. He tried to help me in so many ways. He even tried to check me into rehab when I quit in 2006.
Talking to Vince again, I just had to tell him why I was so angry, why I was lashing out at him and the company back then. It was just, when you’re knee-deep in addiction, you always blame others for everything that’s going on. So I apologized to him, and he didn’t even let me finish apologizing. He just hugged me.
Vince is a really loving individual. He always will be. There are a lot of things. I believe he needs to have filters around his life. He’s not gullible because he’s very intelligent, very smart. But, he also likes to please people and make them feel special. You don’t want people to take advantage of him around him all the time because they can take his like I said he’s not gullible and he’s not dumb, he just, once he’s emotionally invested in you, he’s such a good guy. I really believe he needs people around him to filter out people with bad intentions because Vince is a good guy.
He’ll try to make you happy and give you what you want. He’s not one of those people that play hardball. He just is a guy that will talk at your level, even though he’s more sophisticated, smarter, and more intelligent. He doesn’t talk to people like he is above them. He talks at their level. That is why he is always able to communicate with anybody.
Hi Kurt. Congratulations on being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Thinking of all the fun and funny segments you’ve done like “Sexy Kurt” or battle rapping Cena or your work with Austin, which one did you most enjoy doing?
“Steve Austin and I were complete opposites, and it worked extremely well.”
(laughs) I loved it all! They were all special to me. I really believe doing the stuff with Austin was great. I loved doing my stuff with Triple H and Stephanie, too, which was the beginning of my career, and it really set the tone for Kurt Angle and the direction he was going. So I have to thank those guys for that, and especially the writer Brian Gewirtz and Vince. But, Austin, that wasn’t even supposed to happen.
We both got injured at the same pay-per-view. It was when I was wrestling Shane in a street fight, Austin got thrown on a table by Booker T and cracked a bone in his back, in his vertebrae, so we were both out. Vince McMahon was like, “What am I going to do without my two top guys?” He said, “You know what? We’re going to put you two together, and we’ll do some funny stuff!”
The personalities collided right from the beginning. I mean, the way Austin is and the way my character was, it was perfect chemistry. We were complete opposites, and it worked extremely well.
Even the stuff I did with Edge and Christian was kind of that same flavor. But those guys pretty much agreed with everything I said. Austin disagreed with everything I said. They were all special.
The “Sexy Kurt” and the battle rap with John Cena, they’ll always be special to me. But the Austin stuff was my favorite. We were injured for a couple of months, but every week, Steve and I couldn’t wait to get to TV to see what was in store for the next week. There wasn’t really anything written out for us! Vince would be in the room, and he would say, “Hey, listen, this is the idea I have. This is what we’re going to do. Just respond the way you want to but nobody in here laughs until I yell cut!”
It was pure improv. I just let Steve lead because Steve is a better leader with that kind of stuff. I wasn’t as good with the improv stuff unless I reacted to someone. So Steve and Vince took charge, and I just kind of followed. It worked out extremely well.
JP Zarka of Pro Wrestling Stories added:
It was incredibly impressive how you all never corpsed during some of those backstage segments! Do you still have that little hat?
No, Steve took it from me. I’m pretty pissed off about that! (laughs)
He actually saw it at the San Antonio airport. He started laughing when he saw it, and he was like, “I’m buying this! And I’m getting Vince and I regular ones, and I’m going to make Kurt wear the little one!” (laughs)
He knew what he was going to do the following week, so I became the butt of the joke, but I didn’t mind doing that.
Steve loved ribbing me. He used to play a lot of jokes on me. He knew how easy going I was, and he knew I had somewhat of a gullible personality, so he would mess with me quite a bit.
If you could make anyone tap out to the Ankle Lock, who would it be?
I don’t know. Is this for bragging rights, or is it more something that I would like to accomplish in real MMA? (laughs)
I would say I would love to make Vince McMahon tap out, but that’s something that would probably never happen! (laughs) He would make sure it would never happen. Even if I did break his ankle, he wouldn’t tap out!
Yeah, I throw Vince McMahon at you. That’s a good answer.
“I knew how good I was. So the issue of ‘You suck!’ never really bothered me. I just kind of took it as a compliment as a babyface because the chants actually got louder!”
How do you feel about the “you suck” chants when, clearly, you do not suck?
(laughs) Oh, man, I love it!
The thing is, they were chanting Angle when I was starting to get over. Even though I was a heel, fans started liking the Kurt Angle character. And then Edge came in, and they turned me really, deep heel, and Edge came up with the idea of, “Hey, why don’t I tell everybody to chant, ‘You suck!’ instead of ‘Angle?'”
And they did it. And because I was a heel for probably five to seven years when I was there, it was perfect. When I was a babyface, it was even better because we all knew how good I was. I mean, shit, you know, there were writers saying, “Gosh dang, Kurt Angle is only in the second year of his wrestling, and he’s the best in the business!”
I knew how good I was. So the issue of, “You suck!” never really bothered me. I just kind of took it as a compliment as a babyface because the chants actually got louder!
I don’t know if I ever had that stigma that John Cena had. You know, the whole, “Let’s go, Cena / Cena sucks!” chant. I think there are people who genuinely don’t like John Cena probably because he has probably won. Other than this past year and a half, I’ve never seen John end up losing. He was always on the winning end of programs. Vince McMahon made him literally invincible. I think it wasn’t because he didn’t have wrestling skills. Obviously, he did. It was that “Oh god, he’s making me sick! He always wins!”
So there was a different aura about my “You suck!” chants versus Cena’s “Cena sucks!” chant. I also think it’s because I did lose a lot more than John. But John was a babyface. When I was a babyface, I rarely ever lost. But I was a heel a lot of times, so it was okay for me to bite the bullet here and there, so I wasn’t one of those guys that were one of those undefeated types of wrestlers. I was more, you know, fans looked at me like, “This is going to be a five-star match because Kurt Angle is wrestling and we don’t care who wins,” you know?
With John, it was, “God, he makes me sick because he always wins!”
“The milk wasn’t what you thought it was!”
Kurt: whole milk, one percent, two percent? What were you swiggin’ on WWE television all those years? This is a very important question.
(laughs) You know what, I’m a skim milk guy, but they always gave me the whole milk. I guess it looked more like, you know, milk than any other ones! (laughs)
When I sprayed the milk on everybody with the truck in Sacramento, California, in 2001, that was not milk. That was water with white food coloring. I thought that was pretty brilliant! I don’t think Vince would ever waste that much milk. (laughs)
It was pretty cool, the way they were able to gimmick that and the way they were able to make it look like milk.
The problem though that I had was I had real milk. I had whole milk when I was drinking it on top of the milk truck. The thing is, I had to hurry up and catch a red-eye, and I had to use the same shoes I was wearing in the arena! I had to take a six-hour flight back home that night, and there were a lot of pissed off people smelling sour milk in first-class the whole time. I thought that was pretty comical!
Thoughts on the love triangle angle with Steph and HHH? I think that was the hottest angle of 2000, and you two should have been matched at Mania 17
Yeah, you know, I don’t think the company thought that Kurt Angle was ready for the main event. I thought I was, but I was just getting momentum every single week. But that angle is what set the tone for me. If that angle did not occur, I probably would have been mid-card for another two years. It’s amazing what storylines can do.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that there were so many good wrestlers back then. Not that I wasn’t better than them, but I was a lot less experienced, and I still had a lot of time to get groomed. You know, like a Brock Lesnar? He came in, and he was in the main event in like seven months at WrestleMania versus me. But, he had two-and-a-half years of training. Me, I barely had about a year, and I was already on TV and winning titles right away.
It was a different time, but if I didn’t have that angle with Stephanie and Triple H, and if we didn’t succeed with that angle, I don’t know if I would have had the success that I had early on.
What prevented you from returning to WWE before 2017? Why now?
They didn’t want me. And I understood why. You know, when you screw up so many times, your reputation is destroyed. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how much the fans want you back. If you’re a publicly-traded company, you’re looking at Kurt Angle and saying, “Okay, he’s been in a lot of trouble with drugs. He’s had four DUI’s. He’s out of control. We haven’t had him in for eleven years. Is he really worth it? Will it have a negative effect on the business? Will he be a liability?” So I understood.
I’ve been trying to get back into the WWE for the last two or three years. But they wanted to see how I played out. You know, they wanted to know if Kurt Angle really is who he says he is right now. Is he a recovering addict? Is he really drug-free? Is his neck healthy?
There were a lot of questions going on, I’m sure, in Vince’s mind. You don’t think he wanted to bring Kurt Angle back? Of course, he did! It just wasn’t the right timing for it, until now. I would pass any drug test right now, and I’m sure the WWE knows that.
Ultimately, they thought that I was good and that I am in a good place in my life right now, happily married, I look great, I’ve been wrestling really well on the indy circuit, so I really believe all of those connected together, plus my AngleStrong initiative, made WWE realize, “This is the time. This is when we bring Kurt Angle back.”
Can Marty Jannetty walk yet?
(laughs) You know, that’s ironic that you say that. I just saw Marty Jannetty two days ago at the NEW Wrestling event. It was good to see him, and we talked about our match.
Gosh, it felt like Marty was the spitting image of Shawn Michaels when I wrestled him. Marty and I, you know, we had that one match, and we never met each other before that, and to have that type of chemistry with a guy that you never got in the ring with. It was the same with Shawn Michaels. The last time I touched him was at WrestleMania. We didn’t do what we normally do all week long where you get in the ring, you tie up, and you wrestle, and you get ready for the match for the whole week. We just sat down, and we got to know each other.
There are very few guys in the business who can have a connection and have that type of chemistry with anybody. Marty Jannetty is one of those guys.
I don’t know how he’s doing now. I heard that he’s struggling a bit, but I saw him for a few minutes. You know, I actually sang a song to him. (laughs) I sang it to him backstage, and it made him laugh. He’s had a really difficult life, so it was good to see him smile.
That’s all the time I have. I want to thank everyone who got involved with this AMA today! I tried to get to as many questions as I could.
I just want everybody to know that if you know anybody who is struggling with addiction, please steer them in the direction of AngleStrong.com. Sign up for my initiative and sign up for the AngleStrong app. We’re going to start saving more and more lives, and we’re going to beat this epidemic.
I hope we can do this again soon!
Note from Pro Wrestling Stories:
Talking to Kurt Angle again for this AMA was a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone for the really great questions and for getting involved! We had a lot of fun with this, and Kurt laughed throughout the whole experience. We hope this Kurt Angle AMA made a lot of people smile!
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