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KURT ANGLE DISCUSSES WHETHER HE'S ACTUALLY WRESTLED FOR THE LAST TIME, AEW, VINCE MCMAHON, THREE STARS HE WISHED HE HAD WRESTLED AND MUCH MORE: COMPLETE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

By Dave Scherer & Mike Johnson on 2020-10-09 19:59:00

Dave Scherer: It's funny you say that because I've cactually...we have a section on our website for a Q&A and people ask that question a lot and I use the same argument that you do. When you look at the TV deals, which now are over half a billion dollars a year, you know, could you make the statement 'They could be making more money and the product could be better, have more viewers, whatever'? You could but it's really hard to argue with Vince when you look at the amount of money that he's generating now compared to where he was even 20 years ago. 

Kurt Angle: Well, I think the reason is, the deals are in the TV deals, you know, the houses, the arenas, they make money - yes, merchandise they make great money - yes, but the TV deals are the ones that are making superior money and the only way to get those especially when you're talking about certain networks is to make sure the company is PG rated, so I understand why Vince has to do this. He also has to do it because it's a family show now, it's a publicly traded company and they're trying to make it more family oriented.

Dave Scherer: Now, you brought up an interesting point and it's another one I hear  but I'm curious what your take is. Back in the day, when, you know, the Attitude Era, I remember Jim Ross every week on the website, you know, "We've sold out 9 million straight shows - TVs, pay per views, houses." That used to be the drive, it used to be "We'll do RAW to get you guys excited to come out and buy a pay per view and go to house shows." Now, the business has turned to where, you know, even last night it's like, "What happens at the pay per view - tune in to Raw tomorrow night and see what happened then." What was it like kinda being in the company when it did that transition from being a "Trying to get the money out of your pocket and the pay per views and house shows" to "Try to make TV the focal point"? You know, what was it like from your perspective watching that change?

Kurt Angle: Like the change of what it was now, and what it is now, today?

Dave Scherer: Yeah, I mean now, obviously everything's geared towards TV, 80% of the revenue of the company comes from the TV deal so obviously you know, we see matches...like Keith Lee just got called up to the main roster, right away he's in a feud with the champ, well, you know a storyline with the champion, whereas in the old days, Keith Lee would have probably had at least 3 months working his way up to that. Everything now has...it's a 'deliver now for the ratings' kind of thing compared to how it used to be, they could let things marinate a little better. 

Kurt Angle: Yeah, I think there is a lot of pressure for ratings, especially when you go through the Coronavirus and you see the ratings going down a little bit and you know, you want to get a spike and you don't know what to do and how to do it. I think that now the company is so focused on getting that rating that everything else is not as important, it's the TV rating because that's how they make their money. So I totally understand why they're doing it, but you know ever since this Coronavirus thing took out the crowd, and the crowd, you know, that's part of the show, and when you watch on TV, obviously when you first started watching it, with nobody in the stands and nobody in anywhere in the arena, it was really bland, but then they brought in NXT wrestlers to cheer on the other wrestlers and they bought a little more excitement, but everything is geared towards the TV, you're absolutely right, so if they want to make big, big money, they're going to continue to try and get ratings. It's all about TV, you're right.

Dave Scherer: Let's go back to Wrestlemania 19 - you're in the ring with Brock Lesnar, well you're actually laying in the ring. He goes up to do the Shooting Star Press and famously, I mean if anybody else did that spot and landed on their head God knows, but Brock is Brock. What were you thinking as you watched him go up and come down and come up short? I mean that had to be scary as hell for you to be laying in the ring to watch that. 

Kurt Angle: Yeah, I thought he was unconscious, I thought he broke his neck too, so you know, I was thinking "Oh my God, what are we going to do? I have to get surgery the next day on my neck and Brock I think just broke his neck, who's going to hold the title?" So I kept talking to him and he wasn't responding, and eventually when I went over to get him to pick him up I said "Can you give me an F5 again?" and he said, "I didn't understand what you said." So I said, "Can you give me one more F5?" and he said "I think so," and I said "OK, here we go" and when I picked him up he hoisted me up and F5'ed me and that was it, so...but Brock's a tough kid.

Dave Scherer: Yes he is.

Kurt Angle: Most anybody else probably wouldn't have finished. He was out and we had to talk him into going to the hospital, he wouldn't go afterwards, he was being such a jerk, he was loopy but he didn't want to go to the hospital but we got him there and thank God he was OK and he retained the title, or won the title and I went and had my surgery and then a few months later we started a program.

Dave Scherer: Wow, and how are you feeling with your surgeries? How's your neck feeling?

Kurt Angle: I'm good. I have problems here and there with it but you know, it's going to be a long-term thing. I've had 3 surgeries on my neck, I broke it 5 different times, so you know, I have a lot of scar tissue in there and I have a lot of problems with my nerves down my arms, feeling in my hands, so it can get a little challenging but I spend about 3 hours a day doing maintenance on my body - stretching, yoga, training, neck therapy, back therapy, shoulder, knees...every day I do it, and try to keep myself from growing too old.

Dave Scherer: It's a fight, I'll tell ya. Father Time is undefeated unfortunately. Someone asked me a Q&A question the other day and they talked about Kurt Angle, Olympic Champion in his prime with the neck healthy, how would he have fared in UFC against a Brock Lesnar? Now obviously you have a few years on Brock but do you think you could have adapted from being an Olympic Champion winner to a UFC fighter or is that something you wouldn't even want to consider given lots of bad things can happen in that cage?

Kurt Angle: No, that's where I wanted to go. I got a deal from UFC in '97 and it was so bad, and the crazy thing is it was the most they ever paid anyone, or offered anyone, it was a 10 fight deal for $150,000 so it was 15 grand a fight. There was no way in hell I was goning to do that. But that was back then before Dana White and they were trying to keep it afloat so I went the WWE route but I kept my eyes on UFC and in 2003 I was really considering going over there. I started training at the Pittsburgh Fight Club, I was really debating doing MMA and I broke my neck again so that was the second time, first time was before the Olympics, second time was in 2003. When I healed from that broken neck and I had the surgery and I healed, I lost a lot of strength in my arms, and I lost a lot of size in my arms, I'll give you a good example, I did that thing in Tough Enough with that kid, those kids, one kid was Puder, and he got my arm, there was nothing I can do. I was in no condition to be in that position. At the time I couldn't do 3 push ups. I was so weak and I wasn't sure why they wanted me to do it but I went ahead through with it. And when I did that, I realized - OK, you are where you need to be - in the WWE. You love this business, you don't have to go off and fight and try and be UFC Champion, because that time passed you [laughs], so I did revisit it in 2006, and Dana White flew me out there and we got a deal structured and he was great, he was an awesome individual, he offered me great money, and I just signed with TNA and I had to make a decision, Dana said "You can't do both," because I was going to try and do both, I was going to TNA part time and UFC, and I just signed a deal with Dixie and I didn't want to let her down, so I stuck with TNA but I'm glad I did it because I wouldn't have done very well. I was only lying to myself if I thought I was going to be able to compete at that level with the way my neck was and keep my mind, I broke my neck 3 more times after 2003 so it was even that much worse. I mean right now, my arms are 14 inches - they used to be 19. I have atrophy in my hands, my forearms, my arms, my shoulders - it's gotten really bad, so I'm just trying to stay in shape and I can no longer gain size. I'm going to be an average looking person and I'm OK with that, I just want to look in shape and feel good and that's it, but there was no chance of me competing in UFC especially after I broke my neck in 2003.

Dave Scherer: And the UFC itself, you know, back in the days of Royce Gracie, it was technique and throws and holds, but now you really have to, I mean if you just know one discipline now you're probably going to be in trouble in that cage, you at least need to be able to strike and...go ahead.

Kurt Angle: The technique is actually better now, yeah, and everybody is well versed in everything, you know, striking, you know jiu-jitsu, wrestling...everybody is really well rounded or at least they have their corners covered, but I will tell you this - if you're a wrestler and you want to get into UFC, you got a jump start on everybody, because I think that is the most important base to have. 

Dave Scherer: If you can tie somebody up you are in pretty good shape. If you can take that punch and then get a hold, yeah, because I'm certainly not like you but I wrestled when I was younger and there are disciplines to this day that when I got into fights back when I was younger, if you could just get a hold of somebody, you can control them in most cases. I know what you mean.

Kurt Angle: Well the thing is, whether you throw punches or not, 90% of the fights end up on the ground and that's where wrestlers are at the advantage. They're going to take you down, so you know, the advantage, no matter who you are or what you do, no matter what discipline, the advantage always is when you're on top, I mean I know you can do a lot of crazy stuff if you're on the bottom with jiu-jitsu but you know, you're the dominant person when you're on top.

Dave Scherer: Right, I agree. Well I have one last question and then I'll turn it over to my partner Mike. Earlier this year I talked about how you came back and worked with Matt Riddle a little bit, you could have came back to the company and decided not to. What was your thinking at the time to decide, "Nah, I'm not going to come back after all."?

Kurt Angle: Two reasons - one was my company I started needed my attention 100%, especially with the virus thing and I had to just be there for the company and the other thing was the money, it just...it wasn't enough. I wasn't going to manage somebody for the amount of money they wanted to give me.

Dave Scherer: And have to travel and put yourself out among the virus because going to Florida... 

Kurt Angle: Yeah...   

Dave Scherer: ...because you have young children, and you know, to take that risk I think you have to get paid significantly or it's just not worth it, that's how I would look at it.

Kurt Angle: You're right.   

Interview continues on Page 3!


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