Kurt Angle was this monthâ<80><99>s guest and for 90-minutes! He discusses a ton of topics, including his neck surgeries and prescription drug addiction.
TNA Broadcast Information: TNA: iMPACT! is moving to primetime on Spike TV starting Thursday, November 16 at 9:00 PM, ET/PT and will kick-off with a two-hour special. TNA: iMPACT! will continue to encore on Saturdays (11:00 PM – Midnight ET/PT).
Telecasting on Thursday 10/5 from 11p-12a, the TNA: iMPACT! telecast averaged a .8 HH rating, with a 1.0 in M18-49, a 1.2 in M18-34 and an average audience of 980,000 viewers. After twenty-five telecasts in its Thursday timeslot, TNA: iMPACT! is averaging a 0.9 HH rating, with a 1.1 in M18-49, a 1.3 in M18-34 and an average audience of 1.1 million viewers.
The call began at 2:08 pm.
Salil Gulati welcomes us to the call. He runs down the above broadcast information. Callers are limited to one question due to the amount of people on the line.
Kurt welcomes us to the call.
Q. At WM 19, when he [BROCK] did the shooting star, what went through your mind?
A. I wasn’t sure if he was ok to go, I asked him and he responded, kinda, and we got to a standing position and we got to the finish and save the match, which could have been a disaster. Him landing the way he did was scary, but added to the match I feel. Anything can happen in wrestling.
Q. I think a lot of people are concerned with you for getting back into the ring. How will this be different, when you said you will be unleashed and not held back.
A. I never had the time to heal in the past. I will wrestle when I can go 100%, if I feel that I can’t I won’t wrestle, it is simple. Dixie has laid things out, and I will wrestle when I can and when they need me. I am a new name and face for TNA, and I have to be at the important events, but I will have time to rest and heal. I just can’t go less than full bore, whether I have 5 or 10-years left, I will give the fans what they paid for.
Q. We heard that you were frustrated with WWE, would you elaborate?
A. I wasn’t getting rest and the proper medical care. I was being buried into the ground. They would promise time off and then say I had to perform because others went out with injury. I felt I had to do it and they needed me, but also I was treated unfairly. They knew my history of injury, but they also put me out there when I needed the time off. I also had to do all the media appearances. I wanted to cut them to when I was on the road, not as extra days. I was very unhappy.
Q. What are your MMA thoughts, and have you been offered a match with Brock for New Years Eve.
A. I am interested in MMA and they are interested in me, and for BIG money. They feel I am a commodity, and I was offered the Brock match with K1. The money is important, but so is the timing. TNA has given me the freedom that is COULD do MMA if I choose to do so, as well as to do Movies and TV. In TNA I have a boss, I am not owned like in WWE. I never want to be owned again, I have a boss in Dixie and I will listen to her. But she gives me great freedom. WWE owns everything about you, and you are theirs unless they say you can do these other things.
Q. Do you think there is a lot of pressure on you joining TNA?
A. I think there is pressure. They are a growing company, and me stepping in people expect ratings. I think it will happen with me, but it would have happened with out me. TNA has tremendous athletes, and they are 5-times better than in WWE. In WWE they have a short list of main event guys, TNA has an endless list. I can have a **** match here with almost anyone I have seen. I hope people follow me here, and I think this company has such room for growth and to e the top company soon that I want to be a part of this, and if I can help them do that, than it is worth it. Vince has a lot to do to try and slow down TNA.
Q. Do you feel that you were pushed out of WWE ala Bret Hart going to WCW.
A. I left WWE. They had just resigned me to a new 5-year deal. Vince wants to compete with himself and he wants to keep it that way, he doesn’t want TNA to take off. They never gave me the time off I needed and never gave me a chance to help teach younger talent to help the future of the company. I asked for the meeting, I asked for the release. It was a mutual release, and anything else that was reported is false. Vince wanted me to stay, but I wasn’t having fun and WWE is going downward. I feel that I need to be used properly and I feel I was the best there. The agents felt the same way, but Vince didn’t. I asked for it, I got the release and he wanted it to be mutual to save face and that was that. I don’t see myself going back, but you can never rule anything out. My wife wouldn’t let me probably. I promise that in TNA I will have fun and I won’t be pressured. They look to us for ideas and that is important. There isn’t all the politics, and I won’t talk about people in WWE. I see room for me to grow here and for TNA to grow. I will be here with Dixie and TNA in some form for 30-years I hope, agent, writer, talent scout, developmental, anything I can do. I have a passion and I will always be here, and I will watch this company grow. I will get even bigger with a company that wants to use me properly. I want to tell the guys, if you can take my spot, take it, we’ll al make more money together. I made a lot of people in WWE, but now I want to make the company in TNA. I will enjoy this, and it will grow quickly.
411: If you could go back and do it again, would you have gotten your neck surgery done by Doctor Jho, or would you have gone for the neck fusion surgery that many of your peers underwent?
No, those guys are having a lot of problems with that actually. My operations were a success, but my problems were so much worse. I kept injuring other levels of the neck. If I would have fused them, it would have been horrible because the other levels were even worse. I tried to tell them not to do it, it is prehistoric. Medical research has come so far and this guy Dr. Jho makes his own surgery and instruments. It saved my career. He did one level, I got hit with a chair, and another level went out. Basically I have full mobility in my neck and that is because I didn’t have fusion. The other guys are in more pain and the other levels are weaker for it, and they are much worse off. I tried to tell guys to have this surgery, and they think my injuries are from this surgery, but they were from bumps and chair shots. Eventually it will wear and tear. My neck was a mess before wrestling, and it isn’t a 100% now, but it is good enough and I have strength in my arms and have full flexibility. Dr. Jho did a great job and saved my career and I will go to him if I have other problems.
Q. There are rumors that you take too many painkillers. Can you explain that.
A. I haven’t taken painkillers in over 3-years. I did have a problem and became dependant on them and I went to Jim Ross and Vince, and I explained to them I was afraid I may die. I was on the road 300 days a year and I would take full handfuls of pills. My wife took me to a pain doctor, and I had a match in 3-days with Cena. I was told to go to rehab, and I was told not to go cold turkey, but I wanted to do it cold turkey and he said I could die. I called Vince that I needed 3-months off for rehab and he refused and said to rehab on the road. He said he didn’t want to hear excuses, and the doctor said it was impossible. I did it, but it took me down several notches. I had my PPV match with Cena, I made him look good and that was all that was important to WWE. From them on my relationship with Vince went sour. If you make big money for Vince, and as far as just wrestling I made him a lot, they don’t care about you. I made Cena look tons better than he is. After that I was supposed to have the day off, but someone got sick and I was told to go and work while I was supposed to be off. I lost all respect for Vince then, and 2-3 years after that it got even worse and he and I didn’t talk. It was both our faults in the end, but I never should have been put in that situation. Vince cares about the business more than an individual’s health.
Q. Would you thank him for putting you on TV?
A. Sure, but I would have been successful anywhere. I had offers from everywhere, and I took his offer, which was the lowest. I could have done MMA, WCW, Japan and or movies. I do thank him sure, but I was thrown into the fire and I thank Patterson and Brisco and myself for the success I got. I would never trade my life for my career.
Q. What was it like dealing with the crazy WWE travel schedule?
A. Well my wife was always right and said not to buy into the WWE BS. It caused a lot of problems between us and we separated, I almost lost her and my family. No one in WWE cared about that, hell if I was single they could have used me more I was told. I won’t say Vince planned that stuff that way, but he didn’t do anything to help me either. What I will say is that if you are going to be my boss, please respect me and my family and give me time to heel. Dixie cares more about us and out families than she does about the wrestling. She wants us to succeed, but not at the cost of losing a family over it. I don’t think Vince spends more than 10-days a year with his kids, I feel Linda raised the children. To me God is first, family second and my career third.
Q. You are the new face of TNA, and it was Christian before you. Who do you think would be another great fit in TNA?
A. Chris Benoit. The only problem there is he has a 5-year deal. The man is a machine, and if we had him we could be over the top. He would be a great teacher and mentor here in TNA. These guys are so good, so good they don’t even realize it. With out without Benoit we can do it, but he would be my choice.
Q. When you promo hit on PPV I was really surprised. Were you surprised that there was a lot of negative reaction because people cared about you health?
A. I can’t tell you what I expected. I was pretty happy over all, especially with the live reaction. As far as my health, basically I would like to thank the audience and I have a lot of respect for them. I was happy to see that they cared about me, that is moving. I can reassure them that I am 100% healthy and there are no serious issues. I am back and completely focused and will do my best to make TNA #1 in wrestling. I have heard all the feedback from them, I took it all to heart and even talked to my wife about it. My heart and her tells me I can still go and I will do that. I am a spiritual guy and God has told me I am not done quite yet. WWE gave mea lot, but they never let me really carry the ball. My doctors felt there was no problem with a return. I was totally checked out and got blood work, and they said I was all clear to go. I have been training hard and am ready to go.
Q. You mentioned that you have watched TNA for a year. Do the WWE guys know about TNA and worry about it?
A. Yes they are. TNA has built a heavyweight division but then made the X-Division just as valuable. WWE never did that. TNA has reinvented WRESTLING and that is a great thing to see. I feel I am the best wrestler today, not a sports entertainer kissing the boss’s ass, for real. TNA is so innovative and new and that is so exciting. TNA doesn’t have enough time and if Spike gives us a 2-hour slot I promise ratings will climb. Then we can see all or talent. They all have so much hunger and they are excited and eager. In WWE guys are always down, here these guys want the top spot and want MY spot. I said, if they can take it please do so we all succeed.
Q. You are the enforcer for the main event this Sunday. I am wondering if you are satisfied in that role?
A. I just got here, and have to learn my place. I want to get involved, but I feel this is the right way to get into the company. I love to watch the tapes and study the guys. I am hoping that we get more PPV buys, because this is a huge PPV with or without me. With me in the main event not wrestling, that is still a good spot to have. I am happy with the spot, if I had arrived a month earlier maybe I would be wrestling, but this is fine. We have a great main event, they will have a tremendous match and I don’t want to take away from it. I am looking forward to the show as a viewer and as a wrestler. The next PPV I could appear on, they are easing me in and the will have me on there when it is right.
Q. You discussed that you asked to be released. WWE agreed it was mutual and then said you were confrontational and a wreck. McMahon said last week that you would be your own demise and not thinking long term. What is your reaction to these comments?
A. Vince never thought I would go anywhere else. Vince said he would release me to rest and then come back. He offered me another 5-year deal when I was ready to come back. That shows that he didn’t want to lose me. And I was a wreck, I was treated like a dog for years and were attacked the entire meeting for asking to wrestle part time. I then asked for the release and that shocked them. They then said I was acting oddly and I was. It wasn’t from drug use, I did it because they were ignoring me. They wanted me to sign the new deal, and I didn’t want to be signed with the devil. I didn’t think I would get the release, I became emotional and was upset in the position they put me in. Vince had a change of heart. He heard I would make $30,000,000 in PRIDE, but didn’t believe it. He said he would give me the time, and then would resign me.
Q. If he thought TNA was an option, do you think he would have fully released you?
A. No way. I thought I would do MMA but then I met Dixie Carter and it all seemed to fit. Spike TV is a great channel and I want to be a part of it. I will say I was emotional, and maybe on purpose and Vince dropped his guard and I got out of it. Vince thought I was a wreck, I wasn’t but I got out, which is what I wanted. He didn’t want to be liable probably yet wanted me back. He was the good and bad cop. That was supposed to be confidential.
Q. Were you upset about the negative text message that was released?
A. I wasn’t surprised and he only did it because I was going to TNA. They knew I had signed because people talk to people and it went through the grapevine. It was a pre-emptive strike on his part. I asked for the release, he didn’t fire me. I wanted the meeting, I made the choice. Vince tried to hurt my reputation, and it didn’t hurt it. He got attention for himself, which is what he always wants.
Q. Word was you talked to UFC, who did they want you to face and what do you think about Dana’s thoughts on you now?
A. The deal he offered me he wanted an actor for sure. I didn’t want to be owned by anyone, and Dana is a lot like Vince. I considered going there, but he wanted a long-term exclusive deal. He wanted me to fight some kid from Tough Enough and is trying to make money off my name. When I stepped into the ring with him I had little feeling in my arms, now is a different story. The money was a great offer, but they wanted me as a poster boy more than a fighter. Dana and UFC are great and on the rise, but I didn’t want to be owned. The fight would have been a huge buy-rate, but it just wasn’t for me. If I do fight, I will probably go with UFC. I would work with Puder if TNA signed him, but he really isn’t that good as WWE tried with him but he just wasn’t good enough and not near my level or at the level of anyone in TNA, he doesn’t have it. I have no respect for him. I am a different guy, I am bigger and have all my strength back so he couldn’t do it again. At that time almost anyone could have done that to me at the time, in the end a stupid idea from Vince.
Q. Now that you are in TNA who are you looking forward to working with?
A. Samoa Joe. He is a star in the making and I have never seen a guy his size work the way he does. I thought I should stay away from him for a long while, but I think that he and I should face off sooner than later. If you see the show this week, our segment will rock you. Everything is tremendous with it and I think it was a great debut with TNA. We are the two top guys in this business I feel and when we tie it up, all I will say is that you’ll see a bit of a shoot this week. It was fun and serious.
Q. I do have a question regarding your written letter. You said you were never happy in WWE, so why did you stay?
A. I never felt I had time to look for other options. They always wanted you to sign right away before the time was out and you were not legally allowed to negotiate. They wanted a guy like me to sign 6-7-months early. It speaks volumes that they wanted me to stay. They harass you at home, the arena and would have a notary there in case you would try to get around it. I had some fun I got to work with great guys and some great angles, but it got old and I felt as if I was running into dead ends to put others over and to save shows. I have a gift from God, a talent, and it is a gift and a curse by the way WWE used me. I made other talent, Vince knew that, and he used me to the fullest he could. I saw Austin and Rock have their runs, but when it was my turn I t was never given to me. I felt I deserved it above HHH and HBK. I am not saying that they didn’t deserve any run, but I don’t see how you could pass up on me in that regard. Instead I would have to go down the card to make others instead of being THE guy. I wanted to be the guy to carry the ball, to be the champion and I feel I was never really given that chance. They wanted me to be funny, be a dork and not the champion I am just because I wasn’t a politician. I wanted to help others, but once again was never given the chance. I feel I was looked down upon for helping other because everyone on top is afraid of losing their spot and THAT is their major problem right now.
Q. How did it feel stepping into the Impact Zone for the first time?
A. My entrance in TNA is something special. They let me have a say in it and that is important. Stepping into the Impact Zone was a great feeling, and everyone was great. My music I picked and it related to me more than anything else, and this is the best entrance in wrestling today.
Q. Will you keep wearing the mouth guard.
A. Yes I have started to like it, and we will be selling them soon enough. They are also real, you can actually use them. You’ll also be able to make a mold and put anything on it you want written on it and send it to you. It’s a cool idea and TNA is behind it. They also lower your concussion rate and it has helped me. I have 20 different mouth guards right now.
Q. Now that you are away from WWE, what are your thoughts on using Eddie’s name for TV angles.
A. First of all Eddie died from exhaustion. WWE using Eddie in a storyline, well they are supporting his family, but the company is making a lot of money as well. People remember Eddie sure, but I would like to see EVERY CENT they make go to Vicky and the girls. If they want to be the good guy, they will not make money from his name. I doubt they are getting the tip of the iceberg as far as money goes.
Q. What were your thoughts on going to ECW?
A. Vince said it would be the wrestling company, when I got there I have no one to work with. I have RVDâ<80>¦Sabu with chairs, Sandman with his cane. I made Sabu look good without gimmicks. I was happy, Sabu did his part but then who else can I work with. I was an agent on the road and the guys were getting upset because they felt insulted. I wanted to teach them and give them stuff to work on. They didn’t want to listen, I have a gift and could have helped them but I just couldn’t get that through their heads. Well I wasn’t happy either so I quit doing that. Then they started the entire cross promotion and that was idiotic to me. I don’t use gimmicks, I tell a story by wrestling and I do it better than anyone else. Overexposure is a problem, 5-chair shots kills reality and no one believes anything anymore. I was never given a chance to be the new face of ECW, RVD was and he DID deserve it. I was so happy for him, I didn’t want the title, and I wanted to have great matches. I wasn’t on Summerslam because there was no one for me to work. I am being honest there.
Q. When yuu first got into wrestling WWE was really hot. Now you are at a place trying to get TNA to a new level. What do you feel they have to do to accomplish that?
A. The 6-sided ring is a great thing first of all. I don’t run ropes that often anyway. TNA just needs to keep doing what they are doing and Jarrett has done a good job as champion. I saw TNA coming, I saw them growing and I wanted to make history. I never got to do that in WWE, but I got paid well. I just saw so much room for growth for TNA, and if they can stay with the basics and use the talents of Vince Russo and Myself to the fullest we will rise to the tops. There are 3-4 guys in this company that WILL be better than me. I have always wanted to make history and now I have my chance here. There is room for 2-companies to succeed. TNA is back to basics, non-stop action and wrestling. Going back to basics is what can take us to the top. Great stories, great matches. Not live sex shows and ass kissing. TNA is doing what they can and it is doing well. Sure they are primitive as compared to Vince, but in the next 2-years they will have to have more employees and a head quarters like WWE. Spike loves TNA and will help TNA. There is a marketing machine in place, and we could see another ratings war and I think TNA is not a gimmick company that gets some numbers and goes under. TNA wants me long term and I will be here long term. I want us to stay with Spike and if we do, and the synergy gets even stronger TNA will continue to accomplish new ground!
Q. Who is the real Kurt Angle?
A. He is the man that you will see in TNA. Near the end of my ECW run you started to see it a little bit. WWE had an infatuation with “characterizations” and all, but they never let me be me, who IS a good character. I did all the other stuff before and it worked because I am a good actor. You know, Rock and Austin were themselves turned up. When I got to be me, the crowds started turning on Cena. He refused to let me be a face, and wouldn’t give me more merchandize. He said there was no money in it for me because I wasn’t Cena, Rey or HHH and HBK. I feel as far as wrestling goes that I have been involved in most of the great WWE matches, and not gimmick matches, real matches. I treat wrestling as if it is real and that is the real Kurt Angle and that is what you will see. Finally I get to be me in TNA.