5 broken necks, 3 UFC offers & 1 Hall of Fame career: Kurt Angle reflects on it all | WWE on ESPN

Market Monday for ESPN back with you
today joined by legendary pro wrestler
WWE star former Olympic gold medalist
with a broken freaking neck Kurt Angle
uh it’s an honor card to chat with you
you have a documentary coming out
September 2nd on peacock About You Know
The Life and Times of Kurt Angle in the
pro wrestling business I just want to
ask you you know right off the top since
we’re talking about pro wrestling uh the
the world of that sport that industry
lost someone pretty special this week in
Bray Wyatt one of the most creative you
know Innovative Minds in that in that
business I know you worked with him a
little bit
um anything you want to share about any
memory of Bray white you’d like to share
uh he was really creative
um he came up with some incredible
characters that were really fun to watch
it was really exciting he was smart he
was athletic
um uh we’re we’re gonna miss a very
special person this kid uh
revolutionized the business he really
did he um he had some amazing ideas and
Concepts that he did and
um he he always kept the fans
entertained and uh we’re gonna sorely
Miss uh Bray Wyatt
it’s uh such a strategy just 36 years
old and you know pro wrestling is a
business that is uh I mean it’s it’s uh
it can be a tragic business at times
right with with some of the the death of
younger ages the the stuff that you know
you guys put your bodies through and the
travel and uh I mean it’s uh it’s uh
it’s it’s it’s it’s a it’s probably like
a love-hate relationship with wrestling
sometimes right
yeah yeah you know what uh one thing
about pro wrestling if you look at this
history as uh the the entertainers tend
to pass away at a lot younger ages than
the average person
um I’m not sure if it’s because you take
a toll on your body and uh you know for
20 30 years you’re doing pro wrestling
and you’re bumping in that ring the
whole time and uh you’re traveling every
day there’s just so many unhealthy
issues to pro wrestling uh they’re
probably uh uh are the reason why you’re
seeing a lot of younger deaths uh uh in
in the sport
you know you got you guys give so much
to the fans you know for the sake of
entertainment right it’s like the stuff
that you guys do the stuff you put your
bodies through uh you were no different
right I mean I’m sure that you wrestled
you wrestled through injuries I mean
there were all kinds of issues right
over the course of your career anything
you wanna you wanna highlight and talk
about as far as that goes
um I you know I I wrestled through a lot
of injuries uh during the Olympics and
uh during pro wrestling
um you know the Olympics I had a lot of
knee injuries uh I broke my neck right
before the Olympics I had to overcome
that uh it was a tough situation for me
back then and it continued on in pro
wrestling I I had uh knee back shoulder
injuries uh I broke my neck four more
times in the WWE in a span of two and a
half years uh injuries are part of the
sport it’s part of sports entertainment
and uh you have to learn how to work
around them and sometimes you’re gonna
have to take time off and let them heal
you know you you say I broke my neck
four times uh within a two-year span to
to most individuals that would sound
completely insane right that’s like oh I
can’t believe I mean that’s even a
possibility and you kept on wrestling I
mean it’s it’s just uh how’d you do that
I mean it’s crazy you know what I
the sport the pro wrestling
um there’s such a stigma to it and when
you’re doing it you love doing it you
love doing the work and I knew you know
the first time the second time I broke
my neck which was the uh in WWE
um the first time I broke my neck was in
the before before the Olympics the
second time I broke my neck was in 2003
in WWE and uh I I took some time off uh
had a surgery and I let my neck heal but
I don’t think I allowed it to heal long
enough I only took about six to seven
weeks off and I came back and I broke my
neck right again again uh so
um and then I took some more time off uh
let my neck feel for six weeks I came
back again broke my neck again so it was
an ongoing thing and the reason why I
kept coming back is because you’re so
addicted to entertaining the people and
you you also want to make that money so
uh you know it got to the point in my
head that I was going to keep going
until I couldn’t go anymore
so that meant it doesn’t matter how many
broken necks I get I’m going to keep
coming back and keep going and uh
unfortunately for me that’s you know
that’s what caused the painkiller
addiction and that’s uh where I got
myself in a lot of trouble
yeah and uh that’s it’s a crazy story
and I know you probably have a lot of uh
crazy story about the wrestling industry
I wanna I wanna ask you this because
you’ve always been known for you know
when people when people say like who who
was like the most well-rounded or who
was the best rounded wrestler maybe in
pro wrestling history a lot of people
will say Kurt Angle right because you
were able to work as a baby face as a
heel you know you were excellent in the
ring you were incredibly athletic uh you
were great on the microphone you could
do comedy you could do really every
aspect of the industry at a very high
level do you have any moments or things
that you liked more than others or
things that stood out to you Above the
Rest you know what it was the moments it
wasn’t even you know the wrestling was
great it was important uh I remember
some of the greatest matches of my
career but it was the entertainment
aspect when you know when I when I came
out with the milk truck and and I
sprayed down silicone Steve Austin the
alliance with milk uh those kind of
moments um singing Sexy Kurt uh battle
rapping with John Cena uh you know you
you create memories for the fans that
they remember forever so it’s not just
the wrestling it’s the entertainment
aspect and that’s what I love the most
about it um I didn’t even know I had a
map to be funny
um I never never was a funny person in
my life until I started WWE and Vince
McMahon gave me this character to
portray and I I nailed it and uh you
know thank god it worked out for me and
uh you know I had I had a stellar career
I I can’t complain about anything I’ve
done throughout my career except for you
know the injuries and the painkillers
um I I had a great career and I I’m very
proud of it
wrestling is so interesting to me
because a lot of those things that you
mentioned in fact I think maybe all
those things you mentioned were kind of
before the dawn of social media right
before like you know there was
high-speed internet in some cases uh and
and yet these things live on and you
know you’ll scroll through Instagram or
you’ll scroll scroll through Twitter or
X or whatever they’re calling it now and
you’ll see like the milk truck or you’ll
see you know you with the guitar or
you’ll see you know all these these uh
these things and uh it’s just it’s just
really interesting to me how wrestling
has almost gained like a different life
in the social media era
yeah you know what it is it’s about the
memories it’s it’s uh you know the
moments that you give the fans uh that’s
what they enjoy most and
um you know the thing is with with fans
most of them sit down and watch
wrestling with their family and it
reminds them you know when I wrestle
back in the early 2000s I have a lot of
fans that come to me and say Kurt thank
you for the Memories uh I remember you
know before my dad passed away
um you know we would watch wrestling
together and it was the one thing we
could talk about and I thank you so much
for entertaining us all those years
that’s the greatest feeling in the world
and and those are the kind of fans that
we have very loyal fans that enjoyed
watching with their families and it
brought incredible memories uh for them
in the past
what would you say was your I guess
proudest achievement because there were
there were a host of them right I mean
in terms of wrestling obviously you won
the Olympic gold medal which is you know
an incredible feat uh but you know was
it was it championships in WWE was it
you know you’re wrong with TNA where you
know you were one of the faces of not
the face of that company for for a a
pretty long amount of time what was like
the number one thing for you my proudest
moment was when the Olympic gold medal
um there’s nothing that compares to that
that was the real deal that was me uh
dreaming about that since I was a child
I also am really proud of winning the
World Championships in 1995 right before
the Olympics
um but as far as pro wrestling there are
a lot of things
um that I could tell you that I was
really proud of but the most proud was
being able to be the most consistent
wrestler I was able to have the best
matches consistently all the time
um uh the only other person I could
think of that have matches as consistent
as I did with Sean Michaels and uh so
I’m I very I feel very proud that I am
considered one of the greatest of all
time and uh you know that makes me feel
really good because I never plan to be a
pro wrestler when I was a kid you know I
just wanted to win Olympic gold medal
and when that was up I didn’t know what
to do and I thought what’s next and wlb
came to me and you know the rest is
history so uh you know I I’m grateful to
the WWE for giving me an extended career
and being able to be uh
um be utilized the the way they utilize
me I mean I I came in and they
immediately you know brought me from
opening card to Main Event very quickly
and uh so they they gave me the
opportunity and I took advantage of it
I’m glad you mentioned that because uh
the the main thing that I covered for
ESPN is is the UFC I cover MMA and uh
you know you broke into you broke into
WWE kind of before the big boom of the
UFC uh have you I mean I know I know
that there was talks at some point about
you maybe going into the octagon and
doing something you know and and
fighting how close was that do you have
any regrets about not doing it any
thoughts on that you know what I I got
offered three different times and uh
listen Dana White great individual I
absolutely love the guy he gave me
opportunities I passed them up
unfortunately but uh the first time was
when right after the Olympics in 1996.
uh Dana White wasn’t involved with the
UFC back then they came to me and they
gave me their best contract and it
wasn’t a very good contract it was 10
fights for 150 000 that’s 15 000 fight
and that was the height
there were Fighters and uh I was like
yeah you know what that doesn’t sound
right I I’m you know I I I love fighting
but I don’t love it that much to get my
butt kicked for 15 grand
um so I decided to go to the WWE and
when I got there I had so much success
early on and then UFC started becoming
mainstream in the early 2000s and this
is when I was having a stellar career in
WWE winning World Championships being
the rock for the world championship
beating stone cold for the world
championship and I thought man I would
love to fight but I’ve already had this
great career going on right now I think
I’m okay and I decide not to do it and
then in 2006 when I left the WWE
um my manager contacted Dana White I was
experienced whether I could fight and uh
Dana flew me out there and he put me up
in a really nice uh Suite uh in a hotel
a penthouse suite was beautiful and uh
he offered me a deal and um I I
considered it and I ended up turning it
down and uh and then um four years later
when out my contract was up with TNA and
the reason why I turned it down in 2006
was because I just signed a contract
with TNA and Dana White would not let me
wrestle and fight at the same time and I
didn’t want to go back to TNA and say
listen that contract I just signed is
null and void so I didn’t want to do
that and I wanted to respect their
wishes and continue on with TNA so Dana
told me you know what when you’re done
wrestling come back to me and I did when
I thought I was going to be done
wrestling in 2010 I went back to Dana
and Dana came up with an idea he wanted
me to be on real fighter with Kimbo
and um I uh ultimately yeah yeah our
ultimate fighter yeah
um and um I uh I considered it and I
said well Dana
uh if you don’t pay those guys to be on
TV and he said I know but you know what
I’ll give you half a million to be on
the show and then I’ll give you this
contract a six fight deal regardless
whether you win it uh Ultimate Fighter
or not you’ll have a contract when it’s
over and uh I thought about it and uh at
that point in my life I was 41 years old
I broke my neck five times I sat back
and realized I started training for it a
little bit and I realized I’m past my
Prime I can’t do this so I had to turn
it down but I’m very grateful for the
offers Dana White gave me he’s an
incredible person uh you know he he
wasn’t uh mean or upset by any means
because I turned it down he was really
cool about everything and I I’m very
very grateful he gave me the
any any like what ifs for you that that
you know you weren’t able to get into
that world uh
uh oh no I was
you know it really um every once in a
while gets to me and I you know when I
watch these fights I’m like gosh man I
think I would have done pretty well in
this you know seeing Brock Lesnar and my
friend uh be uh you know um UFC champion
uh you know seeing Randy Couture who I
trained with for the Olympics being UFC
um you know it makes you question you
know did you do the right thing but I
look back and I say you know what I I
had a pretty stellar career in pro
wrestling so I can’t regret that
my friend Daniel Cormier I think a
friend of yours as well uh he told me
one time my friend and colleague you
know my ESPN colleague Daniel Cormier
he’s a great analyst he told me one time
that that when he was in the Olympic
Training Center he he was he’s been a
wrestling fan his entire life still is
today we talk about it very often uh he
told me that that he wanted to go into
WWE and he spoke with you and you told
him try MMA first obviously it worked
out very well for him he became you know
one of the greatest fighters of all time
do you remember that conversation with
DC yes yes I remember Daniel uh he uh I
believe he was an NCAA runner-up and uh
he was at the Olympic Training Center
training I went out there to record some
stuff with the WWE and the show with the
past of where I used to train for the
Olympics and I met up with Daniel and he
you know he talked to me about that
about you know whether going to pro
wrestling or MMA and I told him listen
do the real deal do the real thing first
I’ll give you an example Ronda Rousey
that she had an incredible UFC career
and then she spotted off into a WWE
career I think I that’s what I was
thinking for Daniel Cormier and uh I’m
glad he did it because he had an
incredible career he’s considered one of
the greatest fighters of all time and
that’s that’s a big feat
and Shamrock too I guess you know he was
fighting first then he went into pro
earlier yeah yeah can you do the same
thing and uh Kenny you know he’s one of
the greatest of all time as well I mean
Kenny had a huge impact on my life in
career as as not just a pro wrestler but
uh uh uh um a competitor you know seeing
Ken and how Fierce he was in the Octagon
uh I was a huge fan of his I used to
watch that him and Mark Coleman and Dan
Severn because Mark and Dan were my
opponents for the Olympic trials I don’t
know if you know that but uh so uh Mark
Carr was another guy that I used to
compete against for the Olympic trials
he was about uh Pride Champion
um but uh watching these guys back then
it was really cool to see you know
people that I wrestled in the past uh
having a such a huge impact on MMA
there is uh there is a former Olympic
gold medalist in wrestling in WWE right
now a recent one Gable Stevenson uh who
seems to have just a world of potential
I’m not sure how well you know Gable or
if or if you’ve worked them at all yeah
we did two segments on Raw um we we uh
we did a milk truck segment where I
sprayed down uh uh Chad Gable and uh
Otis uh with milk and uh Gable was
helping me out uh so you know I got to
meet him and uh talk to him on a few
different occasions but I heard his
training I heard he’s doing incredibly
well and it looks like he has a very
bright future I just don’t know how
entertaining he’s going to be as far as
wrestling in the ring he’s he’s got that
covered I’ve been told many times
especially by a strainer that he has
that down pack I mean he he is so
athletic it’s unbelievable so I I don’t
think think he has any problem with
being in the ring but to see what kind
of way he can entertain fans that’s the
question and we’ll see what happens
hopefully as well for sure how do you
think Daniel Cormier would have done and
uh in www oh he would have been great
Daniel he he’s an Entertainer man he he
uh you know he he’s uh
uh what would you call it uh a ClickBank
you know this guy he says stuff and you
know the media picks it up I think he
would have been entertaining I think his
wrestling would have been incredible uh
I think Daniel would have had a stellar
career probably uh equal to mine I
believe really that’s that’s saying
that’s saying quite a bit
yeah I I have that much uh faith in
Daniel I think he would have had a
stellar career as as good as mine
wow wow uh a couple more things I want
to ask you Curry before I let you go I’m
an MMA guy so I have to ask you about uh
Henry sahuto another oh yeah uh gold
medalist I know a friend of yours as
well did you watch his last fight
against al Jermaine Sterling you know
he’s back from retirement and all that
I watched the highlights I didn’t get to
see the fight but um he he put on a
pretty good performance though I don’t
think uh he should be ashamed of
anything uh he did step out of
retirement I think that if he would have
taken a couple of fights first uh to get
himself warmed up for it I think he
would have done better
and uh another person I want to ask you
about Colby Covington he uses your
entrance music yeah
out with them and uh I I was actually
considering it I just at the date he
wanted me to go I couldn’t go and then
we never talked about it again but you
know what the kobe has given me so much
uh attention you know by playing my
music all the fans remember is Kurt
Angle and they chat you suck well well
he’s coming out so he’s just giving me
Free Press
I find it so funny because MMA fans
sometimes they can be uh dismissive of
pro wrestling MMA fans yeah Colby
Covington’s music hits like you said the
fans in the arena start chanting you
suck and it’s almost like it’s almost
like uh Pavlov’s dog they remembered
from when they were younger and it just
kind of happened crazy is the funniest
thing no you’re absolutely right it’s
hilarious and it’s crazy because they
are fight fans you know not not all of
them are wrestling fans probably not
even half of them are but they do
recognize the music and you have to
remember my music’s played all over the
place uh in stadiums Arenas uh you know
during uh
um uh during uh timeouts uh the Arenas
and stadiums play my music it’s just
it’s one of the most recognized songs
and it’s it’s something that fans Can
chant to so you know even though it’s
you suck it’s still something that they
can say and I think that’s why it has a
good ring to it
last thing I wanted to ask you about
I’ve been dying asking about you about
this for a while I actually spoke with
Gerald Briscoe about this a few years
um you had an actual a real wrestling
match with Brock Lesnar
that’d be right in the ring can you tell
me about this and then how I went down
Jerry’s full of crap I’m just gonna tell
you that I I did not die
um a quick story
um he he when he came in he he told
somebody that he could whip my butt
because I was too small so I walked up
to him the first time I met him I said
hey Brock I’m Kurt Angle and
um I heard you said you could whip my
butt he started laughing and he said I
could and I said well let’s get in the
rig right now he said well I have
sandals on I took my shoes off I said
let’s go barefoot he said no no I don’t
want to do that so A couple weeks later
he was in the ring with Big Show and
they were wrestling for real and um
Brock was picking Big Show on 525 pounds
picking him up and slamming them and I
was like oh my God I might not be able
to beat this guy I mean he was showing
so much quickness and power and strength
it was like wow this kid’s uh not human
and I remember Brock’s back was to me he
was in a ring The Big Show was on the
other side of Brock and big spell was
facing me and I told Big Show get out of
the ring I whispered and I pointed out
of the ring he said okay and he got out
of the ring and I walked up behind Brock
and I tapped him on his shoulder I said
it’s time to go and he said okay let’s
do it and we did it and we went for
about 15 minutes
um but um I took him down twice he
didn’t take me down it wasn’t that I
crushed him or dominated him I beat him
but you know it wasn’t it wasn’t like a
a runaway match it was it was pretty
close I was just proud that I was able
to you know go get in that ring with a
310 pounder when I weighed 215 and I was
able to hold my ground with him
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a a
better like
athlete at that size than Brock Lesnar
like in anything no I tell people that
all the time that you you cannot get you
can’t think of anybody that has that
kind of quickness power stamina uh
strength he is explosive and uh he’s
just a freaking nature and I don’t think
people really understand I mean put it
this way he didn’t have to train much to
be the UFC champion I mean he he started
training he trained for a little bit but
he didn’t it wasn’t like years of
training he trained for you know six
seven months and he went out there and
he became UFC champion you don’t do that
unless you’re some kind of incredible
athlete uh because because their
experiences is the key to MMA you want
to have a lot of experience and the more
experience you have the better you get
and Brock didn’t have any experience
when he became UFC champion the reason
why he did is because he’s so athletic
and he’s a freaking nature
absolutely just to put a bow on this
again peacock documentary on kurdo
coming out on September 2nd Kurt if
there’s one thing that if I asked you
what would you like to be remembered for
the most uh as a pro wrestler or or as
an athlete in general what would that
one thing be
well mostly the Olympic gold medal I
want people to remember me
synonymous with the Olympic gold medal
but I also want people to remember me as
an incredible Entertainer I I had the
time of my life in the WWE and in TNA
and uh I did the best I could for the
fans and I’m so grateful for the fan
support they continue to support me
today I go to appearances now and they
show up I mean thousands of people it’s
just uh it’s really cool to have that
kind of impact on people and I do want
to say that my documentary it’s a little
different than the WWE documentary
because this documentary that’s coming
out on peacock is going to be more
Olympic heavy than WWE heavy and uh so
the documentary that aired on a e was
different because it was it was WWE
heavy it was predominantly WWE but this
new one is going to be uh uh 60 Olympic
and 40 pro wrestling excellent can’t
wait to see it again peacock September
2nd Kurt Angle uh it’s an honor thank
you so much I’m gonna go text Dan and
Cormier and tell him that that he would
have had an equal career to him in WWE
if he won no no no he’s gonna start
crying because he’s gonna be like why
did I do it exactly exactly Kurt thank
you so much I really appreciate it
thanks man take care
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