Kurt Angle was one of the biggest names in WWE during the tail end of the “Attitude Era” and into the mid-2000’s. After guys like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock were no longer full-time guys, Angle became the face of WWE’s Thursday night show SmackDown during the brand extension years, and he took on tasks such as working with a young John Cena, while trying to prepare him to be the new face of WWE.
In 2006, following numerous injuries, and a substance abuse problem, Kurt Angle asked Vince McMahon for his release from WWE, which was a request that was granted. At the time, the feeling was that Angle would eventually return to WWE when he was ready. However, that never happened.
Not too long after his WWE release, Kurt Angle signed with TNA, which, at the time, was making a strong run at being WWE’s chief competitor, much like WCW was in the 90’s. When Angle signed with TNA, some compared it to when Hulk Hogan signed with WCW in 1994. But, at the time of Angle’s signing, TNA was nowhere near as big as WCW was when Hogan signed with them in 1994, and despite their efforts, TNA never did ascend to the heights that many hoped they would.
While the signing of Kurt Angle never did turn TNA into a mainstream success, Angle’s first year with the company helped them do tremendous business, as his match with Samoa Joe at TNA’s Genesis pay-per-view in November of 2006 was the most successful pay-per-view in company history.
Now, with TNA seemingly about to go out of business, and with Kurt Angle’s contract with the company coming to an end, there is some talk of Angle possibly making a return to WWE nearly ten years after he initially left the company. But, unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be too much interest in an Angle return from the WWE side.
Angle has said numerous times that, if he does go back to WWE, he will not work a full-time schedule due to how beat up he is. He says that he would want to work a schedule similar to the one Shawn Michaels worked following his return in 2002, where he would just do the television shows, and pay-per-views, while being able to skip the live events.
Angle pointed to WWE’s brutal full-time schedule as the main reason for his departure, saying that he was on the road for over 300 days a year, and that he broke his neck four times in two years while he was a full time independent contractor with the company.
“It’s tough [working for Vince McMahon]. If you’re going to be his guy, and I was for 4-5 years, he expects a lot out of you. That’s the reason I left. We’re talking over 300 days a year. He wanted me to continue to go full-time and I couldn’t. I literally broke my neck four times in a two and a half year span, and I just kept rushing back for him.”
Kurt Angle has noted previously that he wants to return to WWE before he retires for good. As of right now, there still isn’t interest on WWE’s end, and Angle is planning on taking a year off from wrestling.
However, Angle may not be taking time off from competing, as he has teased a fight in Bellator MMA with MMA legend Ken Shamrock, who will fight Royce Gracie in February. So, if Shamrock wins that fight, there’s a possiblity that Angle, who has wanted to fight for a long time, will end up fighting Shamrock at some point next year in Bellator.
[Image via Kevin Winter / Getty Images]