TNA: TIME TO LET KURT ANGLE GO
By Justin Henry
(All feedback for this article can be sent to its author, either on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh) or Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh)
Kurt Angle is a wreck, and has been going back far longer than most people realize.
The 2008 expose written by Matthew Randazzo, entitled Ring of Hell, has been discredited by some like Lance Storm. But if you believe any of the quotes to hold weight, a witness backstage at WrestleMania XIX in Seattle recalls a grisly and disturbing sight.
Kurt Angle, moments after losing the WWE Title to Brock Lesnar, was writhing on the locker room floor in uncontrollable shakes and spasms, foaming at the mouth in serious agony. Sure, wrestling Angle’s style against a power wrestler like Lesnar would generally result in one being physically compromised, “fake sport” or not, but Angle’s situation was more unique.
In the weeks before WWE’s marquee PPV, Angle was informed that he would need spinal surgery that would put him out for a year, which is a lifetime to somebody physical and competitive like “The Olympic Hero”. At just 34 years of age, Angle stuck it out for the interim few weeks, making it to WrestleMania and wowing the audience with a performance that was part Kurt’s natural ability and part numbing due to painkillers.
Angle made it through the grueling encounter, but found himself crying out for aid on the locker room floor afterward.
Angle, now 42 years old, finds himself arrested for the fourth time in less than four years, and the third time for alcohol related charges. His mug shot is widely seen as his biggest matches, something that was unthinkable for him in 1996, when he looked like a muscled Tom Hanks down in Atlanta, as he won the gold medal for freestyle wrestling at the Summer Olympics.
Angle, after that 2003 injury, had an unusual procedure done in Pittsburgh that only caused him to miss three months. He would work a full schedule until the following year’s WrestleMania, until he suffered another spinal injury that relegated him to non-contact duties (as Smackdown’s villain authority figure) until Summerslam five months later.
Upon his in-ring return, his body had lost much of its previous definition, and his arms were now bandier. By the time his drug problems forced him out of WWE in 2006, Angle’s neck had thinned, his arms shrank further, and his torso no longer resembled that of a man that once tried out for a fullback position in the NFL.
It was clear Angle needed help, but instead, he chose to keep working.
Knowing Angle’s competitive edge, he signed one month later with Total Non-Stop Action, and was given a hero’s welcome, heralded as the biggest free agent jump in TNA’s history. That’s certainly no lie, but it was also clear that Angle didn’t spend one second of that one month layoff in any kind of rehabilitation center.
Technical wrestling buffs in the summer of 2006 were astounded that WWE would let Angle go. Find one now that still thinks that, and ask him to return his blinders to the horse-track where he found them.
First it was the 2007 DUI arrest where Angle allegedly had a mouthful of pills when the police stopped at his residence later. He was cleared a year later, but damned if anyone was thinking Angle was entirely clean. Then there was 2009 stalking arrest, when former TNA Knockout, and former Angle girlfriend, Rhaka Khan, alleged that Angle was coming after her. In the arrest, HGH was found in Angle’s car. That charge was thrown out after Angle simply agreed to stay away from Khan.
And now, in 2011, we come to two DUI’s, five months apart. One was in North Dakota in March, where he pled guilty, got probation, and served ten days in jail.
That probation period was slated for one year, and this current arrest falls right into that window of time.
Did I mention that Angle is the reigning TNA Champion, despite having arms thinner than Angelina Love’s neck? Despite the fact that his eyes now possess a freakish quality of seemingly permanently being wide like a frog’s under a flashlight?
Kurt Angle cannot say no to competing. He gets angry when he feels inferior. Just the other day, Angle was bitching about his ranking on a WWE DVD that nobody takes seriously. He flips out on Randy Orton for copying his moves, when he did the same to Ken Shamrock in regards to his ankle lock. He covers his acts of foolishness by saying his Twitter was hacked, using the lame excuse that every celebrity whose private parts are seen throughout the internet has been using.
Angle competes to be better than his peers. He consistently puts on the best match at TNA events, with the hard bumps from the suplexes and moonsaults further diminishing his brain capacity and his spinal strength. Those bandy arms come from nerve damage and spinal pressure, and don’t just fix themselves with three days of bed rest.
Dixie Carter needs to step in and fire Kurt Angle, or force him into rehab, before he dies.
Angle apparently didn’t have an alcohol problem early in his WWE career, when his voice and look were healthier, and he was seemingly in a better mental state. Now that pain wracks his body every day, and he still feels the need to compete, lest he “lose his spot”, alcohol and pain pills can make him feel like Superman for a twenty minute brawl.
Enough. If Dixie can axe Matt Hardy for a DUI, even if it came on the heels of his self-promotional ego trips, then she had better be prepared to hold Angle to that standard.
She may even save his life. Dixie got rare applause for sending Hardy on his way, and nobody will fault her for forcing Angle to make healthier choices by taking away his job.
WWE won’t take him back. A corporate company that barely survived the Chris Benoit scandal with minimal scratches isn’t going to roll the dice again.
Angle could go to Japan, or fulfill his crazy goal of making it in MMA with a body more frail than doorstep made of Saltines, but at least the responsibility will be off of TNA for Kurt’s foolishness.
And who cares if he’s the champion? Crown a new one! Let the world understand that Angle’s current lifestyle is not acceptable to TNA or WWE or anyone, even if TNA has been enabling Angle to live just that lifestyle for five years.
I’m a Kurt Angle fan, and I will always respect his dedication to winning against all odds. He won a gold medal with a broken neck, and he out-performs his wrestling peers with a barely-there body. I admire him for being tougher than you or I could ever hope to be.
But I was also a Chris Benoit fan and a Dynamite Kid fan and a Road Warrior Hawk fan and a Mr. Perfect fan and a Mike Awesome fan and a Mick Foley fan and a Rey Mysterio fan.
No more death. No more wheelchairs. No more brain damage. No more multiple surgeries on the same limb before the age of forty. No more overdoses. No more heart failures.
And no more DUIs from a man who looks to be living on renewable borrowed time.
It’s time for TNA to force Kurt Angle to walk away and decide if he truly wants to live
(Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose interests are rooted in NFL, MLB, NBA, wrestling, MMA, and entertainment. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cynicjrh and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh so check him out)