Former WWE Champion Kurt Angle has detailed his introduction to professional wrestling and why it lead him to nearly sue Paul Heyman.
Kurt Angle’s dealings with Extreme Championship Wresting in 1996 have been well documented for almost turning him away from the industry completely. Attending a show in his native Philadelphia on the advice of Shane Douglas who promised him a more amateur style of wrestling than WWF, Angle was horrified to find out that he had been lied to.
During the event in question, the athlete watched on in horror as Raven and his Flock tethered The Sandman to a cross with barbed wire and erected the wooden frame at ringside. The act led Angle to storm from the building and reject a potential offer of employment from Paul Heyman.
Now, ‘The Olympic Gold Medallist’ has taken to his Kurt Angle Show podcast in order to detail why that night nearly lead him to sue the company’s Godfather and firstly, how Shane Douglas convinced him to attend:
“He called me and said ‘Hey, we have this company that is more geared toward your type of wrestling, Olympic wrestling, than pro wrestling. It’s called ECW. He’s telling me this looks more like Olympic wrestling than pro wrestling. ‘Okay cool, you guys are starting a pro amateur wrestling league?’ [Douglas said] ‘No, no, it’s pro wrestling but it looks more like amateur wrestling.’
That’s why they put the Taz match in their just to make me happy. Shane asked me to be a part of the ECW show, it was in Philadelphia and they were going to pay me a good amount of money so I decided I was going to do it. I was excited because I thought it was more geared toward amateur wrestling.”
A Catholic Christian, Angle then went into the moment that nearly put him off of getting into the business full stop and why he considered legal action against the company’s head:
“You have to understand I’m a Catholic Christian kid from Pittsburgh. To see the crucifixion was really offensive. I didn’t understand the storytelling of pro wrestling and how you want to get the wow factor. Surprise people, get them excited, get them pissed off, a lot of emotion is in pro wrestling. Back then, I didn’t get all of that, I didn’t understand it. When I saw it I was like oh my god, it’s someone portraying Jesus on a cross and I can’t believe I’m here.
I was really upset, I went to Paul Heyman and said ‘Hey, I can’t be on the same show as this, you can’t air this show with me on it and if you do, you’re going to hear from my attorney.’ Paul said ‘I didn’t even know it was going to happen.’ I was like okay, he’s the promoter, it’s the main event and he doesn’t know if this is going to happen. He’s full of s–t. I love Paul, he’s a great guy, but he basically lied to me and I understand why, just trying to take the heat off of himself. I won that battle but it definitely scared me away from pro wrestling. That was my introduction to pro wrestling.”
Fortunately for the professional wrestling world, Kurt Angle was talked into giving the business a second chance by Jim Ross and made his historic WWF debut at the 1999 Survivor Series. Less than one year later he had captured the WWF European Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship and WWF Championship.
Credit for the interview: The Kurt Angle Show
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.