By Mike Mooneyham

Sept. 24, 2006

Kurt Angle, who recently was released by WWE, has vowed to return to pro wrestling.

For now, though, Angle has his sights set on mixed martial arts, according to a statement released last week through his manager.

“Kurt Angle is a huge fan of all MMA programs,” said Dave Hawk. “This former Olympic gold medalist and extreme athlete has the heart and the deep-driven passion to show he’s the best of the best. Angle has his sight on a full physical recovery and plans a day to put it all on the line.”

Among a possible list of opponents for Angle in that fight genre would be Brock Lesnar, a former WWE rival who currently is currently training with Royce Gracie for a debut with an MMA group in Japan, and Daniel Puder, a former WWE Tough Enough winner who nearly made Angle tap on an episode of Smackdown a couple of years ago.

Angle, who is battling a painkiller addiction, recently wrote in a post on his Web site that he would be back. He also called his former boss, WWE owner Vince McMahon, a great man.

McMahon instituted a drug-testing policy to screen for steroids and other drugs last November after the death of 38-year-old wrestler Eddie Guerrero.

Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle

“To the ones who love me, the ones who hated me and even the ones who loved to hate me – you were and are my inspiration. God was and is my strength and so is my family – my mom, sister and brothers, my father (God rest his soul), my manager Dave Hawk and most especially, my wife Karen, who went through hell during my career. She has never given up on me.”

It has been reported that his wife, Karen, who is pregnant, recently filed for divorce.

“It’s time to rest. After six long years, I looked into my wife’s eyes and finally saw that she, too, was severely stressed and worn out due to my livelihood that she had to endure. My 3-year old daughter Kyra basically became my nurse, thinking she had to put ice packs or heating pads on my neck, back and legs because she could see the pain her daddy was in.

“At this point, something happened that made me realize that wrestling wasn’t the most important thing in my life. I sat down with my wife Karen, who had tears in her eyes. I could see in her face how concerned she was for me. She said, ‘I love you. I didn’t marry you because you were a WWE superstar. I married you before you ever joined them. Kurt, I’m so worried that if you continue going at this pace, something bad is really going to happen and I don’t want Kyra and Kody (our unborn son) to grow up without their father.”

Lance Storm recently posted on his Web site that he was glad to see Angle pulled.

“I hope Kurt takes this time off and heals. We have enough tragic stories in this business, we don’t need another one, especially from a man who achieved so much and deserves so much respect. I would love to see Kurt Angle in the ring again, but I would rather he retire than wrestle his way into a wheel chair.”

Jim Ross also cautioned that Angle should stay put for a while and heal mentally and physically.

“My two cents on this matter is that Kurt should stay as far away from the mixed martial arts world as possible. Yes, there is huge money to be made for a few fights, but at what cost? I say the potential risk facing Kurt is too great to even think of traveling down this road. I am not condemning the promoters of this genre as they are in the business of making money and most definitely Kurt Angle in the MMA world is money, but is the risk of permanent injury worth the cash? Not where I sit.”

– Trish Stratus left professional wrestling last week with a record-setting seventh world title in the WWE women’s division. More importantly, though, Stratus leaves the business at the relatively young age of 30 with an impressive legacy and a potentially bright future in acting if she so chooses.

While WWE’s most popular diva could have been content with simply being eye candy, she never rested on her laurels and worked hard to become an actual athlete and eventually the best worker among the WWE women.

Stratus, whose real name is Patricia Anne Stratigias, is getting married to her high school sweetheart Sept. 30 in her hometown of Toronto.

– Former WWE champ John Bradshaw Layfield and WWE reportedly have come to terms after the wrestler gave notice to the company.

Layfield, who also works as an investment banker on Wall Street, had expressed travel concerns stemming from his weekly duties as commentator for Smackdown.

– WWE released Boogeyman (Marty Wright) last week.

Wright, who had been out of action since Wrestlemania and was rehabbing leg injuries, fell out of favor with management due to a perceived lack of commitment to return to action.

Wright, 41, had earned a reputation of being one of the more bizarre WWE competitors behind the scenes, and could often be found backstage snacking on live worms to complement his highly unusual in-ring gimmick.

– WWE has signed veteran Too Cold Scorpio (Charles Scaggs) to a three-year deal.

Scorpio, 40, has been a regular for Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan the past several years.

– TNA president Dixie Carter announced last week that a major announcement will be made at tonight’s No Surrender pay-per-view.

“In the course of history, there are defining moments that change the fabric of a company forever,” said Carter. “These are moments that are spoken about for years, not days, and serve as benchmarks in the annals of a company’s growth. And on occasion, those moments transcend the individual company and re-write the history of an industry. This Sunday at the No Surrender PPV, an announcement will be made that will do just that.”

One surprise, although reportedly not the one Carter alluded to, is the return of Vince Russo as chief of the TNA creative team. The former WWE and WCW head writer will work with Jeff Jarrett and Dutch Mantel in an attempt to boost the company’s sagging ratings. Mike Tenay and Scott D’Amore have been taken off the committee as a result of the shake-up, while the status of Jeremy Bash is yet undetermined.

The addition of Russo most likely will kill further negotiations with Russo enemy Bill Goldberg.

TNA and Spike TV also reportedly are close to a new deal that would give the company’s weekly Impact show a better time slot and possibly an extra hour.

Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell both have been booked for next week’s TNA TV tapings.

The debut of Monday Night Football on ESPN two weeks ago laid the smackdown on Raw.

– Raw fell to a 3.6 rating, while ESPN drew its highest mark in the history of the company with a 9.9 for its 7 p.m. game and an 8.5 for its 10 p.m. game. Last week’s Raw rose to a 3.7, while ESPN set another company ratings record with a 10.6 mark for football.