By Mike Mooneyham

Oct. 22, 2006

According to most reports, including the parties involved, the split between Kurt Angle and WWE last August was an amicable one.

It now appears that the break wasn’t as smooth as initially portrayed.

“I’m concerned for Kurt’s personal health,” WWE owner Vince McMahon said recently. “You can’t go at the pace Kurt Angle goes and not get hurt every night.”

Angle, a four-time WWE world champion, returned fire during a 90-minute TNA teleconference last week and accused his former employer of not giving him the proper time to heal. He also claimed he was treated more like a piece of property than a valued employee, and that he never wants to be owned again. WWE owner Vince McMahon said recently. “You can’t go at the pace Kurt Angle goes and not get hurt every night.”

His new boss (TNA president Dixie Carter), he said, gives him flexibility to do other things. WWE owner Vince McMahon said recently. “You can’t go at the pace Kurt Angle goes and not get hurt every night.”

“That’s what I wasn’t getting in WWE. They owned your name and everything about you, and there wasn’t anything you could do or say. It’s strictly wrestling unless he (McMahon) gives you the green light, which he did not do because I was his best wrestler … I have a boss, but I am no longer owned. I hated the feeling of being owned and being told what to do all the time.” WWE owner Vince McMahon said recently. “You can’t go at the pace Kurt Angle goes and not get hurt every night.”

Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle

Angle said he went with TNA because that company was willing to give him time off to train and the option of getting involved in mixed martial arts.

The difference now, he said, is that he only wrestles when he feels 100 percent.

“In the past, I was never given enough time to properly heel and rehabilitate,” said Angle, who added that he was traveling 260-300 dates a year with WWE. “I am the new name and face of TNA, therefore I do have responsibilities that I should be at the most important events. At the same time they’re going to give me enough rest to so that I can heal up so I can go 100 percent.”

Angle, who teased that he was considering mixed martial arts shortly after leaving WWE, admitted he received “retirement kind of money” to work MMA, including a lucrative offer from K-1 to compete in a New Year’s Eve match with Brock Lesnar.

“They obviously feel I’m a very big commodity as an Olympic gold medalist and one of the best-known pro wrestlers today,” he said.

Angle also revealed that he recently flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Dana White and that the UFC promoter offered him an eight-year, $10 million deal that would entail one match (against Daniel Puder) and a non-fighting role as a UFC ambassador. Angle, who said the most he ever made in WWE was $2.5 million a year, said he could have made substantially more through merchandising but McMahon refused.

“He refused to let me be a face, and wouldn’t give me more merchandise. He said there was no money in it for me because I wasn’t Cena, Rey or Triple H and HBK. I feel as far as wrestling goes that I have been involved in most of the great WWE matches, and not gimmick matches, real matches. I treat wrestling as if it is real and that is the real Kurt Angle and that is what you will see. Finally I get to be me in TNA.”

Angle, who will serve as ringside enforcer for tonight’s Sting-Jeff Jarrett main event at TNA’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view, said TNA had superior athletes and more performers with whom he could have five-star matches. He said he couldn’t understand why he didn’t get a more high-profile spot in WWE following the departure of The Rock and Steve Austin, and was puzzled that Triple H and Shawn Michaels were pushed ahead of him.

Angle said he gave his heart and soul to WWE, but that wasn’t enough for the company, which didn’t give him the time off he needed.

“The main thing that frustrated me is I wasn’t getting the proper medical care. I wasn’t getting enough rest. Basically I felt I was getting buried into the ground,” said Angle, who claimed he required “a whole handful” of pills just to get out of bed. “When I’d ask for time off, they’d say OK, you’re getting it, but when that time came, they’d say they needed me because someone else went down.”

Angle said his doctor told him he needed to take three months off for rehab three years ago due to a painkiller problem (he was taking 60 Percocets daily), but McMahon refused to give him the time off, telling him that he was an Olympic gold medalist and needed to work out his problems on the road.

“All WWE was worried about was me making John Cena look strong, to put him over. That was more important to him than my health,” said Angle. “From then on, my attitude toward Vince turned sour. We had a great relationship before that.”

“If you make big money for Vince, and as far as just wrestling I made him a lot, they don’t care about you,” he added. “I made Cena look tons better than he is. After that I was supposed to have the day off, but someone got sick and I was told to go and work while I was supposed to be off. I lost all respect for Vince then, and two to three years after that it got even worse and he and I didn’t talk. It was both our faults in the end, but I never should have been put in that situation. Vince cares about the business more than an individual’s health.”

Angle, 37, also claims he quit cold turkey and hasn’t taken a painkiller in 18 months, although he admitted in an interview early last year with the Baltimore Sun that he was having trouble playing with his young daughter due to his injuries.

“If he gets to the point where he really can’t play with her, that will be it,” said wife Karen. “No matter what you have in your house, no matter how good your life is, you can’t give that up. If that’s what happens, that’s when I’ll put my foot down and make him stop.”

“My body is so beat up and run down, I can’t even think straight,” Angle told WWE’s Web site shortly after his early release due to “personal issues. “I need my body to re-heal and rehab, I have done this for too long without a break. I haven’t been able to really enjoy my life. I haven’t seen my family, I’ve had problems with medication – I’m just fried physically and mentally.”

Now, just weeks later, Angle proclaims himself “100 percent healthy.” He also seems to have done an about-face on his former boss whom he recently referred to as “a great man” but now says “treated me like a dog.” He says he most likely never will return to WWE, adding that his wife “wouldn’t let me probably,” even though he had signed a five-year contract extension shortly before asking for his release. “I think Kurt has some issues he has to face, as we all do from time to time,” said McMahon. “We all have our demons, and as human beings, it is important for us to overcome them and become better human beings, athletes and business people.”

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