Headliner of the 2017 WWE Hall of Famer class Kurt Angle was recently interviewed by the Moose & Maggie show on CBS Radio, and spoke about the process of going from Olympic wrestling to professional wrestling, the grind of being on the road, and his issues with substance abuse.
How to go from greenhorn to Hall of Fame quality in just a few years:
“I really don’t know, I know that when I started training to the day I got on TV was only one year. It was exactly on year, that never happens. I knew that when I started on TV I still didn’t know what I was doing. The wrestlers I wrestled with kind of walked me through the matches, so I learned how to follow because I let people lead me and I trusted them, I became a good leader. About two and a half years into my pro wrestling career I was leading and calling the matches, structuring the matches, I was a good student. Because I kept studying from the best guys like The Rock, Triple H, Stone Cold, Undertaker, I learned very quickly.”
What being a pro wrestler does to your body:
“I wrestled almost seven years in the WWE, two of those years I was out with injury with my neck. I broke my neck four times in a two and a half year span, so a bit of bad luck. But the schedule back then was a lot more brutal than it is now, and thank god because I don’t think anyone should be going through the schedules we were in the early 2000’s. The Attitude Era. We were on the road over 300 days a year, so you’re right it was constant, it was a grind, and it ultimately led me to ask for my release from the company unfortunately in 2006. My body couldn’t handle it and I also started getting a heavy addiction to pain killers and felt like a heavy liability to the company, and I didn’t want to do that to Vince, didn’t want to do anything detrimental to my health that would end my life. So I felt like I needed to get out at that time, Vince was okay with it, he actually encouraged me to go to rehab, but I didn’t go at that point in time. I wish I would have.”
He understood he was in a bad place with his addiction:
“Well yeah I was doing some heavy stuff and it wasn’t just pain killers. The early 2000’s we didn’t have a drug policy like they do now. They have an incredible policy and I commend them on that cause people don’t do that kind of stuff now. There were a couple of days where I didn’t wake up until the evening, I slept 24 hours a day, I took too many pills. I knew I was at a point in my life where I needed to make a choice, and it wasn’t so much the WWE that made it worse but it didn’t help that I was gonna be traveling that much so I did what I had to do.”
He was given an ultimatum that finally forced him to enter rehab:
“When you’re an addict taking 65 extra strength vicodin a day you’re in denial. I went another eight years before I went to rehab, I did get my pain killer issue contained but I started getting anxiety because I broke my neck four times in two and a half years so I started taking Xanax, along with morphine when I got off the vicodin. I was taking those two and the new company I worked for, Impact Wrestling, everyone there drank after the shows and it was a normal routine. So I started drinking alcohol, mixing all three, led me to a really bad place in my life. I had four DUIs in five years. Four DUIs when my wife basically gave the the choice, and said she’d either leave me or I go to rehab.”
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