During our discussion, we also asked Angle about his return to the ring with WWE back in 2017, AEW's new television deal, and how that competition will impact the wrestling world going forward.
Angle's much anticipated return to in-ring competition for WWE, a match a decade in the making, ended up happening on very short notice. The Shield reformed to wrestle together at TLC 2017, but just before the event, Roman Reigns was pulled from the show due to sickness. Because of the absence of Reigns, Angle was inserted into the match just days before the PPV. After fans had anticipated his wrestling return with WWE for many years, it ended up happening without any television build.
I asked Angle if he was disappointed that his big return to the ring was on such a tight schedule without much promotion or excitement.
"Okay. I'll explain my situation and what I believe has gone on," Angle said. "You have to remember, when I left in 2006 I had some serious problems. A lot of injuries, painkiller problems. And although WWE wanted to continue to keep me and have me eventually go to rehab and get better, I asked them to let me go. When they let me go I continued with the painkillers and everything else. Basically I didn't get clean until 2013. And when I got clean I decided I wanted to come back to WWE, but they wouldn't even look at me for three years.
"So when you say, am I upset about coming back? Yes, I'm upset about it. I mean, don't get me wrong, being part of the Shield was awesome, but to have my return, of course I want to ... you know, I thought I was going to get the royal treatment and I'd be wrestling in main events. And I was wrestling pretty good at that point, 'cause I was very active. When I became inactive is when my body shut down and my age started to show. 'Cause when you sit out for nine months your body becomes arthritic and you start tensing up and you can't move your legs, and your back, and your neck. When your wrestling five days a week, you're bumping around, you're breaking open that scare tissue. So whether you believe it or not, wrestling actively every week and beating your body up is better that not doing anything at all.
"So when I got into that match it was fun for me. And was I a little disappointed? No, because it was the Shield, but I was disappointed that I didn't get a Kurt Angle feature match. But I understand. And what I'm getting to is this. When I came back here I was a liability. Vince McMahon knew that. And they were having me drug tested to make sure I was clean. But the thing is it's my fault. So I understand why Vince did what he did. He brought me in, put me in the hall of fame. Then he had me do the GM role. Then he had me start wrestling. And by the time I started wrestling my body was all, you know, it just was all ... what do you call it? Arthritic and cramped up. And I couldn't move. It was just...
"But I understand why Vince did it. He looks at me and says I don't want this kid to screw himself up again. So I'm going to keep him straight by giving him these roles. So he only have me wrestle every once and awhile. And he wouldn't let me wrestle for longer than seven minutes. So it was like, sure I was upset, but I understand."
Angle continued by noting his past issues with pain killers and how he believes that caused Vince McMahon and the WWE to bring him along slowly when he returned to the company in 2017.
"You know, if something happened to me, if i relapsed under Vince's watch, that would not be good," he said. "So I started to understand, okay, he's worried about me. He's worried about my health and my welfare, and I shouldn't be upset about that. So I look at it that way, because when I came back to WWE I thought I was going to be in the championship run. I thought I was gonna be going for the title, wrestling Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, and it didn't happen. But I do understand why. And we all come to a point in our lives ... I'm 50 years old. I can't do what I used to do.
"And I started to realize, you know, you're at the end of your career and you're not going to get another title run. So you might want to make this Wrestle Mania your last. And I came to grips with it."
Our interview with Angle came the very same day that AEW revealed their new television deal with TNT. Given Angle's history of working for a competitor to WWE (Impact Wrestling), we asked Angle for his take on the AEW deal.
"You know, I'm always for a company starting up and giving the wrestlers more options, but I can tell you this, I believe AEW's going to have a great run," he said. "Just like TNA did at one point, just like WCW is doing. You know, even Ring of Honor had, you know, there were times where they had really good runs. But your not going to catch the WWE. And if you're going to try you're probably gonna spend a lot of money that you shouldn't have spent. I know this first hand.
"'Cause I remember when TNA tried to start going ratings for ratings with WWE and all we did is lose a bunch of money. And so I think AW, they have some good people there that probably can keep that company open and alive for awhile, but I think they should be prepared to understand that they're going to be number two. If they want to be number one, you know, so be it. Go ahead, spend your money, see if you can do it, but I highly doubt that anybody's going to catch WWE. Especially now. They're so global. It's like a snowball rolling down a mountain of snow. ust getting bigger and bigger. It's not getting any smaller anytime soon. It keeps getting bigger."1comments