Let’s be honest: When talking about dream reunions with WWE, fewer wrestler returns are more anticipated than that of Olympic gold medalist and four-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle. It’s true, it’s true. While his time with the company came to a less-than-glamourous close in 2006 due to health issues related to drug and alcohol abuse, Angle has more than kept himself active, competing in TNA for the past decade and frequently dropping hints that he would be open to one last run in Stamford. Now, it appears that run is closer than ever.
“I had a talk with WWE,” Angle told Sports Illustrated. “It’s confidential. I will not be returning for the draft. Possibly in the future, most likely next year, but that is not a guarantee. It was a loose conversation, but I will be in touch with Triple H [Paul Levesque] in the future.”
Angle goes on to tell SI that he’s been clean for three years as of next month, and while his battle with addiction is an ongoing one, but a battle that has been supported by both WWE CEO Vince McMahon and TNA head Dixie Carter.
“Vince always cared about me. He’s a good guy, and he felt like he was my father figure. I admired Vince’s work ethic and drive. He was a machine. He was willing to sacrifice so much to be a success, and he was one of those guys who I feared and looked up to. I feared him the same way I feared my father. I was right – he was a good guy. He would tell me when I screwed up, and he’d tell me how to fix it. He basically said, ‘Listen, you won an Olympic gold medal. Very few people on this planet have ever done that. You’re special, you can kick this thing.’ But I fell back into it.
“I was at a company where everybody was drinking, and you were encouraged to drink with them. That’s where the alcohol came in. I didn’t go crazy with it, but when you mix it with pills, it can make you do some really crazy things. It can make you careless. When I traveled, I was drinking and driving, and I got nailed a bunch of times. I couldn’t believe TNA kept me after the second and third DUI. I continued to go with that behavior, and I was lucky to either get a reduced charge or have it thrown out.
“[TNA owner] Dixie Carter played a big role in me going to rehab. She called me and said, ‘You need to go.’ I didn’t want to go, but when I got there, I realized I had a serious problem and I needed to fix this.”
While we’re still more than six months away from the start of 2017 (and that often-fantasy-booked moment of Angle being a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble), it’s still good to know that Kurt Angle is taking better care of himself these days—and if his upcoming match with Cody Rhodes will be any indication, he is still ready to compete with the best of ’em.