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Kurt Angle on Paul Heyman lying to him in ECW, turning down a big money WWE contract in 1996

Episode of 2 of “The Kurt Angle Show” is up now at This week’s show covers Angle’s move from the Olympics to WWE and his brief stop in ECW.

Here are some highlights:

Angle talked about the pay as an amateur wrestler:

“My agent told me not to sign a WWE contract, but I don’t think he understood what pro wrestling was all about. I don’t think he had any interest in it, so he didn’t watch it. The terms of the contract was a half million dollars a year for 10 years. That’s guaranteed and you make more if you work more. I never had money so this was like a God send. My family, we were laborers so we never had money. This was the first time it was looking me in the eye and I was like, I have to do this. It was really difficult to pass up. Seeing that type of money at the time when I never had money was incredible. I was overwhelmed. You’re not making hardly any money (amateur). At that time USA Wrestling was paying a stipend for the number one man on the Olympic team of $1,000 a month. It was pretty bad back then. Now there’s money involved. They make a lot more money. When I won the Gold in the Olympics in ‘96, I made $35,000. That was from the Olympic Committee. That was my prize for winning a gold medal. Now I heard rumors that it’s up to $500,00 to win, some say it was $250,000.  I had to fundraise. I didn’t have a lot of money. I wasn’t coaching anymore. My full-time job was training so I had to go out and fundraise. I had to do this to take care of my costs of traveling and food. It was a really hard time to be an amateur athlete, an Olympic athlete back then. I had a hard time making ends meet, but we worked it out. My family, we were a team and we made sure I made just enough to take care of the bills.”

“What did your family say when you turned down the half-million dollar offer?”:

“That was not good. They thought I was crazy. ‘Why wouldn’t you take it?’ I said, ‘Ralph (his agent) told me not to.’ It was a difficult time. My family, they weren’t that upset but they weren’t very happy that I made that decision and it weighed on my mind. Those next two years that I sat idle made me think how upset they were and why I didn’t take the deal. I noticed that things were closing up for me because a couple years passed since the Olympics and nobody was knocking on my door anymore. It was time to make a move and that’s what I did.”

Kurt Angle didn’t watch wrestling before getting into it and was horrified the first time he showed up at the ECW arena and the crucifixion angle. He said, looking back now, he sees it differently:

‘You have to understand I’m a Catholic Christian kid from Pittsburgh and to see the crucifixion was really offensive, but back then, I do want to say this because I want to get this off my chest. I didn’t understand the storytelling of pro wrestling and that you want to get the ‘wow’ factor and surprise people and get them excited or pissed off. A lot of emotion is involved in pro wrestling. Back then, I didn’t get all that. I didn’t understand it. When I saw it, I’m like, ‘Oh my God. This is someone portraying Jesus on the cross. I can’t believe I’m here.’ I was really upset and I went to Paul Heyman and said, ‘I can’t be on the same show as this. You can’t air this show with me on it. If you do, you’re going to hear from my attorney.” Paul said, ‘I didn’t even know it was going to happen.” Ok, he’s the promoter. It’s the main event and he doesn’t know it’s going to happen. He’s full of sh*t. Paul, I love Paul. He’s a great guy but he basically lied to me. I understand why. He’s just trying to take the heat off himself.”

Angle on his memories of working with Randy Hales’ Power Pro Wrestling:

“Randy Hales was alright but he didn’t have plans of doing anything with me down there. When I started out, I was opening card. Six months later, I was still an opening card. I only did one promo on their TV show and that was the first day I showed up. I didn’t have a lot down there. The thing was, at one point, when Vince wanted to bring me up to TV, they contacted Randy Hales and said, ‘Listen, we need Kurt to win the Memphis Championship Wrestling World Title. We need him to beat Rikishi.’ Randy said, ‘I don’t have him prepared to do that because he’s only been wrestling opening card matches.’ They said, ‘Well, you are just going to have to do it.’ He said, ‘I can’t. How do I tell that story?’ They said, ‘You just figure it out.’ So I went from opening card to winning the world title in Memphis Championship Wrestling beating Rikishi. That brought me up to TV. So Randy didn’t do a lot with me. I was really surprised. He had no interest and I think because back then I was trying to get away from my Olympic character. I had a different look. I had more of the Stone Cold look and I was trying to be somebody else. I wanted to be the bad a*s. I was watching my idol on TV,  Stone Cold Steve Austin and I wanted to be him. It just didn’t work because I wasn’t him, nor did I want to be, I just thought I wanted to be. Austin, when he was the most popular character in the WWE and the world, I wanted to do what he was doing. I wanted to succeed like him. I just didn’t know if I wanted to be him.  I’m glad I didn’t turn out to be him. I’m glad I went back to my Olympic character because that worked out extremely well.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit “The Kurt Angle Show on” with a h/t to for the transcription.

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